Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he suspected unnamed persons in the United States had provoked the conflict in Georgia in an attempt to help a candidate in the U.S. presidential election.
Putin said Moscow suspected that U.S. nationals were present in the war zone in Georgia and the Russian military produced a copy of a U.S. passport it said had been retrieved after a bloody clash between Russian troops and Georgian special forces.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Putin’s allegations, made in an interview on CNN, were “patently false” and the U.S. State Department said it was “ludicrous” for the Russians to say they were not responsible for what had happened in Georgia.
In extracts of the interview broadcast on Russian state television, Putin did not say who may have been involved or which of the candidates — Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain — was to have been the beneficiary. …
At a news briefing in Moscow, Russia’s deputy chief of the General Staff, Col. General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said Moscow’s forces had retrieved from a battlefield in Georgia a U.S. national’s passport.
He showed an enlarged, color photocopy of the document which was in the name of a Michael Lee White, born in 1967. The passport, issued in the Texas city of Houston, bore a current visa from Kazakhstan. U.S. citizens do not require a visa for Georgia. – reuters, iht
Some hawkish pro-Kremlin politicians have claimed US Republicans could have provoked the war to keep Democratic candidate Barack Obama out of the White House by fomenting concern among US voters over security, an area in which they say Americans trust Republican John McCain more. – gmanews