Rice: Saakashvili let Russians provoke him into starting war
Condoleezza Rice claimed after the events of August 2008 that the Americans were not involved in the attack on South Ossetia.
Then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili "slipped a leash during the conflict in South Ossetia," Russian President's special envoy for environmental protection, ecology, and transport Sergey Ivanov said in an interview with Kommersant.
Ivanov noted that Condoleezza Rice claimed after the events of August 2008 that the Americans were not involved in the attack on South Ossetia. The subsequent development of events and reaction of the West proved that everyone was perfectly aware of who was guilty of unleashing the war, he added.
"She (Rice - Ed.) admitted that this was Saakashvili's initiative and he is the culprit of the war, but in private she claimed that Saakashvili had slipped a leash," the presidential envoy said.
Also, Ivanov said that before the conflict, Rice had repeatedly assured him that Saakashvili would not push things too far concerning South Ossetia. In particular, the US Secretary of State spoke about this in a private conversation in 2007.
As a result of the armed conflict in the early 1990s, Georgia lost control over South Ossetia. Since then, Tskhinvali sought recognition of the independence, while Tbilisi regarded this area as a Georgian part, offering the autonomy to the Ossetians. In the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) were put in line with the agreement between Moscow and Tbilisi.
The conflict in the zone sharply deteriorated in early August 2008, on the night of the 7th to the 8th day, Georgian troops attacked the capital of South Ossetia, firing at the peacekeepers. Tbilisi explained its actions by "restoration of constitutional order."
Moscow interfered in the military conflict, the Russian military occupied areas that are south of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Dmitry Medvedev, then the Russian President, said peacekeepers were taking part in the "peace enforcement" operation. After the end of hostilities, Russia officially recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Initially, the defendants in the case had been charged with embezzlement through swindling in the amount of 225 million rubles ($3.3 million). In the final version of the indictment, the article was changed to 1.5-billion-ruble ($22.45 million) embezzlement.