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Russian Generals Accuse Medvedev Of Hesitation In Russia-Georgia War

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Russian officers claim that Vladimir Putin (right) had to push then-President Dmitry Medvedev to take action after the Georgian Army advanced into South Ossetia in 2008.

Russian officers claim that Vladimir Putin (right) had to push then-President Dmitry Medvedev to take action after the Georgian Army advanced into South Ossetia in 2008.

Top current and former Russian military commanders have accused ex-President Dmitry Medvedev of hesitation in ordering military operations in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia in 2008, causing unnecessary casualties.

The charges came on the fourth anniversary of the conflict and were aired in a 47-minute documentary that appeared on August 8 on the Internet.

In the film called "The Lost Day," whose author is unknown, senior officers said Medvedev dithered as commander in chief until pushed to act by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

General Yury Baluyevsky, who served as chief of the General Staff until shortly before the August war, said in the documentary that Medvedev and his associates were "afraid to give the command," until they received "a kick" from Putin.

Putin, who was attending the Olympic Games in Beijing at the time, told journalists in Moscow on August 8 that he had called Medvedev twice.

"As far as telephone calls are concerned, yes, I called Dmitry Medvedev twice, on August 7 and August 8 [2008], as well as the defense minister, and we talked about the problem," Putin said.

Putin, who is currently Russia's president, maintained that Russia's General Staff had worked out a plan in advance to repel any Georgian attacks.

"The plan [for potential armed conflict with Georgia] was prepared by the General Staff at the end of 2006 or at the beginning of 2007 and I approved it," he said.

Putin said part of that plan included training local militias in South Ossetia to help Russian troops in the event that open hostilities broke out with Georgia.

In an interview aired on Russian and Georgian television last year, Medvedev had stated that "nobody called anybody" as the conflict commenced.

"I got in touch [with Putin] on the following day," he said, "by then I had already given all the orders. [The conflict] was already in full blaze."

Speaking from South Ossetia on August 8, where he traveled to mark the war's anniversary, Medvedev said the decision to go to war was made in a "timely" fashion, avoiding what could have been large casualties.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and AFP

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