Thursday, August 28, 2008
CNN Report: Putin Blames U.S. For Georgian War.
Russia (CNN) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia to benefit one of its presidential election candidates.
In an exclusive interview with CNN's Matthew Chance in the Black Sea city of Sochi Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.
Putin told CNN his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate -- Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush -- although he presented no evidence to back it up.
"U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict," Putin said. "They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino blasted Putin's statements, saying they were "patently false."
"To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational," she said.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood concurred, and labeled Putin's statements as "ludicrous."
"Russia is responsible for the crisis," Wood said in an off-camera meeting with reporters in Washington on Thursday. "For the Russians to say they are not responsible for what happened in Georgia is ludicrous. ... Russia is to blame for this crisis and the world is responding to what Russia has done."
When told that many diplomats in the United States and Europe blame Russia for provoking the conflict and for invading Georgia, Putin said Russia had no choice but to invade Georgia after dozens of its peacekeepers in South Ossetia were killed. He told Chance it was to avert a human calamity. iReport.com: First-person accounts from the center of the conflict
The former Russian president, still considered the most powerful man in the country, said he was disappointed the U.S. had not done more to stop Georgia's attack.
Putin recalled he was watching the situation in Georgia and South Ossetia unfold when he was at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on August 8.
He said he spoke to U.S. President George W. Bush, also attending, who told the Russian prime minister he didn't want war -- but Putin spoke to CNN of his disappointment that the U.S. administration didn't do more to stop Georgia early in the conflict.
Read the full story at CNN.com
Posted by Steve Douglass at 12:30 PM