(last edited September 12, 2008)

Ossetian Conflict

{{Campaignbox Georgian-Ossetian conflicts}}

The Georgian–Ossetian conflict refers to the ethno-political conflict in Georgia's? [autonomous region]? of [South Ossetia]?, which evolved in 1989 and developed into a [[1991–1992 South Ossetia War|civil war]] in 1991–1992. Despite a declared ceasefire? and numerous peace efforts, the conflict remains unresolved, minor armed incidents persist and a large part of the region is still out of control of the central Georgian? government. In August 2008, diplomatic tensions and clashes between Georgia and South Ossetia erupted into the [2008 South Ossetia war]?.

Origins of the conflict

{{Georgia-Russia}} Both breakaway republics of Georgia? - Abkhazia? and South Ossetia - are striving for a future that is independent of Georgia, but each has a very different history.

The [South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast]? was created in 1922 after the [Soviet occupation of Georgia]?. Hostilities broke out [in 1918? after the First World War along with various Caucasian conflicts.

In the late 1980s, when perestroika policy initiated by Premier Gorbachev, rising nationalism? in the [Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic]? (SSR) and country’s movement towards independence were opposed by the Ossetian nationalistic organization, [Ademon Nykhas]? (Popular Front) (created in 1988), which demanded greater autonomy for the region and finally, unification with Russia’s North Ossetia. On [November 10]? 1989?, the South Ossetian [Supreme Soviet]? approved a decision to unite South Ossetia with the [North Ossetian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic]?, part of the [Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic]?. However, a day later, the Georgian SSR Supreme Soviet revoked the decision and on 23 November, thousands of Georgian nationalists led by [Zviad Gamsakhurdia]? and other opposition leaders marched to Tskhinvali?, the South Ossetian capital, to hold a meeting there. The Ossetians mobilized blocking the road and only the interference of Soviet Army units could avoid the clash between the two demonstrations. The Soviet commanders made Georgian demonstrators turn back. However, several people were wounded in subsequent clashes between Georgians and Ossetians.

By the beginning of 1990 South Ossetian forces had 300-400 poorly armed fighters, however their number grew to about 1,500 in six-months time. Main source of small arms for South Ossetian militias was the Soviet Army helicopter regiment based in Tskhinvali. Ethnic Georgians in neighbouring villages also organised a self-defence force known as Merab Kostava Society. Rivalling militias engaged in sporadic low-level fighting.<ref>{{cite book |title= Understanding Civil War |last= Collier|first= Paul|authorlink=Paul Collier|coauthors= Nicholas Sambanis|year= 2005|publisher=World Bank Publications|isbn= 0821360493|pages= 271|url=http://www.google.ru/books?id=tyBCW9sA-ekC&dq=Abkhazia&as_brr=1&hl=en&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 }}</ref>

The Georgian Supreme Council adopted a law barring regional parties in summer 1990. This was interpreted by Ossetians as a move against Ademon Nykhas and on [20 September]? 1990?, the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast declared independence as the South Ossetian Democratic Soviet Republic, appealing to Moscow? to recognise it as an independent subject of the [Soviet Union]?. When the election of the Georgian Supreme Council took place in October 1990, it was boycotted by the South Ossetians. On [December 10]? 1990?, [South Ossetia]? held its own elections, declared illegal by Georgia. A day later, Georgian Supreme Soviet canceled the results of the Ossetian elections and abolished South Ossetian autonomy.<footnote(Hastening The End of the Empire)>

On [December 11]? 1990?, several bloody incidents occurred in and around Tskhinvali?. Georgian government declared a [state of emergency]? in the districts of Tskhinvali? and Java? on [December 12]?. Georgian police and National Guards units were dispatched in the region to disarm Ossetian armed groups.

At the time of the [dissolution of the USSR]?, the [United States]? government [recognized as legitimate]? the pre-[Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact]? 1933? borders of the country (the [Franklin D. Roosevelt]? government established diplomatic relations with the Kremlin at the end of that year<ref>"Pretty Fat Turkey", [TIME Magazine]?, November 27, 1933 </ref>). Because of this, the [George H. W. Bush]? administration openly supported the restoration of independence of the [Baltic SSRs]?, but regarded the questions related to the independence and territorial conflicts of Georgia?, Armenia?, Azerbaijan? and the rest of the Transcaucasus? — which were integral part of the USSR with international borders unaltered since the 1920s — as internal Soviet affairs.<ref>America Abroad, [TIME Magazine]?, June 10, 1991</ref>

==The conflict and tensions timeline== ===1918-1920 South Ossetia conflict=== {{main|Georgian-Ossetian conflict (1918-1920)}} {{Expand-section|date=August 2008}} The Georgian-Ossetian conflict (1918-1920) comprised a series of uprisings, which took place in the Ossetian-inhabited areas of what is now South Ossetia, a breakaway republic in Georgia, against the [Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic]? and then the Menshevik?-dominated [Democratic Republic of Georgia]? which claimed several thousand lives.

