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. Jerry

    The picture in this post depicts two destructive forces. Matter and anti-matter.......................

    April 2, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Jeffim, miami

    How would US react to Russia forming military alliance with Cuba or Mexico? Well, the same way Russia reacts to Ukraine and Georgia becoming part of NATO.
    I think the US political establishment still lives in the 90's, when Russia was a bankrupt weak state. Those days are over. Move over, Mr. McCain. The World is a different place today. Wake up.

    April 2, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  3. ANTI CLINTONS

    Putin isn't going to far, he has some loser that looks lost and wondering what the heck am I do here!

    Bush is just going to go get richer from his over seas oil investments, he created the high price of gas. So one loser deserves another.

    McCan't can't see eye to eye with anyone, he's to old to see.

    April 2, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. sophia nyc

    Are their pants on? With the expression on the faces it seems they're not.

    April 2, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    What do you get when you put Bush and Putin together?

    Two EVIL men in the same room.

    April 2, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. VOTER FOR TRUTH AND DIGNITY IN AMERICA

    Bush will suck up to anyone. Only the wrong people. Maybe if
    he would have made Americans his priority, he would have
    been more popular. And, because he did not do that, his Presidency
    has been a disaster, just like the next Republican, if he wins, will do.
    And the evangelicals voted for Bush and will vote for McCain. Says
    Dobson, eventually!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Retired White Woman for Obama from Day 1.

    April 2, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. HRC, it's over babe

    This picture says it all....Dumb and Dumber

    April 2, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Nobillary Andobama

    Does anyone honestly think that Barack Obama....with a whopping three years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations committee... really has what it takes to stand up to this rogue???

    April 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. Carol

    Where did you get this picture? They look like they're dancing together

    April 2, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. Original

    Interesting that our President talks about democracy all the time. Now, he is hugging on the very essence of anti-democracy!

    April 2, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. glhf

    ...A tyrant...and a tyrant. Gee, I wonder why they get along?

    April 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Bayou Joe

    Putin will usher in World War III and McCain will have to deal with it as President of the United States. I see the same thing McCain does in eyes of this dictatar " KGB".

    April 2, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very intelligent and articulate," Putin said of Bush, proving the well-recognized unreliability of eyewitness testimony.

    April 2, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  14. Jeff

    mccain's comment is so typical.

    April 2, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. VOTER FOR TRUTH AND DIGNITY IN AMERICA

    Bush will pose with ANYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and he likes it!!!!

    Obama 2008

    April 2, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  16. KTX

    Barf!

    April 2, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  17. CHERYL

    BUSH HAS NOTHING ON OBAMA FOR EVILNESS!!!!!!

    AS A MATTER OF FACT HE LIES LESS TOO!!!!!!!!

    April 2, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. Chris in Va.

    Why in the world do they let George Bush out in public. The merciful thing to do would be to keep him locked in his office playing with his little green army men.

    April 2, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Chris from San Antonio

    Two lame ducks walk into a bar...

    April 2, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. Carrie PA

    Judgement of charactor isn't one of President Bush's strengths.

    April 2, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. BG - Texas

    No problem – BHO will smootch all over Putin and his boys. Total World Peace starts on Inauguaration Day cause BHO says so!

    I'm beginning to belieive everything Barry says!

    April 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. OBAMA FOR SURE WILL WIN PA. 2008

    How sickening. And right before the elections!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  23. KGB

    As Colon Powell first said years ago, "when I look in his eyes all I see are the letters KGB". I think McCain like to use that line without giving the originator credit, but we won't go there.

    April 2, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  24. OBAMA FOR SURE WILL WIN PA. 2008

    See the above Photo!Putin doesn't look like he trusts Bush! Putin is a little standoffish in this Particular Photo OP!!!! Wonder Why?Um, can't
    imagine!

    April 2, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  25. Grif

    Richardson The Rat!!!

    Don't forget you're Hat...

    You're out the Door! come Novembar...

    The Republican will win Again. That's for Sure...

    April 2, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
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