At a meeting in Moscow on Thursday with a group of international Russia experts, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave an extensive explanation of his country’s point of view vis-à-vis the recent clash between Russia and Georgia. He made it clear that he believes the conflict was seriously, and even deliberately, misrepresented by the Western media.
Putin seemed particularly stung by language used by the European Union, which condemned the Russian invasion as “disproportionate.” He said Georgian control posts, arms depots and radar stations were distributed across a wide area.
The Russians, he said, had no option but to proceed beyond the conflict zone and into Georgian-held territory—not unlike the Soviet Army in World War II, which kept fighting abroad even after it had driven Nazi forces back across their borders.
[...] Putin issued a great number of reassurances on Thursday: He said Russia had “no ideological conflict” with the West; he said he would be willing to eliminate stockpiles of nuclear weapons; he said he expected Georgians to oust their president, Mikheil Saakashvili, without any help from Russia. Russia, he said, was “not against anybody.”
Well, almost anybody; he spoke of the Western media with undisguised contempt.
“I am surprised at how powerful the propaganda machine of the so-called West is,” he said. “This is awesome! Amazing!” Watching electronic media from Beijing, where he was for the opening of the Olympic Games, during the first days of the crisis, he said, he saw “absolute silence, as if nothing was happening. As if this was commanded. I congratulate you. I congratulate those who were involved in this.”
Vlad ‘n’ George: Putin also quipped on Thursday that he likes Bush far more than many Americans do at this time. Putin and Bush are pictured here on July 2, 2007, in Kennebunkport, Maine.