===The 1991–1992 South Ossetia War=== {{main|1991–1992 South Ossetia War}} {{Expand-section|date=August 2008}} The Ossetian–Georgian tensions escalated into a 1991–1992 war which killed some 3,000 people. [[Image:SO2.jpg|thumb|left|300px|Hatched shading shows Georgian-controlled areas in South Ossetia in June 2007 (according to Tbilisi, Georgia)<ref>[Crisis group 2007 Appendix D]?</ref>.]]

===The ceasefire=== Georgian and Ossetian? sides began Russia?n and OSCE?-mediated negotiations on peaceful resolution of the conflict on [October 30]? 1995?. The major break through in negotiation happened in May 1996 when the two sides signed a 'Memorandum on measures for providing security and joint confidence' in which the two sides renounced the use of force. This was followed up by several meetings between then-President of Georgia, [Eduard Shevardnadze]?, and de facto President of [South Ossetia]? [Ludwig Chibirov]?, and their respective heads of governments.

Refugees resettled in the zone of conflict but still only in small numbers, the major obstacle being the economic situation in the region. Numerous small steps of co-operation between Georgians and Ossetians took place.

During this time there was an absence of central control over the region.<ref name="CG1">[Crisis Group page 1]?</ref><!-- to add: CG2007 page 1 implies economic survival was a cause of smuggling increase --> The Ergneti? market on the outskirts of Tskhinvali? was a large trade hub through which smuggling lost Georgia significant revenue.<ref name="CG1"/> This trade increased support for the breakaway Kokoity regime.<ref name="CG1"/> The unresolved conflict encouraged development of such illegal activities as kidnapping, drug-trafficking and arms trading.<ref name="GC2004">[Crisis Group 2004 pages 9-10]?</ref>

The 2004 flare-up

<!-- this header is linked from [2008 South Ossetia War]? so don't change its title without changing the incoming link first--> {{Refimprovesect|date=August 2008}} [[Image:SouthOssetia? region detailed map.JPG|thumb|Detailed map of South Ossetia showing the secessionist and Georgian-controlled territories, November 2004.]]

When Mikheil Saakashvili? was elected President in 2003, he made his goals clear to return the two breakaway regions of Georgia? under central control. He chose NATO?, especially the U.S. as his key allies in foreign policy, in exchange he received financial and material support from western countries. U.S. advisers started to train Georgian forces to make them professional in unequal style fighting against militants under the aegis of "[War on Terrorism]?". Georgia became the third largest participant of U.S. coalition in terms of numbers after U.S. and U.K.. Georgia received free weapons from U.S., Israel, Germany, and Baltic states. The country's military budget, replenished with U.S. aid increased steadily since Saakashvili's entering to office. In this situation, tensions between Georgia and its breakaway republics was on the rise. In May 2004, following the success in another poorly-controlled province of Ajara? (the Ajars are closer to ethnic Georgians), President [Mikheil Saakashvili]?’s government turned their attention to [South Ossetia]?. Saakashvili offered humanitarian aid to both the Georgian and Ossetian? population and promised to give the region broad autonomy.<ref>''Georgia unveils settlement offer'', The [BBC News]?, [January 25]?, 2005?.</ref>

In mid-June, Georgian police shut down the Ergneti market, which was a major trading point for tax-free goods from Russia?. These Georgian actions made the situation more tense. In retaliation, South Ossetian forces closed the highway between Russia and Georgia for several days. Georgia's regional administration began to restore the roads between Georgian-populated Patara Liakhvi and Didi Liakhvi gorges by-passing separatist-controlled capital Tskhinvali? and dispatched military patrols to control them. On July 7, Georgian peacekeepers intercepted a Russia?n convoy, which led to tensions between Tbilisi? and Moscow?. The next day, around 50 Georgian peacekeepers were disarmed and detained by the [South Ossetia]?n militias. In retaliation, Saakashvili refused to attend peace talks. Large numbers of Georgians moved into the border areas, and there was frequent artillery fire for several days. The Georgian soldiers captured were all released on [July 9]?, with three exceptions. [[Image:047 South Ossetia war.JPG|left|thumb|A Georgian sniper takes aim at Ossetian rebels.]]

