SOCHI, Russia -- The United States' "carte blanche" support for Georgia's leaders helped provoke the conflict there and should now be scrapped, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said today.
But Medvedev's criticism was milder than remarks by his mentor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has accused Washington of orchestrating the violence in Georgia to benefit the Republican candidate in the race for the White House.
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Georgia and two other ex-Soviet states this week to reinforce Washington's support for allies in Russia's backyard.
"The United States of America actively helped Georgia draw up its military policy and stuffed it with money and weapons," Medvedev said in an interview with Italy's RAI broadcaster, recorded at his Black Sea summer residence. "Unfortunately, at a certain point they gave [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili carte blanche for any actions, including military. All that was translated into aggression.
"This is very sad, and I think it is time for our American partners to re-evaluate their relations with the current regime, if only because [Saakashvili] has put Georgia in a very awkward situation," Medvedev said in the interview.
The Kremlin incurred Western condemnation for sending troops and tanks into Georgia and recognizing the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
Russia said it was forced to act to prevent what it called a genocide of the separatist population after Saakashvili's troops attempted to retake South Ossetia.
Russian has said it discovered identity documents for U.S. citizens in the conflict zone. Putin said he suspected that was evidence Washington had played a role in sparking the fighting. Washington said that was "patently false."