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August 9, 2008

Wikipedia: 2008 South Ossetia War

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2008 South Ossetia War
Part of Georgian-Ossetian conflict

Location of South Ossetia within Georgia (upper left box shows map of Georgia). Striped area shows the territory controlled by Georgia prior to the conflict.
Date August 1, 2008 – present
Location Georgia
Status Conflict ongoing
Belligerents
Flag of South Ossetia South Ossetia
Flag of Russia Russian Federation
Flag of Abkhazia Abkhazia (acting in Kodori Valley)[1]

Flag of Russia Cossack volunteers[2][3][4]
Flag of Abkhazia Abkhazian volunteers (acting in South Ossetia)[5]

Flag of Georgia (country) Georgia
Commanders
Flag of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity
Flag of Russia Dmitry Medvedev
Flag of Russia Anatoliy Serdyukov
Flag of Russia Marat Kulakhmetov
Flag of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh
Flag of Georgia (country) Mikheil Saakashvili
Flag of Georgia (country) Davit Kezerashvili
Flag of Georgia (country) Zaza Gogava
Strength
Flag of South Ossetia 1 battalion of peacekeepers, possibly 3,000 total[6]
Flag of Russia 2 battalions of peacekeepers, unknown number of other troops

Flag of Russia Reportedly hundreds of volunteers[7]
Flag of Abkhazia 1,000 volunteers according to Abkhazia[5]

Flag of Georgia (country) 1 battalion of peacekeepers,[8][9] unknown number of other troops
Casualties and losses
Flag of South Ossetia Unknown
Flag of Russia 15 soldiers dead and 150 wounded claimed by August 9[10][11][12]
2 aircraft confirmed shot down[13]
Flag of Georgia (country) Up to 48 soldiers and civilians dead claimed by August 9[12][14][15][16],
several aircraft confirmed destroyed on land[17]
Unknown number of civilian victims; the South Ossetian sources claim more than 1,600 killed and 90 wounded by August 9. Georgia’s unofficial death toll closer to 100.[18]
More than 30,000 refugees according to the Russian sources (out of the population of 70,000).[18]

The 2008 South Ossetia War started in August 2008 after days of heavy fighting between Georgian forces and pro-Russia South Ossetian separatists. On 7 August, Georgia launched a military operation to take the town of Tskhinvali, the capital of the unrecognised Republic of South Ossetia (a breakaway region of Georgia).[19] On 8 August, Russia responded by moving its troops across the border, bringing tanks and artillery into Tskhinvali. According to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s intention is to defend the many civilians of South Ossetia who hold Russian citizenship.[20] Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili now says his country is defending itself from Russian aggression and that Russian forces are bombing its civilian population.[21]

Contents

Background

Georgian snipers during the small-scale Georgian-Ossetian hostilities in 2004.

Georgian snipers during the small-scale Georgian-Ossetian hostilities in 2004.

Georgian–Russian
relations
(1989–2008)
  • Internal conflicts in Georgia
    • Georgian–Ossetian conflict
    • Georgian–Abkhazian conflict
    • Rose Revolution (2003)
    • Adjara crisis (2004)
  • 2006 crises
    • Gas pipeline sabotage
    • Ban of wines
    • Kodori crisis
    • Espionage controversy
    • Deportation of Georgians
  • 2007 alleged air space violations
    • Helicopter attack incident
    • Missile incident
    • Plane downing incident
  • 2007 Russian ambassador controversy
  • 2007 Georgian demonstrations
  • 2008 crisis
  • 2008 South Ossetia War
v  d  e
Main articles: Georgian-Ossetian conflict and 2008 Georgia-Russia crisis

The Ossetians are a distinct ethnic group whose origin lies along the Don River. They came to the Caucasus after they were driven out of their homeland by Mongol invasions in the 13th century, some of them settling in North Ossetia, which is now part of Russia, and others settling in South Ossetia,[22] which is recognised by most countries as part of Georgia and has a Georgian ethnic minority of about one fifth (14,000) of the total population (70 000).[23] The region, which is one and a half times the area of Luxembourg,[24] broke away from Georgia in the 1991–1992 war (in which more than 2,000 people are believed to have died[25]) because, as the BBC says, South Ossetians wanted to unite with the rest of their ethnic group in North Ossetia and did not want to accept being citizens of the Georgian government in Tblisi.[22] A peacekeeping force with 500 troops each from Russia, North Ossetia-Alania (part of Russia), South Ossetia and Georgia monitored a 1992 truce. Today, many of the residents of South Ossetia are Russian citizens holding Russian passports: according to the BBC, “more than half of South Ossetia’s 70,000 citizens are said to have taken up Moscow’s offer of a Russian passport.”[20][22] Dmitry Medvedev claims 90% of South Ossetia residents possess them. Russia has argued this justifies intervention to “protect its citizens.”[24]

Timeline

1 August – 7 August: escalation of hostilities

Beginning late on 1 August, intense fighting began between Georgian troops and paramilitary soldiers of South Ossetia causing the deaths of six people and the injuries of twenty-one others. Both sides accused the other of commencing the fighting.[26] On 3 August, the Russian government allowed South Ossetians to begin evacuation into Russia, which resulted in twenty bus-loads of refugees leaving the region on the first day.[27]

