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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Urges Putin to Go West

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush said Monday that a lot of tensions exist between the West and Russia and voiced skepticism about Russia's path to democracy under President Vladimir Putin.

"My message to Vladimir Putin is there's a better way forward, and your interests lie in the West, and we ought to be working together in a collaborative way," Bush said in an interview.

Putin appeared to have compared the United States to the Third Reich earlier this month, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week after meeting Putin in Moscow that the two countries had agreed to tone down their rhetoric.

Bush renewed U.S. concerns about an erosion of the rule of law and free press in Russia.

"Just some of the decisions he's made have sent mixed signals to the West and mixed signals to me," Bush said.

The two sides have been unable to bridge differences over U.S. plans to put 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic as part of a system to shield Europe from missile attack from renegade states.

"You know, people in his government harbor suspicions about our intention, and I was trying to allay those suspicions. But there is a lot of tension with Russia, particularly with Europe now, that Russia is using her energy and denying market access to different countries, for example, Polish meat," Bush said.

Bush said he was still close to Putin personally but that "it's a very complex relationship" between the U.S. and Russian governments.

"He thinks they've got a democracy emerging there in Russia. Obviously there's a lot of suspicion about that, and I look forward to continuing to talk to him as to why he thinks his country is on the path to democracy. It looks like at times it's not to me," he said.

Bush, who will likely see Putin at a Group of Eight summit in Germany on June 6 to 8, said he would be willing to "listen more about why he thinks that what he's doing is democratic in nature."