Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and U.S. President George W. Bush (file photo) (CTK)
May 8, 2006 -- U.S. President George W. Bush says Russia has been giving "mixed signals" about its commitment to democracy.
According to a White House transcript of an interview Bush gave on May 5 to the German newspaper "Bild," Bush said he values what he calls a warm working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush said the United States and Russia cooperate on issues including weapons proliferation and fighting terrorism.
But he said Russia has also sent mixed signals that have caused the U.S. government to question whether the country is committed to becoming a true democracy with freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and other freedoms inherent in democracy.
Bush said the United States was concerned about Putin using oil companies to achieve what appears to be political goals.
Bush's comments were released after Vice President Dick Cheney last week accused Russia of backsliding on democracy and using energy reserves to pressure neighboring countries.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected Cheney's criticism.