April 2nd, 2008
04:00 PM ET
5 years ago

King: Bush and Putin's relationship is 'crucial - but thorny'

Bush and Putin.
Bush and Putin.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Bush travels overseas this week, it is a reminder of an early trademark moment of his presidency, his 2001 embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy," Bush said after their initial summit in Slovenia. "We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue."

Seven years later, Putin is viewed more critically across the West, for veering off the path of democratic reform, among other things. Bush, though, maintains it is a critical relationship. Crucial, but thorny: Bush has differences with Russia over plans for a U.S. missile defense program, and over putting former Soviet bloc countries Ukraine and Georgia on the path to membership in the NATO alliance.

And if there are tensions with Bush, Putin and his successor can almost certainly look forward to even tougher relations with the next U.S. president.

Bush's close ties to Putin have been criticized by all of the leading candidates. Republican John McCain, for example, regularly mocks Mr. Bush's claims of looking into Mr. Putin's eyes and getting a sense of his soul. McCain tells audiences when he looks into Mr. Putin's eyes he "sees three letters: KGB."

–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: John King
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Wilma, Georgia

    AREN'T THEY A LOVELY COUPLE ?

    April 2, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. jhs

    Birds of a feather......

    April 2, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. proclintons

    This shows again how stupid the president of the USA is.

    April 2, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. MMB

    Putin has the discipline of mind that only a blackbelt in JUDO can have. He could easily flip any president we offer and break their neck in a flash. Putin rocks. Those of us who hated the Russian mafia of the 90s love Putin because he straighten out the banking system. Americans will never understand the suffering of the Russian people and the need for strong (much stronger than American) leadership–particularly with the "new Russian" crowd. Stay tough, Mr. Putin!

    April 2, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. proclintons

    this show again how stupid the president of the USA is!

    April 2, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Patriot

    The comments about our President shows the ignorance and lack of respect of our elected officials by the Left Wing Nuts supporting Hillary and Obama. Get over it Democrats you lost twice to G.W. Bush.
    McCain will make it three times. Get ready for the cries of Republicans stole the election in 2009.

    You don't get it, we don't want Socialism in America. That is why millions of people come from Socialist Countries and countries that pretend to be Democracies, such as Mexico.

    April 2, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Allan

    Obama has 3 years on the Foreign Relations Committee, and that's a minus? How many did Bush have when he saw Putin's soul? How many did Bill Clinton have? Come on folks, you have peculiar standards, that just seem to depend on who you plan to vote for.

    Obama 08

    April 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. An American in Canada

    WHEN IT IS YOUR LAST 8 MONTHS ON THE JOB SHOULD BUSH BE OUT STIRING UP TROUBLE AND ISOLATING OTHER COUNTRIES.

    BUSH YOU CAN NOT CHANGE YOU LEGACY, YOU WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE WORST PRESIDENT.

    YOU WILL BE KNOW AS THE PRESIDENT EVERYONE WANTED TO HAVE A BEER WITH, BECAUSE AMERICANS CAN NOT THINK SOMETIMES THEY ARE SWAYED BY GLAMOR AND STYLE.

    THAT IS THE SAME SUBSTANCE THAT AMERICANS ARE NOW SEEING IN BARACK H. OBAMA

    SPECIAL NOTE TO OBAMA:

    WELL OBAMA IT IS 3 A.M. AND IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO WAKE UP,

    YOU HAVE BEEN HAVING A DREAM IN TECHNICOLOR, THINKING

    YOU WOULD EVER BE OUR PRESIDENT.

    HILLARY R. CLINTON PRESIDENT OF AMERICA 2009-2012

    April 2, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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