Former President George W. Bush recalled some of his memorable interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while discussing how the Russian president miscalculated the invasion of Ukraine at an event Tuesday night in Chicago.
‘I introduced Vladimir Putin to Barney, our Scottish terrier, and [Putin] dissed him. A year later, Laura and I go visit Vladimir and his wife – this was before he decided to be with a gymnast 30 years younger – and he says, “I want you to meet my dog,”‘ Bush recalled, according to Politico.
Bush said ‘out runs a huge Russian hound,’ with Putin telling the American president, ‘Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney.’
The former Republican president also floated that while Russia and China seem to be operating in tandem, there might be an opening for the United States to form ‘an alliance of convenience’ with the Asian nation.
‘I don’t think they want to be too cozy with Putin at this moment,’ Bush surmised.
‘So this might be an opportunity to conduct some diplomacy that [creates] an alliance of convenience,’ he said. ‘The president’s foreign policy team has an opportunity to deal with China in a way that will surprise the country.’
Bush said that Putin ‘loves the idea’ of isolating China against the United States.
‘The idea of China needing Putin’s energy gives Putin a chance to say to the world: ” The United States is no longer as significant as it used to be. It’s now Russia and China.” And that’s just not going to hold given his actions in Ukraine,’ Bush said.
He said that Putin believed the demise of the Soviet Union was bad for the Russian people.
‘So we’re watching him try to reinstate Soviet hegemony,’ Bush said.
But he miscalculated by going into Ukraine, the ex-president said.
‘He picks weak people to do that,’ Bush said. ‘He thought Ukraine was weak, but it’s not. Ukraine is showing a backbone and a spine that this world sorely needs to see.’
Additionally, Bush reacted to how Germany stepped up.
Last week in the run-up to Putin’s assault on Ukraine, the German government pulled the plug on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal, which would have flowed more Russian gas into Germany.
New German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also announced he would be sending missiles and anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help them fight off the Russians.
‘The Germans attitude has shifted completely from becoming guilt-ridden pacifists to people who understand that liberty is under attack and we have to do something about it,’ Bush said.
Bush spoke at a benefit fundraiser for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
During Bush’s time in office, Putin was married to Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Ocheretnaya, who he divorced in 2014.
Putin, 69, has been romantically linked to Russian gymnast Alina Kabaeva, 38, since 2008.
The couple are reported to have several children together.
Kabaeva disappeared from public for more than two and a half years and then reappeared in August to criticize judges at the Tokyo Olympics for not giving a Russian gymnast a gold medal.