Putin Accuses U.S. Pushing Georgia Conflict to Influence Elections Back Home

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The White House is rejecting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's claim that the United States pushed Georgia to war, calling the allegation "patently false."

Putin had suggested that U.S. involvement was intended to affect its own domestic politics.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino responded Thursday by saying that "to suggest the U.S. orchestrated [the crisis] on behalf of political candidates is not rational."

Putin made the claims in an interview Thursday with CNN, and Russian news agencies report he said the U.S. seemingly encouraged Georgia to use force to resolve its dispute with separatist South Ossetia.

"The American side in fact armed and trained the Georgian army," ITAR-Tass quoted Putin as saying in the interview. "Why hold years of difficult talks and seek complex compromise solutions in interethnic conflicts? It's easier to arm one side and push it into the murder of the other side, and it's over."

According to ITAR-Tass, he also said: "If my guesses are confirmed, then the suspicion is raised that somebody in the United States purposefully created this conflict with the aim of aggravating the situation and creating an advantage ... for one of the candidates in the battle for the post of U.S. president."

CNN said he provided no evidence, and he apparently did not name a party or candidate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.