Sporadic fighting continued throughout the next several days. On 6 August, Georgia said it lost an armoured personnel carrier and that three Georgian peacekeepers were wounded.[28][29] Four people were killed that night and Georgia resumed shelling at daybreak. Residents once again began evacuating areas of South Ossetia and Georgia moved tanks, artillery, and troops to the border.[30] [31] The Georgian Interior Ministry reported up to ten Georgian soldiers died in the clashes throughout 7 August.[32][33]

“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 mortars and grenade launchers”, Saakashvili said in a live televised address made at 19:10 7 August local time.[34] However, by the day’s end, Saakashvili ordered a unilateral ceasefire. Saakashvili called for talks “in any format”; reaffirmed the long-standing offer of full autonomy for South Ossetia; proposed that Russia should guarantee that solution; offered a general amnesty; and pleaded for international intercession to stop the hostilities.[35]

7 August – 8 August: Georgian offensive

Main article: Battle of Tskhinvali
A Georgian Su-25 warplane, similar to the ones used by Georgia during the war.

A Georgian Su-25 warplane, similar to the ones used by Georgia during the war.[36]

Following Saakashvili’s offer, attacks on Georgian villages reportedly intensified. The village of Avnevi was reportedly almost completely destroyed, Tamarasheni and Prisi reportedly shelled, and the police station in Kurta, seat of the Sanakoyev administration, reportedly hit by artillery fire. Civilians began fleeing the villages.[35] Georgia began an operation into South Ossetia commanded by Mamuka Kurashvili. Kurashvili stated that the purpose of the operation was to restore constitutional order in the region.[19] This caused an increased number of refugees to cross into Russia.[37][38] Interfax quoted South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity as saying his forces were confronting Georgians in the outskirts of the regional capital, Tskhinvali, and that fierce fighting was under way.[19] At 00:53 on 8 August (local time, 20:53 7 August UTC), Georgian forces began shelling the city, which allegedly included the route along which refugees were being moved.[39] As the day progressed, Russian media reported that at least fifteen civilians had been killed in Tskhinvali.[32] At 04:45 (00:45 UTC), Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili announced that Tskhinvali was nearly surrounded, and that Georgia controlled two-thirds of South Ossetia’s territory.[40] According to the President of North Ossetia-Alania Taimuraz Mamsurov, a number of Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft of the Georgian Air Force attacked what he described to be a humanitarian aid convoy en route from Vladikavkaz.[36] Mamsurov, who had accompanied the convoy and witnessed the attack, was unharmed. Earlier, he told the Interfax news agency that hundreds of armed volunteers from North Ossetia were heading to the Tskhinvali area.[41] Abkhazian leader Sergei Bagapsh said that volunteers from Abkhazia were on the way to help the South Ossetians.[42] It was later announced that an unspecified number of Abkhazian army units had advanced to the border of the arms limitation zone between Abkhazia and Georgia.[43]

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session in New York City and released a statement to express “serious concerns at the escalation of violence.”[44] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported 1,100 refugees arrived in North Ossetia by bus to escape the violence.[45]

8 August: Russian involvement

On the morning of 8 August, Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who was in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics, condemned the “aggressive actions” by Georgia and said that Russia would be compelled to retaliate.[46] By 09:30, Medvedev convened an emergency session of government officials to consider Russia’s options regarding the conflict.[47]

Movements of opposing forces on 8 August. Blue arrows show Georgian attacks, red show Russian

Movements of opposing forces on 8 August. Blue arrows show Georgian attacks, red show Russian

Half an hour later, Georgian sources reported that three Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft flew into the Georgian airspace and dropped two bombs close to a police station near the town of Kareli, which borders South Ossetia.[48] The source also reported that the nearby city of Gori suffered a brief Russian air strike, with no casualties.[49] Russian authorities rejected these reports,[20] but later, Daily Telegraph correspondent reported that he saw unidentified jets near Gori, and the Georgian military described them as “Russian warplanes”.[50]

By 11:40, Saakashvili mobilised the Georgian reserve troops amid what he referred to as “a large-scale military aggression” by Russia and called for Russia to stop “bombardment of the Georgian towns”.[51] Contradicting a Georgian report, the Russian Ministry of Defence denied that a Russian fighter plane had been shot down above Georgian territory, calling it “informational provocation”.[52] A spokesman for the Russian forces in South Ossetia said that Georgian shells directly hit barracks in Tskhinvali, killing 12 Russian soldiers and wounding 30.[53]

Georgia reported that they offered a three-hour ceasefire starting 15:00 local time (11:00 UTC), to let civilians leave the besieged capital of Tskhinvali.[54] However, at 10:29 UTC, Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the Russian forces in the region, said that “these are further lies from the Georgian side. No corridor for civilians has been opened.”[55]

A column of Russian tanks from the 58th Army began moving to Tskhinvali to help support Russian forces in the area.[56] Saakashvili said that the Russian column consisted of 150 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and other equipment. A press video from 8 August showed Russian T-72 tanks, BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, and 152-mm 2S3 self-propelled howitzers moving south into the conflict zone.[20][57]

An Su-27 air superiority fighter during acrobatics.  Russia used Su-27s to gain airspace control over Tskhinvali, the capital city of S Ossetia.

