The Russo-Georgian War (also known as the Five-Day War, August War, or Russian invasion of Georgia), was a conflict between Georgia and Russia, along with the pro-Russian separatist entities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (claiming independence from Georgia), that took place in August 2008 in the South Caucasus. The conflict is regarded as Europe's first war of the 21st century.
Previously the 1991–92 military conflict between newly independent Georgia and its region of South Ossetia had left part of South Ossetia under the de facto control of a Russian-backed, internationally unrecognised government. A joint peacekeeping force of Georgian, Russian and Ossetian troops was stationed in the territories, and a similar situation existed in another Georgian region of Abkhazia after the 1992–93 war. Tensions between Georgia and Russia began escalating in April 2008. Ossetian separatists began shelling Georgian villages as early as 1 August, drawing sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers in the region. In early August, a number of confrontations took place in South Ossetia. Georgia launched a large-scale military operation against South Ossetia during the night of 7/8 August, recapturing most of Tskhinvali in hours. The Georgian government said it was responding to attacks on its villages in South Ossetia, and Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country.
Russia officially deployed units of the Russian 58th Army and airborne troops into South Ossetia on 8 August, launching air strikes against targets in Georgia proper. Russia claimed that its aim was "peace enforcement". Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces throughout South Ossetia for four days, with the heaviest fighting in Tskhinvali, until Georgian forces retreated. Russian naval forces blockaded part of the Georgian coast. Russian and Abkhaz forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia. During the war, South Ossetians razed most ethnic-Georgian villages in South Ossetia. This was the first war in history when cyber warfare coincided with military action. The West condemned Russia. There was an active information war during and after the conflict.
President of France Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated a ceasefire agreement on 12 August. After the ceasefire, Russia temporarily occupied the Georgian cities of Poti, Senaki, and Gori; Russian forces raided Georgian military bases. Russia recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 26 August. In response, the Georgian government cut diplomatic relations with Russia. Russia mostly completed its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper on 8 October. In the aftermath Russia's international relations were largely unharmed. The war displaced 192,000 people, and while many returned to their homes after the war, 20,272 persons remain displaced as of 2014. Russian military occupies Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire.
- 1 Background
- 2 Prelude
- 3 Large-scale conflict
- 4 Peace plan
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 Humanitarian impact and war crimes
- 7 Infrastructure damage
- 8 Reactions
- 9 Responsibility and motives
- 10 Combatants
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Georgia was first created in the tenth century, defined as the lands in which church services and prayers were held in the Georgian language. After the Mongol invasions, the Kingdom of Georgia eventually was broken up into several principalities. In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire gradually annexed the Georgian lands. In the aftermath of the Russian revolution, Georgia declared its independence on 26 May 1918.
North Ossetia is considered to be the indigenous homeland of the Ossetians. The timing of the Ossetian arrival in the South Caucasus is disputed. According to one theory, they first migrated there during the 13th and 14th Centuries AD. Ossetians and Georgians lived side by side for centuries peacefully. The conflict between the Georgian government and Ossetians dates back to 1918–1921. At first the Ossetians were dissatisfied by the economic policies of the Menshevik central government. Then the conflict became ethnic in nature. During the uprisings in 1919 and 1920 the Ossetians were covertly supported by Soviet Russia. However, the rebels were defeated.
The Soviet Georgian government, established after the Red Army invasion of Georgia in 1921, created the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast in April 1922. Some historians believe that autonomy was granted to the Ossetians by the Bolsheviks in return for their assistance in fighting against independent Georgia, since this territory had never been a separate entity.
The outbreak of nationalism in Georgia in 1989–91 led to ethnic tensions between Georgians and Ossetians. On 11 December 1990, South Ossetia declared itself directly subordinate to the USSR. In response, the Georgian Supreme Soviet abolished the autonomy. Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on 9 April 1991. A military conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia broke out in January 1991, and warfare in Tskhinvali lasted until June 1992. The separatists were aided by former Soviet military units now under Russian command. The war resulted in South Ossetia achieving de facto independence from Georgia. After the Sochi agreement in 1992, Georgian, South Ossetian, Russian and North Ossetian peacekeepers were stationed in South Ossetia under the Joint Control Commission's (JCC) mandate. Some parts of South Ossetia remained under the Georgian control. The situation was mirrored in Abkhazia, an autonomous republic in the Georgian SSR, where the Abkhaz minority seceded from Georgia during the early 1990s. Following a process of ethnic cleansing of Georgians, the population of Abkhazia was reduced to 216,000, from 525,000 in 1989. Similar to South Ossetia, an unrecognised government did not control the entire territory of Abkhazia.
The conflict remained at a stalemate until 2004, when Mikheil Saakashvili came to power after Georgia's Rose Revolution, which ousted president Eduard Shevardnadze. Restoring South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgian control had been a top-priority goal of Saakashvili since he came to power.
Emboldened by its success restoring control in Adjara in 2004, the Georgian government launched an initiative to retake South Ossetia; intense fighting took place between Georgian forces and South Ossetian militia between 8 and 19 August. According to researcher Sergey Markedonov, the brief 2004 war was a turning point for Russian policy in the region; Russia (which had previously aimed to preserve the status quo) now felt that the security of the Caucasus depended on the situation in South Ossetia.
From 2005 to 2008 Georgia proposed autonomy for Abkhazia and South Ossetia within a unified Georgian state. The proposals were rejected by secessionist leaders, who demanded full independence. In 2006 Georgia sent security forces to the Kodori Gorge, part of Abkhazia, when a local militia leader rebelled against Georgian authorities. In 2007 Georgia established what Russia called a puppet government, led by former South Ossetian prime minister Dmitry Sanakoyev, calling it a provisional administration (alarming Tskhinvali and Moscow).
Russian interests and involvement
The South Caucasus forms a "buffer zone" between the North Caucasus and the Middle East to its South; the region is bordering Turkey and Iran. This is a region where Russia feels "vulnerable". The South Caucasus is also a zone of important economic interests. If the South Caucasus is controlled by Russia, it enables Moscow to control the amount of Western influence in the geopolitically crucial Central Asia.
Georgia had two strategic characteristics that were seen as irreplaceable by Russia: the border with Turkey and the location on the Black Sea. Of the two regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the first is strategically and economically more significant to Russia. In the 1990s the Russian leadership noted that their strategic weight in the Black Sea depended on the presence of Russian troops on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus. Russia hoped to use South Ossetia initially to keep Georgia within the Soviet Union and later in a Russian sphere of influence.
In 2008 most residents of South Ossetia were Russian citizens with Russian passports. According to Reuters, before the war Russia supplied two-thirds of South Ossetia's annual budget. Russian officials had de facto control of South Ossetia's institutions, including security institutions and forces; South Ossetia's de facto government was largely staffed with Russians and South Ossetians with Russian passports, who had occupied equivalent government positions in Russia.
Georgia's pro-Western policy
Although Georgia has no significant oil or gas reserves, its territory hosts part of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline supplying Europe; this has been a key factor in the United States' support for Georgia, allowing the West to reduce its reliance on Middle Eastern oil and bypass Russia and Iran.
During the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, the US president George W. Bush lobbied offering Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine. However, Germany and France said that offering MAP to Ukraine and Georgia would be "an unnecessary offense" to Russia. NATO stated that Ukraine and Georgia would become members of the alliance and pledged to review the applications for MAP in December 2008. At the end of the summit on 4 April, Russian President Putin said that expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders "would be taken in Russia as a direct threat to the security of our country".
On 16 April, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree authorising official relations between Russian governmental bodies and secessionist leaders in Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The decree recognised the legal acts issued by the separatist authorities and entities registered under Abkhaz and South Ossetian laws.
On 20 April, a Russian jet shot down a Georgian reconnaissance drone flying over Abkhazia. Abkhazia claimed that the drone was shot down by an "L-39 aircraft of the Abkhaz Air Force". On 26 May, the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) investigation concluded that the jet belonged to the Russian air force; it was either a MiG-29 "Fulcrum" or a Su-27 "Flanker".
In late April 2008, Russia said that Georgia was amassing 1,500 soldiers and police in the upper Kodori Gorge area and planning to "invade" Abkhazia; Russia, boosting its forces in the separatist regions, would "retaliate" against Georgian attack. The UNOMIG denied any buildup in the Kodori Gorge or near the Abkhaz border by either side.
In May Russia increased the number of its peacekeepers in Abkhazia to 2,542, but its troop levels remained under the limit of 3,000 imposed by a 1994 decision of Commonwealth of Independent States heads of state. Georgia showed video footage to the BBC allegedly proving that Russian troops used military hardware in Abkhazia and were a fighting force, rather than peacekeepers; Russia denied the accusations. On 31 May, Russia sent railway troops (unarmed, according to the Russian defence ministry) to repair a rail line in Abkhazia. Georgia condemned the move as an act of aggression. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 5 June, that deplored deployment of Russian forces to Abkhazia. The resolution stated that Russian peacekeepers had lost their neutrality and the peacekeeping format must be revised.
The overall situation in South Ossetia deteriorated significantly in early July 2008. On 3 July, a South Ossetian separatist militia official was killed by explosions. On the same day, an unsuccessful assassination attempt on chairman of the Georgian-backed Ossetian government Dmitry Sanakoyev injured his bodyguards. On 7 July, South Ossetian separatists captured four Georgian soldiers. The next day, Georgian president ordered police to prepare an operation to free soldiers. Four Russian Air Force jets flew over South Ossetia on 8 August. The overflight was ordered less than 24 hours before the arrival of the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Georgia. Georgia recalled its ambassador from Russia after Russia had confirmed the intrusion into Georgia's airspace to "let hot heads in Tbilisi cool down". This was Russia's first admission in a decade that its air force had flown over Georgian territory without permission. Moscow had always denied earlier overflights.
From July to early August, Georgia and Russia conducted two parallel military exercises: the joint US-Georgian Immediate Response 2008 and the Russian Caucasus 2008. The Georgian 4th Brigade (which later participated in the war) took part in the Georgian exercise with 1,000 American troops, and Russia accused the United States of aiding Georgian attack preparations. Joint exercises focused on counter-insurgency operations and a Georgian brigade was prepared for duty in Iraq. During exercises a leaflet entitled "Soldier! Know your probable enemy!" (that described the Georgian Armed Forces) was circulated among the Russian participants. Russian troops remained near the Georgian border after the end of their exercise on 2 August, instead of returning to their bases.
On 1 August, a Georgian police lorry was blown up at 8 am by an IED on the road near Tskhinvali, injuring five Georgian policemen. During the evening Georgian snipers retaliated by attacking the South Ossetian border checkpoints, killing four Ossetians and injuring seven.
Ossetian separatists began systematically shelling Georgian villages as early as 1 August, with a sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers and other troops in the region. During the night of 1/2 August, grenade-launcher and mortar fire was exchanged. The number of killed Ossetians rose to six, and the number of injured became 15 (including several civilians); six Georgian civilians and one policeman were injured. Each side accused the other of firing first. The events were assessed by the OSCE mission as the worst outbreak of violence since the 2004 conflict. Fire exchanges continued in the nights of 2–3 and 3–4 August.
