French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said on November 13, that it was him and not the U.S. President, George W. Bush, who intervened and helped to stop the August war between Georgia and Russia.
“When on August 8 someone had to leave for Moscow or Tbilisi, who defended human rights? Was it the president of the United States who said 'This is unacceptable'? Or was it France which kept up the dialogue,” AFP reported quoting Sarkozy, who was speaking at a ceremony in the Elysee Palace, where he was awarded with a prize for “political courage” handed out by Politique Internationale magazine.
“I remember the American president's call the day before our departure for Moscow: 'Don't go there, they [the Russians] want to go to Tbilisi, they're 40 kilometers away. Don't go, [just] condemn it'… We were there with [French Foreign Minister] Bernard Kouchner, as if by chance while we were there, the ceasefire was announced,” AFP reported quoting Sarkozy.
Meanwhile, the French weekly news magazine le Nouvel Observateur reported on citing the French President’s foreign policy advisor, Jean-David Levitte, that Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, wanted the Russian troops to capture Tbilisi and overthrow President Saakashvili, but President Sarkozy convinced him not to do that when the French leader was in Moscow on August 12.
Citing account of Jean-David Levitte of alleged conversation between Putin and Sarkozy, the news magazine reported that the Russian PM told the French President: “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls.” Sarkozy responded: “Hang him?” "Why not?” Putin replied, “the Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.” “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Sarkozy asked. PM Putin replied after a pause: “Ah, you have scored a point there.”
The Times reported that after a French radio station read the account to President Saakashvili, who was in Paris on November 13 where he met with Sarkozy, Saakashvili, as the Times put it, “laughed nervously” and responded: “I knew about this scene, but not all the details.”