An Su-27 air superiority fighter during acrobatics. Russia used Su-27s to gain airspace control over Tskhinvali, the capital city of S Ossetia.[58][59]

Russian media reported that the Georgian army was falling back from Tskhinvali and Russian Su-24 bombers and Su-27 fighters were in complete control of the airspace above Tskhinvali.[58][59] Kulakhmetov said that as a result of heavy bombardment, Tskhinvali is almost totally destroyed. Gas pipes, a hospital, and other objects of infrastructure were hit. According to France Press, at 12:00 UTC the National Security Council of Georgia (through a statement of Council Secretary Alexander Lomaia) declared that if messages about Russian tanks in South Ossetia are confirmed, then Georgia would declare war on Russia.[60] Russian tanks entered Tskhinvali shortly after, which was confirmed by CNN[citation needed] and by nightfall, Russian and South Ossetian forces controlled a large part of the city.[61]

The Georgian Interior Ministry said that a Russian fighter dropped two bombs on a military base in Vaziani, near Tbilisi.[62] Russian fighters also bombed a military airfield in Marneuli, near Tbilisi.[63] At least four people were killed and another five wounded in the air strike in Marneuli. Three of the dead were confirmed to be Georgian soldiers.[64][65]The bombing of Vaziani was accomplished by fighters taking off from the Russian base in Gumru, Armenia. According to Topix.net, this is a violation of a treaty between Georgia and Armenia.[66]

Saakashvili initially said that Georgia was pulling its 2,000-strong troops from Iraq.[67] The head of Georgia’s Security Council, Kakha Lomaia, later clarified that only 1,000 troops were being redeployed, telling Reuters, “We have already communicated to our American friends that we are going to withdraw half our contingent of soldiers in Iraq within days because we are under Russian aggression.”[68]

Vladimir Putin after the opening ceremonies in Beijing for the Olympics said to George W Bush that a real war had begun in Ossetia, to which Bush replied that no one wanted war, and Putin added that it is difficult to maintain peace in Caucasus.[69]

9 August: Escalation

Russian media reported that heavy gunfire between Russian and Georgian troops was resumed during the night.[70][71] The secretary of Georgia’s Security Council, Kakha Lomaia, told Reuters that Saakashvili planned on declaring martial law. Lomaia also reported that Russia had bombed the Black Sea port of Poti and had started to bomb civil and economic infrastructure.[72] It was also reported that an airfield near Tbilisi was bombed in the early hours of the day.[73] Georgia banned all Russian TV channels from broadcasting in Georgia, alleging that Russia was conducting an ongoing information war.[74] Meanwhile, Russia cut off all air connections with Georgia.[75] On the same day, the United Nations once again failed to reach consensus on how to word any request for a cessation of hostilities.[76] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that the Russian Federation begins operation “to force the Georgian side to peace”. [77] [78]

Before morning Russian planes bombed the Senaki military base killing 13 Georgian soldiers and wounding another 13.[12]

At approximately 06:00 UTC, an unnamed source from the Russian military command told Russian media that the units of the 58th Army had completely cleansed Tskhinvali of Georgian forces.[79] Later, this information was officially confirmed by Russian Ministry of Defence.[80]

At 06:27 UTC Reuters reported that two Russian fighters bombed Georgian artillery near Gori.[81][82] Five people were killed when at least one bomb hit an apartment in Gori.[83]

At 07:41 UTC Lenta.Ru (with link to RIA Novosti) reported that the 76th Airborne Division (from Pskov) of Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) moved to Tskhinvali. According to the commander of Russian Ground Forces, Igor Konashenkov, they were transferred to strengthen the Russian Ground Forces. He also stated the Ivanovo-based 98th Airborne Division of Russian Airborne Troops and Spetsnaz from the Moscow-based 45th Detached Intelligence Regiment will be moved to the conflict area. [84] This information was confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence’s press service.[85]

At 07:57 UTC it was reported by the Russian side that 58th Army fully freed Tskhinvali of Georgian armed forces.[86][87]

At 08:30 UTC, the Russian General Staff confirmed that they had lost two jets: a Su-25 and a Tupolev Tu-22M, with Georgia claiming they had actually downed 10 jets.[88] South Ossetia claimed they had shot down two Georgian jets.[89] A Georgian official stated that Georgia had shot down a Russian fighter jet and captured its pilot.[90]

Near 09:10 UTC Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili declared the martial law in Georgia [91] for 15 days from 9 August[92].

At 10:30 UTC, Russian paratroopers land in South Ossetia[93]. President Saakashvili calls for ceasefire in his speech.[94]

At 10:41 UTC it was reported that Russian Air Forces attacked east part of Kodori Valley, part of Abkhazia, only part of Abkhazia which is under effective Georgian control.[95] This was confirmed by Raul Kiriya, chief of the media center of Abkhazian government-in-exile.[96] But Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh said that it was Abkhazian aviation, not Russian.

