Timeline of the Russo-Georgian War

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Main article: Russo-Georgian War

The Russo-Georgian War began on August 7, 2008 and involved Georgia, Russian Federation, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Background[edit]

Events prior to August 2008 are described in 2008 Georgia–Russia crisis.

Tensions had been escalating through the year of 2008, but the countdown to the open hostilities began with a bombing of a Georgian police car near the Eredvi village east of Tskhinvali, with five policemen wounded by the blast. According to one source, the bombing happened on the 31st of July,[1] another gives the date of August the 1st.[2] A chain of reactions and counter-reactions followed.

Overview timeline[edit]

  • July 31 - Two roadside bombs made out of 122 mm shells hit a Georgian police Toyota SUV near the Georgian village of Eredvi. Five Georgian policemen were wounded.[1][3]
  • August 1 - Late evening, intense fighting began between Georgian troops and paramilitary soldiers of South Ossetia, causing the deaths of six Ossetian militiamen.[2]
    South Ossetians started to evacuate into Russia.[4]
  • August 5 - Russian ambassador Yuri Popov warned that Russia would intervene if conflict erupted.[5][6]
    Dmitry Medoyev, a South Ossetian presidential envoy, declared in Moscow that volunteers were arriving already, primarily from North Ossetia in South Ossetia.[7][8]
  • August 6 - Evacuation of South Ossetian women and children is finished.[4]
  • August 7 - At 7:00 P.M. local time, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke live on television, announcing a unilateral ceasefire and asking the other side also to cease hostilities.[9][10][11]
    Despite the declared ceasefire, fighting intensified.[12][13] Following Saakashvili’s statement, attacks on Georgian villages intensified.[9]
  • August 8 - During the night and early morning, Georgia launched a military offensive to surround and capture the capital of separatist Republic of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.[9] According to Russian military, some Russian peacekeepers have been killed during this attack.[14] Russia claimed to have responded in defense of South Ossetians against what they called "complete genocide".[15][16] There were claims that casualties may amount up to 2,000 dead in Tskhinvali following the Georgian shelling.[17] President Saakashvili later claimed that the Russian side has deployed tanks into the disputed region before he gave the order for Georgian forces to attack.[18]
    Russia sent troops across the Georgian border, into South Ossetia. In five days of fighting, the Russian forces captured the regional capital Tskhinvali, pushed back Georgian troops, and largely destroyed Georgia’s military infrastructure using airstrikes deep inside the small country's territory.[19]
    At Russia’s request, the United Nations Security Council held consultations on 7 August at 11 pm (US EST time), followed by an open meeting at 1.15 am (US EST time) on 8 August, with Georgia attending. During consultations, Council members discussed a press statement that would call for an end to hostilities. They were unable to come to a consensus.[20]
  • August 9 - An action in the Black Sea off Abkhazia resulted in one Georgian missile boat being sunk by the Russian Navy. The Russians claimed that the Georgian ships entered the security zone of the Russian war ships, and the action of the Russian Navy was in accordance with international law. After the skirmish, the remaining Georgian ships fled in defeat.
    A second front was opened by the military of the Georgia's separatist Republic of Abkhazia in the Kodori Valley, the only region of Abkhazia that was, before the war began, still in effective control of Georgian loyalists.
    International community began calling for the end of hostilities.[21] France and the United States expressed a willingness to send a joint delegation to try and negotiate a cease-fire.[22]
  • August 11 - Russia ruled out peace talks with Georgia until the latter withdrew from South Ossetia and signed a legally binding pact renouncing the use of force against South Ossetia and Abkhazia.[23]
    On that night, Russian forces deployed in Abkhazia carried out raids deep inside Georgian territory to destroy military bases from where Georgia could send reinforcements to its troops sealed off in South Ossetia. Russian forces entered the military base near the town of Senaki outside Abkhazia on the 11th, leaving the base there destroyed.[24] Gori was shelled and bombed by the Russians as the Georgian military and most of residents of the Gori District fled.[25][26][27]
  • August 12 - Russian President Medvedev said that he had ordered an end to military operations in Georgia.[28] A sixth point in the Sarkozy six-point peace plan, had been deleted with the agreement of Mr Medvedev.[29]
    Russian troops drove through the port of Poti, and took up positions around it.[30]
  • August 13 - All of the remaining Georgian forces, including hundreds of civilians in the Kodori Valley, had retreated to Georgia proper.[31][32]
    Russian tank battalion occupied parts of Gori. Gori is a strategic city in central Georgia. There were reports that Russian tanks were on the road from Gori to Tbilisi. But they stopped about an hour's drive from Tbilisi, and encamped. Georgian troops occupied the road six miles (about 10 km) closer to Tbilisi and began preparing a defense line.[33][34]
  • August 14 - Efforts to institute joint patrols of Georgian and Russian police in Gori broke down due to apparent discord among personnel.[35][36][37]
  • August 15 - Reuters stated that Russian forces had pushed to 34 miles (55 km) from Tbilisi, the closest during the war; they stopped in Igoeti 41°59′22″N 44°25′04″E / 41.98944°N 44.41778°E / 41.98944; 44.41778, an important crossroad. According to the report, 17 APCs and 200 soldiers participated in the advance. The convoy included a military ambulance, snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and initially, three helicopters. That day, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also traveled to Tbilisi, where Saakashvili signed the peace plan in her presence.[38][39]
  • August 16 - The Russians that occupy Poti, as well as military bases in Gori and Senaki, are destroying the military bases and the arsenal.[40][41]
  • August 17 - the BBC's Richard Galpin, who has spent the past two days travelling from the Black Sea port of Poti to Tbilisi, says Georgian forces seem to be surrendering control of the highway to the Russians.[42] According to BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, there is a "much-reduced" Russian military presence in Gori and lorries can be seen that are delivering humanitarian aid. But he says Russian soldiers still control the town's key entry and exit points.[42]
    Referring to a major ground exercise Russia held in July, just north of Georgia’s border, Dale Herspring (an expert on Russian military affairs at Kansas State University) described Russia's military exercises as being "exactly what they executed in Georgia just a few weeks later... a complete dress rehearsal".[43]
  • August 19 - The Russian forces in Poti took prisoner 21 Georgian troops. They were taken to a Russian base at Senaki.[44]
    On the same day, Russian and Georgian forces exchanged prisoners of war. Georgia said it handed over 5 Russian servicemen, in exchange for 15 Georgians, including two civilians.[45]
  • August 22 - Russian tanks left Gori; other Russian troops remained in Georgia proper.[46]
  • August 23 - Russia declared the withdrawal of its forces to lines it asserted fulfilled the ceasefire: into Abkhazia, South Ossetia and "buffer zones". The bulk of its forces left Georgian soil altogether. Yet, two Russian outposts remained outside Poti for patrolling.[47]
    At a news conference General Anatoly Nogovitsyn insisted that "These patrols were envisaged in the international agreement, Poti is outside of the security zone, but that does not mean we will sit behind a fence watching them riding around in Hummers."[48]