An evacuation of Ossetian women and children to Russia began on 3 August. On 4 August South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity said about 300 volunteers had arrived from North Ossetia to help fight the Georgians, and thousands more were expected from the North Caucasus. On 5 August, Russian Ambassador-at-Large Yuri Popov declared that his country would intervene in the event of military conflict. That day, about 50 Russian journalists arrived in Tskhnivali, expecting "something to happen". The evacuation of the civilians was complete by 6 August. About 35,000 people were evacuated from South Ossetia.
Beginning in the afternoon of 6 August, mortar and artillery fire was exchanged along almost the entire line of contact between the Georgian and South Ossetian forces. After a short break in the morning, firing continued on 7 August. At 2 pm on 7 August, the Georgian peacekeeping checkpoint in Avnevi was shelled and two Georgian peacekeepers killed. At about 2:30 pm, Georgian tanks, 122 mm howitzers and 203 mm self-propelled artillery guns began heading towards the South Ossetian border to deter further separatist attacks. During the afternoon, OSCE monitors confirmed Georgian artillery and Grad rocket launchers on roads north of Gori. At 2:42 pm, according to Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov, Georgia withdrew its personnel from the joint peacekeeping force headquarters in Tskhinvali. At 3:45 pm, according to CAST, Georgian forces opened fire on targets in Khetagurovo and on the southern outskirts of Tskhinvali with self-propelled artillery guns and tanks; South Ossetian forces at Khetagurovo were held. Due to Georgia's use of heavy weaponry, Russian forces based near South Ossetia were put on high alert.
At 4 pm, Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili arrived in Tskhinvali for a previously-arranged meeting with South Ossetians and chief Russian negotiator for South Ossetia Yuri Popov; however, Russia's special envoy (who cited a flat tire) did not appear. Neither did the Ossetians appear. One day earlier the South Ossetians refused to participate in bilateral talks, demanding a JCC session. Tbilisi had withdrawn from the JCC in March, demanding that the format include the European Union, the OSCE and the Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia. Temur Iakobashvili met with the Russian commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF), General Marat Kulakhmetov, who said that Russian peacekeepers could not stop Ossetian attacks and Georgia should implement a ceasefire. "Nobody was in the streets – no cars, no people," Iakobashvili later told journalists.
At about 7 pm President Saakashvili announced a unilateral ceasefire and no-response order. The ceasefire reportedly held for about three hours. Russia regarded the ceasefire as an attempt to buy time while Georgian forces positioned themselves for an offensive. Attacks on Georgian villages intensified after Saakashvili's address. Avnevi was almost completely destroyed, Tamarasheni and Prisi were shelled and a police station in Kurta (seat of the Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia) was destroyed by shelling. Civilian refugees began fleeing the villages. Georgian senior official from the Ministry of Defence said that his country was going to "restore constitutional order" in response to the shelling.
According to Georgian intelligence, and several Russian media reports, parts of the regular (non-peacekeeping) Russian Army moved to South Ossetian territory through the Roki Tunnel before the Georgian military operation.
Battle of Tskhinvali
At 11:35 pm on 7 August, Georgian artillery units began firing smoke bombs into South Ossetia. Fifteen minutes later, Georgia opened fire against fixed and moving enemy targets; the interval was intended to allow the civilian population to leave dangerous areas. Equipment used in the artillery assault included 27 rocket launchers, 152-millimetre guns and cluster munitions.
Early in the morning on 8 August, Georgia launched a military operation. The Georgian 4th Brigade from Vaziani spearheaded operations on the left flank of Tskhinvali; the 3rd Brigade launched operations on the right flank. The flank operations aimed at attacking key positions, and then at moving further northwards to seize the Gupta bridge and the road leading from the Roki Tunnel to block movement of the Russian troops.
After several hours of bombardment, Georgian forces began advancing towards the city. At 4:00 am they began engaging South Ossetian forces and militia, with Georgian tanks shelling South Ossetian positions from a safe distance. Georgian special forces attempted to take the village of Kvaysa (west of Tskhinvali), but were repelled by a platoon of South Ossetian troops manning fortified positions and lost several wounded. At 6:00 am the Georgian 3rd Brigade launched an offensive into the Eredvi region (east of the city), seizing villages and strategic vantage points. It soon encountered resistance from a company-sized South Ossetian force firing from the Prisi Heights.
After the heights near Tskhinvali were secured, the Georgian forces (including special forces of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs) entered the city. By 8:00 am, Georgian infantry and tanks were engaged in a fierce battle with Ossetian forces and the Russian peacekeeping battalion stationed in the city. According to Georgia, it only targeted Russian peacekeepers in self-defence, after coming under fire from them. Fifteen hundred Georgian ground troops reached the centre of Tskhinvali by 10 am.
That day Russia officially sent units of the Russian 58th Army and airborne troops across the Georgian border into South Ossetia, claiming to be defending both peacekeepers and South Ossetian civilians. Russia claimed that its aim was "peace enforcement". Russia accused Georgia of committing "genocide". According to a Russian military commander, more than 10 Russian peacekeepers were killed on 8 August. Although Russian authorities claimed that civilian casualties in Tskhinvali might reach 2,000, the figures were later revised down to 162.
By the afternoon Georgian forces had captured large parts of Tskhinvali. At about 2:00 pm, the tide of the Georgian operation turned. Georgian flank operations failed to block the Gupta bridge and the main roads to Tshkinvali from the Roki Tunnel and the Java base. The Russian air force mounted attacks on Georgian infantry and artillery on 8 August, but suspended sorties for two days after taking early losses from anti-aircraft fire. In the evening Georgian forces withdrew from the centre of Tskhinvali.
The passage of Russian forces through the narrow Roki Tunnel and along the mountain roads was slow; the Russians had difficulty concentrating their troops, forcing them to bring their forces into battle battalion by battalion. A fierce battle took place on 9 August in the region of Tskhinvali, and the Georgians mounted several counterattacks, including some with tanks. The attacks were repulsed with Georgian losses, and they withdrew. That day a Russian advance column, led by Lieutenant-General Anatoly Khrulyov, was ambushed by Georgian special forces in Tskhinvali; Khrulyov was wounded in the leg. Because of their gradual troop increase, Russian forces in South Ossetia outnumbered the Georgians on 9 August.
According to Moscow Defence Brief, by the morning of 10 August the Georgians captured almost all of Tskhinvali and forced Ossetian militia and Russian forces to retreat to the northern part of the city. The fighting took a turn toward the evening of 10 August, when Russian and Ossetian troops (bolstered by Russian reinforcements from the Roki Tunnel) counterattacked. By the end of 11 August, South Ossetia was cleared of Georgian forces.
According to the Georgian Defence Minister, the Georgian military tried to push into Tskhinvali three times. During the last attempt they were met with a heavy counterattack, which Georgian officers described as "something like hell." Fighting in the Tskhinvali area lasted for three days and nights. According to the EU fact-finding mission, 10,000–11,000 soldiers took part in the Georgian military operation in South Ossetia. The fighting throughout South Ossetia lasted for four days.
Bombing and occupation of Gori
Gori is a strategic city in central Georgia, about 25 km (16 mi) from Tskhinvali. On 9 August a Russian air attack targeted military barracks in Gori, damaging the base, several apartment buildings and a school. Russia denied deliberately targeting civilians. The Georgian government reported that 60 civilians died by bombing. Russian aircraft had bombed at least five Georgian cities by 9 August.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme estimated that about 80 percent of residents had left Gori as of 10 August. The Georgian forces retreated from Gori on 11 August. A Georgian official said that the troops were ordered to defend Tbilisi. By late 11 August, Gori was deserted after most remaining residents and Georgian troops had fled.
Dutch television journalist Stan Storimans was killed and another foreign correspondent injured when Russian warplanes bombed Gori on 12 August; seven people were killed, and over thirty injured. Georgian officials said that Russian forces targeted the city's administrative buildings, and Gori University and the city's post office were ablaze after the bombings. A missile struck Gori Military Hospital, (despite a Red Cross flag flying over the roof), killing Dr. Goga Abramishvili.
Russian forces occupied Gori on 13 August. Military spokesmen said that they were removing military hardware and ammunition from an abandoned arms depot outside the city. On 14 August, Major General Vyacheslav Borisov (Russian commander of the occupying troops) told Aleksandre Lomaia, secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, that the residents of Gori were not disturbed by the Russians' presence. That day Borisov claimed that Gori was jointly controlled by the Georgian police and Russian troops. He also said that Russian troops would begin leaving Gori in two days. Joint patrol efforts by the Russian Army and Georgian police in Gori soon broke down. The next day, Russian forces pushed to about 25 miles (40 km) from Tbilisi; they stopped in Igoeti. The move coincided with the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s meeting with Georgian president Saakashvili.
Russian forces denied some humanitarian aid missions trying to assist civilians access. The United Nations, which described the situation in Gori as "desperate", was able to deliver only limited food supplies to the city. HRW reported that its researchers interviewed Georgians from Gori and the surrounding villages who described armed South Ossetian militias attacking their cars and kidnapping civilians trying to flee attacks on their homes after the Russian advance. Villagers in the region told HRW by telephone that they witnessed looting and arson by South Ossetian militias, but were afraid to leave after learning about attacks on those who did flee.
At 4:00 pm CET on 9 August, Russian naval vessels began patrolling off the coast of Abkhazia. The following day, a naval skirmish between the Russian task force and several Georgian ships took place. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, four Georgian missile boats breached the "security zone" around the Russian Navy ships off Abkhazia. After trying to hail the ships, the Russian units opened fire with naval artillery; one Georgian vessel was sunk, and the remaining three withdrew towards the port of Poti. The shots were most likely fired by the patrol ship Mirazh. Abkhaz officials said that on 9 August several Georgian warships tried to approach the Abkhaz coast, but were deterred by Russian vessels. The Georgian coast was blockaded by vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on 10 August.
Russian forces opened a "second front" in Abkhazia. On 11 August, Russian paratroopers deployed in Abkhazia occupied the city of Zugdidi and carried out raids against military bases in western Georgia. Russian forces reached the military base near Senaki on 11 August, and seized rich trophies;
Abkhaz aircraft and artillery began a two-day bombardment against Georgian forces on 9 August. Three days later, Abkhaz authorities announced a military offensive against Georgian troops in the Kodori Gorge area. Russian forces supported the Abkhaz operation. Abkhaz foreign minister Sergei Shamba said that "Russian troops were not involved" in the operation. That day, Georgia said it withdrew its troops from the Kodori Gorge as a "goodwill gesture". Casualties were light on both sides; one Abkhaz soldier was accidentally killed by his comrades, and two Georgian soldiers were also killed. About 2,000 people living in the Kodori Gorge fled.
Occupation of Poti
Russian warships were deployed near Georgian Black Sea ports, including Poti, on 10 August 2008. The next day, Georgian and Russian officials said that Russian forces had entered Poti (although Russia claimed it had only sent a reconnaissance mission). On 13 August Russian troops in Poti destroyed six Georgian naval vessels. Russian deputy chief of the General staff, Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, denied the Russian presence in the port the following day. On 19 August Russian forces in Poti took twenty-one Georgian soldiers prisoner and seized five US Humvees, taking them to a Georgian military base occupied by Russian troops in Senaki. That day, The Wall Street Journal said that Russian actions in Poti was another blow to Georgia's economy.