At 11:25 UTC, President Saakashvili asks his country’s parliament to announce a “state of war”.[97] The parliament has approved the request, declaring “state of war” in Georgia for the duration of 15 days; David Bakradze, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, commenting that “according to the current situation, Georgia is de-facto at an unannounced war with Russia.”[98]. The Georgian “state of war” order is not a formal declaration of war, and stops short of declaring martial law.[97]

Georgian cease fire proposal

At around lunch time local time on 9 August, Saakashvili proposed a cease fire and the separation of the warring parties. Georgia’s Security Council secretary, Alexander Lomaia, said Saakashvili’s proposal meant that the Georgian troops would withdraw from Tskhinvali, the provincial capital of South Ossetia, and stop responding to Russian shelling.[99]

Humanitarian impact

International Red Cross urged the combatant sides to make a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the wounded and civilians from Tskhinvali.[100][101] The main city hospital is reported to be non-functional, and ambulances cannot reach the wounded.[102] According to South Ossetia, Georgia continues to bomb the hospital. 22 wounded remain in the building, which has only two storeys left.[103] International Red Cross spokeswoman Anna Nelson said it had received reports that hospitals in Tskhinvali were “overflowing” with casualties.[104]

The UN refugee agency said that thousands of refugees are leaving South Ossetia, mostly for North Ossetia.[105] About 140 buses carrying thousands of refugees have already arrived the North Ossetia on Friday evening, according to Reuters. More refugees are said to be expected to arrive on Saturday.[106]

The Russian Emergency Ministry has sent a mobile hospital to North Ossetia. The Russian President has ordered the government to take urgent measures to provide humanitarian aid to those leaving the conflict zone[107]

Eduard Kokoity alleged that the death toll has risen to 1,400.[108] According to Reuters this figure could not be confirmed.[109] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Moscow had reports of “ethnic cleansing” in villages.[110] South Ossetian authorities say Tbilisi’s actions amount to genocide. Tskhinvali is reported to be lying in ruins, and five villages have been razed to the ground.[107]

Georgia claimed that Russia had bombed airfields and civil and economic infrastructure, including the Black Sea port of Poti. Between 8 and 11 Russian jets reportedly hit container tanks and a shipbuilding plant at the port.[111][112]

The fighting has interrupted electricity and telephone service in Tskhinvali, and some inhabitants are reportedly sheltering in basements[113] with no access to water or medicines.[114]

Cyberattacks

South Ossetian officials stated that two Ossetian news media sites were hacked. Dmitry Medoyev, the South Ossetian secessionist envoy in Moscow, claimed that Georgia was trying to cover up reports of deaths.[115]

The National Bank of Georgia website was defaced and replaced with a gallery of known dictators of 20th century with Saakashvili added amongst them. Georgian newsportals were under Internet denial-of-service attacks and reportedly the site of the Georgian Ministry of Defence was hacked as well. The attacks are similar in nature to the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia and were carried out with the same techniques.[116]

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website was also defaced and replaced with a collage of Saakashvili and Adolf Hitler photos.[117]

Websites of the aforementioned National Bank and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are currently offline. According to the New York Times, Georgian websites had been crashing frequently throughout August 8. [118]

International reactions

South Ossetia

  • On August 8, South Ossetia called on “the governments and peoples of the world” to recognize its independence: “For South Ossetia, there is only one path of life – the acceptance of its independence by the international community. We call on all self-respecting people of the planet to not be indifferent to the fate of the Ossetian nation.”[119]

Georgia

Demonstration against the Russian intervention outside the Russian embassy in Tbilisi on August 8, 2008

Demonstration against the Russian intervention outside the Russian embassy in Tbilisi on August 8, 2008

  • Russia has “started a full-scale military invasion” of Georgia, the country’s UN Ambassador Irakli Alasania said in New York.[120]
  • “If this is not war, then I wonder what is,” Georgia’s ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Victor Dolidze, told a crisis meeting of the OSCE’s permanent council in Vienna.[120]
  • Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili stated, “What Russia is doing in Georgia is open, unhidden aggression and a challenge to the whole world. If the whole world does not stop Russia today, then Russian tanks will be able to reach any other European capital.” He argued Russia was attacking Georgia because “[Georgia] want[s] to be free and we want to be a multi-ethnic democracy.”[25]
  • Saakashvili accused Russia of a “well-planned invasion” and mobilised Georgia’s military reserves.[121]
  • In an interview with CNN, Saakashvili said that Georgia and Russia were practically at war. “We have Russian tanks moving in,” he said. “We have continuous Russian bombardment since yesterday … specifically targeting the civilian population. Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory.”[122] He told the BBC: “Our troops are attacked by thousands of troops coming in from Russia.”[123]

