Ex-Georgia President: Ferocious Putin Fears Western 'Love Trap'

Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 06:04 PM

By Greg Richter

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A man who has faced Russian President Vladimir Putin in war says Putin has no concern about being liked; he wants only to be feared.

In fact, Putin worries the West is trying to lure him into a "love trap" with all its talk of peace and getting along, Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of the Republic of Georgia, told Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has tried the "love" route in recent days, trying to shame Putin by saying he is using 19th-century actions in a 21st-century world.

Saakashvili said such words don't concern Putin.

"He doesn't want to be liked by his neighbors. He wants to be feared by his neighbors," Saakashvili said.

Putin's only fear is that the West is trying to lure him into a "love trap" so it can defeat him, Saakashvili said. Putin wants his neighbors to fear him so they respect him. That applies to the United States as well.

Putin and Saakashvili faced off in 2008 in a situation similar to the current crisis in Ukraine. Russian troops moved into portions of Georgia to back up rebel groups, and they remain there to this day.

Saakashvili warned that if proper action isn't taken now, Putin will do the same in Ukraine. He already has sent troops into the vital Crimean Peninsula, home to many ethnic Russians.

Promises of action from the United States and Europe won't impress Putin, Saakashvili said. He said the last time he met Putin was in the run-up to the 2008 war.

"He told me, 'Your friends in the West promise you lots of nice things, but you know, they almost never deliver. I don't promise you nice things, but I certainly do deliver," Saakashvili said.

The former Georgian president said he advises Ukrainians to exercise a maximum degree of self-restraint, but also to get ready for the worst because "Vladimir Putin certainly is not going to stop."

Russia has plans to stay in Crimea because it has a large supply of shale gas, he said. Ukraine was planning to extract the gas within the next two years along with a U.S. company. That would have threatened Russia's own gas deals with Europe.

While keeping troops in Crimea, Putin plans to keep the rest of Ukraine in chaos and to keep a foothold in the country permanently, Saakashvili warned.

Putin's tactic, he said, is to grab the territory, then allow the West a means to save face before turning attention somewhere else in the world. Meanwhile, he'll build up his own political influence inside Russia, then go for another land grab.

"It will be a never-ending story of destabilization unless something [is] permanently done now," Saakashvili said.

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