Tensions between Tbilisi? and Moscow? continued to worsen when the Russian Duma? passed a resolution supporting the [South Ossetia]?n secessionists. The fellow unrecognized states Abkhazia? and Transnistria?, Cossack? communities of Russia and the North Ossetians promised to support South Ossetia if Georgia attacked. Hundreds of Russian volunteers, mainly Cossacks?, arrived in South Ossetia to defend the separatist government.

A ceasefire deal was reached on August 13, after three nights of gun and mortar fire. The agreement was signed by Georgian Prime Minister [Zurab Zhvania]? and South Ossetian de facto President [Eduard Kokoity]?. However, the agreement was violated shortly after the signing. The bloodiest clashes occurred on August 18 and August 19. On August 19, after the overnight fighting with several killed and wounded on the both sides, Georgian forces seized a strategic hill near the Ossetian village of Trianakhana. However, shortly after the successful operation, President [Mikheil Saakashvili]? announced that Georgia will give “a last chance for peace” to the South Ossetians and added that Tbilisi? will pullout its non-peacekeeping troops from the conflict zone in exchange of peace. Georgian troops handed over strategic hilltops in the conflict zone to the joint peacekeeping forces late on the same day. As reported,{{Who|date=August 2008}} 16 Georgians and dozens of Ossetian and Russian volunteers died during the August fighting.

At a high level meeting between Georgian Prime Minister [Zurab Zhvania]? and South Ossetian leader [Eduard Kokoity]? on [5 November]? in Sochi?, Russia?, an agreement on demilitarisation of the conflict zone was signed. Some exchange of fire continued in the zone of conflict.{{Fact|date=August 2008}}

===New peace efforts=== Georgian President [Mikheil Saakashvili]? presented a new vision for resolving the South Ossetian conflict at the [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe]? (PACE) session in Strasbourg?, on [January 26]? 2005?. His proposal included broader forms of autonomy, including a constitutional guarantee of free and directly elected local self-governance. Saakashvili stated that South Ossetia's parliament would have control over issues such as culture, education, social policy, economic policy, public order, organization of local self-governance and environmental protection. At the same time [South Ossetia]? would have a voice in the national structures of government as well, with a constitutional guarantee of representation in the judicial and constitutional-judicial branches and in the Parliament. Georgia would commit to improving the economic and social conditions of South Ossetian inhabitants. Saakashvili proposed a transitional 3-year conflict resolution period, during which time mixed Georgian and Ossetian police forces, under the guidance and auspices of international organizations, would be established and Ossetian forces would gradually be integrated into a united Georgian Armed Forces. Saakashvili also said that the international community should play a more "significant" and "visible" role in solving this conflict.

===2006 attack on a Georgian helicopter=== On [September 3]?, 2006?, the South Ossetian forces opened fire at a Georgian MI-8? helicopter carrying Defense Minister of Georgia, [Irakli Okruashvili]?, and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Georgian armed forces, when it flew over the separatist-held territory. Although the South Ossetian authorities reported that the Georgian helicopter was "shot down", it was only slightly damaged and landed safely in Georgian government-controlled territory. Later, the South Ossetian officials confirmed their troops were responsible for the attack, saying that the entering of the Georgian helicopter to Ossetian air space is "clear provocation", but rejected the claim that the aircraft was targeted because of prior intelligence that Okruashvili was on board.<ref>Georgia-South Ossetia: Helicopter attack sparks hostile words. ReliefWeb?, [September 8]? 2006?.</ref>

===2006 October incident=== [[Image:Saboteurs1.jpg|thumb|left|Islamic literature allegedly seized from the militants.]] [[Image:Saboteurs2.jpg|thumb|right|Weapons seized from the militants.]] On [October 31]?, 2006?, the South Ossetian police reported a skirmish in the Java?, Georgia? district in which they killed a group of 4 men.<ref>''South Ossetia Announces Thwarting a Terrorist Plot'', Kommersant, [November 1]?, 2006?.</ref><ref>''Four Chechen gunmen killed in South Ossetia'', EuroNews?, [November 1]?, 2006?.</ref> The weapons seized from the group included assault rifles, guns, grenade launchers, grenades and explosive devices. Other items found in the militants' possession included extremist Islamic literature, maps of Java district and sets of Russian peacekeeping uniforms. Those findings led the South Ossetian authorities to conclude that the militants were planning to carry out acts of sabotage, thus raising tensions ahead of the [independence referendum]? scheduled for [November 12]? , 2006?. The South Ossetian authorities identified the men as Kist? Chechens, many of whom live in Georgia's [Pankisi Gorge]?. South Ossetia has accused Georgia of hiring the Chechen mercenaries to carry out terrorist attacks in the region. Russia has previously accused Georgia of harbouring Chechen separatists in the gorge.{{Fact|date=August 2008}}