Bombing of Tbilisi
During the fighting in South Ossetia, Tbilisi and its surrounding area underwent repeated attacks by the Russian air force. On 8 August, the Georgian Interior Ministry reported that a Russian fighter dropped two bombs on Vaziani Military Base near the city. Russian military aircraft bombed a Georgian military airbase in Marneuli, killing three soldiers. Correspondents for Reuters in Tbilisi reported hearing three loud bangs in the early-morning hours of 10 August, and a Georgian Interior Ministry senior official said that Russian jet fighters dropped three bombs on Tbilisi International Airport. Russia bombed the Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing plant twice that day, and a radar station near Tbilisi the following day.
Media and cyber war
The media became a crucial battleground as the conflict unfolded. The Russian military attempted a few new steps to support an information campaign. Russian journalists were brought along to report on the progress of the Russians in protecting Russian citizens and to propagandise Georgian atrocities. The Russians used television footage to gain psychological affect as well with the local population in the separatist regions. The Russian government also used a military spokesman in television interviews to provide information on the conduct of the campaign, a first for Russia. However, the Russians did not achieve success in their international information campaign. The Georgian government stopped broadcasting Russian TV channels and blocked access to Russian websites during and after the war, limiting access to news coverage in Georgia. Information war continued after the end of the hostilities.
Georgian government and news websites and Russian news websites were attacked by hackers, disabling host servers. According to some experts, it was the first time in history a known cyberattack coincided with a shooting war.
On 12 August, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that he had ordered an end to military operations in Georgia: "The operation has achieved its goal, security for peacekeepers and civilians has been restored. The aggressor was punished, suffering huge losses." Later that day he met the President-in-Office of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and approved a six-point peace plan; President Saakashvili signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement brought from Moscow by Sarkozy. The plan originally had four points, but Russia insisted on an additional two. Georgia requested that the additions be parenthesised; Russia objected, and Sarkozy prevailed upon Saakashvili to sign the agreement. According to Sarkozy and Saakashvili, a sixth point in the Sarkozy plan was deleted with Medvedev's consent. On 14 August, South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity and Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh also signed the peace plan. The following day United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travelled to Tbilisi, where Saakashvili signed the plan in her presence. On 16 August, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the peace plan.
The peace plan embodied the following principles:
- No recourse to the use of force
- Definitive cessation of hostilities
- Free access to humanitarian aid (addition rejected: "and to allow the return of refugees")
- The Armed Forces of Georgia must withdraw to their normal positions
- The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation must withdraw to the line where they were stationed prior to the beginning of hostilities. Prior to the establishment of international mechanisms, Russian peacekeeping forces will take additional security measures. (addition rejected: "six months")
- An international debate on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and ways to ensure their lasting security will take place. (addition rejected: "based on the decisions of the UN and the OSCE")
After the ceasefire was signed, hostilities did not immediately end. According to Moscow Defence Brief, raids began on Georgian territory to capture and destroy Georgian weapons and equipment in what was termed the "demilitarization of the Georgian armed forces". Noting that civilians were fleeing before advancing Russian tanks, soldiers and irregulars, a reporter wrote for The Guardian on 13 August that "the idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous."
On 8 September, Sarkozy and Medvedev signed a new agreement on a Russian withdrawal from Georgia. After meeting with the French president, Medvedev said the withdrawal depended on guarantees that Georgia would not again use force; his troops would pull out "from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia to the line preceding the start of hostilities". However, he did not mention withdrawing troops from South Ossetia or Abkhazia.
On 17 August, Medvedev announced that Russian forces would begin withdrawing the following day; Russia and Georgia exchanged prisoners of war on 19 August. A Georgian official said that although his country exchanged five Russian servicemen for fifteen Georgians (including two civilians), Georgia suspected that Russia still held two more Georgians. On 22 August, Russian forces withdrew from Igoeti and Georgian police advanced towards Gori. Russia claimed that its military withdrawal was completed; however, Russian checkpoints remained near Gori. Two Russian observation posts remained near Poti. On 13 September, Russian troops began withdrawing from western Georgia. By 11:00 am MSK the posts near Poti were abandoned, followed by withdrawals from Senaki and Khobi. On 8 October Russian forces withdrew from the buffer zones adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The control of zones was handed over to the EU monitoring mission in Georgia.
A single checkpoint remained in the border village of Perevi. On 12 December, Russian forces withdrew; eight hours later the Russian troops re-occupied the village, and Georgian police withdrew after the Russians threatened to fire. Russian forces then manned three checkpoints in the village. On 18 October 2010 all Russian troops in Perevi withdrew to South Ossetia, and a Georgian Army unit moved in.
On 9 September 2008, Russia announced that its troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia would remain under bilateral agreements with their respective governments. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that a military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia was necessary to prevent Georgia from regaining control. Georgia considers Abkhazia and South Ossetia Russian-occupied territories. In 2010 Lithuania became the first European country to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as occupied territories. In 2014, when tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated, US Secretary of State John Kerry denounced Russia's continued military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire.
Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia
On 25 August 2008, the Russian parliament unanimously urged President Medvedev to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. On 26 August 2008 Medvedev signed a decree recognising the two states, saying that recognising the independence of the two republics "represents the only possibility to save human lives."
The unilateral recognition by Russia was condemned by the United States, NATO, the G7, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the OSCE chairman because of its violation of Georgia's territorial integrity, United Nations Security Council resolutions and the ceasefire agreement. Russia sought support for its recognition from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. However, because of concerns about separatist regions in SCO states (especially China), the organisation did not support recognition.
In response to Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian government cut diplomatic relations with Russia.
The mandate of the OSCE mission in Georgia expired on 1 January 2009, after Russia vetoed its extension. OSCE monitors had been denied access to South Ossetia since the war. The mandate of the UNOMIG expired on 16 June 2009. Russia also vetoed its extension, arguing that the mandate did not properly reflect Russia's position (recognising Abkhazia as an independent state). According to UN mission head Johan Verbeke, about 60,000 ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia would be left unprotected after the mission's end.
As of 3 November 2014, 267 European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) monitors operate in Georgia and two in Brussels. Russia does not allow EUMM monitors into Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Humanitarian impact and war crimes
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) all parties seriously violated the law of war, resulting in many civilian casualties. The Georgians used Grad multiple rocket launchers, self-propelled artillery, mortars and howitzers during the attack. The South Ossetian parliament building and several schools and nurseries were used as defence positions or operational posts by South Ossetian forces and volunteer militias, and targeted by Georgian artillery fire. Georgia stated that the attacks only intended to "neutralize firing positions from where Georgian positions were being targeted." HRW documented witness accounts that civilian objects were used by South Ossetian forces (making them legitimate military targets), concluding that South Ossetian forces were responsible for endangering civilians by setting up defensive positions in near (or in) civilian structures. Georgia was responsible for indiscriminate attacks, with little concern for minimising civilian risk.
The Russian military used indiscriminate force in South Ossetia and the Gori district, apparently targeting civilian convoys attempting to flee the conflict zones. Russian warplanes bombed civilian population centres in Georgia and Georgian villages in South Ossetia. Armed gangs and Ossetian militia engaged in looting, arson attacks, rape and abductions in Georgian areas under Russian control, forcing the civilian population to flee. HRW called the conflict a civilian disaster, calling for international organisations to send fact-finding missions to establish the facts, report on human rights and urge authorities to account for crimes committed.
It was reported that Georgians and Russians used M85S and RBK 250 cluster bombs, causing civilian casualties. Georgia was also reported to have used cluster munitions twice to hit civilians fleeing through the main escape route, and admitted using cluster bombs against Russian troops and the Roki Tunnel. Russia denied using cluster bombs.
Human Rights Watch reported that during the war, South Ossetians burned and looted most ethnic-Georgian villages in South Ossetia (preventing 20,000 residents displaced by the conflict from returning). Civilians willing to live in South Ossetia were forced to accept a Russian passport. According to Memorial, the villages of Kekhvi, Kurta, Achabeti, Tamarasheni, Eredvi, Vanati and Avnevi were "virtually fully burnt down". South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity said in an interview that Georgian villages had been demolished, and no Georgian refugees would be allowed to return. The EU commission reported that "several elements suggest the conclusion" that ethnic cleansing was practised against Georgians in South Ossetia during and after the war.
Russian officials initially claimed that up to 2,000 Ossetian civilians were killed by Georgian forces; these high casualty figures were, according to Russia, the reason for the military intervention in Georgia. Claims of high casualties influenced public opinion among Ossetians; according to HRW, some Ossetian residents they interviewed justified torching and looting Georgian villages by referring to "thousands of civilian casualties in South Ossetia" reported by Russian television. Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, reported in September 2008 that he received 133 confirmed deaths from Russian authorities.
Georgia and South Ossetia have filed complaints with international courts, including the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.
The war displaced 192,000 people (both Ossetians and Georgians), and while many were able to return to their homes after the war, a year later around 30,000 ethnic Georgians remained displaced. As of May 2014, 20,272 persons remain displaced whose return is denied by the separatist authorities.
On 12 August, local authorities claimed that about 70 percent of Tskhinvali's buildings (public and private) had been damaged during the Georgian military operation. According to later Russian statements, about 20 percent of Tskhinvali's buildings had been damaged and 10 percent were "beyond repair". In late August, South Ossetian parliament deputy speaker Tarzan Kokoity claimed that according to a preliminary assessment, Georgian damage in South Ossetia was valued at 100 billion rubles.
According to Human Rights Watch, during the night of 7/8 August Georgian forces heavily shelled Tskhinvali and several nearby Ossetian villages; the city was also heavily shelled during the daytime on 8 August. HRW reported that South Ossetian fighters took up positions in civilian locations (including schools), turning them into military targets. Several of these locations were then hit by Georgian artillery. Shelling resumed on a smaller scale on 9 August, when Georgian forces targeted Russian troops who had moved into Tskhinvali and other areas of South Ossetia.
The Georgian government reported that Tskhinvali was largely reduced to rubble as a result of Russian air attacks. "When aircraft started bombing our positions in Tskhinvali, this is when most civilian buildings were burned", explained Davit Kezerashvili. Russian journalist Yulia Latynina also blamed Russia for damaging the city, saying that when Georgian forces entered Tskhinvali it was intact. After they were driven out by the Russians, the city was in ruins.
Russia bombed airfields and other economic infrastructure, including the Black Sea port of Poti. Eight to eleven Russian jets reportedly hit container tanks and a shipbuilding plant in the port. On 15 August 2008 Russian forces advancing towards Tbilisi blew up the railway bridge near Kaspi, about 50 km (31 mi) from the Georgian capital. The cement factory and civilian area in Kaspi were also reportedly damaged by Russian air raids. The destruction of the railway bridge disrupted Georgian east-west communications and Armenia's main trade route.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) released a series of detailed satellite maps of the regions affected by the war, acquired on 19 August from UNOSAT. Damage was assessed primarily from satellite images with a resolution of 50 cm. Since it was an initial assessment, it was not independently validated on the ground. UNOSAT reported that 230 buildings in Tskhinvali (5.5 percent of the total) were destroyed or severely damaged. In the villages north of the city, up to 51.9 percent of buildings were damaged. UNOSAT provided imagery of six Georgian naval vessels partially or completely submerged in Poti; no other damage to physical infrastructure or ship-related oil spills were revealed.