Detailed timeline[edit]

August 1 – August 6: Buildup[edit]

On August 1, a Georgian police pickup truck was blown up at 08:00 by an IED on the road near Tskhinvali, injuring five Georgian policemen. The Georgians suspected that South Ossetian separatists were responsible. At 18:17, snipers from Georgian Interior Ministry retaliated and attacked the border checkpoints of the South Ossetia's Interior Ministry, killing four Ossetians and injuring seven.[49]

Late evening on August 1, intense fighting began between Georgian troops and the forces of South Ossetia. Georgia said that South Ossetian separatists had shelled Georgian villages. Six civilians and one Georgian policeman were injured as a result of shelling of the Georgian villages. South Ossetia accused Georgia of provoking the conflict. South Ossetia said that six people were killed and 15 injured after the Georgian side opened fire. Russian command of the peacekeepers reported that a South Ossetia militiaman was killed by sniper fire from Georgia at 6:17 pm. The Russian peacekeepers also reported that snipers, starting from about 9 pm on August 1, killed at least three people in Tskhinvali. Late on August 1, Eduard Kokoity accused Ukraine and the United States being also responsible for this.[50]

On August 1 Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) observers from all three sides and OSCE representatives were investigating a bomb attack which had occurred around 8:05 am local time and injured two police officers, reported JPKF commander assistant on media issues Captain Vladimir Ivanov.[51]

Shelling by Ossetian separatists against Georgian villages began as early as August 1, drawing a sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers and other fighters in the region.[52]

On August 3, the Russian government said that the situation was becoming more and more dangerous. South Ossetians began evacuation into Russia, which resulted in twenty bus-loads of refugees leaving the region on the first day.[53] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported 1,100 refugees arrived in North Ossetia by bus.[54] Some 35,000 people were successfully evacuated from South Ossetia.[55]

On August 3, it has been reported that five battalions of the Russian 58th Army were moved to the vicinity of Roki Tunnel that links South Ossetia with North Ossetia.[5]

On 4 August, the South Ossetian media reported that Eduard Kokoity said that around 300 volunteers had already arrived from North Ossetia to help fight the Georgians and thousands more were expected from the North Caucasus.[56]

Ella Polyakova, Russian journalist, later wrote that some Russian soldiers told her that they arrived in South Ossetia on August 4, while their records claimed that they were stationed in North Ossetia.[57]

On 5 August, Russian ambassador-at-large Yuri Popov reiterated the Russian claim that the country would intervene in the event of military conflict.[5][6] The Ambassador of South Ossetia to Moscow, Dmitry Medoyev, declared that volunteers were already arriving, primarily from North Ossetia, in the region of South Ossetia. He also said that the regions of North Caucasus and the Cossacks were ready to help South Ossetia. He claimed that Tskhinvali relied mostly on its own forces.[7]

Yulia Latynina later wrote that "Before the war, on 6 August, journalists who were sent in advance to cover the war... reported that they have seen 58th Army on the other [Georgian] side of the Roky tunnel".[58]

Starting with the night of 6–7 August there were continuous exchanges of artillery fire between both sides.[4][59][60]

According to Russia Today, four people were reported to have been killed by 7 August and Georgia resumed shelling at daybreak. Residents once again began evacuating areas of South Ossetia and Georgia moved tanks, artillery, and troops to the border.[61][62] The Georgian Interior Ministry reported that as many as ten Georgian soldiers had died in the clashes throughout August 7.[63][better source needed]

August 7: Start of large-scale conflict[edit]

Georgian armoured vehicle in Zahesi on its way north in the late afternoon on August 7, 2008.
Refugees from South Ossetia in a refugee camp in the town of Alagir, North Ossetia, Russia.

According to articles at Russian media, all of 58th Russian Army came to South Ossetia on August 7. A Russian soldier called home: "We moved there [to South Ossetia] on August 7. All of our 58th army."[64][65] Another article, in the official Russian military newspaper, reported an officer's words that at least some parts of 135th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the army had received orders to move in there.[66][67]

According to The New York Times' investigation Georgia provided intercepted cellphone records which were recorded on August 7 morning and provide evidence that some parts of a Russian armored regiment moved through the Roki tunnel that morning. According to Russian military, the regiment was a supplier of Russian peacekeepers at the region. Russia has not disputed the veracity of the intercepted phone calls, which were made by Ossetian border guards on a private Georgian cellphone network. According to Russian press reports after the war, Colonel Andrei Kazachenko who was mentioned in the recording, served in the 135th Motorized Rifle Regiment. According to a senior American official, Western intelligence determined independently that two battalions of the 135th Regiment moved through the tunnel to South Ossetia either on the night of August 7 or the early morning of August 8. General Uvarov, the senior Russian official, said that as the Georgians began their attack, about 100 reserve peacekeepers from the 135th Regiment were put on alert and moved close to the tunnel. They were ordered through the tunnel to reinforce forces in Tskhinvali around dawn on August 8. General Uvarov said he had no information about Colonel Kazachenko.[68]

