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Putin accuses US of supporting North Caucasus separatists

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has accused the US of providing support to militants in Russia's North Caucasus region. Putin declared his suspicions in a documentary to mark 15 years since he first became president.

In a new documentary celebrating 15 years of his rule as President, Russia's Vladimir Putin claimed the US helped separatists in Russia's North Caucasus region in the 2000s.

"Once, our special services documented what were simply direct contacts between fighters from the North Caucasus and representatives of US Special Forces in Azerbaijan," Putin said, referring to two wars beginning in the 1990s, when Russia fought Islamic rebels in

Chechnya

and neighboring regions in the volatile Caucasus.

After the second Chechen war, which ended in 2009, Moscow installed a pro-Kremlin regime in the republic, headed by Akhmad Kadyrov and later by his son Ramzan Kadyrov. US forces "helped with transport" for the rebels, Putin alleged.

On complaining about the issue to the US President at the time, George W. Bush, the response that Putin received was said to have been: "I'll kick their ass."

After 10 days, however, senior Russian officials received a letter from Washington which said, "We have had and will have all relations with all the opposition forces in Russia and we consider we have the right to do this and we will do this in future."

West would 'not mind Russia's disintegration'

The Russian head of state also said many world leaders told him they would not mind Russia's possible disintegration. "My counterparts - a lot of presidents and prime ministers - told me later on that they had decided for themselves... that Russia would cease to exist in its current form," Putin said in the film.

The Russian president believed western security agencies supported the militants because they thought any opponent of Russia should be treated as an ally, but he insisted that governments should never "try to use terrorists to sole transitory political and even geopolitical tasks…Because if you support them in one place, they will raise their head in another place and they will definitely strike those who supported them yesterday," Putin said in the documentary, scheduled to be aired later on Sunday.

mg/rc (AFP, AP)

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