Human Rights Watch used the satellite images to confirm the widespread burning of ethnic-Georgian villages by Ossetian militia in South Ossetia. Amnesty International noted that the most of the damage in Tskhinvali was sustained on or before 10 August and was likely caused by the intense fighting between the Georgian and Russian militaries around 8 August. However, a number of Georgian villages near Tskhinvali were damaged after the major hostilities ended.
In response to the war, Russia was criticised by the West:
- United Kingdom – British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on 9 August, "Russia has extended the fighting today well beyond South Ossetia, attacking the Georgian port of Poti, and the town of Gori, while Abkhaz forces have been shelling Georgian positions in the Upper Kodori valley. I deplore this."
- United States – US president George W. Bush said, "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century." The US Embassy in Georgia, describing a Matthew Bryza press conference, called the war an "incursion by one of the world's strongest powers to destroy the democratically-elected government of a smaller neighbor". Bush later said, "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century." Although the Bush administration considered a military response to defend Georgia, it was ruled out because of the conflict it would provoke with Russia. Instead, Bush opted to send humanitarian supplies to Georgia on military (rather than civilian) aircraft. US sanctions against Russia imposed by the Bush administration were lifted by the Obama administration in May 2010.
- Poland – The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and the prime minister of Latvia (Lech Kaczyński, Valdas Adamkus, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Viktor Yushchenko and Ivars Godmanis), who met with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili at Kaczyński's initiative, appeared at a 12 August 2008 Tbilisi rally held in front of the parliament which was attended by nearly 150,000 people. The crowd responded enthusiastically to the Polish president's speech, chanting "Poland, Poland", "Friendship, Friendship" and "Georgia, Georgia". Godmanis, Yushchenko, Kaczynski, Ilves and Adamkus held their joined hands aloft to cheers from spectators in the Georgian national colours of red and white, waving flags of the US, the European Union, France, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine.
- Hungary – Hungarian opposition leader Viktor Orbán drew parallels between the Russian intervention and the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
- Ukraine – Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko said that he intended to increase the rent for the Russian naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea.
France and Germany took an intermediate position, refraining from naming a culprit:
- European Union – On 8 August, France (who held the rotating presidency of the European Union) announced that the EU and the US would send a joint delegation to negotiate a ceasefire.
- Germany – German chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern about the humanitarian situation in Georgia and called for immediate ceasefire.
A few leaders supported Russia's position:
- Italy – Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini said, "We cannot create an anti-Russia coalition in Europe, and on this point we are close to Putin's position." He stressed that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was a close ally of Vladimir Putin.
- Belarus – President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said, "Russia acted calmly, wisely and beautifully."
Georgia announced on 12 August 2008 that it would leave the Commonwealth of Independent States, which it blamed for failing to prevent the conflict. Its departure became effective in August 2009.
Although the West criticised Russia for its actions in Georgia, relations with Russia were considered too important to risk a worsening relationship over "tiny and insignificant" Georgia. Western policy makers argued that Russia "should not be isolated" because "international problems cannot be solved" without it. The war compromised Georgia's bid for NATO membership.
NATO reaction in the Black Sea
NATO increased its naval presence in the Black Sea significantly, with ships docking in Georgian ports, and (according to the US Navy) delivering humanitarian aid. NATO said that its increased presence in the Black Sea was not related to the Georgian crisis; its vessels were conducting routine visits and carrying out preplanned naval exercises with Romania and Bulgaria. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev questioned the claim that ships going to Georgia were bringing only humanitarian assistance, alleging the delivery of military support. Russian General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn reminded NATO of the limit on the number of vessels allowed in the Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux convention. According to political analyst Vladimir Socor the United States maintained an uninterrupted naval presence in the Black Sea (constrained by the Montreux Convention's limitations on naval tonnage and duration of naval visits), rotating its Black Sea ships at intervals consistent with that convention.
Responsibility and motives
Both Georgia and Russia accused each other of being the aggressor whose military activities triggered the war. Georgian president Saakashvili told Der Spiegel that he "wanted to stop the Russian troops before they could reach Georgian villages." Georgia released intercepted telephone calls purporting to show that part of a Russian armoured regiment crossed into South Ossetia nearly a full day before Georgia's attack on the capital, Tskhinvali, late on 7 August.
Russia initially said it acted to defend Russian citizens and peacekeepers in South Ossetia. According to a senior Russian official, the first Russian combat unit was ordered to move through the Roki Tunnel at around dawn of 8 August (after the Georgian attack had begun). Defending Russia's decision to launch attack in Georgia proper, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia had no choice but to target the military infrastructure sustaining the Georgian offensive. Russia codenamed its military action "Operation to Force Georgia to Peace". Three years after the August war, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev admitted that NATO would have admitted former Soviet republics if Russia had not invaded Georgia to defend a rebel region. "If you ... had faltered back in 2008, the geopolitical situation would be different now," Medvedev said in a speech to soldiers at a Vladikavkaz base. In August 2012, Vladimir Putin said that Russia had drawn up a plan to counter a Georgian attack long before the August 2008 Caucasus conflict. He said the plan was developed by the Russian General staff in late 2006-early 2007, and negotiated with him (Putin was serving his second presidential term). According to Putin, South Ossetian militia were trained under this plan; however, he refused to reveal if he insisted on the use of force when the war began.
Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based analyst of military affairs, wrote in Novaya Gazeta in August 2008 that the Russian plan was for the Ossetians to intentionally provoke the Georgians so that any response, harsh or soft, would be used as a reason for the attack. He argued that Russia's invasion of Georgia had been planned in advance, with the final political decision to complete the preparations and start the war in August apparently having been made back in April. The war was planned to start no later than the second half of August, because in the following months the weather would deteriorate. The goal of the war was to expel all Georgians from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, to free Tbilisi from Saakashvili, and to force NATO and Americans to abandon the Caucasus region. Felgenhauer had earlier predicted in June 2008 that Vladimir Putin would start a war against Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia supposedly in late August 2008.
According to the report published by an international fact-finding mission headed by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, open hostilities began " ... with a large-scale Georgian military operation against the town of Tskhinvali and the surrounding areas, launched in the night of 7 to 8 August 2008"; but " ... it was only the culminating point of a long period of increasing tensions, provocations and incidents .... ", and there was "... no way to assign overall responsibility for the conflict to one side alone." The beginning of the armed conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia was dated to 7 August 2008 at 11:35 pm, and open hostilities between Georgia and Russia are considered to have begun on 8 August. The report acknowledged that "volunteers or mercenaries" entered Georgia from Russia before the Georgian military operation and there were "some" non-peacekeeping Russian troops in South Ossetia before the official decision for an intervention was made by the Russian leadership. As far as legality of use of force by Russia was concerned, the report took a "differentiated" approach, dividing "the Russian reaction to the Georgian attack" into two phases – the one, which was the immediate reaction "in order to defend Russian peacekeepers" in Tskhinvali and the second one, "the invasion of Georgia by Russian armed forces reaching far beyond the administrative boundary of South Ossetia". However, the Georgian attack on the Russian peacekeepers "could not be definitely confirmed by the mission." According to international law, the Russian actions as a whole, were not neither "necessary nor proportionate" to protect Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. According to the report, Russian citizenship conferred on most Abkhaz and Ossetians may not be legally binding under international law. The commission concluded that Russian intervention in Georgia was not justified as a rescue operation for Russian citizens in Georgia. As for the war's second theatre, the report found the Abkhaz-Russian attack on the Kodori Gorge unjustified under international law.
After the disclosure of alleged US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, the dispatches sent during the initial stage of the war from Tbilisi were published in 2010. "From evidence available to us it appears the South Ossetians started today’s fighting," reads an alleged August 8 dispatch from former US Ambassador to Georgia John F. Tefft. "The Georgians are now reacting by calling up more forces and assessing their next move. It is unclear to the Georgians, and to us, what the Russian angle is and whether they are supporting South Ossetians, or actively trying to help control the situation." He reportedly wrote on August 8 that "As late as 22:30 Georgian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were still hopeful that the unilateral cease-fire announced by President Saakashvili will hold. Only when the South Ossetians opened up with artillery on Georgian villages, did the offensive to take Tskhinvali begin." "All evidence available to the country team supports [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s statement that this fight was not Georgia’s original intention," reads the cable. "Key Georgian officials, who would have had responsibility for an attack on South Ossetia have been on leave, and the Georgians only began mobilizing August 7 once the attack was well underway."
Analysts said that air defence was "one of the few effective elements of the country's military", crediting the SA-11 Buk-1M with shooting down a Tupolev-22M bomber and contributing to the loss of some Su-25s; this view was echoed by independent Russian analysis. Russian deputy chief of general staff Col. Gen. Anatoliy Nogovitsyn said the Soviet-made Tor and Buk anti-aircraft missile systems, bought by Georgia from Ukraine, were responsible for downing Russian aircraft during the war. A Russian assessment, reported by Roger McDermott, said that Russian losses would have been significantly higher if the Georgians had not abandoned a portion of their Buk-M1 systems near Senaki (in western Georgia) and several Osa missile launchers in South Ossetia. According to some reports, Georgia had a battery of the Israeli-made SPYDER-SR short-range self-propelled anti-aircraft system. The Georgian air-defence early-warning and command-control tactical system was connected to a NATO Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) via Turkey, allowing the country to receive data directly from the unified NATO air-defence system.
Georgia has said that its decisive vulnerabilities were its weaker air power and its inability to communicate effectively during combat. Konstantin Makienko of CAST saw inadequate pilot training as the primary reason for the low efficiency of Georgian air raids. According to Georgian first deputy defence minister Batu Kutelia, Georgia would need a sophisticated, multi-layered air-defence system to defend its airspace. However, Western military officers experienced with Georgian military forces suggested that Georgia's military shortcomings were too great to be eliminated by equipment upgrades. According to a 2 September 2008 New York Times article, "Georgia's Army fled ahead of the Russian Army's advance, turning its back and leaving Georgian civilians in an enemy's path. Its planes did not fly after the first few hours of contact. Its navy was sunk in the harbor, and its patrol boats were hauled away by Russian trucks on trailers."
A Western military officer reported that Georgia's logistical preparations were poor, and its units interfered with each other in the field. The Georgian Army never conducted exercises pitting its forces against a potential adversary: the 58th Army. During the war, communications failed in the mountains and troops resorted to mobile phones. There was insufficient planning; according to Giorgi Tavdgiridze, no calculations were made of how to block the Roki Tunnel connecting North and South Ossetia. The arrival of 10,000 Georgian reservists in Gori on 9 August was poorly organised; they had no specific targets, and returned to Tbilisi the following day. With very little video recording of military action, journalists called it the war "that was hidden from history." According to their American trainers, although Georgian soldiers had "warrior spirit" they were unprepared for combat. Georgia had few well-trained, educated officers in its higher ranks, and Saakashvili's government had no military experience.