State-owned Rossia TV showed Sergei Bagapsh, the leader of Abkhazia, speaking at a meeting of the Abkhaz National Security Council on August 7. According to the report, he said: "I have spoken to the president of South Ossetia. It has more or less stabilized now. A battalion from the North Caucasus District has entered the area."[69]

Authorities of breakaway South Ossetia said that number of injured persons as a result of overnight and early morning intensive fire, increased to eighteen on its side. The Georgian Interior Ministry said two from the Georgian battalion of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces were injured after the Georgian villages of Eredvi, Prisi, Avnevi, Dvani and Nuli came under mortar fire late on August 6. The South Ossetian side reported that 18 persons were injured after the Ossetian villages of Khetagurov, Dmenisi, Sarabuki, and Ubiat, as well as the outskirts of the capital Tskhinvali, came under “massive shelling.” Initially the South Ossetians said early on 7 August that six persons were injured. The South Ossetian side has also claimed that the shootout resumed in the region at about 10 am on August 7. It said that the South Ossetian village of Ubiat in the Znauri district came under fire.[70]

Around 2 p.m., Ossetian artillery fire resumed, targeting Georgian positions in the village of Avnevi in South Ossetia. The barrage continued for several hours. Two Georgian peacekeepers were killed, the first deaths among Georgians in South Ossetia since the 1990s, according to Prime Minister of Georgia Lado Gurgenidze.[60]

At around 2:30 p.m. Georgian tanks, 122mm howitzers, and 203mm self-propelled artillery guns began heading towards the administrative border of South Ossetia, in an effort to deter further separatist attacks.[71] In the afternoon OSCE monitors confirmed the move of Georgian artillery and Grad rocket launchers massing on roads north of Gori.[60][72]

At 2:42 p.m., according to Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, Georgia withdrew its personnel from the JPKF Headquarters in Tskhinvali.[73][74] At 3:45 PM, Georgian forces opened fire at targets in Khetagurovo and the southern outskirts of Tskhinvali, employing self-propelled artillery guns and tanks. South Ossetian forces at Khetagurovo were suppressed. This use of heavy weaponry by the Georgians caused Russian forces based near South Ossetia to be put on high alert.[75]

Georgia said it had lost an APC and that three Georgian peacekeepers had been wounded.[76][77]

At 4 PM Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian Minister of Reintegration, arrived in Tskhinvali for a previously agreed meeting with South Ossetians in the presence of chief Russian negotiator over South Ossetia, Yuri Popov.[71] The Ossetians did not show up.[74] A day before, the South Ossetian side refused to participate in bilateral talks, demanding a JCC session,[78] but Tbilisi had withdrawn from the JCC in March, demanding the format include also the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia.[79] He met with the Russian commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF), General Marat Kulakhmetov, who stated that the Russian peacekeepers cannot stop Ossetian attacks and advised the Georgians to declare a ceasefire.[71][80]

The Georgian diplomats said that mercenaries and military hardware were moving through the Roki Tunnel, which joins Russia's North Ossetia to South Ossetia, to support the separatists. South Ossetia also claimed in the afternoon that large numbers of Georgian troops were moving towards the breakaway republic's de facto border.[81]

At 7 PM Georgian President Saakashvili, ordered a unilateral ceasefire.[72][79][80][82] "A sniper war is ongoing against residents of villages [in the South Ossetian conflict zone] and as I speak now intense fire is ongoing from artillery, from tanks, from self-propelled artillery systems – which have been brought into the conflict zone illegally – and from other types of weaponry, including from mortars and grenade launchers," Saakashvili said in a live televised address at 7:10 pm local time.[82] Saakashvili called for negotiations "in any format," reaffirmed the long-standing offer of full autonomy for South Ossetia, proposed that Russia should become the guarantor of that solution, offered a general amnesty, and pleaded for international intercession to stop the hostilities.[9]

The ceasefire held for a few hours until firing was reportedly resumed again at around 10 PM.[12][83] Russia regarded the ceasefire as an attempt to buy time while Georgian forces positioned themselves for a major offensive.[60] According to the Jamestown Foundation, attacks on Georgian villages intensified following 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.[9] The village of Zemo Nigozi was shelled heavily. Tamarasheni was shelled lightly. According to several OSCE monitors, no shelling of the Georgian villages could be heard in the hours before the start of Georgian bombardment.[72] According to Der Spiegel, NATO officials attested to minor skirmishes but nothing that amounted to a justification for the start of the war.[84]

At 10:35 p.m. Georgian forces began another artillery assault on Tskhinvali. The Georgian forces used 27 rocket launchers, including 152-millimeter guns. Three brigades began the assault.[9][84] The official reason given for this, according to the commander, Mamuka Kurashvili, was to respond to the above-mentioned attacks against Georgian villages. Kurashvili stated that the purpose of the operation was to restore constitutional order in the region.[85][86] This caused an increased number of refugees to cross into Russia.[85][87] Interfax quoted South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity as saying Georgia had launched a large-scale military attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. The Georgian Minister for Integration, Temur Yakobashvili, said Georgia's aim was to finish "a criminal regime".[86]

At 23:30 on August 7, according to one of the sources at Georgian Government, about 100 Russian armored vehicles and Russian troops invade Georgia, crossing the Roki Tunnel from Russia into Georgia.[88][better source needed] During a United Nations Security Council meeting on 8 August Georgia said that the first Russian troops entered South Ossetia at 05:30 am on 8 August.[89] Another sources at Georgian Government agree with the later time.[90][91]

August 8: Russian involvement[edit]

Main article: Battle of Tskhinvali
A Georgian Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack warplane, similar to the ones used by Georgia to bomb Russian and Ossetian targets, among them the city of Tskhinvali.[92]
Tskhinvali after the war.
Destroyed barracks of Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali.
In the evening of August 8 demonstrations started outside the Russian embassy in Tbilisi where people were protesting against the Russian intervention.

