Putin accused Georgia of seeking to use military means to resolve the conflicts in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which he called a "big mistake."
The deterioration of Russian-Georgian relations is linked precisely to that -- to the attempts, or the preparation of a possible military solution of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia problems," he said.
Putin said the actions Russia has taken against Georgia over the past few weeks are aimed at "preventing bloodshed" in these regions. Russia has cracked down on Georgian businesses and deported some Georgians living in Russia back to Tbilisi.
He made his remarks during a live televised question-and-answer session with the Russian public.
Russian military hardware being withdrawn from a Russian base in Batumi, Georgia, in August 2005 (TASS)
WHAT COMES NEXT? Although Russia is unlikely to push an aggressive military response to the current tensions with Georgia, it has a number of economic, political, and diplomatic options at its disposal. Already on October 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned his inner circle to weigh Moscow's options... (more)