The Russian Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C³I) performed poorly during the conflict. The Russian communication systems were obsolete, with a 58th Army commander allegedly communicating with his combat forces via a satellite phone borrowed from a journalist. Without the modern GLONASS, precision-guided munitions could not be used; the US-controlled GPS was unavailable, since the war zone was blacked out. The Russian defence minister failed to authorise unmanned aerial vehicles; an RIA Novosti editorial said that Russian forces lacked dependable aerial-reconnaissance systems and a Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber was used for a reconnaissance mission. However, Russian reconnaissance battalions and regiments were also deployed during the war. General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the General staff, said that no new arms were tested during the war.
The RIA Novosti editorial also said that Russian Su-25 ground-attack jets lacked radar sights, computers for calculating ground-target coordinates and long-range surface-to-air missiles which could be launched outside enemy air-defence areas. Opposition-affiliated Russian analyst Konstantin Makienko observed the poor performance of the Russian Air Force: "It is totally unbelievable that the Russian Air Force was unable to establish air superiority almost to the end of the five-day war, despite the fact that the enemy had no fighter aviation."
According to Russian expert Anton Lavrov, on 8 August Russian and South Ossetian troops deployed in South Ossetia were unaware that Russian aviation was involved in the war. Russian aircraft were frequently assessed as hostile by Russian troops and South Ossetians, and were fired upon before they could be accurately identified. The air force flew 63 sorties on 8 August to support Russian ground troops. Russia lost a total of six aircraft during the war: one Su-25SM, two Su-25BMs, two Su-24Ms and one Tu-22M3; three were shot down by friendly fire. Lavrov denied that Tu-22M was used for reconnaissance.
There was also confusion about the command relationship between the North Caucasus Military District commander and the air force. Air-force operations were directed by commander-in-chief of the Air Force Colonel-General Aleksandr Zelin from his office on a mobile phone, without his entering the command post. He decided all matters concerning air operations, not meeting with his air-defence assistants. The air force was accused of failing to support ground operations.
Swedish analysts Carolina Vendil Pallin and Fredrik Westerlund said about the performance of the Russian Black Sea Fleet that although the fleet did not meet serious opposition, it proved effective at planning and implementing elaborate manoeuvres. A contributing factor to the speed of the Russian military victory was the opening of a second front in Abkhazia with mechanised infantry.
Heritage Foundation researchers praised Russian general-staff planning, saying that the operations "were well prepared and well executed" and the Russian offensive achieved a strategic surprise. A Reuters analyst described Russia's army as "strong but flawed"; the war demonstrated that Russia's "armed forces have emerged from years of neglect as a formidable fighting force, but revealed important deficiencies." The weaknesses, especially in missiles and air capability, left Russia still lagging behind the image of a world-class military power it projected to the rest of the world. Unlike the Second Chechen War, Russia's force in Georgia was composed primarily of professional soldiers instead of conscripts. Reuters reporters on the ground in Georgia saw disciplined, well-equipped troops. CAST director Ruslan Pukhov said that "the victory over the Georgian army ... should become for Russia not a cause for euphoria and excessive joy, but serve to speed up military transformations in Russia." Roger McDermott wrote that slight differences in criticism by civilian media or official sources after the conflict was "an orchestrated effort by the government to 'sell' reform to the military and garner support among the populace."
However, the Russian Army's professionalisation was not praised as success. General Vladimir Boldyrev admitted in September 2008 that many of the professional soldiers were no better trained than conscripts. Russian Airborne Troops conducted most of the ground fighting. Airborne troops could not be airlifted behind Georgian lines due to the Russian Air Force's inability to penetrate Georgian air defence. An ambush of a ground-troop commander, in which only five of thirty vehicles in his convoy survived, indicated intelligence and surveillance failures. Many Russian ground units were reportedly insufficiently supplied with ammunition.
Georgian order of battle
According to Moscow Defence Brief, an English-language defence magazine published by the Russian non-governmental organisation, Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the Georgians concentrated troops and equipment on the South Ossetian border in early August under the guise of providing support for an exchange of fire with South Ossetian formations. The Georgian forces included the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Infantry Brigades, the Artillery Brigade, elements of the 1st Infantry Brigade and the separate Gori Tank Battalion, plus special forces and Ministry of Internal Affairs troops—as many as 16,000 troops, according to the magazine.
The Georgian army contained five infantry brigades. A tank battalion was stationed at Gori. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, when the war began the Georgians had amassed ten light infantry battalions of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th infantry brigades, special forces and an artillery brigade (totaling about 12,000 troops). The 4th Brigade carried out the primary mission of capturing Tskhinvali, with the 2nd and 3rd Brigades providing support. The 1st Infantry Brigade, the only one trained to NATO standards, was serving in Iraq at the beginning of the war; on 11 August, the United States Air Force airlifted it to Georgia.
|Ministry of Defence||Special Forces Brigade|
|1st Infantry Brigade|
|2nd Infantry Brigade|
|3rd Infantry Brigade|
|4th Infantry Brigade|
|5th Infantry Brigade|
|Military Engineering Brigade|
|Separate Light Infantry Battalion|
|Separate Tank Battalion|
|Logistic Support Department of Army|
|M/R Department, I Operative Division|
|Ministry of Internal Affairs||Special Tasks Main Division|
|Regional Police units in the regions near the conflict areas|
|Special Operations Department|
|Constitutional Security Department|
|Special Operations Centre|
Russo-South Ossetian-Abkhaz order of battle
According to an estimate in Der Spiegel, there were 500 Russian soldiers and 500 South Ossetian fighters initially defending Tskhinvali. The Russian order of battle involved a significant portion of the Russian 58th Army. According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies the 58th Army is one of Russia's premier combat formations, boasting more than twice the number of troops, five times the number of tanks, ten times the number of armoured personnel carriers and twelve times the number of combat aircraft as the Georgian Armed Forces.
|Deployed units: South Ossetian sector|
|Initially present||South Ossetia||2,500 South Ossetian troops|
|Russia||Russian peacekeeping forces||496 from Russian battalion|
|488 from North Ossetia|
|Reinforcement||Russia||58th Army||Two battalions of the 135th Separate Motorised Rifle Regiment|
|503rd Motorised Rifle Regiment of the 19th Motorised Rifle Division|
|693rd Motorised Rifle Regiment of the 19th Motorised Rifle Division|
|42nd Motorised Rifle Division||70th Motorised Rifle Regiment|
|71st Motorised Rifle Regiment|
|Chechen units||One company of Special Battalion Vostok|
|One company of Special Battalion Zapad|
|Airborne Troops (VDV)||104th and 234th Paratroop Regiments of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division (Pskov)|
|Units of 98th Guards Airborne Division (Ivanovo)|
|Units of GRU||One Battalion of the Spetsnaz of 45th Detached Reconnaissance Regiment of VDV (Moscow)|
|Units of the 10th Special Forces Brigade|
|Units of the 22nd Special Forces Brigade|
|Deployed units: Abkhaz sector|
|Russia||7th Novorossiysk Air Assault Division|
|76th Pskov Air Assault Divisions|
|Elements of the 20th Motorised Rifle Division|
|Two battalions of Black Sea Fleet Marines|
|Abkhazia||Armed Forces (land and air forces) of Abkhazia|
|Deployed units: Air|
|Russia||4th Air Army|
Equipment losses and cost
After the war Reuters cited Stratfor, which believed that Russia "has largely destroyed Georgia's war-fighting capability". According to Moscow Defence Brief, Georgia lost its air and naval forces and its air-defence systems. The Georgian army lost large quantites of small arms to the Russians during the conflict. Russian Ground Forces official Igor Konashenkov said that during the war the Russians captured 65 Georgian tanks, over 20 of which were destroyed because they were beyond repair or too old. Russia estimated that the Georgian Air Force lost three Su-25 attack aircraft and two L-29 jets. Three AN-2 aircraft were destroyed during the bombardment of Marneuli Air Force Base. On 11 August 2008, Russian airborne troops burned two Mi-24 helicopters and one Mi-14. Georgian Defence Minister Davit Kezerashvili said that Georgia lost materiel worth $250 million. According to Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, his country saved 95 percent of its armed forces. The 4th Brigade suffered the heaviest casualties of any Georgian military unit.
In 2009, Russian Army Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov claimed that Georgia was rearming, although the United States was not directly supplying weapons. According to Makarov, Georgian armed forces exceeded their pre-war strength in 2009.
Russia confirmed the loss of three Su-25 strike aircraft, one Tu-22M3 long-range bomber, at least three tanks, 20 armoured and 20 non-armoured vehicles. Moscow Defence Brief provided a higher estimate, saying that Russian Air Force overall losses during the war amounted to one Tu-22M3 long-range bomber, one Su-24M Fencer fighter-bomber, one Su-24MR Fencer E reconnaissance plane and four Su-25 attack planes. Anton Lavrov listed one Su-25SM, two Su-25BM, two Su-24M and one Tu-22M3 lost. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the five-day war cost Russia an estimated 12.5 billion rubles, a daily cost of 2.5 billion rubles.
- Georgia–Russia relations
- Olympus Inferno, a 2009 Russian war drama film and world's first feature film on the South Ossetian conflict.
- 5 Days of War, a 2011 film depicting the war.
- August Eighth, a 2012 Russian war drama film.
- South Ossetia's status is disputed. It considers itself to be an independent state, but this is recognised by only a few other countries. The Georgian government and most of the world's other states consider South Ossetia de jure a part of Georgia's territory.
- Abkhazia's status is disputed. It considers itself to be an independent state, but this is recognised by only a few other countries. The Georgian government and most of the world's other states consider Abkhazia de jure a part of Georgia's territory. In Georgia's official subdivision it is an autonomous republic, whose government sits in exile in Tbilisi.
- Tavernise, Sabrina; Siegel, Matt (16 August 2008). "Looting and 'ethnic cleansing' in South Ossetia as soldiers look on". The Age. Archived from the original on 17 August 2009.
- Hider, James (27 August 2008). "Russian-backed paramilitaries 'ethnically cleansing villages'". The Times. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008.
- "World Report 2009" (PDF). Human Rights Watch.
- "S. Ossetia says Georgian refugees unable to return to region". RIA Novosti. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- "Statement by President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev". The Kremlin. 26 August 2008. Archived from the original on 2 September 2008.
- Harding, Luke; Percival, Jenny (9 September 2008). "Russian troops to stay in Abkhazia and South Ossetia". The Guardian.
- Войсками Южной Осетии командует бывший пермский военком генерал-майор Василий Лунев (in Russian). NR2.Ru. 11 August 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- Обороной Южной Осетии руководит выходец с Урала (in Russian). 11 August 2008. Archived from the original on 30 September 2009.
- Баранкевич, Анатолий (in Russian). Lenta.ru.
- Генерал Баранкевич лично подбил грузинский танк (in Russian).
- Зайцев, Анатолий (in Russian). Lenta.ru.
- Volume II 2009, p. 214.
- "Human Rights Watch – Appendix". Human Rights Watch.
- Liklikadze, Koba (26 September 2008). "Lessons and losses of Georgia's five-day war with Russia". The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009.
- "Full scale war: Georgia fighting continues over South Ossetia". Die Welt. 9 August 2008.
