This article gave me thoughts on the future. I realized that the two most powerful countries in the world have their presidents leaving office next year. Changing of the guard so to speak! What do you think will happen, Will relations get better or worse? Is the cold war going to start back up again? It is thought provoking at the very least.
I think with Bush leaving office, that it will help the relationship between the countries. Bush was one of those Presidents that should have had only one term. (Thats another story) American politics are corrupt! America likes to point fingers at other countries in hopes that no one will look at America. Sorta like crying Wolf!
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By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: June 5, 2007
“”PRAGUE, June 4 — At a moment of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, President Bush and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appear likely to use a meeting in Germany this week to focus on the one area where they appear to share a common interest: slowing Iran’s ability to produce nuclear fuel.
On virtually everything else — independence for Kosovo, missile defense and a sharp turn toward authoritarianism in Russia — Mr. Bush’s aides say they expect to have little leverage over Mr. Putin. Over the weekend, the Russian president threatened to once again point missiles at European targets if the United States went through with its plan to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“If part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States finds itself in Europe and, according to our military experts, threatens us, then we will have to take corresponding retaliatory steps,” Mr. Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript of an interview with journalists from Group of 8 countries that took place on Friday. “What are these steps? Of course, we will have to have new targets in Europe.”
Asked about the cold war era of hair-trigger confrontation, Mr. Putin said, “We are, of course, returning to those times.”
In fact, with Mr. Bush headed here to speak at a democracy conference, the countries’ relations are at their lowest point since the end of the cold war, and with fears that the deteriorating relationship could rapidly worsen. Even an invitation to the Bush family compound at Kennebunkport, Me., next month appeared to do little to temper Mr. Putin’s public remarks.
The White House national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, called Mr. Putin’s remarks “not helpful,” a phrase he has used many times in recent weeks in response to remarks from Russia’s leadership.
Last month, Mr. Putin issued a thinly veiled comparison of the foreign policy of the United States and the Third Reich, warning of “new threats” that amount to the “same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world.”
Meanwhile, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, David Kramer, delivered a blistering assessment of the Kremlin last week, accusing it of bullying its neighbors and silencing political protest at home.
The question at the meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations in Heiligendamm, Germany, and the visit to Kennebunkport will be whether the two leaders can get past the verbal sparring to engage in genuine cooperation — and if they cannot, what the United States can do about it.
Similar questions were raised a year ago, as the two men prepared to meet at the last meeting of the Group of 8, on Mr. Putin’s home turf in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“It’s a long way from ‘I looked in his eyes and saw his soul,’ ” one member of the American national security staff said, referring to Mr. Bush’s assessment of Mr. Putin the first time they met, in June 2001. As they stood side by side, Mr. Bush said then, “More than a decade after the cold war ended, it is time to move beyond suspicion and towards straight talk.”
“I think there must have been peals of delirious laughter echoing around the ornate chambers of the Kremlin when the invitation to go to Kennebunkport arrived,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to President Carter. “Putin has been spitting at the United States for the last year, and what is the reaction? An invitation to a family gathering.”
Some experts say the Kennebunkport invitation was meant to defuse any potential blowups during the Heiligendamm meeting by enabling the two leaders to put off their substantive talks until July. Others say that whenever they expect fireworks between Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin, the pair disappoint. Still, there are no guarantees.
“You can’t be sure,” said Stephen Sestanovich, a Russia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Putin is on a tear. Day after day he is ramping up the rhetoric. He is in kind of a snarling frame of mind and it may be that he will pick a fight at the G-8, but that hasn’t been his habit. The G-8 mode is good fellowship and good manners.”
But that has not been the mood this past year. Mr. Putin made his biggest statement at a speech at a European defense forum, an indictment of American practices that brought a mild and humor-filled rebuttal from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
“There were a lot of negative parts to the Putin speech, a lot of harsh words,” said Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to Mr. Bush’s father and an early architect of the transition to the new relationship with Russia. “But it’s important to read the whole speech, especially the last part on nuclear issues, where Putin listed a lot of areas for cooperation.”
Indeed, both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mr. Hadley, the national security adviser, have pointed in recent days to Russian cooperation on limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Ms. Rice, speaking last week in Potsdam, Germany, described the American-Russian relationship as one of “cooperation and competition, of friendship and friction.”
But the limits of that cooperation have yet to be tested, because the United States has not yet tried to get mandatory sanctions in many parts of Iran’s financial network, as a penalty for Tehran’s continuing efforts to enrich uranium. As to the friction, Mr. Hadley seemed to throw up his hands at efforts to persuade Russia to accept the American missile defense plan.
“I cannot tell you, for the life of me, why they say no,” he said.
Clearly, the harsh words do not make things any easier, and the administration has been trying to tamp things down. Mr. Hadley said senior American officials raised Mr. Putin’s “Third Reich” reference directly with their Russian counterparts, “and they told us that they were not making any comparison between the United States and the Third Reich.”
Critics of the administration, including Mr. Brzezinski, say the decline in American-Russian relations is a byproduct of Mr. Bush’s heavy emphasis on building a personal relationship with Mr. Putin, instead of a strategic one.
Mr. Sestanovich, the Russia expert, said that Mr. Bush had hoped he could overcome the countries’ long-standing tensions, but that this became more difficult as Mr. Putin evolved from a leader who seemed like “a determined modernizer” into “an anti-Western autocrat.”
This will be Mr. Putin’s last G-8 meeting, and it will be Mr. Bush’s next to last. As to whether relations can improve, either between the men or their countries, Mr. Sestanovich responded, “Look to 2009.”
Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported from Prague, and David E. Sanger from Washington. Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting from Moscow.””