Russia

  • After the GMT 4:00 8 August UN Security Council meeting, Boris Malakhov, spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that he hoped it was still possible to prevent “mass bloodshed”, adding, “It now became clear why the Georgian side was refraining under various pretexts from signing a legally binding document on non-use of force”[124]
  • Russian envoy Yuri Popov said Georgia’s military operation showed it could not be trusted and NATO should reconsider its plans to grant membership to Georgia. Popov said, “Georgia’s step is absolutely incomprehensible and shows that the Georgian leadership has zero credit of trust.” He called Georgia’s behavior treacherous.[citation needed]
  • At 07:32 on 8 August, Vladimir Putin, in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics, condemned the “aggressive actions” by Georgia and said that Russia would be compelled to retaliate.[125]
  • Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, stated: “The actions of the Georgian side led to deaths – among them are Russian peacekeepers. The situation reached the point that Georgian peacekeepers have been shooting at Russian peacekeepers. Now women, children and old people are dying in South Ossetia – most of them are citizens of the Russian Federation. According to the constitution, I, as the President of the Russian Federation, must protect lives and the dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are. Those responsible for the deaths of our citizens will be punished.[126][127][128][129]
  • In a letter to all NATO members, Ambassador of Russia to NATO Dmitry Rogozin stated that Georgia had “got a permit to start a military operation” after the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest and warned against continued support of Georgia and its president.[130]
  • In North Ossetia’s Vladikavkaz there were several demonstrations rallied by local Ossetians, with protesters shouting “Russia, save us!” and demanding the withdrawal of Georgian forces from South Ossetia.[131]
  • Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Security Committee, Vladimir Vasiliyev, stated, “Georgia could have used the years of Saakashvili’s presidency in different ways – to build up the economy, to develop the infrastructure, to solve social issues both in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the whole state. Instead, the Georgian leadership with president Saakashvili undertook consistent steps to increase its military budget from $US 30 million to $US 1 billion – Georgia was preparing for a military action.”[132]

International organisations

  • Flag of Europe European Union – On August 9, Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, announced with American President George W. Bush that the EU and the USA will send a joint delegation to try and negotiate a cease fire.[133]
  • Human Rights Watch – Georgia and Russia should not under any circumstances target civilians as the current hostilities intensify in South Ossetia, HRW said. “All sides must remember that attacks on civilians, or acts intended to terrorise civilians, clearly violate international humanitarian law, and may constitute war crimes,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This would be true even if they are carried out in reprisal for indiscriminate attacks by the adversary.”[134]
  • NATO – NATO’s official website posted the following statement from the NATO Secretary General: “The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, is seriously concerned about the events that are taking place in the Georgian region of South Ossetia and said that the Alliance is closely following the situation. The Secretary General calls on all sides for an immediate end of the armed clashes and direct talks between the parties”.[135]
  • NATO Red Cross International – The International Red Cross urged the combatant sides to make a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the wounded and civilians from Tskhinvali.[136][101]
  • Flag of the United Nations United Nations – On August 7, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced grave concern over the escalation of violence and urged all parties to the conflict to “refrain from any actions that might jeopardise the situation further and pose threat to stability in the region”.[137] On August 8 at GMT 4 a.m. an emergency session of the UN Security Council was held to discuss the situation. The session was requested by Russia.[124] The session failed to reach an agreement that would have called on Georgia and the separatists to immediately halt all fighting, but expressed its concern over the renewed conflict.[138]

