Bush, George W.

(1946– )
   American politician. The son of George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush became the 43rd president of the United States in early 2001. That summer, he met with Vladimir Putin, who himself was relatively new to the post of Russian president. During the summit in the Slovene capital Ljubljana, Bush, who lacked his father’s foreign policy experience, remarked glowingly of Putin, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. . . . I was able to get a sense of his soul.” The Bush-Putin relationship deepened shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Putin was the first world leader to offer his condolences to the American president and, against the wishes of many of his advisors and Russian public opinion, offered the U.S. substantial support in its “war on terror,” including backing plans for American military bases in Central Asia. The Bush administration reciprocated by adding Chechen groups to its list of international terrorist organizations and refraining from harshly criticizing Putin’s increasingly neo-authoritarian tendencies. Bush and Putin both spoke of a new “strategic partnership” that had replaced the mistrust and suspicion of the past. However, the warm relations were short-lived.
   With a foreign policy team dominated by neo-conservatives, Bush was soon at loggerheads with Russia over how to handle Saddam Hussein, Iran’s nuclear program, democracy in the near abroad, and a host of other issues. Buoyed by rising oil and natural gas revenues, Putin took a harsh tone with Bush after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Despite continued affirmations of a personal “friendship” between the two leaders, U.S.-Russian relations grew more complicated in Bush’s second term. The issue of missile defense, which Bush had promised in his first election campaign, eventually sent Russo-American relations to their lowest point since Russian independence, with the Kremlin threatening North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members Poland and the Czech Republic with military action. By 2008, it was clear that Bush had misjudged Putin’s willingness to cooperate with the United States and that the American president no longer had any leverage over Putin, who was now prime minister. The South Ossetian War triggered accusations and counteraccusations between the Bush and Medvyedev administrations, further souring relations. In the first high-level meetings between the new presidential administration of Barack Obama and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared Washington’s intentions to “press the reset button” with Moscow, explicitly criticizing the poor state of relations wrought by the final years of Bush’s presidency.
   See also Foreign relations.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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