The Georgian side flatly denied its involvement in the incident. Shota Khizanishvilia, a spokesperson for the Georgian Interior Ministry, supposed that the incident could be connected to "internal conflicts in South Ossetia".{{Fact|date=August 2008}}

===Rival elections of 2006=== {{Refimprovesect|date=August 2008}} On [November 12]?, 2006?, two rival elections and simultaneous referendums were held in South Ossetia. The separatist-controlled part of the region reelected [Eduard Kokoity]? as de facto president and voted for independence from Georgia. In the areas under Georgia's control, the Ossetian opposition, with unofficial backing from Tbilisi, organized rival polls electing [Dmitry Sanakoyev]?, the former premier in the secessionist government, as an "alternative president" and voted for negotiations with Georgia on a future federal agreement. Both Tskhinvali and Moscow denounced the move as Georgia's attempt to install "a puppet government" in the conflict zone.

===Georgia's new initiative=== On [May 10]? 2007?, Dmitry Sanakoyev was appointed as Head of the South Ossetian Provisional Administrative Entity by the [President of Georgia]?. The next day, Sanakoyev addressed the [Parliament of Georgia]?, outlining his vision of the conflict resolution plan (full text).<ref>Head of S.Ossetia Administration Addresses Georgian Parliament. Civil Georgia. [May 11]? 2007?. Retrieved on [May 12]?, 2007?.</ref> This move earned approval from the [United States]? [State Department]?,{{Fact|date=August 2008}} but alarmed the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} The South Ossetian separatists threatened to oust Sanakoyev’s government by force.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} However, this met with Russia's disapproval.{{clarify-inline}}<ref>Eduard Kokoity Makes Siege Mistake. Kommersant?. Retrieved on [May 12]?, 2007?.</ref>

On [July 24]? 2007?, Tbilisi held its first state commission to define South Ossetia's status within the Georgian state. Chaired by Georgian Prime Minister [Zurab Noghaideli]?, the commission included ruling National Movement Party lawmakers, an opposition party member, civil society advocates, Dmitry Sanakoyev, and representatives of the Ossetian community in Georgia. Georgian officials announced that they would welcome the involvement of Kokoity's envoys, but the Tskhinvali government refused to participate. In response, Sanakoyev's supporters launched a campaign "Kokoity Fanderast" or "Kokoity Farewell" in Ossetic?.

===Tsitelubani missile incident 2007=== {{main|2007 Georgia missile incident}}

On [August 7]?, 2007?, a missile landed, but did not explode, in the Georgian-controlled village of Tsitelubani?, some 65 km north of Tbilisi?. Georgian officials said that two Russian fighter jets violated its airspace and fired a missile, targeting a nearby Georgian radar outpost.<ref>Report Gives Some Details on Missile Strike. Civil Georgia. [August 9]?, 2007?.</ref> Russian and South Ossetian authorities accused Georgia of staging a [false flag operation]? in order to provoke tension in the region. Two investigative groups from NATO? countries - Shaakasvili's key allies - reported that the jet entered Georgian airspace from Russia, but Russian officials rejected this conclusion, citing their own investigation.<ref>{{cite news |url=http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1078180.html |title=Experts Confirm Jet Entered Georgian Airspace From Russia |publisher=[Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty]? |date=2007-08-16 |accessdate=2008-08-09 }}</ref>

===2008 clashes=== [[Image:040 South Ossetia war.JPG|thumb|250px|During the 2004 clashes<!based on EXIF>: men from the 113th elite batallion from the Georgian army are charging up a hill where Ossetian rebels are entrenched. They are shooting from their positions on top on that hill.]] On the night of [June 14]? into the early morning of [June 15]? 2008?, mortar fire and an exchange of gunfire were reported between South Ossetian and Georgian forces. South Ossetia reported that mortar fire was launched from Georgian-controlled villages on Tshinkvali, the South Ossetian capital, and that their forces came under fire from Georgian forces on the outskirts of the capital. Georgia denies firing the first shot claiming instead that South Ossetia had attacked the Georgian-controlled villages.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18548|title=One Dies, Four Injured in S.Ossetia Shootout|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-06-16?|accessdate=2008-06-27}}</ref> Russian, Georgian, and North Ossetia peacekeepers as well as OSCE? monitors went to the site of the clashes, but it was not determined who fired the first shot. One person was killed and four wounded during the violence.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jyl-ia34FGB728ru_85p2zz_v8IQ|title=Crossfire kills one in Georgian breakaway region|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-06-15?|accessdate=2008-06-27}}</ref>