States

  • Flag of Armenia Armenia – The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Yerevan is closely monitoring the situation and urging the conflicting parties to call a halt to military operations. “We are certainly concerned about the situation and hope that a solution will be found very quickly,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gegham Gharibjanian told RFE/RL. “We hope that the parties will make maximum efforts to quickly stop bloodshed and find peaceful solutions to contentious issues,” he said.[139]
  • Flag of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan – A spokesman for the Azeri Foreign Ministry, Khazar Ibrahim, said that the Georgian actions were in accord with international law and that Azerbaijan recognises the territorial integrity of Georgia.[140]
  • Flag of Belarus Belarus – “The use of military force in the zone of South Ossetia, civilian casualties, bloodshed, economic losses, ruined peaceful life of people cause a deep concern in us. Only immediate ceasefire, peaceful and civilised manner of negotiating will secure stability in the South Ossetian region and across the Caucasus.” – Maria Vanshina, Deputy Head for Information of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus.[141]
  • Flag of Canada Canada – Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Emerson, released the following statement: “Canada is gravely concerned about the recent violence in South Ossetia, and we deplore the casualties that have resulted. We call for an immediate halt to the hostilities and strongly urge all parties involved to display restraint in words and deeds, and to respect national boundaries. Canada stands ready to work with its partners in the United Nations and in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to support efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”[142]
  • Flag of Denmark Denmark – The Prime Minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemns the Russian attack in Georgia: “We have to insist that the sovereignty of Georgia be respected. There are no military solutions. There is only one solution: diplomatic negotiation.” [143]
  • Flag of the People's Republic of China People’s Republic of China – A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said that PRC was “seriously concerned” with the violence and called for an immediate ceasefire.[144]
  • Flag of Estonia Estonia – The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on August 8th calling for an immediate stop to the hostilities to avoid further casualties, and starting peaceful negotiations. The statement suggests that the basis for these negotiations could be the proposal by the Georgian president to guarantee broad autonomy for South-Ossetia. For a quick solution the European Union and OSCE are expected to respond adequately and international efforts should be closely coordinated. Estonia supports the intermediation proposal by Finland. Estonia is ready, in keeping with its capability, to take part in humanitarian assistance.[145] On August 9th, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said, that Russia must stop its aggression in Georgia immediately and unconditionally. [146]
  • Flag of Finland Finland – Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, also serving as the OSCE chairman-in-office, has been in contact with both Tbilisi and Tskhinvali, urging the parties to stop any military action and to try and restore direct talks instead. He has decided to deploy his Special Envoy immediately to Georgia, and is also himself preparing to travel to the region.[147]
  • Flag of France France – France has been trying to urge both sides reach a ceasefire.[148]
  • Flag of Germany Germany – Foreign Minister Steinmeier has stated being “appalled by the escalation of violence” and demanded that “all combat has to be ceased immediately” on August 8th. He urged the international community to prevent “tensions, violence and looming war” from “spreading throughout the Caucasus”.[149]
  • Flag of Iceland Iceland – The Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir has in a statement from the Ministry called on the belligerents to preserve civilians and demands a quick end to the hostilities with a peaceful solution.[150]
  • Flag of Iran Iran – Islamic Republic Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said: “The Islamic republic voices concern over the military conflicts in South Ossetia that have led to the killing of defenceless people and calls for an immediate halt to the clashes”, he was also quoted as saying: “Iran is ready to offer any help … under its principal policies of contributing to the establishment of peace and stability in the region”.[151]
  • Flag of Israel Israel – On August 5th, it was reported by Stratfor and Russia Today that Israel planned to halt arms sales to Georgia because of Russian objections.[152][153]
  • Flag of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan – Following Vladimir Putin’s remarks, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said “The Georgian leadership was not right when it failed to inform [other nations] on its actions toward South Ossetia and about higher tensions taking place there”. Interfax also reported that Nazarbayev “agreed with Putin’s view that countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States should make an assessment of the situation and undertake efforts to halt it”.[154]
  • Flag of Latvia Latvia – The Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs phoned to Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and stated that Latvia supports territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and stressed that use of military force should be avoided and current situation should be solved in negotiations. He also said that Russia should use its influence in South Ossetia to stop Ossetian provocations and expressed hope that Russia will not get militarily involved.[155]
  • Flag of Lithuania Lithuania – On August 7th, President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, received a phone call from the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. Saakashvili asked Lithuania’s president to help inform heads of the European Union and other western states of the situation in the region.[156] Adamkus assured that Lithuania would inform other European partners about the situation in Georgia and would seek adequate attention and assistance from the European Union in dealing with the situation.[156] On August 8, Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Petras Vaitiekūnas was sent to Georgia. He will be there to inform the EU partners about the situation in Georgia.[157] Lithuania is also evacuating about 50 of its citizens from conflict regions[158].
  • Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands – Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende spoke with Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Sarkozy in Beijing where expressed his concerns on the situation. He pointed out the importance of preventing as much violence as possible and how there should be worked on achieving stabilisation.[159]
  • Flag of Norway Norway – Prime Minister of Norway has said “We recognise the sovereignty of Georgia. This conflict must be handled at the negotiation table, not the battle field.” [160]
  • Flag of Poland Poland – Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published the following statement on its website: “MFA of Poland is very disturbed by the situation in the region of South Ossetia in Georgia. MFA thinks it is unacceptable for foreign military forces to attack Georgian territory. MFA is calling to both sides of the conflict to cease fire and return to negotiations. MFA reminds that it is important to provide safety for international humanitarian organisations, especially OSCE and Red Cross International and safely evacuate civilians from the war zone. MFA is calling state and international organisations to engage in the process of solving the conflict in the region of South Ossetia in Georgia and to help bring the situation back to normal while respecting Georgian borders.[161]
  • Flag of Sweden Sweden – Swedish Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt criticised Russia’s attacks on Georgia, calling them “Russian aggressions in violation of international conventions.”.[162] Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt said in a statement: “The way in which the situation in South Ossetia has deteriorated is cause for profound concern. It is extremely important that all those involved show restraint and play their part in bringing about a political solution,” … “I am particularly concerned about the impact of the conflict on civilians. Georgia and Russia are dangerously close to war and there is a great risk of this spreading to other parts of the Caucasus.”[163] Bildt further stated that the crisis is due to “provocations from the South Ossetian side” and that the Georgian forces are trying to “restore the constitutional order”.[164] and that the Russian bombing of Georgia is “very worrying and will demand a forceful reaction from the United Nations and the European Union.” [165]
  • Flag of Turkey Turkey – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the fighting is a grave concern for Turkey, which neighbors Georgia. Erdoğan has called for an immediate cease-fire and has said that he would call Georgian and Russian leaders to urge restraint if necessary.[166] Later on that day, Turkey agreed to a Georgian request to supply 30-40 MW of electricity to Georgia.[167]
  • Flag of Ukraine Ukraine – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called to all sides to stop fire immediately and to start solving the problem by negotiations. Ukraine has confirmed its position of support of Georgian territorial integrity and sovereignty. It was stated that Ukraine is ready to make its contribution to peaceful resolution of the region’s conflict within the framework of international diplomatic efforts.[168] Ukranian president Viktor Yushchenko, has sent his special representative Kostyantyn Yelisyeyev to Tbilisi as a result of phone conversation of Georgian President Saakashvili. The aims of the visit are consultations with Georgian authorities and representatives of OSCE, investigation of the situation in the region and presenting of the Ukrainian position on peaceful resolution of conflict.[169] The Foreign Ministry also called on Russia to remove its troops from Georgia and pressure the “separatist regime” to negotiations.[170]
  • Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom – The Foreign and Commonwealth Office states on its website that it is ‘monitoring developments in Georgia following news that there has been heavy fighting between Georgian forces and South Ossetian separatists. We urge an immediate ceasefire in the fighting in South Ossetia and for a resumption of direct dialogue between all parties.’[171]
  • Flag of the United States United States – After the GMT 4:00 8 August UN Security Council meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said that it appeared that the South Ossetians were the provokers of the violence. Fried said, “We have urged the Russians to urge their South Ossetian friends to pull back and show greater restraint. And we believe that the Russians … are trying to do just that.”[124] White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said on 8 August, “All sides should bring an immediate end to the violence and engage in direct talks to resolve this matter peacefully.”[172] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later stated: “We call on Russia to cease attacks on Georgia by aircraft and missiles, respect Georgia’s territorial integrity, and withdraw its ground combat forces from Georgian soil.”[173]

