The United States has maintained close ties with Georgia since President Mikheil Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated fluent English speaker, came to power on the back of the 2003 "rose revolution." American military trainers have instructed Georgian troops and Washington said on Sunday that it was ready to provide $10 million to Tbilisi to help its bid to join NATO this year.
"The Russian side highlighted that any actions of third countries that Georgia's leadership could interpret as encouraging its destructive policy were unacceptable and dangerous for peace and stability in the region," the Kremlin news service said after Putin's telephone conversation with George W. Bush.
Russia has been less than impressed with the U.S. presence on its southern border. Reacting to an acrimonious dispute with Tbilisi after Georgian authorities arrested four Russian officers on spying charges last week, Putin hinted Georgia could not expect its "foreign sponsors" to guarantee its security completely.
Russian-Georgian relations, already complicated in the last few years over the presence of Russian peacekeepers in two conflict zones in Georgia, hit rock bottom after Georgia arrested the servicemen. Moscow dismissed the accusations and although Tbilisi handed over the officers to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Monday, Russia had already suspended travel and postal links with Caucasus state.
Putin and Bush also focused on the need to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem peacefully and discussed the course of the bilateral talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization, the Kremlin press service said.