Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he does not believe that the United States encouraged Georgia’s aggression against its breakaway republic of South Ossetia in 2008, but could have given President Mikheil Saakashvili “wrong ideas.”
“I do not believe that the Americans encouraged the Georgian leader to launch aggression,” Medvedev said in an interview with Russian and Georgian media on Thursday.
“But I think that there are certain nuances, certain emphatic phrases, saying it is time to restore constitutional order, to act more decisively, which could have given [Saakashvili] obvious hopes that in any conflict ‘the Americans would not abandon us’ [Georgia], they would step in to help us, or even start a war against the Russians,” he said.
Medvedev emphasized that after a visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Georgia in July 2008, Tbilisi suddenly ceased attempts to continue dialogue with Moscow on the subject of South Ossetia and another breakaway republic, Abkhazia.
“I am certain it was then that the idea [to attack S. Ossetia] took shape, and that’s exactly what happened in August.
Russia and Georgia began a five-day war on August 8, 2008 after Georgia attacked its breakaway republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control, killing dozens of Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of local residents.
Medvedev denied Saakashvili’s allegations that Russia had been seeking to wage a war against Georgia for a long time.
“It is all rubbish. Saakashvili talks a lot, and often lets his tongue loose and cannot control it. I have been part of the Russian leadership for ten years and we had never discussed such a possibility,” the Russian president said.
“You know very well that nobody wants a conflict. Everybody would have benefited if we managed to avoid that conflict, especially Georgia,” Medvedev said. “It is a big tragedy that we failed to do that.”