Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted US President George W. Bush politely when Air Force one touched down at Moscow’s Vnukovo-2 airport Wednesday, Nov. 15 en route for the Far East. The two leaders spoke for exactly one hour. US national security adviser Stephen Hadley, sounding frustrated, said later on the Iranian issue: “We need a resolution, we need to show that there’s some consequences, we also need to keep the door open to negotiations if the Iranians are willing to come and suspend” their enrichment program.
His frustration was prompted by Putin’s steadfast refusal to budge on his opposition to Security Council sanctions against Iran for failing to suspend uranium enrichment.
According to our sources, Bush was not surprised.
Before he landed in Moscow, he knew the Russian president would turn down any proposal for cooperation in the Middle East. Shortly before the Nov. 7 midterm election in the United States, the Russian leader sent one of his most influential Kremlin advisers, Alexander Voloshin, to Washington after he first held a closed-door conference at the Carnegie Institute.
It was attended, according to Russians sources, by about 20 people including former ambassadors to Russia and Ukraine Jim Collins and Steven Fifer, Fiona Hill, recently named CIA national intelligence officer for Russia, and Andy Kuchins, director of the Carnegie Center’s Russian Program.
Voloshin told them that Putin expects the Republicans to lose the elections and does not expect Bush to order an attack on Iran in the final reckoning. In these circumstances, he said, the Kremlin will confine itself to establishing good ties with the Democrats, but the freeze on Russian-American relations will remain unchanged.
Another influential Russian, Sergei Rogov, director of the USA and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said recently: “Both of them, Democrats and Republicans alike, take an extremely negative view of Russia’s domestic and foreign policies.” At any rate, Rogov added, the Russian-US partnership has only been “declarative,” whereas in actuality, “this partnership has no content today and mutual complaints keep on multiplying.”