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The Moscow Times - Bush Coming to Sochi With Hat in Hand - by Peter Lavell

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Bush Coming to Sochi With Hat in Hand - by Peter Lavell

U.S. President George W. Bush will meet President Vladimir Putin for the last time in Sochi this weekend. The agenda is full of contentious issues -- Kosovo, anti-missile defense, NATO expansion and the state of Russian-U.S. relations. As the presidents bid their farewells, it is worth reflecting on the relationship. Bush's last meeting with Putin was unscheduled. Does Bush have some unfinished business? There is good reason to believe that he does, particularly since the two presidents plan to get together on the sidelines at this week's NATO summit in Romania. Bush wants a last one-on-one visit with Putin, and it is clear he wants to talk about -- or talk up -- U.S.-Russia relations.

There could be two reasons for this meeting. Bush has only a matter of weeks to make some kind of broad strategic deal with Putin before Putin steps down in favor of President-elect Dmitry Medvedev. Such a deal could quite possibly be the single foreign policy success of Bush's presidency.

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