Vladimir Putin and George Bush could have met in Kaliningrad, not in St. Petersburg, RIA Novosti has learnt from sources in the Kremlin who disclosed some details of the arrangements for the meeting between the presidents of Russia and the USA.
RIA Novosti's interlocutors noted that several variants were considered during the choice of a venue of the meeting, and specifically there was an idea to hold talks in Kaliningrad (the centre of the Kaliningrad Region - a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea which will be separated from the rest of Russia after the enlargement of the European Union).
According to the sources, the American side voiced "a benevolent attitude" to this proposal but it was rejected "for technical reasons". It turned out the U.S. president's aircraft would not be able to land in Kaliningrad.
The Russian side also stressed that its proposal was not in the least aimed at "counterposing the USA to the European Union" with which, in expert opinion, half-way decisions on the problem of the Kaliningrad Region in connection with the expansion of the EU were recently taken.
The sources reported that the initiative to hold the meeting was launched by Vladimir Putin while George Bush, for his part, backed it right away.
When Moscow learnt about the U.S. president's plans to visit Europe, Lithuania in particular, the Russian side proposed that the U.S. administration take advantage of this opportunity to arrange a meeting of the two leaders. As the source said, "the American counterparts reacted most positively and constructively".
Earlier, Putin and Bush were supposed to meet within the framework of the APEC summit in Mexico in late October, but the president of Russia decided not to take part in this forum in connection with the hostage-taking in Moscow.
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now