A South Ossetian police official was killed in a bomb attack on [July 3]?, 2008 and this was followed by an intense exchange of gun fire. Later a convoy carrying the leader of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration, [Dmitry Sanakoyev]?, was attacked and three of his security guards injured. On [July 4]?, 2008? two people were killed as a result of shelling and shooting in Tskhinvali and some villages in South Ossetia. The South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported that a South Ossetian militiaman had been killed and another injured in an attack on a police post in the village of Ubia and this was followed by the shelling of Tskhinvali, which resulted in the death of one man. The shelling reportedly involved the use of mortars and grenade launchers. Georgia claimed it had opened fire in response to the shelling by South Ossetian militiamen of Georgian-controlled villages.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18677|title=Two Killed in Overnight Shelling in S.Ossetia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-04?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref> South Ossetia called up military reservists and put its security forces on alert in response to the clashes. The head of Russia's peacekeeping troops in the region was quoted as saying extra soldiers could be deployed if the stand-off worsened.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080704.wgeorgia0704/BNStory/International/home|title=Russia accuses Georgia of open aggression|publisher=[The Globe and Mail]?|date=2008-07-04?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref> South Ossetia warned it would move heavy weaponry into the conflict zone with Georgia if attacks on the republic were not stopped. <ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/27009|title=South Ossetia threatens Georgia with retaliation|publisher=[Russia Today]?|date=2008-07-04?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref>

The Georgian Ministry of Defense said on [July 7]? 2008? a group of up to ten militiamen were apparently prevented from placing mines on a Georgian-controlled by-pass road linking the Georgian villages in the north of Tskhinvali with the rest of Georgia. The Georgian side opened fire and the group was forced to retreat towards the nearby South Ossetian-controlled village. On [July 8]?, 2008 South Ossetia reported that it had detained four “officers from the artillery brigade of the Georgian Ministry of Defense” close to the village of Okona in the Znauri district at the administrative border the night before.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18718|title=S.Ossetia Claims it Holds Four Georgian Soldiers|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-08?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref> Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told police to prepare an operation to free the four soldiers, but they were released before an operation was launched.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSL08676780|title=Georgia plans operation to free detained soldiers|publisher=Reuters?|date=2008-07-08?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref>

Russian military jets flew into Georgian airspace through South Ossetia on [July 9]? 2008? and then returned to Russia. The next day, the Russian authorities confirmed the flight and said, in an official statement, that the fighters were sent to prevent Georgia from launching an operation to free the four soldiers detained by South Ossetia.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/1646_july_11_2008/1646_russia_overflights.html|title=Russia says it sent warplanes over South Ossetia to ‘prevent bloodshed’|publisher=The Messenger|date=2008-07-11?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref> In response, Georgia recalled its ambassador to Moscow "for consultations", stating that it was "outraged by Russia's aggressive policies."<ref>Georgia Recalls Ambassador from Moscow. Civil Georgia. 2008-07-10?.</ref>

The incident coincided with the visit of the [U.S. Secretary of State]? [Condoleezza Rice]? to Tbilisi where she pledged the U.S. support for Georgia's bid to join NATO?. She said that granting [NATO Membership Action Plan]? to Georgia would help resolve the Abkhaz and South Ossetian problems. The statement caused a negative outcry in Moscow: the Russian foreign minister [Sergey Lavrov]? responded, during his meeting with the de facto Abkhaz president [Sergey Bagapsh]?, that Georgia’s NATO integration process "may undermine the conflict resolution" process.<ref>May Undermine Conflict Resolution. Civil Georgia. 2008-07-10?.</ref> On [July 11]?, 2008?, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister [Grigol Vashadze]? called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the conflict zones.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gs9VScoLa74Nu8tNFmB4QOXKJ42Q|title=Georgia seeks urgent UN meeting on tension with Russia|publisher=[Agence France-Presse]?|date=2008-07-12?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref>

