During interviews for a documentary on the early days of his presidency, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed his government had intercepted phone calls made by US intelligence assets in Azerbaijan to Islamist separatist groups in the northern Caucasus of Russia.
Russia has faced several separatist movements in and around Chechnya since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Putin claimed to have confronted President George W. Bush with the evidence, and to have been assured by Bush that he would prevent further actions and “kick the asses of” those agents responsible.
This apparently didn’t work as hoped, as Putin went on to say that the Russian FSB, their primary intelligence agency, received a letter from “American counterparts” shortly thereafter insisting they intended to support all opposition groups inside Russia.
Presidents Bush and Putin were seen on relatively good terms through most of the former’s presidency, though relations began to again deteriorate in 2008, with the US backing Georgia in the brief Russo-Georgian War.
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