Former President George W. Bush once remarked that he'd peered into Vladimir Putin's and eyes and seen his soul. That soul, he now says, has "changed" for the worse.
In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Bush said he truly believed Putin wanted to mend fences with the West when he was still in office. Bush pursued a closer relationship with Moscow during his tenure, and the Obama White House continued that effort in the early years of Obama's presidency, too. But Bush said a spike in the price of oil convinced Putin to take a more militaristic, confrontational approach to the rest of the world of late, culminating with the situation in Ukraine.
"I think it changed his attitude," Bush said. "And I think it emboldened him to follow in his game that pretty much zero-sum, you know, I win and you lose and vice versa."
Bush did not say whether he would as a result be painting a new portrait of the Russian leader to jibe with his new assessment of the man.