A South Ossetian envoy on July 11, 2008 declared that South Ossetia was capable of repelling any attack by Georgia without help from Moscow and also said the mainly Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone should be increased.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080711/113784564.html|title=S.Ossetia could repel Georgia attack without Russian help - envoy|publisher=[RIA Novosti]?|date=2008-07-11?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref> The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement the same day that measures have been taken “to increase combat readiness” of the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Abkhazia. It also said that security had been tightened at the Russian peacekeepers’ base camps, observation posts and checkpoints, and “additional training” of the peacekeeping personnel had been conducted “to explain regulations of use of firearm while on duty.”<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18758|title=Russian MoD?: Troops on Combat Readiness in Abkhazia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-11?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref> Nika Rurua, Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, warned that Georgia would shoot down Russia’s military aircraft in case they appear in its airspace again and an initiative was considered to this effect, but decided instead to appeal to the world community on the matter. Media reports published information about Russia’s alleged plans to seize the Kodori Gorge specifying that the details of the operation were worked out by Russian high-ranking military officials, with Abkhazia’s President Sergey Bagapsh. Russia reportedly considered responding{{update-inline}} by revealing the details of a planned military invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia to release their detained officers.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.kommersant.com/p911803/Georgia_and_Russia_are_teetering_on_the_brink_of_war/|title=“Georgia Is Able to Shoot Down Violators”|publisher=Kommersant?|date=2008-07-12?|accessdate=2008-07-13}}</ref>

On [July 14]?, 2008? Georgia's deputy defense minister Batu Kutelia said Georgia plans to expand its military more than 15 percent to 37,000 soldiers following events in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The additional manpower would be used to defend Georgia's airspace and the Black Sea coast.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=a3AYHBQLQAt4&refer=europe|title=Georgia to Expand Military to Counter Russian Threat in Regions |publisher=Bloomberg?|date=2008-07-14?|accessdate=2008-07-17}}</ref> On [July 15]?, 2008? the U.S. and Russia both began exercises in the Caucasus though Russia denies the timing was intentional.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hl2IaaI7mzhpleTStjpbg4qAxt2A|title=Russia, US hold rival war games in restive Caucasus: officials|publisher=[Agence France-Presse]?|date=2008-07-15?|accessdate=2008-07-17}}</ref> The Russian exercises included training to support peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia claimed the exercises were a manifestation of Russian aggression against it.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080716/114129465.html|title=Russian paratroopers arrive in North Caucasus for combat drills|publisher=[RIA Novosti]?|date=2008-07-16?|accessdate=2008-07-17}}</ref>

The US exercises were part of "Exercise Immediate Response 2008"and included forces from the United States, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=50608| title=Exercise Helps Partner Nations Overcome Cultural Barriers|publisher=USDoD?|date=2008-07-27?|accessdate=2008-08-26}}</ref> 1,000 US troops were involved, in addition to the 127 trainers already in Georgia. The exercise concluded August 7. <ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=56704|title=U.S.troops still in Georgia|publisher=[Stars and Stripes]?|date=2008-08-12?|accessdate=2008-08-26}}</ref> On August 6 the Georgian Defense Ministry announced a two week exercise, "Georgian Express 2008", would take place with 180 British military personnel, starting in September.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080806/115834889.html|title=Georgia, Britain to hold joint military drills in September|publisher=[RIA Novosti]?|date=2008-08-06?|accessdate=2008-08-26}}</ref>

Also on July 15, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were said to be planning to join the [Union of Russia and Belarus]?, a spokesman for the Union said both regions have talked about joining the Union, but that they would need to be recognized as independent and become observers before they could join the Union as members.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/27526|title=Georgia’s breakaway republics reveal plan to join Russia|publisher=[Russia Today]?|date=2008-07-15?|accessdate=2008-07-17}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.regnum.ru/english/1027897.html|title=Spokesman for Russia-Belarus Union State: Georgia can join the Union State as well|publisher=[Regnum News Agency]?|date=2008-07-15?|accessdate=2008-07-17}}</ref>

