Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he considers Georgia's leader a ''puppet'' of Washington and is backing Russia in its conflict with the former Soviet republic.
Chavez said Sunday on his weekly broadcast show that the Russians ''did what they had to do'' in response to what he called a military provocation in the Georgian province of South Ossetia.
Chavez accused Washington of sparking the conflict, saying Georgia's troops were armed and trained by the United States. He did not elaborate, but added that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is ''nothing but a puppet of the U.S. empire.''