Mar. 25, 2005 12:00 AM
WACO, Texas – President Bush expanded his planned May trip to Moscow by
adding stops in two former Soviet republics that have resisted Russian influence, an itinerary seen as a pointed message to President Vladimir Putin.
Bush will visit the Baltic republic of Latvia and the southern Caucasus nation of Georgia during a trip centered around a Moscow celebration of the 60th anniversary of the victory in World War II, the White House said Thursday.
The addition of Latvia and Georgia to the trip is likely to irritate the Russians, while demonstrating U.S. concern over Moscow’s attempts to
exercise sway over parts of its former empire, analysts said. In Riga, Bush will meet with the leaders of Latvia and two other Baltic states, Lithuania and Estonia, which have been most hostile to Moscow and recently joined NATO.
In Tbilisi, Georgia, Bush will celebrate the bloodless Rose Revolution of November 2003 that overthrew a corrupt government and encouraged a series of
popular movements in the former Soviet Union.