According to media reports, on [July 19]?, 2008? a Georgian police post was attacked by Abkhaz militias using grenades, one of the militiamen died from a grenade exploding accidentally. Abkhaz officials condemned the reports as false.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18818|title=Georgian TV Reports: Police Post Attacked on Abkhaz Border|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-20?|accessdate=2008-07-21}}</ref> Georgian media also reported on July 19 that a battalion of Russian troops had moved into the lower Kodori Gorge.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews+articleid_2413551~title_Georgian-TV-Company.html|title=Georgian TV Company Alleges Russian Battalion Brought into Abkhazia|publisher=iStockAnalyst?|date=2008-07-19?|accessdate=2008-07-21}}</ref> Georgia's Defense Ministry claimed Russian troops encroached on Mamison and Roksky passes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia respectively and are in combat alert. Abkhazia's Foreign Minister said no new troops were brought in over the quota.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.kommersant.com/p914485/Georgia_Troops_Russia/|title=Georgia Raises Alarm|publisher=Kommersant?|date=2008-07-21?|accessdate=2008-07-21}}</ref>

A U.N. report issued [July 23]?, 2008? on the period between April and July 2008 noted discrepancies with the Georgian attack of a shooting in Khurcha on the day of Georgian elections. In particular the report noted the way the incident was filmed suggested the attack was anticipated. The report said reconnaissance flights by Georgia were a violation of the ceasefire, but said the shooting down of those fights also constituted a breach of the ceasefire. Concerning a military buildup by Georgia the UN report said it found no evidence of a buildup but noted observers were denied access to certain areas of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia including the Kvabchara Valley.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18857|title=UN Observers on Polling Day Abkhaz Shooting|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-29?|accessdate=2008-07-30}}</ref>

On [July 28]?, 2008? a spokesman for the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia said South Ossetian forces had blocked peacekeepers and OSCE observers from the village of Cholibauri which is close to where Georgia says South Ossetia is building fortifications.<ref name=Georgia>{{cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18854|title=Georgians fire on South Ossetian villages - S.Ossetian president|publisher=[RIA Novosti]?|date=2008-07-29?|accessdate=2008-07-30}}</ref> On [July 29]?, 2008? South Ossetia said two South Ossetian villages had been fired on by Georgian forces in response to South Ossetia reinforcing its positions on the perimeter of the conflict zone.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080729/115197261.html|title=Georgia reports Shootout in S.Ossetia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-29?|accessdate=2008-07-30}}</ref> Georgia said the same day that Georgian posts on the Sarabuki heights were attacked by South Ossetian forces with no injuries reported.<ref name=Georgia />

2008 War in South Ossetia

{{Main|2008 South Ossetia War}} {{POV-section|date=August 2008}} {{update section}} On August 1 Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) observers from all three sides and OSCE representatives were investigating a bomb attack which had occurred around 8:05am local time and injured two police officers, reported JPKF commander on media issues Captain Vladimir Ivanov. <ref>"Message from Joint Peacekeeping Forces Integrated Command", [The State Commitee on Information and Press of the Republic of South Ossetia]?, 2008-08-01?. Retrieved on 2008-08-21?</ref> However, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs declared that in the attack 5 police officers had been injured by two remote control explosive devices. <ref>"MIA: Five Policemen Injured in S.Ossetia Blast", [Civil Georgia]?, 2008-08-01?. Retrieved on 2008-08-21?</ref> Six Ossetians were reportedly killed and 21 injured as a result of one of an intensive shoot-out in the South Ossetian conflict zone, late on [August 1]? and overnight on [August 2]?. Sporadic fighting continued every day and on August 6, there were further shootouts and Georgia acknowledged it had lost an [Armoured personnel carrier]? (APC) during the clashes.<ref>http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18924</ref> After a night of gunfire in which four people died, shelling resumed at daybreak on August 7. Residents were on the move, evacuating vulnerable areas of the South Ossetian capital.<ref>http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/28607</ref> Georgia was reportedly moving tanks, artillery and troops to the border with South Ossetia.<ref>http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/28601</ref>

However, at the end of the day, Mikhail Saakashvili ordered an unilateral cease-fire. "A sniper war is ongoing against residents of the villages [in the South Ossetian conflict zone] and as I speak now intensive fire is ongoing from artillery, from tanks, from self-propelled artillery systems – which have been brought in the conflict zone illegally – and from other types of weaponry, including from mortars and grenade launchers," Saakashvili said in a live televised address made at 7:10pm local time on August 7.<ref>http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18931</ref>