- Barabanov, Mikhail. "The August War between Russia and Georgia". Moscow Defence Brief (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) 3 (13).
- Alexander Nicoll; Sarah Johnstone (September 2008). "Russia's rapid reaction". International Institute for Strategic Studies. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008.
- Krasnogir, Sergey (8 August 2008). Расстановка сил (in Russian). Lenta.Ru. Archived from the original on 9 August 2008.
- "Abkhazia: Moscow sends troops into second enclave". The Guardian. 11 August 2008.
- "List of Casualties among the Georgian Military Servicemen". Ministry of Defence of Georgia. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012.
- "BASIC FACTS: CONSEQUENCES OF RUSSIAN AGGRESSION IN GEORGIA". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
- "Russia increases death toll in S. Ossetia conflict to 67 soldiers". RIA Novosti. 7 August 2009.
- "Russia lost 64 troops in Georgia war, 283 wounded". Reuters. 21 February 2009.
- Volume II 2009, p. 224.
- Список военнослужащих Минобороны Южной Осетии, погибших в августе 2008 года (in Russian). ИА REGNUM. 20 October 2008.
- Юрий ТАНАЕВ: "Грузинская сторона по моральному духу и боеготовности не готова к активным действиям" (in Russian). "Южная Осетия". 11 April 2009.
- В Южной Осетии прошло открытие памятника погибшим в 2008 году бойцам ОМОН МВД РЮО (in Russian). OSinform. 19 November 2010.
- "Abkhaz Open 'Second Front'". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 14 August 2008. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008.
- Мы полагаем, что мы в полной мере доказали состав преступления (in Russian). Interfax. 3 July 2009.
- "Deceased victims list". Ossetia-war.com. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- Список погибших граждан Южной Осетии на 04.09.08 (in Russian). 4 September 2008. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008.
- "A Summary of Russian Attack" (PDF). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
- "Russia trains its missiles on Tbilisi". The Australian. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008.
- "UNHCR secures safe passage for Georgians fearing further fighting". UNHCR. 15 August 2008.
- Fawkes, Helen (20 August 2008). "Despair among Georgia's displaced". BBC News.
- Charles King. "The Five-Day War" (PDF). Archived from the original on 1 June 2010.
- International Crisis Group (7 June 2007). "Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict: Make Haste Slowly" (PDF). Archived from the original on 13 June 2007.
- "S.Ossetia: Mapping Out Scenarios". Civil.Ge. 5 February 2006.
- Brian Whitmore (12 September 2008). "Is The Clock Ticking For Saakashvili?'". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.
- "Smoldering Feud, Then War". The Wall Street Journal. 16 August 2008.
- Luke Harding (19 November 2008). "Georgia calls on EU for independent inquiry into war". The Guardian.
- Jean-Rodrigue Paré (13 February 2009). "The Conflict Between Russia and Georgia". Parliament of Canada.
- Roy Allison (2008). "Russia resurgent? Moscow's campaign to 'coerce Georgia to peace'". International Affairs 84 (6): 1145–1171. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2346.2008.00762.x. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009.
- Volume II 2009, p. 209.
- "'Georgia Decided to Restore Constitutional Order in S.Ossetia' – MoD Official". Civil.Ge. 8 August 2008. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009.
- "Did Saakashvili Lie? The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader". Der Spiegel. 15 September 2008.
- "Russian tanks enter South Ossetia". BBC News. 8 August 2008. Archived from the original on 10 August 2008.
- "The Russian-Georgian War: A Challenge for the U.S. and the World". The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- "Russia's president says operation in Georgia over". RIA Novosti. 12 August 2008.
- "Day-by-day: Georgia-Russia crisis". BBC News. 21 August 2008.
- "Russia: Protect Civilians in Occupied Georgia". Human Rights Watch. 25 November 2008.
- Markoff, John (12 August 2008). "Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks". The New York Times.
- "6 Unintended Consequences From The West's Passive Response to the Ukraine Invasion". Forbes. 5 March 2014.
- Matthew Collin (24 November 2008). "Media war flares over S Ossetia". Al Jazeera.
- "Russia Endorses Six-Point Plan". Civil.Ge. 12 August 2008.
- "Russian forces sink Georgian ships". Al Jazeera. 14 August 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- Schwirtz, Michael; Barry, Ellen (19 August 2008). "Russia Sends Mixed Signs on Pullout From Georgia". The New York Times.
- Levy, Clifford J. (14 August 2008). "Russia Vows to Support Two Enclaves, in Retort to Bush". The New York Times.
- "Georgia breaks ties with Russia". BBC News. 29 August 2008.
- "Russia hands over control of Georgian buffer zones to EU". RIA Novosti. 9 October 2008. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008.
- Martin Malek (March 2009). "Georgia & Russia: The 'Unknown' Prelude to the 'Five Day War'". Caucasian Review of International Affairs 3 (2): 227–232.
- "Civilians in the line of fire: The Georgia-Russia conflict". Amnesty International. 18 November 2008. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008.
- "Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/ South Ossetia, Georgia". United Nations. 7 May 2014.
- "US warns Russia against military intervention in Ukraine". France 24. 27 February 2014.
- Cornell 2001, pp. 131–135.
- Cornell 2001, pp. 130.
- Julie 2009, pp. 97–99.
- Julie 2009, p. 105.
- Souleimanov, Emil (2013). Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict: Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 112–113.
- Saparov 2014, p. 74.
- Saparov 2014, p. 82.
- Peter Roudik. "Russian Federation: Legal Aspects of War in Georgia". Library of Congress.
- Saparov 2014, p. 77.
- de Waal 2010, pp. 135–138.
- Ronald Grigor Suny (1994). The Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press. p. 325.
- Self-Determination and Secession in International Law. Oxford University Press. 2014. p. 192.
- Stefan Hedlund (7 August 2012). "Washington shames Moscow over 'occupied' Abkhazia".
- "Georgian-Abkhaz Tensions Rise Over Kodori Gorge". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 26 September 2006. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014.
- "Q&A: Conflict in Georgia". BBC News. 11 November 2008.
- "Profile: President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia". BBC. 27 September 2012.
- "Saakashvili: Returning of Abkhazia is the main goal of Georgia". 21 November 2005. Archived from the original on 5 January 2006.
- Charles King (25 August 2004). "Tbilisi Blues". Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012.
- "Regional Conflicts Reloaded". 16 November 2008.
- "Chronicle of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict: Fact sheet". RIA Novosti. 13 August 2008.
- Vladimir Soccor (1 April 2008). "Georgia offers far-reaching autonomy to Abkhazia". Eurasia Daily Monitor 5 (61).
- "Russia Warns Against Tbilisi's 'S.Ossetia Administration' Plan". Civil.Ge. 29 March 2007.
- "Georgia- South Ossetia: conflict chronology". The Telegraph. 8 August 2008.
- Cornell 2001, pp. 331–332.
- Cornell 2001, p. 334.
- Lieven, Anatol (11 August 2008). "Analysis: roots of the conflict between Georgia, South Ossetia and Russia". The Times. Archived from the original on 12 August 2008.
- "FACTBOX-What is Georgia's rebel South Ossetia region?". Reuters. 8 August 2008.
- Volume II 2009, p. 132.
- "Georgia lags with NATO membership citing unpreparedness". ITAR-TASS. 25 June 2014.
- Pagnamenta, Robin (8 August 2008). "Analysis: energy pipeline that supplies West threatened by war Georgia conflict". The Times. Archived from the original on 3 September 2008.
- "Georgia's oil pipeline is key to U.S. support". San Francisco Chronicle. 9 August 2008. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
- "NATO Allies Oppose Bush on Georgia and Ukraine". The New York Times. 3 April 2008.
- "What NATO Summit Declaration Says on Georgia". Civil.Ge. 4 April 2008.
- Evans, Michael (5 April 2008). "Vladimir Putin tells summit he wants security and friendship". The Times. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008.
- "Russia moves toward open annexation of Abkhazia, South Ossetia". The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009.
- Svante E. Cornell; Johanna Popjanevski; Niklas Nilsson (August 2008). "Russia's War in Georgia: Causes and Implications for Georgia and the World". Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program. Archived from the original on 26 February 2014.
- "Russia 'shot down Georgia drone'". BBC News. 21 April 2008.
- "Road to War in Georgia: The Chronicle of a Caucasian Tragedy". Der Spiegel. 25 August 2008.
- "UN Probe Says Russian Jet Downed Georgian Drone". Civil.Ge. 26 May 2008.
- "Georgia 'plans war in Abkhazia'". BBC News. 29 April 2008.
- "Georgia-Russia tensions ramped up". BBC News. 30 April 2008.
- "UNOMIG Denies Military Buildup in Abkhaz Conflict Zone". Civil.Ge. 8 May 2008.
- "Russia Gives Some Details on Troop Increase in Abkhazia". Civil.Ge. 8 May 2008.
- "Georgia condemns Russian actions". BBC News. 18 May 2008.
- "Russia army unit sent to Abkhazia". BBC News. 31 May 2008.
- "European Parliament resolution of 5 June 2008 on the situation in Georgia". European Parliament. 5 June 2008.
- Volume II 2009, p. 204.
- "THE GOALS BEHIND MOSCOW'S PROXY OFFENSIVE IN SOUTH OSSETIA". The Jamestown Foundation. 8 August 2008.
- "Georgia plans operation to free detained soldiers". Reuters. 8 July 2008.
- "Russia says it sent warplanes over South Ossetia to 'prevent bloodshed'". The Messenger. 11 July 2008.
- "Russia admits Georgia overflights". BBC News. 10 July 2008.
- "Overflights question Russia's Georgia role: NATO". Reuters. 15 July 2008.
- "Russian paratroopers arrive in North Caucasus for combat drills". RIA Novosti. 16 July 2008.
- Учение "Кавказ-2008" завершено (in Russian). Russian Ministry of Defence. 2 August 2008. Archived from the original on 18 September 2008.
- "International Large-Scale Military Exercise 'Immediate Response 2008'". Georgian Daily. 1 August 2008. Archived from the original on 13 August 2008.
- Shanker, Thom (16 August 2008). "Russians Melded Old-School Blitz With Modern Military Tactics". The New York Times.
- The Guns of August 2008: Russia's War in Georgia. M.E. Sharpe. 2009. p. 71.
- Tanks 2010, p. 44.
- Russia and its Near Neighbours. Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. pp. 94–95.
- "Six Die in S.Ossetia Shootout". Civil.Ge. 2 August 2008.
- Volume II 2009, p. 208.
- Не место этому президенту в Южной Осетии (in Russian). Kommersant. 4 December 2008. Archived from the original on 20 July 2009.
- В Цхинвали прибыли 300 добровольцев из Северной Осетии (in Russian). OsRadio.ru. 4 August 2008. Archived from the original on 8 August 2012.
- "Russia vows to defend S Ossetia". BBC News. 5 August 2008.
- "Road to War in Georgia: The Chronicle of a Caucasian Tragedy". Der Spiegel. 25 August 2008.
- Peter Finn (17 August 2008). "A Two-Sided Descent into Full-Scale War". The Washington Post.
- Tanks 2010, p. 46.
- "On the eve of war: The Sequence of events on august 7, 2008". Archived from the original on 23 July 2009.