Around 00:53 local time on August 8, according to Russian sources, Georgian forces began shelling the route along which refugees were being moved from the city.[93] As the day progressed, at least fifteen civilians were reported to have been killed in Tskhinvali.[86] At 04:45 MSK, Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili announced that Tskhinvali was nearly surrounded. It was reported that Georgia controlled two-thirds of South Ossetia's territory.[94] Russian official claimed that the result of Georgian offensive was about 2,000 civilians killed.[95]

The Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council at 1:15am (New York time) where an exchange of accounts was made with the ambassador for Georgia.[96] Churkin explained that that some of the council members would not agree to the renunciation of the use of force, as Russia was asking. Churkin said he had warned the council over the past few days about a Georgian military buildup in South Ossetia and condemned Tbilisi's refusal to renounce the use of force to settle its dispute with its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.[97]

In the morning, Georgia announced that it had surrounded the city and captured eight South Ossetian villages.[98] An independent Georgian TV station announced that Georgian military took control of the city.[99]

On the morning of 8 August, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics, condemned the Georgian government for aggression and breaking the Olympic truce, and that Russia would be compelled to retaliate.[100][better source needed] He warned that Georgian aggression against its breakaway region would provoke a "response".[101] By 15:00, an emergency session of government officials convened by President Medvedev, had ended. Russia’s options regarding the conflict in South Ossetia was discussed during the meeting.[102]

According to the President of North Ossetia–Alania, Taimuraz Mamsurov, a number of Sukhoi Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack aircraft of the Georgian Air Force attacked what he described to be a humanitarian aid convoy en route from Vladikavkaz. Mamsurov, who had accompanied the convoy and witnessed the attack, was unharmed.[103][104] Earlier, he told the Interfax news agency that hundreds of armed volunteers from North Ossetia were heading to the Tskhinvali area.[105]

Around 10:01, Georgian sources reported that three Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft flew into the Georgian airspace and dropped two bombs close to a police station near the town of Kareli, which borders South Ossetia.[106] At about 11:30 am four Russian aircraft breached Georgian air space and dropped a bomb near the city of Gori with no casualties.[107] On the same day Russian authorities rejected the reports that its aircraft had entered Georgian airspace.[108] A Daily Telegraph correspondent reported that he saw Russian jets near Gori, and the Georgian military described them as Russian.[109]

By 11:38, Saakashvili had announced the mobilisation of the Georgian reserve troops amid what he referred to as a "large-scale military aggression" by Russia and called for Russia to stop bombardment of the Georgian towns.[110] Contradicting a Georgian report, the Russian Ministry of Defence denied that a Russian fighter plane had been shot down above Georgian territory, calling it "informational provocation".[111] A spokesman for the Russian forces in South Ossetia said that Georgian shells directly hit barracks in Tskhinvali, killing 12 Russian soldiers and wounding 30.[112][113]

According to General Uvarov, the senior Russian official, the first Russian combat unit — the First Battalion of the 135th Regiment — did not pass through the Roki Tunnel until 2:30 p.m. The battalion, he said, did not reach Tskhinvali until the next evening, having met heavy Georgian resistance. Georgia disputed that account, saying that it was in heavy combat with Russian forces near the tunnel long before dawn.[68]

At 13:15 am local time, Georgia announced that they offered a three-hour ceasefire to let civilians leave Tskhinvali.[114] However, at 14:29 MSK, Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the Russian forces in the region, said that "these are further lies from the Georgian side. No corridor for civilians has been opened."[115] Georgian representative to UN said that because of Russian bombing of Tskhinvali, civilians were not able to use the safe corridor during the three-hour ceasefire.[116]

The Russian Ministry of Defence reported that the Georgians had killed at least 10 Russian soldiers and wounded 30 in the first shelling of their base at the city.[117] A column of Russian tanks from the 58th Army began moving to Tskhinvali to help.[118] Saakashvili said that the Russian column consisted of 150 tanks and other vehicles.[108][119]

Russian media reported that Russian Su-24 bombers and Su-27 fighters were in complete control of the airspace above Tskhinvali.[120] Kulakhmetov said that as a result of Georgian heavy bombardment, Tskhinvali is almost totally destroyed. Gas pipes, a hospital, and other objects of infrastructure were reportedly hit.[121] According to France Press, at 20:00 MSK the National Security Council of Georgia (through a statement of Council Secretary Alexander Lomaia) declared that if messages about Russian tanks in South Ossetia are confirmed, then Georgia would declare war on Russia.[122] Russian tanks entered Tskhinvali shortly after. South Ossetia claimed that Georgian aviation continued to attack Tskhinvali despite the promised ceasefire until 18:00.[123]

At around 16:00 The Georgian Interior Ministry said that a Russian fighter dropped two bombs on the Vaziani Military Base, near Tbilisi.[124] Russian fighters also bombed a military airfield in Marneuli, near Tbilisi. Three people were killed and another five wounded in the air strike in Marneuli.[125][126] According to the source in the Russian Ministry of Defense, "the warplanes attacked only military targets: military base in Gory' Vaziani and Marneuli airfields, where [Georgian] Su-25 and L-39 airplanes are based, and the radar station 40 kilometers (25 mi) from Tbilisi".[127] When asked why Russian warplanes entered Georgian airspace well before Russian government announced the involvement in Southern Ossetia conflict, the officer responded, "According to the orders from the higher command."[127]

The head of Georgia's Security Council, Kakha Lomaia, said that only 1,000 Georgian troops were being withdrawn from Iraq, telling Reuters, "We have already communicated to our American friends that we are going to withdraw half our contingent of soldiers in Iraq within days because we are under Russian aggression."[128] According to Georgia, the United States will provide the transportation; U.S. officials only said that all transportation options were being explored.[129]

