Friday, August 29, 2008

Putin smells a US rat in Georgia crisis

AS RUSSIA struggled to rally international support for its military action in Georgia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has lashed out at the US, contending that the White House may have orchestrated the conflict to benefit one of the candidates in the presidential election.

Putin's comments in a television interview, his most extensive to date on Russia's decision to send troops into Georgia earlier this month, sought to present the military operation as a response to brazen, Cold War-style provocations by the US.

In tones that seemed alternately angry and mischievous, Putin suggested the Bush administration may have tried to create a crisis that would influence American voters in the choice of a successor to President George W Bush.

"The suspicion would arise that someone in the United States created this conflict on purpose to stir up the situation and to create an advantage for one of the candidates in the competitive race for the presidency in the United States," Putin said in an interview with CNN.

Putin did not specify which candidate he had in mind, but there was no doubt that he was referring to Republican Senator John McCain.

McCain is loathed in the Kremlin because he has a close relationship with Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and has called for imposing stiff penalties on Russia, including ejecting it from the Group of 8 industrialised nations.

Putin offered scant evidence to support his assertion, and the White House called his comments absurd.

But they underscored the depth of the rift between Moscow and Washington over the GeorgiaRussia. crisis, which flared three weeks ago when the Georgian military tried to reclaim a breakaway enclave allied with

They also suggested that the Russian leader was deeply concerned about the possibility McCain, widely viewed here as having a strong bias against Russia, could become president.

Russia has been struggling to persuade the outside world to back its action in Georgia.

On Thursday, China and four other countries meeting with Russia for the annual summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance, declined to back Russia's military action in a joint communique.

Putin's interview came after his protege, President Dmitri Medvedev, had spoken to several foreign news media outlets this week as part of a concerted move by the Kremlin to counter Georgia's public relations offensive in the international media.

Medvedev's tone was less harsh, though he also criticised the West.

On Thursday, Putin also said Russian defence officials believed US citizens had been in the conflict area supporting the Georgian military when it attacked the separatist region of South Ossetia.

"Even during the Cold War, during the time of tough confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, we have always avoided direct clashes between our civilians, let alone our service men," Putin said.

"We have serious reasons to believe that directly, in the combat zone, citizens of the United States were present."

"If the facts are confirmed," he added, "that United States citizens were present in the combat zone, that means only one thing — that they could be there only on the direct instruction of their leadership. And if this is so, then it means that American citizens are in the combat zone, performing their duties, and they can only do that following a direct order from their leader, and not on their own initiative."

In Washington, White House spokesman Dana Perino dismissed Putin's remarks.

"To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational," she said.

Well you know he may be Right!
Cheney does Love War and the profits from it now doesn't he? Anything to take the Focus off Iraq. And what better way to frighten the American people into thinking they need another war president to defend them from yet another evil country? So how do you arrange another war and orchestrate the need for one? Cheney and company know how to do that all to well it seems.
Now where are those weapons of mass destruction Iraq had? Well they never had any at all and of course they were never found . So to start a war you lie and coerce of course. Feed the country loads of propaganda. Fear monger.

Why was Cheney’s top guy in Georgia just before the war?

James Gerstenzang, Countdown to Crawford – Los Angeles Times

What was a top national security aide to Vice President Dick Cheney doing in Georgia shortly before Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's troops engaged in what became a disastrous fight with South Ossetian rebels – and then Russian troops?

Not, according to the vice president's office, what you might think – if your thinking takes you into the realm of Cheney giving his blessing to the Georgian's military operation.

To be sure, Cheney has been a leader of the hardliners in the administration when it comes to standing up to Russia – to the point that the man who ran the Pentagon as the Cold War came to an end during the administration of the first President Bush has been seen as ready to renew that face-off with Moscow.

It was Cheney who visited the Georgian embassy in Washington last week to sign a remembrance book as a demonstration of the administration's support.

And yes, Joseph R. Wood, Cheney's deputy assistant for national security affairs, was in Georgia

But, the vice president's office says, he was there as part of a team setting up the vice president's just-announced visit to Georgia. (It is common for the White House to send security, policy, communications and press aides to each site the president and vice president will visit ahead of the trip, to begin making arrangements and planning the agenda.)

The White House disclosed on Monday that Cheney would hurry over to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy next week, almost immediately after addressing the Republican National Convention on Labor Day.

And so it was that a team from the vice president's office, U.S. security officials and others were in Georgia several days before the war began.

It had nothing to do, the vice president's office said, with a military operation that some have said suggests a renewal of the Cold War.
shortly before the war began.

Cheney trip to Georgia planned before crisis

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to Georgia next week as part of a broader visit to "key partners" in Europe and Asia, the White House said Monday.

Vice President Dick Cheney signs a condolence book last week at the Georgian Embassy in Washington.

Cheney, who will depart on September 2, will meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose country was invaded by Russian forces this month after a Georgian crackdown on separatists in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

"The president felt it was important to have the vice president consult with allies in the region on our common security interests," White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said.

Cheney will "reiterate U.S. commitment" to Georgia during his visit, and he will consult with Saakashvili "on common security interests," an administration official said.

A senior administration official said Cheney's trip had been planned before the Russia-Georgia conflict.

Last week, President Bush telephoned Saakashvili and told him he expects Russia to withdraw its forces from the former Soviet republic and end "their siege of Georgia," a White House spokesman said.

Cheney also will visit the leaders of Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Italy during next week's trip. He also will address the annual Ambrosetti Forum in Lake Como in northern Italy.