TODAY: US and Russia in now solid opposition on a number of issues including NATO and Litvinenko, leaders to meet on Sunday. Russia shows further opposition to Kosovo and Ukraine as Bush calls for push of support for Ukraine and Georgia. Survey suggests public perception of Russia improving. Russia has sent its first planeload of humanitarian aid to Belgrade for delivery to the Serb minority in Kosovo. This is thought to be a retaliation by President Vladimir Putin to President George Bush’s announcement that the US would supply Kosovo with arms. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia will not allow Kosovo to become a member of the United Nations, and Russia has reiterated its opposition to Ukraine joining NATO, just as Bush urged NATO members to “send a signal” in support of independence and democracy for Ukraine and Georgia by welcoming their bids for membership in the alliance. One British newspaper accuses him of “throwing down the gauntlet,” and another says that Bush and Putin appear to be “on a collision course”. “[S]ome Western diplomats in Moscow say they are dismayed by the American-led push to get Ukraine and Georgia into the Nato club right now”.
In a bid to achieve a working relationship, George Bush and Vladimir Putin are to sign “a joint document, which will become a road map of cooperation during a transitional period and for the medium-term,” during this weekend’s meeting in Sochi.Further cooling US-Russia relations, the US Congress has called on Vladimir Putin to fully cooperate with Britain’s investigation into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.An interesting story on issues facing TNK-BP also provides some background on Roman Abramovich’s role in the Yukos takeover.A Russian news source reports that “the world view [of] Russia has grown significantly more positive over the past year”, thanks to the results of this BBC survey.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin in his office at the presidential residence in Novo-Ogarevo on April 1. NATO leaders will struggle Wednesday to bridge differences over the future candidacies of Georgia and Ukraine, and rally international efforts to help drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan. (AFP/RIA/Mikhail Klimentyev)