Unrecognised states and non-state entities

  • Flag of Abkhazia Abkhazia – On August 5, separatist Abkhazia’s foreign minister, Sergey Shamba, announced that Abkhazia’s army may open a second front against Georgia if it launched a full-scale attack against Ossetia.[174] As of August 9, Abkhazian troops are lined along the border with the rest of Georgia. [175]
  • Don Cossacks Don Cossacks – On August 8 (12:24 UTC), Viktor Vodolatskiy, the ataman of the Don Cossacks Host, said that a “volunteer 429th independent motor rifle regiment” will be created to help the fight in South Ossetia and that 450 people were already signed up.[4] Since then, hundreds of Don Cossack volunteers have been streaming across the border to fight against Georgia.[2]
  • Terek Cossacks – on August 8, 06:16, Khariton Yedziyev, the ataman of the Terek Cossacks, said that part of his regiment is already fighting in South Ossetia against Georgia, and that more volunteer regiments will be formed.[3]
  • Kuban Cossacks The Kuban Cossacks, according to Khariton Yedziyev, expressed their readiness to help in the defence of South Ossetia.[3]
  • Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – a number of public ministries in the republic released a joint statement: “The fragile peace in the Caucasus, obtained at the cost of unreturnable losses and sacrifices, can collapse in an hour. The nations of the Caucacus and the whole region can come under the real threat of a new big war. We consider the effort to solve any conflict by force absolutely unallowable, and we call on the government of Georgia to immediately stop the fighting, which has already brought about numerous casualties among the peaceful population of South Ossetia. We call upon our colleagues and friends in Georgia, with whom we have worked together for many years and spent no small effort in order to keep the peace in the Caucasus, to join our call and demand that their government turns away from the politics of war and sits at the negotiating table.[176]
  • North Ossetia North Ossetia – The North Ossetian president, Taimuraz Mamsurov accompanied a convoy to the area and was party to a bombardment, surviving unharmed. Earlier, he told the Interfax news agency that hundreds of armed volunteers from North Ossetia were heading to the area of Tskhinvali.[7]

Opposing forces

Members of the Georgian Army training to expell the anti-Russian Chechen rebels from the Georgian territory in 2002

Members of the Georgian Army training to expell the anti-Russian Chechen rebels from the Georgian territory in 2002

Members of the Russian Army during peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 1996

Members of the Russian Army during peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 1996

Old East German T-72 tanks and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, both types used by Russia during the 2008 South Ossetia War.  Georgia also has T-72s.

Old East German T-72 tanks and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, both types used by Russia during the 2008 South Ossetia War[20][57]. Georgia also has T-72s.

See also: Military of Georgia and Military of Russia

The orders of battle of the belligerents at the beginning of the conflict (including Russian military forces in the broader North Caucasus region) were as follows:

Georgia South Ossetia Russia
Population 4.6 million[177] 70,000 (14,000 of whom are ethnic Georgians)[23] 140 million[177]
Army 30,000[178] 3,000[6] 100,000 in the region[178] (1,037,000 total[179])
Tanks 200[178] 87[6] 620 in the region[178] (23,000 total[177])
Aircraft 82[citation needed] 0[6] 320 in the region[178] (3,070 total[180])

Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces are equipped with predominantly Soviet-made weapons, in particular, Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft,[181] T-72 tanks and AK-74 rifles. However, Georgia has recently also been acquiring some western-made weaponry, including the UH-1 Iroquois helicopters and M16 rifles from the United States, Slovak 152mm SpGH DANA self-propelled guns and RM-70 Multiple rocket launchers, Turkish Otokar Cobra armoured vehicles, and German Heckler & Koch G36 and Israeli IMI Tavor TAR-21 rifles.

