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Interview with Anatoly Utkin

Anatoly Utkin, an analyst from the USA and Canada Institute, commented for Russia Today on the results of the informal summit between Vladimir Putin and George Bush.

Russia Today: A lot had been done to cultivate a relaxed atmosphere, being invited to the Bush family home. Would you consider how it worked to be a turning point in bilateral relations?

Anatoly Utkin: To my regret I cannot say it. In all, you see, both presidents are lame ducks. Both of them are going to be nobody next year. So, they are losing their power and the people around, they are looking for the next pillar of strength, of political strength. So, in a sense, that is the only possibility to get placed in history. So, it is possible because they are still on the decisive place in the White House and Kremlin. So, in my opinion it is exactly like it was in Ljubljana, Bratislava or Crawford in Texas. So, this is not the first tete-a-tete for them and I suppose that this time it was a rough long talk and I cannot say that this talk gave good results.

RT: Well, even if you feel the progress was not really made one of the issues that dominated was Iran. Tell us how you feel about that?

A.U.: In my opinion Iran was dominating in the Russian-American relations during the previous month and Russia, after some hesitation, came to the Western side. Nowadays we are a part of the group of countries who are pressing Tehran to stop the military development. So, the progress was made, I would say, three moths ago but not now. Now, in my opinion, during this meeting, Iran was not the focal point of the discussion.

RT: Now, an issue that did not make it to the press-conference was Kosovo. Now the U.S. supports the UN plan for supervised independence, Russia opposes it. Are you surprised it did not come up?

A.U.: It is evident that Martti Ahtisaari's plan, which is pro-American I would say, is totally negative for President Putin. That is why, I suppose, both sides decided not to touch the question which is divisive. And it is also, I would say, not a good policy to discuss the future of Transdniester, South Ossetia or something like this.

RT: Going into this summit it was believed Russia might be lectured about its stance of democracy in the country. In fact that did not happen and Bush aimed to sidestep the issue. What did you make of that?

A.U.: I would like to answer this way. Do you remember the Bratislava meeting? The Bratislava meeting was several months ago and at that time President Putin was under terrific pressure from journalists. They were asking about murdered colleague Anna Politkovskaya, about the development of one-party rule in Russia and so forth and so on. So Putin was sweating at all of it – he was under pressure. Quite unexpectedly President Bush came to Putin and said: “Vladimir, do not worry, why are you so excited? We will do it, we will create the perfect democracy in Russia.” So, this is not the beloved subject for a discussion. The number one is the issue of ABM shield deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia proposed several steps and the Americans got a proposal to get one Russian and one Azerbaijani station. That is the possibility for compromise in this subject.

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