US rejects Putin accusations of contacts with Caucasus militants
“We flatly reject the notion,” a spokesman for the US embassy in Azerbaijan told AFP.
“Mr Putin’s accounts are significantly different from ours and those of our partners.”
“We’ve seen this on many topics, such as missile defense, the attempted annexation of Crimea, the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, and more.”
In a documentary film broadcast on Russian national television on Sunday, Putin accused the United States of directly contacting and providing logistical support to separatist militants in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region.
He claimed that Russian special services documented “direct contacts” between fighters from the North Caucasus and US security services in Azerbaijan in the early 2000s.
Putin said he had told the US President of the day of Moscow’s discovery and that the US leader, who wasn’t named, promised to “kick their ass.”
“But within 10 days, our — my subordinates, the FSB heads, received a letter from their colleagues in Washington saying: ‘We have had and will have relations with all the opposition forces in Russia and we consider we have the right to do this and we will do this in the future’,” the Russian president added.
Russia fought two full-scale wars with separatist forces in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the situation has largely stabilised in recent years under the controversial Kremlin-friendly leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Although major combat operations ended in Chechnya in 2000, Russian forces are still regularly involved in fatal clashes with militants there as well as in the neighbouring regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.