U.S. President Bush responds to Russian criticism

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

President Bush and President Putin sign the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty in 2002.

Just one day before the G8 summit, a battle in the media between Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States President George W. Bush continued as President Bush criticized Russia for "derailing" its promised democratic reforms.

In a speech from the Czech Republic, where he plans to implement a missile defense system, Bush said: "In Russia, reforms that once promised to empower citizens have been derailed, with troubling implications for democratic development." He also described the relationship with Russia as complex, a major difference from just five years ago when Bush and Putin had pet names for each other.

President Bush also criticized China in this speech, saying that "[China's leaders] believe that they can continue to open the nation's economy without also opening its political system".

"Part of a good relationship is the ability to talk openly about our disagreements, so the United States will continue to build our relationships with these countries and we will do it without abandoning our principles or our values," Bush said of Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia "cannot agree on his declaration about the derailing of democratic reforms", adding that "Russia is a democratic country that shares common world and common European values."

Bush stated that Russia is not an enemy and that "the Cold War is over."

In the speech, which was given at a conference on democracy sponsored by The Prague Security Studies Institute, Bush also listed Belarus, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran and Syria as the "worst dictatorships" and criticised Venezuela, Uzbekistan and Vietnam for rolling back earlier "freedom".

President Bush is scheduled to meet with President Putin at the G8 conference which begins tomorrow.