After the opening ceremonies in Beijing for the Olympics, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said to U.S. President George W. Bush that a real war had begun in Ossetia, to which Bush reportedly replied that no one wanted war, and Putin added that it is difficult to maintain peace in the Caucasus.[130]

In New York a second emergency session of the United Nations Security Council was convened by the ambassador for Georgia where he detailed the "premeditated military intervention" following Russia's "well-calculated provocation".[89] The Russian ambassador responded with news of continuation of the "treacherous attack on South Ossetia" by Georgian forces.[131]

United States refused to support a Russian-backed resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for an end to the fighting because of its opposition to a clause calling on all sides to "renounce the use of force". This persuaded Russia that Washington was backing Georgia's right to take military action.[132]

Abkhazian leader Sergei Bagapsh said that volunteers from Abkhazia were on the way to help the South Ossetians.[133][better source needed] It was later announced that an unspecified number of Abkhazian army units had advanced to the border of the arms limitation zone between Abkhazia and Georgia.[134]

In an interview with CNN, answering the anchor's question "Did you take a gamble? Your government launched its own attempt to retake South Ossetia, guess 24 hour ago?", Saakashvili answered "We did not. [Only when Russian APCs crossed the border at midnight, August 7] we had to fire back the artillery, we had to take measures. Because it was a clear-cut case of intervention."[135]

August 9: Escalation[edit]

A Tupolev Tu-22M bomber. A Russian example was downed by the Georgians during the war.[136]

At around 21:00 GMT on August 8, Lomaia reported that Russia had bombed the Black Sea port of Poti and had started to bomb civil and economic infrastructure.[137]

Russian media reported heavy gunfire between Russian and Georgian troops continued through the night,[138] and CNN stated that an airfield near Tbilisi was bombed in the early hours of the day.[139][better source needed]

Before morning Russian planes bombed the Senaki military base killing 12 Georgian soldiers and wounding 14. One of the wounded died in the hospital.[140]

At around 06:27 GMT, Reuters reported that two Russian fighters had bombed Georgian artillery encampments near Gori.[141][142] The Georgian government reported that 60 civilians were killed when the bombs hit the residential buildings in Gori.[143][144] According to the Russian military, three bombs hit an armament depot and the façade of one of the adjacent 5-storey apartment buildings suffered as a result exploding ammunition from the depot.[145]

Vladimir Putin after attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics arrived in North Ossetia on 9 August, to oversee what he called a "humanitarian operation".[21][146] He stated that it was now unlikely that South Ossetia could ever reintegrate within Georgia.[21] He said that about 34,000 refugees had been registered so far.[147] He said the government was ready to earmark up to US$425 million for aid to the region.[148] Putin's spokesperson gave assurances that the visit had "no military component". In the morning Putin left for Gorki outside Moscow to meet Russian president Medvedev.[146]

At 11:29 MSK, Russian paratroopers were deployed in South Ossetia.[149] At 15:41 MSK, Lenta.Ru reported that units of the 76th Airborne Division of the Russian Airborne Troops from Pskov had moved to Tskhinvali. According to Igor Konashenkov, commander of the Russian Ground Forces, they were transferred to strengthen Russian ground forces in the South Ossetian capital.[150] It was confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence's press service that units of the Ivanovo-based 98th Guards Airborne Division of the Russian Airborne Troops and Spetsnaz from the Moscow-based 45th Detached Reconnaissance Regiment would be moved to the conflict area.[151]

At around 15:57 MSK, the Army General reported that its 58th Army had fully freed Tskhinvali of Georgian armed forces.[152][153] The Georgian government claimed they had actually downed 10 Russian jets. It was also reported that Georgia had captured 3 pilots.[136] Later on 10 August, the Russian General Staff confirmed the loss of two jets.[154]

Aerial attacks were carried out by Abkhazia in the eastern part of the Kodori Valley; the only part of Abkhazia which, effectively, was under Georgian control.[155]

At 5:25 am EDT, Georgian President Saakashvili asked his country's parliament to announce a state of martial law in Georgia.[156] The parliament approved the request, declaring martial law in Georgia for a duration of 15 days; David Bakradze, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, said that Georgia was in a de facto state of war with Russia.[157]

At around noon local time on August 9, Saakashvili said he proposed a ceasefire and the separation of the warring parties. Georgia's Security Council secretary Alexander Lomaia said Saakashvili's proposal meant that the Georgian troops would withdraw from Tskhinvali, the provincial capital of South Ossetia, and stop responding to Russian shelling.[158] Ambassador of Russia to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia would start negotiations only if Georgian forces withdrew to the positions they held before the conflict began.[159] At 16:15 the Russian Defense Ministry said it had not received any ceasefire proposal from Georgia.[160][better source needed] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the only solution was for Georgian troops to leave the conflict zone.[161]

A Russian armored column led by General Anatoly Khrulyov entering the city was ambushed by Georgian special forces. Russian Major Denis Vetchinov organized a defense, but was killed in the fighting. General Khrulyov himself was wounded, and Russian forces sustained heavy casualties in the fighting.[162]

According to a source in the Georgian government, the Roki Tunnel used by Russians to bring in supplies and reinforcements was demolished.[163] The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the report.[164] Time Magazine reporter John Wendle later confirmed that the tunnel had not been destroyed when he travelled to Tskhinvali from Russia.[165]

Lenta.ru reported that all Russian TV channels had been banned from broadcasting in Georgia, with Georgia alleging that Russia was conducting an ongoing information war.[166] Meanwhile, Russia cut off all air connections with Georgia.[167] On the same day, the United Nations once again failed to reach consensus on a course of action for a cessation of hostilities.[168] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that the Russian Federation begins operation "to force the Georgian side to peace".[169][170]

According to the RIA "Novosti", which quoted Igor Alborov, Deputy Minister of Defence and Emergencies of South Ossetia, South Ossetian fighters had damaged more than ten Georgian tanks during their attack on Tskhinvali suburbs.[171]

The U.S. embassy in Georgia organized an evacuation convoy to leave for Yerevan on August 10 and a second one scheduled for August 11 and invited American citizens in the region to join them, while it also issued a travel warning.[172]

August 10: Georgia begins withdrawing from Tskhinvali[edit]

A Czech RM-70 multiple rocket launcher. Similar RM-70s were used by Georgia during the war in the Battle of Tskhinvali.[94]
Georgian refugees from South Ossetia beg the Georgian Parliament for help.

