Jean-David Levitte, Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, reported the following exchange between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, back in August when the situation with Georgia was going on:
Levitte said that on August 12th, Sarkozy told Putin that the world would not react kindly if Russia overthrew the Georgian government, specifically Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, as Russian tanks were only 30 miles from Tbilisi. He then reported the following exchange:
“I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Putin replied to Sarkozy’s above comments (which there is no exact quote for).
Sarkozy: “Hang him?”
Putin: “Why not? The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”
Sarkozy: “Yes but do you want to end up like Bush?”
Putin, after recovery from a loss for words: “Ah, you have scored a point there.”
President Mikhail Saakashvili, after hearing the exchange, told reporters, “I knew about this scene, but not all the details. It’s funny, all the same.”
Now, although this is somewhat amusing, it is also scary at the same time, because it confirms suspicions that Putin, not President Dmitry Medvedev, is really the one calling the shots in Moscow.
I will say, Sarkozy is one of my favorite foreign leaders, and I hope that he’ll continue to stand up against Russia.