Bush Raining on Putin's G-8 Party
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
I can imagine Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone with President Bush saying, You sure know how to hurt a guy.
SHEILAH KAST, host:
NPR Senior New Analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: Here is Putin preparing to preside for the first time over the G-8 industrial powers in his beloved city of St. Petersburg, where he grew up. And everything that the Bush administration does in a run up to the summit seems calculated to deprive him of the luster that he's seeking. In his speech to former Soviet satellites in Vilnius, Lithuania, Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Russians of back-sliding on democracy. That led to some angry words between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an unpublicized meeting in New York.
Then Mr. Bush invited to Washington, Mikheil Saakashvili, President of the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia, who accused Putin of trying to undermine his government. At a time when tension is growing between Georgia and Moscow, Mr. Bush extended a glad hand to Georgia and announced support for bringing Georgia into NATO. Next the White House announced that on the way to St. Petersburg, the President would pay a visit to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It should be noted that Markel grew up in East Germany, which was another Soviet satellite.
In case anybody needed to be reminded of the significance of this visit, the President said, The Chancellor knows what it's like to grow up in a world that isn't free. So what you hear from Putin as his summit approaches is what you might call coolness towards the United States. He calls President Bush a decent friend and the United States one of Russia's most important partners.
Well, that's nice, but is Russia willing to support the United States when the chips are down? Putin calls North Korea's firing of test missiles disappointing, but says it's within North Korea's legal right. He also calls Iran's response to a western carrot and stick proposal a little on the slow slide. But in neither case has the Kremlin indicated it would support an American proposal for sanctions. And oh yes, Putin did call President Bush to congratulate him on his 60th birthday. That was nice. This is Daniel Schorr.
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