Chechen President Says U.S. Fomenting Caucasus Unrest

GROZNY -- Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has accused the United States of fomenting unrest in the Caucasus and emboldening Georgia to launch an attack on South Ossetia.

Speaking to members of the Valdai Discussion Club at his residence near Grozny, he said Russia's crushing defeat of Georgian troops in their brief war was the appropriate response.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili "was dancing to someone else's tune," Kadyrov said during the one-hour briefing. "He started a war, an inhuman war. ... The United States was testing Russia through Georgia, and Russia reacted decisively."

He backed Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia and neighboring Abkhazia's declaration of independence from Georgia, a move condemned internationally and followed only by Nicaragua.

The mountainous Caucasus region is a vital conduit for Caspian oil, but the conflict over South Ossetia and violence in Ingushetia and Dagestan have caused concern in the West over energy security.

"As for Ingushetia and Dagestan -- the West is also influencing these republics," Kadyrov said. "We are ready to support the Russian Federation leadership in all areas -- military and economic."

Despite Kadyrov's satisfaction with progress in restoring security to Chechnya, Grozny is still closed to outsiders unless they have special permission. Large barracks lie at the outskirts of the airport. Soldiers are stationed at regular intervals on the road to Kadyrov's extravagant residence, where peacocks wander in the gardens. On the hillside above is written in Arabic: "Only Allah is higher."

"I am a servant of the nation. There were years when I had to take a machine gun in my hand, but today the people need houses so our focus is on the economy," Kadyrov said.