Reuters reported that South Ossetian officials claimed that fighting on Tskhinvali's southern fringes had ended at about midnight; however, these reports could not be substantiated. Reuters further reported that the Russian commander of the 58th Army in South Ossetia, Lieutenant General Anatoly Khrulyov, was wounded by Georgian forces outside of Tskhinvali early Sunday morning.[146][173]

By the morning of 10 August, the Georgians had captured almost the whole of Tskhinvali, forcing the Ossetian forces and Russian peacekeeping battalion to retreat to the northern reaches of the city. However, Moscow Defense Brief writes: ... on this very day the accumulation of Russian forces in the region finally bore fruit, and the fighting in South Ossetia reached a turning point. Toward the evening of August 10, Tskhinvali was completely cleared of Georgian forces, which retreated to the south of the city. Georgian forces were also repelled from the key Prisi heights. The bulk of Georgia’s artillery was defeated. Meanwhile, Ossetian forces, with the support of Russian divisions, took Tamarasheni, Kekhvi, Kurta, and Achabeti on the approach to Tskhinvali from the north. Georgian forces in several of Georgian enclaves were eliminated.[174] According to Russian sources, Georgian artillery continued shelling Tskhinvali.[174]

A house set on fire burns in the Georgian village of Kekhvi on the road from Tskhinvali to Java.

The Georgian Interior Ministry claimed that Russia had moved 6,000 soldiers into South Ossetia by land and another 4,000 into Abkhazia by sea.[175][176]

There were conflicting reports as to the continuation of Georgian military actions. Georgia claimed that its forces were retreating from South Ossetia and the Foreign Ministry of Georgia announced that the government had declared readiness to immediately start negotiations with the Russian Federation on a ceasefire. However, Russians refused to recognise a truce, claiming Georgian forces were not retreating, but merely regrouping.[177] Georgia’s Internal Affairs Ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili, claimed that "Georgian troops have fully left South Ossetia", while according to Kakha Lomaia, Georgian "forces have relocated and assumed new positions." Russian peacekeeping force's spokesman Vladimir Ivanov, however, stated that "Georgia did not remove its forces from South Ossetia. Our observation posts have spotted Georgian law-enforcement units, as well as artillery and armoured vehicles."[178] Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, of the Russian general staff, declared that most of the city [Tskhinvali] was controlled by Russian peacekeeping forces.[179]

Sergei Bagapsh, President of Abkhazia, said he had sent 1,000 troops to the Kodori gorge and announced the mobilisation of reservists to reinforce its positions. He warned Abkhazia was ready to "enforce order" and would go further if there was resistance from Georgia.[180]

At around 3:20 p.m. UTC, Georgia said that they ordered a ceasefire, and offered to start talks with Russia over an end to hostilities in South Ossetia.[181][better source needed] Russia confirmed receiving the offer but said that "the Georgian side has not stopped military actions in South Ossetia, Georgian troops continued shelling."[182] However, Russian and Georgian foreign ministers spoke over the phone. The conversation ended with the Georgian minister promising to find out more about whether Georgian forces were withdrawn from South Ossetia.[183][184]

Later in the day, Georgia and a Reuters witness reported that Tbilisi International Airport was the target of a Russian air strike, just a few hours before the scheduled arrival of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.[185] The Russian Ministry of Defence dismissed the alleged bombing as "informational provocation" by Georgia.[186] Georgian State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili also denied this, stating, "There was no attack on the airport in Tbilisi. It was a factory that produces combat airplanes."[187]

The Russian Defence Ministry announced that the Russian Navy sunk a Georgian missile boat after two alleged attacks of such boats earlier that day.[188][189] This was later confirmed by Russian Navy Commander Assistant Igor Dygalo. He said that four Georgian vessels were spotted sailing inside a 'security zone' established by the Russian Navy off Abkhazia. The Russian fleet retaliated with a barrage of naval gunfire. One patrol boat was sunk and the remaining three retreated in the direction of the Georgian port of Poti.[190]

The ambassador for the United States convened an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council in which UN Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe gave a briefing about the refugee situation and Edmond Mulet briefed about the situation relating to the mandate of UNOMIG.[191]

Following statements by Georgia and the United States, the Russian ambassador said: "Unfortunately, I have to point out that the content of the briefing by Mr. Pascoe shows that the Secretariat and its leadership have not been able to adopt an objective position showing a thorough grasp of the substance of this conflict, as should be expected from the leadership of such an authoritative international organisation".[192] CNN reported that the Russian ambassador drew rebuke after he questioned the objectivity of a top U.N. official who briefed ambassadors on the conflict in Georgia.[193][194]

The Ambassador for the United States later added: "Foreign Minister Lavrov told United States Secretary of State Rice that the democratically elected President of Georgia — and I quote — 'must go'. I quote again: 'Saakashvili must go'. This is completely unacceptable and crosses the line."[193][195] The Russian ambassador responded by saying "On Ambassador Khalilzad’s interesting reference to a confidential diplomatic telephone call between our Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Secretary of State, I must say at the outset that regime change is an American expression. We do not use such expressions."[193][196]

Sergey Lavrov later denied said that Russian enforcement of peace in the conflict zone was not linked to the removal of Saakashvili from office. He said Condoleezza Rice "misinterpreted" their phone conversation. He added if an agreement of non-use of military force is signed, "peace will be restored whatever the fate of Saakashvili will be".[197]

A Turkish TV crew was attacked while heading into South Ossetia and taken to Vladikavkaz for interrogations. They were later released by Russian authorities.[198][199]

August 11: Russian advances[edit]

A Russian missile booster lies largely intact in a bedroom of a home in Gori.