- C. J. Chivers; Ellen Barry (6 November 2008). "Georgia Claims on Russia War Called into Question". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 November 2008.
- Leigh Phillips (30 August 2008). "EU capital faces Georgia and Russia propaganda campaign". EUobserver. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- "Spot Report: Update on the situation in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict". OSCE. 7 August 2008. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009.
- "S.Ossetia Rejects Talks". Civil.Ge. 6 August 2008.
- "Saakashvili Appeals for Peace in Televised Address". Civil.Ge. 7 August 2008.
- "Heavy fighting in South Ossetia". BBC News. 8 August 2008.
- "Georgian conflict puts U.S. in middle". Chicago Tribune. 9 August 2008.
- Chivers, C.J. (15 September 2008). "Georgia Offers Fresh Evidence on War's Start". The New York Times.
- Пермские солдаты оказались в эпицентре войны (in Russian). News of Perm. 15 August 2008. Archived from the original on 18 August 2008.
- Yulia Latynina (11 September 2008). О РАЗНОГЛАСИЯХ МЕЖДУ Г-НОМ БАСТРЫКИНЫМ И ПРОКУРАТУРОЙ ЮЖНОЙ ОСЕТИИ (in Russian). EJ.
- СМИ: российские войска вошли в Южную Осетию еще до начала боевых действий (in Russian). NEWSru.com. 11 September 2008.
- Nikolaus von Twickel (17 November 2008). "Moscow Claims Media War Win". The Moscow Times. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012.
- Элла Полякова: "То, что российские военнослужащие бегут в Грузию – естественно" (in Russian). Voice of America. 6 July 2009. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009.
- "Did Saakashvili Lie? The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader". Der Spiegel. 15 September 2008.
- Tanks 2010, pp. 50–51.
- Volume III 2009, p. 69.
- "Russian Forces in the Georgian War: Preliminary Assessment and Recommendations". The Heritage Foundation. 20 August 2008. Archived from the original on 14 August 2009.
- Petro, Nicolai N. (2008). "Legal Case for Russian Intervention in Georgia". Fordham International Law Journal 32 (5).
- "Medvedev, Putin accuse Georgia of genocide". The Hindu. 11 August 2008.
- "Over 10 Russian peacekeepers killed in S.Ossetia-agencies". Reuters. 8 August 2008.
- "Georgia declares 'state of war' over South Ossetia". The Guardian. 9 August 2008.
- "2.7 The Issue of Civilian Casualties in South Ossetia". Up in Flames. Human Rights Watch. 23 January 2009.
- Tanks 2010, p. 54.
- Volume II 2009, p. 210.
- "The Russian Air Force didn't perform well during the conflict in South Ossetia". CAST. 15 November 2008. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009.
- Герой (in Russian). Lenta.ru. 15 August 2008. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- "South-Ossetian standoff. Results and forecasts". RIA Novosti. 20 August 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009.
- "Bush, Sending Aid, Demands That Moscow Withdraw". The New York Times. 13 August 2008.
- Elizabeth Owen; Giorgi Lomsadze (8 August 2008). "Georgia: All-Out War Looms in South Ossetia". EurasiaNet. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009.
- "Georgia conflict: Screams of the injured rise from residential streets". The Telegraph. 9 August 2008.
- "Russian jets attack Georgian town". BBC News. 9 August 2008. Archived from the original on 11 August 2008.
- Barnard, Anne (9 August 2008). "Georgia and Russia Nearing All-Out War". The New York Times.
- "Humanitarian effort begins in Georgia". CNN. 11 August 2008.
- "Georgia: Russia fighting on several fronts as Georgian troops withdraw to defend Tbilisi". The Telegraph. 11 August 2008.
- "'I don't know which side to blame'". The Guardian. 12 August 2008.
- "Dutch journalist killed in Russian bombing of Gori". International Herald Tribune. 12 August 2008. Archived from the original on 13 August 2008.
- "Victims of Last Year's Tragedy Remembered in Gori". 12 August 2009. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009.
- "The new Cold War: Crisis in the Caucasus". The Independent. 17 August 2008.
- Greenhill, Sam (13 August 2008). "The innocent babies covered in blood after Russia's blitzkrieg in Georgia". Daily Mail.
- "Russia says removing Georgian arms from town of Gori". Reuters. 13 August 2008.
- Bahrampour, Tara (14 August 2008). "A Convoy Heads for Gori to Investigate Rumors of Plunder". The Washington Post.
- "Russian Military Will Leave Gori in 2 Days". 14 August 2008.
- "For Russian Armor, Even With Rice in Georgia, Cease-Fire Is Not a Red Light". The New York Times. 15 August 2008.
- "Russia/Georgia: Militias Attack Civilians in Gori Region". Human Rights Watch. 16 August 2008.
- "Georgia conflict: Russians pull out of Gori". The Telegraph. 22 August 2008.
- "Police Back in Gori". Civil.Ge. 23 August 2008.
- "Georgian missile boat sunk by Russian navy". Frontier India. 11 August 2008.
- "Russian navy sinks Georgian boat: Defence ministry". Reuters. 10 August 2008.
- Dmitry Gorenburg (December 2008). "The Russian Black Sea Fleet After The Georgia War". PONARS Eurasia Policy.
- "Russian navy blockade Georgia". Xinhua News Agency. 10 August 2008.
- Schwirtz, Michael; Barnard, Anne; Kramer, Andrew E. (11 August 2008). "Russian Forces Capture Military Base in Georgia". The New York Times.
- Pronina, Lyubov; Walters, Greg (10 August 2008). "Georgia Pulls Out of Ossetia as Second Front Opens (Update1)". Bloomberg.
- "Russia halts operations in Georgia as Sarkozy meets Medvedev". Hürriyet Daily News. 12 August 2008.
- "Georgia Pulls Out of Abkhazia as France Seeks Russia Cease-Fire". Bloomberg. 12 August 2008.
- "Abchasen räumen Minen und suchen versprengte georgische Truppen im Kodori-Tal" (in German). RIA Novosti. 14 August 2008.
- "Kodori Gorge Refugees in Limbo". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 22 January 2009. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014.
- "Russia moves into Georgian territory as conflict worsens". Agence France-Presse. 11 August 2008. Archived from the original on 17 August 2008.
- "Russian forces sink Georgian ships". Al Jazeera. 13 August 2008.
- "Russian tanks in Georgia's Poti: witnesses". Reuters. 14 August 2008.
- "Russia Briefly Seizes Georgian Port". The Wall Street Journal. 19 August 2008.
- "Georgia Says Russian Jet Bombed Vaziani Base". Civil.Ge. 8 August 2008.
- "Russian bombing kills 3 at Georgian airbase-Georgia". Reuters. 8 August 2008.
- "MIA: Three Die in Marneuli Airfield Bombing". Civil.Ge. 8 August 2008.
- "Russia bombs Tbilisi airport, says official". Reuters. 9 August 2008.
- "Chronology of Bombing Facts". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
- Colonel George T. Donovan, Jr. (2009). "Russian Operational Art in the Russo-Georgian War Of 2008". U.S. Army War College. p. 21.
- Рунет вернулся в Грузию (in Russian). Interfax. 21 October 2008.
- Asher Moses (12 August 2008). "Georgian websites forced offline in 'cyber war'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008.
- "RIA Novosti hit by cyber-attacks as conflict with Georgia rages". RIA Novosti. 10 August 2008. Archived from the original on 12 August 2008.
- "Russian and Georgian websites fall victim to a war being fought online as well as in the field". Press freedom day by day: Europe and the former USSR. Reporters Without Borders. 13 August 2008. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
- "Marching off to cyberwar". The Economist. 4 December 2008. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009.
- Kramer, Andrew E.; Barry, Ellen (12 August 2008). "Russia, in Accord With Georgians, Sets Withdrawal". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010.
- Kramer, Andrew E. (13 August 2008). "Peace Plan Offers Russia a Rationale to Advance". The New York Times. The translation of the six points is by the Times, from a French language document provided by a Georgian official.
- "Georgia and Russia agree on truce". BBC News. 13 August 2008.
- "President of Russia". The Kremlin. 14 August 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- Kilner, James (15 August 2008). "Russian convoy moves deeper inside Georgia: witness". Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
- Alexander, David; Shchedrov, Oleg (15 August 2008). "Bush criticizes Moscow's actions in Georgia". Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
- "President Medvedev signed a plan to resolve the Georgian-South Ossetia conflict, based on the six principles previously agreed on.". The Kremlin. 16 August 2008.
- "Press Statement following Negotiations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy". The Kremlin. 12 August 2008.
- Harding, Luke; Meikle, James (13 August 2008). "Georgian villages burned and looted as Russian tanks advance". The Guardian.
- "New Agreement in Force". Civil.Ge. 8 September 2008.
- "Russians 'agree Georgia deadline'". BBC News. 8 September 2008.
- Kunkle, Fredrick (18 August 2008). "Bush, European Leaders Urge Quick Withdrawal From Georgia". The Washington Post.
- Margarita Antidze; Matt Robinson (19 August 2008). "Russian, Georgian forces exchange prisoners". Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
- Halpin, Tony (23 August 2008). "Russian troops in partial pullout keeping checkpoints within Georgia". The Times. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008.
- Schwirtz, Michael (23 August 2008). "Georgia Prepares for Refugees; Russians Declare Pullback Finished". The New York Times.
- Вывод войск (in Russian). Interfax. 13 September 2008.
- "MIA: Russia’s Moves in Perevi Aim at ‘Renewal of Military Confrontation’". Civil.Ge. 13 December 2008.
- "Russian troops withdraw from Georgian town". BBC News. 19 October 2010.
- "Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Formally Declared Occupied Territory". Civil.Ge. 28 August 2008.
- "ROAR: Lithuania still fighting "Soviet occupation"". RT. 17 June 2010.
- "Russian MPs back Georgia's rebels". BBC News. 25 August 2008.
- "Russia defies west by recognising Georgian rebel regions". The Guardian. 26 August 2008.
- "West condemns Russia over Georgia". BBC News. 26 August 2008.
- "Scheffer 'Rejects' Russia's Move". Civil.Ge. 26 August 2008.
- "CoE, PACE Chairs Condemn Russia's Move". Civil.Ge. 26 August 2008.
- "OSCE Chair Condemns Russia's Recognition of Abkhazia, S.Ossetia". Civil.Ge. 26 August 2008.
- "The Emergence of an Expanded Forum to Replace the G8: The Silver Lining to the Cloud over Russia and the West". Global Communications Platform. 29 August 2008.
- Tran, Mark (28 August 2008). "South Ossetia claims Georgian spy plane shot down". The Guardian.
- Niklas Swanström (3 September 2008). "Georgia: The split that split the SCO". Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Analyst. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- Parfitt, Tom (22 December 2008). "Security and human rights observers to close South Ossetia mission". The Guardian.
- Matt Robinson (16 June 2009). "Georgia angry after Russia vetoes U.N. monitors". Reuters.
- "EUMM Mission Facts And Figures". Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- Luke Coffey (1 June 2012). "Georgia and Russia: The occupation too many have forgotten".
- "S Ossetia 'war crimes' condemned". BBC News. 23 January 2009.