Georgia suspended this unilateral ceasefire claiming that sniper attacks and other military actions were ongoing against Georgian villages on both sides of the official frontier. Saakashvili claims that in the night from 7th to 8th of August 150 Russian tanks crossed border into Georgia through the Roki-Tunnel. <ref>http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,574034-2,00.html</ref> On 8th of August, the starting day of Beijing Olympics, Georgia launched a military offensive to "restore constitutional order in the whole region."<ref>{{cite news |url=http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Georgia_starts_operation_in_South_Ossetia.html?siteSect=143&sid=9444482&cKey=1218143244000&ty=ti |title=Russia to send new troops in Georgia stand-off |publisher=SwissInfo? |date=2008-08-09 |accessdate=2008-08-09 }}</ref> Georgia started a full-scale attack on the breakaway republic overnight, using tanks, aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry.<ref>http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080808/115890817.html</ref>" Media sources reported that Georgian MRLS? started shelling separatist capital, Tskhinvali. South Ossetian authorities and others accused Georgia of committing "planned massacre of Ossetian civilian population: children, elderly and young women".<ref>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsH3n4BNktU</ref><ref>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XasDmPo9RxY</ref> The Tshinvali's central hospital, university<ref>http://s1.imgdb.ru/2008-08/11/P1010566-jpg_ztbqg6yn.jpg</ref> and some of its schools were also hit.{{Fact|date=August 2008}}

Georgian military forces attacked suddenly<ref>http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/09/georgia.russia</ref> with the strong support of heavy artillery (BM-21? 122mm and 152mm),<ref>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/16/AR2008081600502_pf.html</ref> tanks,<ref>http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/engnews/id/1226981.html</ref> and aircrafts.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} Within the first two hours the main Ossetian defence positions were completely destroyed.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} Most of Tshinval?'s communications and facilities were also heavily damaged.<ref>http://www.kp.ru/daily/24147/364201/</ref> The whole city, including the town's central hospital, university and some of its schools were also destroyed.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} After the third artillery wave, two Georgian heavy tanks regiments began their attack in converging directions around Tskhinvali, and almost completely encircled it. Russian peacekeepers withstood the Georgian thrust and saved several bunkers.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} The Russian government claimed that Georgian soldiers had killed peacemakers and thousands of civilians (90 % of them are russian citizens) during the heavy artillery attack on the Tshinval?.{{Fact|date=August 2008}}

Russia claimed this attack killed 15 and injured 150 of peacekeepers stationed in the region since 1992 under CIS mandate.{{Fact|date=August 2008}} In response, Russia ordered 150 tanks, APCs, self proprlled howitsers and MLRSs of its 58th Army into Ossetia, reclaimed Tskhinvali and the rest of South Oseetia.

According to international media sources and Human Rights Watch, Russia used [cluster bombs]? in civilian areas, resulting in the death of civilians. <ref>http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/08/14/georgi19625.htm</ref>. "Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw. Russia’s use of this weapon is not only deadly to civilians, but also an insult to international efforts to avoid a global humanitarian disaster of the kind caused by landmines. " -Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch <ref>http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/08/14/georgi19625.htm</ref>

According to Russian authorities in [North Ossetia]?, part of Russian Federation, 34'000 refugees arrived from South Ossetia from 2 for 9 august.<ref>http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/09/russia.war.border.ap/index.html</ref>

On [August 26]?, 2008?, Russia officially recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.<ref name="recognition">{{cite news |url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=afAvlgTbOoAg&refer=canada |title=Russia Recognizes Independence of Georgian Regions (Update2) |publisher=Bloomberg? |date=2008-08-26 |accessdate=2008-08-26 }}</ref>

==See also== * [South Ossetian independence referendum, 2006]? * [International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence]? * [Ossetian-Ingush conflict]? * [Georgian Civil War]? * [Politics of Georgia]?



==Notes== {{refbegin}} *<cite id="CG2004">{{cite web| title=Georgia: Avoiding War in South Ossetia / Report N<sup>o</sup>159| date=2004-11-26| url=http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/UNTC/UNPAN019224.pdf| format=PDF| author=[International Crisis Group]?| accessdate=2008-08-09}}</cite> *<cite id="CG2007">{{cite web| title=Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict: Make Haste Slowly| date=2007-06-07| url=http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/getfile.cfm?id=2963&tid=4887&type=pdf&l=1| format=PDF| author=[International Crisis Group]?| accessdate=2008-08-09}} (document requires free registration)</cite> {{refend}}

==External links== {{commonscat|Georgia-Ossetian conflict}} * http://www.caucasus.dk/chapter4.htm * http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav110404.shtml * http://www.mfa.gov.ge/news.php?newsid=updates/EEpFVVEZEEGOWuWwJQ.php * http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3797729.stm * Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Chronology * President Saakashvili’s Proposals

[[Category:South Ossetia]] [[Category:Wars involving Georgia (country)]] [[Category:Georgia (country)–Russia relations]]

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Edited September 12, 2008 (diff)