In the early hours of August 11, Russian sources reported that Tskhinvali was again under fire from Georgian artillery.[200] South Ossetian government representative Irina Gagloeva stated the morning of August 11 that Georgia opened the irrigation canal, supposedly in an effort to flood the basements of Tskhinvali buildings with an intention to prevent civilians from hiding from bombings.[201]

Large numbers of Russian ground forces had entered undisputed Georgian territory and were headed to Gori. Western officials again reiterated their fears that Russia intends to overthrow the Georgian government. A senior Russian military official, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said early Sunday that Russia did not intend to "break into" undisputed Georgian territory.[202] The Georgian representative, Shota Utiashvili claims that Russian artillery began "intensive shelling" of Gori. He also said that Gori had endured air strikes prior to this. Georgian troops reportedly returned fire. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not confirm or deny the reports.[203]

An apartment building in Gori, damaged during the war.

The United Nations Security Council held a closed meeting on the issue at 5:30pm New York time.[204][205]

Georgia declared it had received a Russian ultimatum that it must disarm troops near the breakaway province of Abkhazia or face Russian forces moving into Georgian-controlled territory. This demand was conveyed through UN military observers in the area.[206] Russian assistant commander Alexander Novitskiy reported on the morning of August 11 that 9,000 Russian troops and 350 armoured vehicles had entered Abkhazia during the evening of August 10.[207]

Later, Russian media reported that Russian Airborne Forces Commander Lieutenant General Valeriy Evtukhovich arrived in Abkhazia on 10 August.[208]

Russian General Staff Second-in-Commander Anatoliy Nogovitsyn confirmed in the briefing at noon that Russian Army lost another two Su-25 jets. Also he confirmed 18 Russian soldiers dead, 14 missing (whereabouts unknown).[209]

Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov reported that nine Georgian special services agents were arrested, who "prepared for terrorist attacks" on the territory of the Russian Federation. It was reported that all nine agents were confessing to the allegations.[210]

According to Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, 800 Georgian troops and 11 tons of cargo were moved from Iraq to Georgia by eight U.S. military transport flights. Earlier reports said that all moved Georgian troops will be sent to South Ossetia war conflict zone.[211] Nogovitsyn also stated that Russia will take "adequate measures" in response to that, which would mean the increase of Russian troops in conflict zone. Prime minister Vladimir Putin criticised the United States for help in redeploying Georgian troops from Iraq.[212]

North Ossetian government officials said that several foreign mercenaries arrived at Vladikavkaz hospital. Early at General Staff briefing Anatoly Nogovitsyn confirmed that there were black-skinned soldiers with non-Georgian passports among them. Their number and citizenship was not specified.[213]

According to RIA Novosti, the earlier reports about Russians not being allowed to leave Georgia,[214] were denied by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.[215] Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that it received such reports from over 360 stranded Russian citizens.[216]

The Georgian military base in Senaki, outside Abkhazia, was captured by Russian forces. UN officials B. Lynn Pascoe and Edmond Mulet confirmed this in a UN security meeting and said that Russian airborne troops were not meeting any resistance while taking control of Georgia's Senaki army base. The police stations in Zugdidi had also been seized. According to witnesses and Georgian officials, Abkhazians also took control of the nearby village of Kurga.[217]

Initial Georgian reports that Russian forces had taken over Gori, a town near the border with South Ossetia which Georgia evacuated on Sunday, were later discounted by Georgia itself.[218] A Reuters reporter in Gori said that there is "no trace of troops or military vehicles, it is absolutely deserted".[219] The Daily Telegraph (UK) reported that it witnessed Georgians "in a full scale disorganised and panicked retreat from Gori".[220] Georgian troops were falling back to defend the capital city of Tbilisi. Later local journalist from Gori said to Guardian that "Russian troops had occupied the main road on the edge of the city, but had not moved towards the centre",[221] and Guardian's journalist confirmed that city was bombed.[222]

Secretary of the Georgian Security Council, Alexander Lomaia, said that the Georgian Army had been told to stand fast and hold the city of Mtskheta, 24 kilometres (15 mi) from the capital.[223]

The Assistant Commander of Russian peacekeepers Alexander Novitsky claims that during a reconnaissance mission the Russian Air Force shot down two Georgian helicopters at the air base of Senaki. The helicopters were identified as Mi-8 and Mi-24 belonging to the Georgian Air Force.[224]

Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed sending of two companies of Chechnya based special battalions Vostok ("East") and Zapad ("West") to South Ossetia.[225]

By 22:00, as Georgian armed forces had withdrawn to the town of Mtskheta in order to defend Tbilisi, the MIA Special Forces stopped at village Igoeti in Kaspi district on the main highway and arranged a checkpoint there.[226]

According to Russia Today (RT): The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the United States was supplying Georgia with arms. According to the paper, the United States is hiring Russian-made freight planes belonging to UTI Worldwide Inc. to transport arms and ammunition to Georgia. The paper says the Pentagon is redirecting supplies to Tbilisi that were earmarked for Iraq.[227]

According to Russia Today (RT): "The U.S. has begun evacuating the families of its diplomats from Georgia. They are being sent to Armenia as a precaution, according to the U.S. Embassy in the Armenian capital Yerevan. U.S. ambassador John Tefft and his team of diplomats will continue their work in Tbilisi."[228] Russian troops left the Georgian military base at Senaki, which they took earlier this day and destroyed.[229][230][231][232]

The mass rally in Tbilisi in the evening of August 12 against the Russian intervention and for an undivided Georgia.

