Pres. Bush had his first big meeting with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin.

It was refreshing to see the two get along, and to see Putin say nice things about his American counterpart ... after a week that had the heads of supposedly friendlier — but definately smaller nations — carp at Pres. Bush, and nip at his heels about every detail they didn't like about his plans for one thing or another.

It was easier by far for Putin to turn on the charm, sit around the old samovar in his cowboy boots, and shoot the manure with the Texan president.

They even invited one other to their respective homes. (Can you imagine the day when Putin shows up in Crawford, Texas and we get video of him cruising around the ranch in Bush's Kawasaki mule?)

Nobody ever said Putin was stupid. What was the point of acting tough when the French and the Germans and the Swedes had done all the tough talking for him?

The Europeans were screeching about how giving up the ABM Treaty is the end of the world, but Putin listened politely. He is still against the Bush plan, but he promised to listen to it some more. The Swedes never promised that much.
 
However, let's not forget that the Russians can still incinerate the planet.

So what does Putin want?

He's fresh back from a trip to China and — just a guess — he might want a cozier relationship with Bush to play against China.

Let's face it ... the Russians know they aren't going to nuke America, and America knows it's not going to nuke Russia. Both sides have too much to lose.

What neither knows is what China might do when it has the power to nuke whoever it wants. As always, it's the China game.

Russia shares a continent and a border with China, and Putin is probably painfully aware that sometimes neighbors don't get along that well ... in which case, it wouldn't hurt to have a friend in America.

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