Order of battle

Russia

  • North Caucasus Military District
    • 58th Army[56]
    • 4th Air Army[citation needed]
  • Leningrad Military District
    • 76th Airborne Division (Pskov)[85]
  • Moscow Military District
    • 98th Airborne Division (Ivanovo)[85]
    • Spetsnaz of 45th Detached Reconnaissance Regiment (Moscow)[85]

Financial Market Reaction

The Russian stock market benchmark index RTS fell 6% by 8 August 2008 at 12:45 GMT in its lowest level (1 732.26) since May 2007, including blue chips such as Lukoil Holdings shares, and Russian analysts expect the fall to continue for some time but then to rise upwards again, recovering losses[182].

The economy of Georgia also suffered negative consequences as Fitch Ratings lowered Georgia’s debt ratings from BB- to B+, commenting that there are increased risks to Georgian sovereign creditworthiness, while Standard and Poor’s also lowered Georgian credit ratings[183][184].

While Georgia has no oil or gas reserves on its own, it is an important transit route that supplies the West, and journalists expressed fear that the war may damage the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, 30% of which is owned by BP.[185] The BTC pipeline was shut down before the conflict and the war created further problems for the operating company.[186]

References

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  163. ^ Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt on the situation in Georgia, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, August 8, 2008.
  164. ^ “Carl Bildt oroad över utvecklingen i Sydossetien och relationen mellan Ryssland och Georgien”. Retrieved on 2008-08-09.
  165. ^ “SVT Text – 132”. Retrieved on 2008-08-09.
  166. ^ “Turkey urges cease-fire in South Ossetia”, Jerusalem Post (2008-08-08). Retrieved on 2008-08-08. 
  167. ^ Turkey agrees to supply Georgia electricity: source/ Reuters. August 8, 2008.
  168. ^ МЗС України щодо загострення ситуації у Південній Осетії (Грузія) (Ukrainian)
  169. ^ “Сайт МЗС України” (in Ukranian).
  170. ^ “Ukraine calls on Russia to pull out its troops from Georgia”, UNIAN (2008-08-08). Retrieved on 2008-08-08. 
  171. ^ “Concern over Georgia”. Retrieved on 2008-08-08.
  172. ^ “U.S. urges talks and an end to violence over South Ossetia”, Reuters (2008-08-08). Retrieved on 2008-08-09. 
  173. ^ “Rice urges Russia to withdraw troops from Georgia”, AFP (2008-08-08). Retrieved on 2008-08-08. 
  174. ^ Абхазия готова открыть второй фронт против Грузии. Korrespondent.net. 5 August 2008. Accessed on: 8 August 2008. (Russian)
  175. ^ Russia Today, broadcast 9 August 2008
  176. ^ Нагорный Карабах призвал Грузию сохранить мир на Кавказе. Interfax. August 8, 2008. (Russian)
  177. ^ a b c Georgia: Russia fighting a ‘war’ in South Ossetia, The Telegraph, 08 Aug 2008
  178. ^ a b c d e (Polish) W ewentualnej wojnie z Rosją Gruzini nie są na straconej pozycji
  179. ^ “Russia’s Armed Forces, CSIS (Page 32)” (2006-07-25). 
  180. ^ Moscow Defense Brief 1/2008 Retrieved on 10 June 2008.
  181. ^ “Lenta.ru: Война в Осетии: Грузинская авиация нанесла удар по Южной Осетии”. Retrieved on 2008-08-09.
  182. ^ http://www.smartmoney.com/breaking-news/smw/index.cfm?story=20080808091636
  183. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/fitch-lowers-georgias-debt-ratings/story.aspx?guid=%7BFA377F13-52F9-4AA2-A3C2-A57170314903%7D&dist=msr_2
  184. ^ http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/fitch-lowers-georgias-debt-ratings-b/
  185. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4484849.ece
  186. ^ http://www.ogj.com/display_article/336608/7/ONART/none/GenIn/1/BTC-export-alternatives-on-hold-as-Russia,-Georgia-clash/

See also

  • Georgian-Ossetian conflict
  • Georgia–Russia relations
  • 1991–1992 South Ossetia War
  • Georgian Civil War

External links

Wikinews
Wikinews has related news:
War in South Ossetia (2008)
  • Timeline: Georgia-Ossetia armed conflict (Russia Today)
  • Comparison of force strength (Reuters)
  • NewsGeorgia Google Translation in to English from the NewsGeorgia (Russian Language) site.
  • Goskomitet of South Ossetia (English version)
  • (Russian) Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
  • (Russian) (English) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Georgian Ministry of Defence (site may be down due to cyber attack)
  • The Messenger, English language newspaper in Tbilisi
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