Strained Relations with Russia

President Bush brought a straightforward message Friday to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and world leaders gathering for a weekend summit: speak with a single voice in combating crises such as the flare-up in the Middle East.

In meetings between the president and Putin, Bush pressed his case that Russia should be more tolerant of political liberties and a free press.

Bush and Putin are meeting as U.S. and Russian negotiators try to conclude a deal to let Russia join the World Trade Organization. Both leaders could make the announcement as early as Saturday. Read more.

If YOU were president, would you try to improve strained relations with Putin? If so, how?

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Check out what FOX Fans are saying:

"I do think we should keep a working relationship with Russia. Of course, we in the public can only speculate about this as we are not 'in the know' about the goings on in Russia, but I believe that a working relationship with them would be to our benefit. This is still a very young democracy. When we signed the Declaration of Independence, it became a work in progress, and even to this day we modify laws and policy based on societal changes. My impression is that Putin is a very intelligent man. I believe his insight into terrorism and his background in intelligence could help us go a long way in the war against terrorism and it would be a mistake if we did not recognize that." — Bev (Nashville, TN)

"Of course we should improve relations with Russia, as they should improve relations with us. We are two countries that at one time fought one another, and know the impact of an enduring cold war on the people and the world. Past enemies in battle make wise counselors in peace." — Stewart

"Attempting to improve relations with Putin's Russia would be a flat exercise on futility. Under Putin, Russia wants to hurt America as much as it can, provided it can get away with it with impunity. Putin's idiosyncrasies have been shaped by his life inside the KGB. What Bush must do, while waiting for Putin's presidency to expire, is to seek strengthening relations with Japan and with as many significant European countries as possible. Ultimately, he has to invigorate and rely on America's overall might. — Rene (Sunnyvale, CA)

"We don't need to act like the big brother. We need to be straightforward with our views, and if they disagree, fine. We'll do our thing, and they can do theirs. As the events of the world worsen, and the war on terror grows to Iran and N. Korea, our message to China and Russia is simple — You're either with us, or against us! Choose now! We can deal with things either way, we just need to know where they stand." — Greg

"I can remember Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the U.N. What America needs to do is lay out a clear a simple set of expectations regarding our requirements of nations who want our assistant, goods, etc. and then simply stop providing that to those that fail. We can't continually compromise and expect to get anywhere." — Ken

"If I were president, I would offer Putin assistance in helping to get a ceasefire in the Israeli-Lebanon situation, in return for Putin's help on the U.N. Security Council towards sanctions on Iran and North Korea." — Rick (Arkansas)

"I've scratched my head over a lot of foreign policy moves the Bush administration has made, but none more so than the administration's unwillingness to find a consensus with Russia. We should be allies. Instead, Russia resents the U.S. and we're suspicious of Russia. They could solve our oil problem, and we could solve their cash problem. The problems we're having with Russia in the U.N. stem largely from our own diplomatic failures." — Mike (Rockville, MD)

"If I were president, I would remind Putin of the great strides that the Russian people have made to be a free society. I would remind him how the people took to the streets and defeated the failed coup attempt against Gorbachev and his pro-democracy policies. I would offer economic and food assistance as an incentive to Putin to stay on the course of freedom." — Fran (Melbourne, FL)

"I don't think it's our place to improve relations with Putin. Russia and its 'democracy,' along with China, have done nothing but become a thorn in our side and a detriment to the effectiveness of the U.N." — Rob

"Yes, I would put relations with Russia at the top of my priorities. Russia is still the only nuclear superpower close to having the capabilities of the U.S., and they are even more directly threatened by Islamic murder groups than we are. The incredible boondoggle of foreign relations with Russia after the collapse of communism has led a potential ally from a status of help and support to one of hostile resentment. We see Russia on the brink of collapse and a socialist defensive posture emerging again. The U.S. should apologize for past idiotic diplomacies and offer real support, as well as enroll American industrial workers displaced by the Chinese economic war to become industry builders in Russia for industry like clothing, food, and housing. The U.S. should give the Russian government carte blanche in dealing with internal Islamic terror groups and offer assistance in destroying our mutual enemies. With the correct diplomatic relationship established, our nations could rid the world of Islamic terror and paralyze Chinese erosion of the world's industrial and tax bases." — Gwen (Charlotte, NC)

"Absolutely not. Russia has never been and will never be an ally to the free world. Keep them at arms length." — Chuck (Ohio)

"Vladimir Putin needs us way more than we’ll ever need him. Let him make up with the U.S. instead." — Jon (Broussard, Louisiana)

"I'd be taking an even harder stand against the Russians. They are nothing more than obstacles on the path to a world free of terrorism. The Security Council has been trying for months to impose sanctions on rogue nations like North Korea and Iran, but there's always a veto threat coming from the Russians. They protect them because they've sold weapons to them and haven't gotten paid yet." — Joe (Providence, RI)

"I would take a hint from Israel. No need to go to war with Russia. Cut off all goods to Russia and ask Putin how long he and his people could survive." — G (Texas)

"If I were president of the U.S., I would publicly scold Putin for regularly supporting the enemies of the U.S., including Iran, Syria and North Korea. The Cold War is alive and well because of Russia's support for those terrorist regimes." — Gary

"I think Putin is our enemy. Instead of openly engaging in conflict, they play world events against us to weaken the dominance of the U.S. They will stab us in the back when they feel we are at our weakest point. The Cold War is slowly returning, but this time they have an ally in China." — Matt (Camden, TN)

"I would step back from any further dealings with Putin and hope he moves to more conciliatory measures with us. We have been more than ready to assist Moscow in moving into the community of free and democratic nations and to help improve the Russian economy. But it has been a one-way street. Putin has been acting like a modern-day Rasputin with his policies of stifling opposition and free speech. He has not contributed to solutions for eliminating terrorism and the nuclear designs of Iran and North Korea. The Russian people will never approach any semblance of freedom and liberty while the tin soldier Putin is in power." — Frank (Montana)

"Putin is not on our side. He is just out to benefit himself and Russia, just like the Chinese. Frankly, I don't trust either one. I believe President Bush should start talking tough and acting very tough if necessary." — Mario (Destin, FL)

"President Bush should say exactly what he intended to say regarding Russian tolerance of political liberties. If those statements upset Mr. Putin, too bad. Perhaps Putin should try to improve strained relations with us." — LE

"The whole world is waiting for our repartee. To not respond is to show weakness. A well thought-out, witty response — with a little more tact and less acid — would be well received by the world, especially by the Russians." — Anonymous FOX Fan