Russian “president” Vladimir Putin was interviewed by CNN last Thursday, speaking to correspondent Matthew Chance. To put it mildly, Putin doesn’t come off too well in the interview, and Russia’s propaganda machine immediately cranked up to full-bore lunacy in an attempt to smear CNN.
With a straight face, Putin denied to Chance that he gave the orders to attack Georgia, something even the ignorant people of Russia know is a lie. Putin’s statement is not even consistent with his own remarks to Chance, which profess deep knowledge of the fine details of the crisis even though, when it began, he was in Beijing. It’s obvious that Putin could not have that knowledge unless he was calling the shots, but like a child Putin wants to try to have his cake and eat it too.
During the interview itself, Putin stated: “If you think that this is unimportant, you may cut it from the program. Don’t hesitate, I wouldn’t mind.” Yet, after the interview the Kremlin’s minions, as indicated in the link above, immediately accused CNN of censoring the interview and showing only the worst bits.
In terrifying fashion, Putin stated:
I would like to recall that all these state entities, each in its own time, voluntarily integrated into the Russian Empire. Back in the mid-18th century, in 1745-1747, Ossetia was the first to become part of the Russian Empire. At that time, it was a united entity; North and South Ossetia were one state. In 1801, if my memory serves me, Georgia itself, which was under some pressure from the Ottoman Empire, voluntarily became part of the Russian Empire.
The “president of Russia” stated, in other words, that he has the right to annex not just Ossetia but the whole of Georgia.
In a demented and shamelessly dishonest manner, Putin begins his “chronology” of the events in Georgia after the persistent shelling of Georgian positions by the Ossetian rebels, starting with the Georgian attack on Ossetia that came in response to that shelling.
Putin accuses the U.S. of failing to restrain Georgia, yet he condemns the U.S. for having influence in Georgia and he denies any Russian failure to restrain the Ossetians.
Chance directly asks Putin “what evidence” he has to support his claim, condemned by even the most ardent Russophiles, that U.S. spies were assisting the Georgian military campaign on the ground. Here is Putin’s entire answer, which Chance then calls “farfetched” (and that’s putting it mildly, because Putin does not name one shred of evidence, instead he only uses what he apparently considers logic and admits it is just a “hypothesis”):
I have said to you that if the presence of U.S. citizens in the zone of hostilities is confirmed, it would mean only one thing: that they could be there only at the direct instruction of their leaders. And if that is so, it means that in the combat zone there are U.S. citizens who are fulfilling their duties there. They can only do that under orders from their superiors, not on their own initiative. Ordinary specialists, even if they train military personnel, must do it in training centers or on training grounds rather than in a combat zone. I repeat: This requires further confirmation. I am quoting to you the reports of our military. Of course, I will seek further evidence from them. Why are you surprised at my hypothesis, after all? There are problems in the Middle East; reconciliation there is elusive. In Afghanistan, things are not getting any better; what is more, the Taliban have launched a fall offensive, and dozens of NATO servicemen are being killed. In Iraq, after the euphoria of the first victories, there are problems everywhere, and the number of those killed has reached 4,000. There are problems in the economy, as we know only too well. There are financial problems, the mortgage crisis. Even we are concerned about it, and we want it to end soon, but it is there. A little victorious war is needed. And if it doesn’t work, then one can lay the blame on us, use us to create an enemy image, and against the backdrop of this kind of jingoism once again rally the country around certain political forces. I am surprised that you are surprised at what I’m saying. It’s as clear as day.
These statements are so fully neo-Soviet, so ignorant and so paranoid, that even a passionate Russophile must be terrified by them. They imply that Russia is being governed by a madman. And remember: This is not the first time Putin has made these statments, he’s already heard worldwide repudiation of them. Yet, he’s stubbornly repeating them, just as the Politburo always did.