- "2.2 Indiscriminate Shelling of Tskhinvali and Outlying Villages". Up in Flames. Human Rights Watch. 23 January 2009. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- "Georgia: International Groups Should Send Missions". Human Rights Watch. 18 August 2008.
- Thomas Hammarberg. "Human Rights in Areas Affected by the South Ossetia Conflict. Special Mission to Georgia and Russian Federation". Council of Europe.
- "Russia denies use of cluster bombs in Georgia". RIA Novosti. 15 August 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- "The human cost of war in Georgia". Amnesty International. 1 October 2008. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008.
- McElroy, Damien (30 August 2008). "South Ossetian police tell Georgians to take a Russian passport, or leave their homes". The Telegraph.
- "Les incidents se multiplient à la frontière géorgienne". Le Figaro (in French). 28 October 2008.
- "Violations of Human Rights and Norms of Humanitarian law in the Conflict Zone in South Ossetia". Memorial. 11 September 2008. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- Эдуард Кокойты: мы там практически выровняли все (in Russian). Kommersant. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- Volume I 2009, p. 27.
- "South Ossetians Complain to Court". The New York Times. Reuters. 7 October 2008.
- "South Ossetia Floods European Rights Court With Georgia Cases". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. 6 October 2008. Archived from the original on 6 August 2009.
- "Case Concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation) Order of 2 December 2008". Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions, and Orders. International Court of Justice. Archived from the original on 6 August 2009.
- "Georgia marks anniversary of war". BBC News. 7 August 2009.
- Почти 70% Цхинвали разрушено во время боевых действий (in Russian). RIA Novosti. 12 August 2008.
- "One tenth of Tskhinvali buildings beyond repair – Russian ministry". Interfax. 17 August 2008. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008.
- Грузинский счет за разрушенный Цхинвал (in Russian). Rosbalt. 22 August 2008.
- "Statement on Russian attack in Tskhinvali". Government of Georgia. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- "200 КМ ТАНКОВ. О РОССИЙСКО-ГРУЗИНСКОЙ ВОЙНЕ. ЧАСТЬ 5" (in Russian). EJ. 29 November 2008. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. "Translation".
- Blomfield, Adrian (8 August 2008). "Georgia: Russia enters into 'war' in South Ossetia". The Telegraph.
- Ad hoc delegation to Georgia (19 August 2008). "REPORT FROM THE CHAIR: Mrs Marie Anne ISLER BEGUIN" (PDF). European Parliament.
- "Georgia: Armenian Trade Concerns". 20 August 2008. Archived from the original on 22 June 2010.
- "13 GEORGIA MAPS". UNOSAT. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
- "Village Damage Summary" (PDF). Archived from the original on 16 September 2008.
- "Satellite damage assessment for Poti, Georgia" (PDF). United Nations. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008.
- "Georgia: Satellite Images Show Destruction, Ethnic Attacks". Human Rights Watch. 28 August 2008.
- "Amnesty International Satellite Images Reveal Damage to South Ossetian Villages After...". Reuters. 9 October 2008. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
- "Foreign Secretary deplores continued fighting in Georgia (09/08/2008)". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
- "Russians march into Georgia as full-scale war looms". The Guardian. 12 August 2008.
- "DAS Matthew Bryza Press Conference". 12 August 2008. Archived from the original on 26 July 2009.
- "Bush To Russia: Stop The "Bullying And Intimidation"". The Huffington Post. 15 August 2008.
- James G. Neuger (13 January 2010). "Bush Aides Weighed Attack to Halt Russia-Georgia War: Books". Bloomberg.
- "U.S. pondered military use in Georgia". Politico.com. 2 March 2010.
- Baker, Peter; Sanger, David E. (21 May 2010). "U.S. Makes Concessions to Russia for Iran Sanctions". The New York Times.
- "Lech Kaczyński: jesteśmy tu po to, by podjąć walkę". Rzeczpospolita (in Polish). 12 August 2008.
- "Baltic leaders rally in Tbilisi". The Baltic Times. 13 August 2008.
- "Orbánnak 56 jutott eszébe az orosz hadmûveletekrõl" (in Hungarian). index.hu. 14 August 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012.
- Kramer, Andrew E. (27 August 2008). "NATO Ships in Black Sea Raise Alarms in Russia". The New York Times.
- Bennhold, Katrin (12 August 2008). "Differences emerge in Europe of a response to Georgia conflict". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008.
- "La Géorgie et la Russie s'affrontent pour le contrôle de l'Ossétie du Sud". Le Monde (in French). 8 August 2008.
- "Angela Merkel calls for immediate ceasefire". Bundeskanzlerin. 11 August 2008. Archived from the original on 31 August 2008.
- "Belarus leader applauds Russian response to South Ossetia crisis". RIA Novosti. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 7 September 2009.
- "Georgia Finalizes Withdrawal From CIS". 18 August 2009.
- Henrik Larsen (March 2012). "The Russo-Georgian war and beyond: towards a European great power concert". European Security 21 (1): 102–121. doi:10.1080/09662839.2012.656595.
- Kramer, Andrew (27 August 2008). "NATO ships cause alarm in Moscow". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 31 August 2008.
- Mike Mount (20 August 2008). "Navy ships wait to deliver aid to Georgia". CNN. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009.
- "NATO says its warships in Black Sea unrelated to Georgia crisis". English Xinhua. 28 August 2008.
- Tran, Mark (21 August 2008). "Russia suspends military cooperation with Nato". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 May 2009.
- Госсовет России формулирует новую внешнеполитическую стратегию страны (in Russian). Pervy Kanal. 6 September 2008. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008.
- "Black Sea Fleet ships start tracking NATO guests". Regnum. 27 August 2008. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009.
- "Naval Imbalance in the Black Sea After the Russian-Georgian War". Ocnus.Net. 27 November 2008.
- "South Ossetia conflict FAQs". RIA Novosti. 17 September 2008. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009.
- "Short chronology, Peacekeeping Operation to Force Georgia to Peace". Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
- Denis Dyomkin (21 November 2011). "Russia says Georgia war stopped NATO expansion". Reuters.
- "Russia's 2008 war with Georgia prevented NATO growth – Medvedev". RIA Novosti. 21 November 2011.
- "Russia was prepared for Georgian aggression – Putin". RT. 8 August 2012.
- Pavel Felgenhauer (14 August 2008). Это была не спонтанная, а спланированная война (in Russian). Novaya Gazeta.
- Россия начнет войну против Грузии предположительно в августе – П. Фельгенгауер (in Russian). 20 June 2008.
- Volume I 2009, p. 3.
- Volume I 2009, p. 19.
- Volume I 2009, p. 11.
- Volume I 2009, p. 32.
- Volume II 2009, p. 230.
- Volume I 2009, p. 20.
- Volume I 2009, p. 23.
- Volume II 2009, p. 265.
- Volume II 2009, p. 275.
- Volume I 2009, p. 18.
- Volume II 2009, p. 289.
- Volume I 2009, p. 25.
- "Georgia: Can WikiLeaks Cables Change the Russia-Georgia War Narrative?". EurasiaNet. 2010-12-01.
- "Georgian Military Folds Under Russian Attack". Aviation Week. 15 August 2008. Archived from the original on 21 May 2011.
- "War Reveals Russia's Military Might and Weakness". Aviation. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008.
- McDermott, Roger N. (Spring 2009). "Russia's Conventional Armed Forces and the Georgian War". Parameters (US Army War College). XXXIX: 65–80. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- Aminov, Said. "Georgia's Air Defense in the War with South Ossetia". Moscow Defence Brief (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) (#1(15)/2009). Archived from the original on 28 May 2009.
- Chivers, C. J.; Shanker, Thom (2 September 2008). "Georgia Eager to Rebuild Its Defeated Armed Forces". The New York Times.
- "US trainers say Georgian troops weren't ready". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008.
- Tor Bukkvoll (November–December 2009). "Russia's Military Performance in Georgia". Military Review 89 (6): 58.
- Cooper, Helene; Chivers, C.J.; Levy, Clifford J. (17 August 2008). "U.S. Watched as a Squabble Turned into a Showdown". The New York Times.
- "Russian Army's weaknesses exposed during war in Georgia". RIA Novosti. 9 September 2008. Archived from the original on 24 May 2009.
- Tanks 2010, p. 142.
- "Georgia War Shows Russia Army Now a 'Force to Be Reckoned With'". Georgian Daily. 27 August 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
- Tanks 2010, p. 105.
- Tanks 2010, p. 57.
- Tanks 2010, p. 104.
- Tanks 2010, p. 100.
- Pallin, Carolina Vendil; Fredrik Westerlund (24 July 2009). "Russia's war in Georgia: lessons and consequences". Small Wars & Insurgencies 20 (2).
- "Georgia war shows Russian army strong but flawed". Reuters. 20 August 2008.
- "The Caucasus Crisis". German Institute for International and Security Affairs. November 2008. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009.
- John Pike. "Georgia – Army Order of Battle". GlobalSecurity.org.
- Michael Hoffman (11 August 2008). "U.S. takes Georgian troops home from Iraq".
- Hamilton, Robert E. (4 September 2008). "A Resolute Strategy on Georgia" (PDF). Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008.
- "What will be the outcome of the Georgian-Ossetian war?". RIA Novosti. 8 August 2008. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009.
- Volume III 2009, p. 371.
- В зону конфликта переброшены роты чеченских батальонов "Восток" и "Запад" (in Russian). Lenta.ru. 11 August 2008.
- В Цхинвали вошли подразделения Воздушно-десантных войск (in Russian). Russian Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 12 August 2008.
- Sweeney, Conor (13 August 2008). "ANALYSIS-Georgia rebel confidence rises after fighting". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2 September 2008.
- Россия забрала себе пятую часть грузинских танков (in Russian). Lenta.ru. 16 August 2008.
- John Pike. "Georgia Air Force". GlobalSecurity.org. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009.
- "History of the Air Forces of Georgia". Geo-Army.ge. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- "Russian Army Chief Says Georgia is Rearming". Civil.Ge. 11 November 2009.
- Они до конца выполнили воинский долг (in Russian). Archived from the original on 26 February 2012.
- Vladimir Ivanov (20 August 2008). Цена победы в Южной Осетии (in Russian). Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
- Books and Reports
- Cornell, Svante E. (2001). Small Nations and Great Powers (PDF). RoutledgeCurzon.
- Saparov, Arsène (2014). From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the Making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh. Routledge.
- George, Julie A (2009). The Politics of Ethnic Separatism in Russia and Georgia. Palgrave Macmillan.
- de Waal, Thomas (2010). The Caucasus: an Introduction. Oxford University Press.
- "Report. Volume I". IIFFMCG. September 2009.
- "Report. Volume II". IIFFMCG. September 2009.
- "Report. Volume III". IIFFMCG. September 2009.
- "The Tanks of August". Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Russo-Georgian War.|
- EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia
- EU Fact Finding Mission (Tagliavini report)
- OSCE Mission to Georgia (closed)
- The EU Investigation Report on the August 2008 War and the Reactions from Georgia and Russia in the Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 10
- War in Georgia. International Crisis Group's multimedia presentation
- BBC hub
- Fighting in South Ossetia Photos
- Boston.com Gallery