President Nicolas Sarkozy was on one of his hyperactive adventures in diplomacy when he encountered a stone faced Vladmir Putin of Russia. Sarkozy tried turning on the charm about his “friend Vladmir,” but the Russian responded with a frosty glare. The Russian leader disagrees with Sarkozy’s alliance with the United States in attempting to force Iran into ending its atomic energy program. Putin prefers allowing the United Nations to handle the situation and regards America’s heavy handed approach as emanating from emotion rather than from solid evidence. Sarkozy admitted Russia did not agree with his point of view. “There is a difference of analysis on whether the Iranians are manufacturing the bomb and whether they want to use it.” The French president met with Russian students at Bauman university where he championed freedom of the press and noted, “A country where the judiciary are not independent is not a free country” which Putin interpreted as an attack on his government’s policies.
Before leaving Moscow, Sarkozy met with representatives of the Memorial organization which is involved in defence of human rights in the Caucsus. Putin, undoubtedly, regarded Sarkozy’s comments as another insult to his policies. Sarkozy tried walking the thin line between being a guest and also being a champion of civil rights. In taking a stand for human rights, he most probably angered Putin. A difficulty in dealing with Putin is his anger at placement of missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic which he regards as embedded in western threats to his nation’s integrity. Perhaps, agreeing to work with Putin on the missile base issue might reduce tension between West and Russia.