In an interview with CNN Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict may have been staged to secure a victory for one of the presidential candidates in the U.S. He says preliminary reports show that U.S. citizens may have been present in the combat zone.
"We have serious reasons to believe that American citizens were right at the heart of the military action. This would have implications for American domestic policy. If this is confirmed, we will have grounds to suspect that somebody in the U.S. has created this conflict to aggravate the situation and create a competitive advantage for one of the presidential candidates".
Russia's Prime Minister also commented on the media coverage of the recent events.
"As far as the perception of these events by the general public goes, it depends not only on politicians, but also on how artful they are in controlling the mass media. And our American colleagues do this much better than we do and there's a lot we can learn from them".
Putin stressed that Russia did not attack and cannot be portrayed as an aggressor.
"We didn't attack anyone, we were attacked and therefore we need guarantees that we won't be attacked again, and that our citizens won't be killed. They are trying to present us as aggressors".
The Prime Minister has given a detailed chronology of the events between August 7 and 10.
"On 7 August, at 14:42, the Georgian peacekeepers left the headquarters of the peacekeeping forces under the pretext that they'd received orders from their commanders to leave their posts, and they never returned.
One hour later, heavy artillery shelling began.
At 22:35 a massive bombardment of Tsklhinval started. At 22:50 the transfer of Georgian ground troops started to the combat area. At the same time Georgian field hospitals were set up.
And at 23:30 the Brigadeer General commanding the Georgian peacekeeping forces announced that Georgia has declared a war against South Ossetia. They announced this publicly, looking straight into the TV cameras.
At that point we tried to contact the Georgian leadership, but everyone refused to talk to us.
At 12:45 AM on the 8th of August the Georgian commander repeated his statement. So who attacked whom?"
The former Russian president reiterated that the country has 'no intention of attacking anyone, or of fighting a war with anyone'.
"For eight years while I was President I often heard one and the same question -- what place does Russia think it should occupy in the world? We are a peace-loving state and want to co-operate with all our neighbours and other states. But if someone thinks they can just come in and kill us, and that our place is in the cemetery, these people should think of the consequences of such policies".
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