August 12: Ceasefire[edit]

At night authorities in South Ossetia said that Georgian troops had shelled the road being used for evacuating people from the conflict zone, according to Russian Interfax news agency. According to Russia Today attacks continued in the South Ossetian region, despite claims from Georgia that it was imposing a ceasefire.[233]

The Agence France-Presse reported in the night of August 11 and August 12, the report that a wholesale Russian invasion was predicted before the war started, could not be confirmed by U.S. sources. US defense officials said they were unable to corroborate the Georgian claims that Russian troops had moved out of South Ossetia into Georgia proper, occupying the city of Gori while Georgian troops were retreating to the capital. "We don't see anything that supports they are in Gori", said a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I don't know why the Georgians are saying that."[234]

Russia has deployed a ship off the coast of Poti and is reportedly enforcing a 50-mile exclusion zone around the port.[235] Georgian officials said that Russian forces had entered Poti, though Russia claimed they had only sent in a reconnaissance mission.[236]

The Foreign Minister of Italy, Franco Frattini, said he would consider deploying Italian soldiers to the region in the event that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner recommends EU involvement after his mediation mission to Tbilisi and Moscow. But Frattini stressed that Italy could not support the creation of a "European anti-Russian coalition" over the conflict. He also told ANSA he was "optimistic" for a positive resolution to the crisis following phone talks with foreign ministers from the other G7 countries.[237][238]

Vitaly Churkin, Russian representative at the United Nations declared to journalists that Russia would not accept the resolution on South Ossetia as prepared by France. The document proposes an immediate cease-fire, and restoring the territory of Georgia as it was before the beginning of the conflict.[239]

Separatists in Abkhazia launched a push early on the day to drive Georgian forces out of the Kodori Gorge, the only area under Georgian control. "The operation to liberate Kodori Gorge has started," Abkhazia's foreign minister Sergei Shamba said. Abkhazia claimed that Russian troops were not involved.[240] According to The New York Times, Abkhaz Deputy Minister of Defense Garri Kupalba said on the previous day that there were 2,500 Georgian troops in the area, but 1,000 civilians had left the gorge through a humanitarian corridor which was opened for civilians and soldiers to get out safely before the operation to eliminate Georgian troops would begin.[241]

As said by Madina Shavlokhova, Gazeta.ru reporter, she saw ex-commander of Vostok special battalion Sulim Yamadayev in South Ossetia. It was confirmed by his brother Isa Yamadayev, commander of 5th Company of Vostok. He said that 215 soldiers of Vostok are under the command of Sulim. Early, Sulim Yamadayev had conflict with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and then was declared as federal wanted for murder. Isa Yamadayev said that he [Isa Yamadayev] is in Gudermes and later will move to South Ossetia with 100 soldiers.[242]

Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Russia, Colonel General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, said the remaining Georgian troops in South Ossetia were surrounded and giving themselves up. Nogovitsyn also said Russia had gained full control over Georgian airspace.[243]

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation reported that they had arrested the Deputy Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Georgia, according to RIA Novosti. According to the Russian special services, the Georgian agents were instructed to create centers of armed resistance to the authorities in southern Russia.[244]

"I have taken the decision to end the operation to force Georgian authorities into peace," Dmitry Medvedev declared. Spokesman for Russian Foreign Ministry Boris Malakhov confirmed the order to Sky News.[245] The acting Georgian ambassador to Britain has told Sky News that Russian jets are bombing civilian targets in Georgia despite Moscow's announcement that the Russian troops were recalled.[246]

An Associated Press reporter has seen 135 Russian military vehicles, including tanks, driving toward the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgian forces.[247][better source needed] Abkhazia's chief of the General Staff of the armed forces, Anatoly Zaitsev, stated that Abkhazia's armed forces have surrounded the Georgian troops in the Kodori Gorge. Zaitsev said 250 Abkhazian servicemen had landed near the settlement of Chkhalta, meeting resistance from Georgian units, who fired on them with small arms. The second Abkhazian unit is due to back up the first group of servicemen.[248][better source needed] The foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Sergei Shamba said that Abkhazian Air Force and artillery have been delivering missile and bomb strikes on military objects in the upper part of the Kodori Gorge. Units of the regular troops and reservists of the armed forces of Abkhazia are taking part in the operation.[249][better source needed]

A report from Interfax cited the Abkhaz defense headquarters as saying Abkhaz troops had successfully ended an operation to push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge and reached the Georgian border.[250]

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Georgia would declare Russian peacekeepers occupiers and the breakaway states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupied territory. He also announced Georgia would withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States.[251][better source needed] Georgia has also filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice accusing Russia of carrying out ethnic cleansing between 1993 and 2008.[252] The deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma, Lyubov Sliska called for Russia to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent because of the conflict. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Malakhov said recognition would be "premature" before the crisis was resolved.[253]

NATO allies supported Georgia and said Georgia remains a candidate for NATO membership in spite of the conflict.[254]

August 13[edit]

On August 13, a reporter for the UK Guardian claimed that "the idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous", saying Chechen, Cossack and Ossetian irregulars were following advancing Russian lines near Gori burning Georgian villages.[255]

An Associated Press report at 16:00 UTC claimed that "Russian troops and paramilitaries thrust deep into Georgia on Wednesday, rolling into the strategic city of Gori" said that "an AP reporter later saw dozens of tanks and military vehicles leaving the city, roaring southeast."[256][better source needed] Sky News correspondents said that they were robbed at gunpoint, apparently by South Ossetian irregulars. They confirmed that Russian tanks were on the streets in Gori. Norwegian journalists were also robbed in the centre of Gori.[257] The New York Times said Czech journalists were also robbed and claimed that "the Russian military had firmly occupied this leafy city" of Gori.[258] A reporter from the Belgian national television station VRT also confirmed that about 30 Russian armoured vehicles entered Gori in the morning and then positioned themselves on the hills around the city.[259][better source needed]

Al Jazeera correspondents in Poti reported "more and more Russian troops coming into the area all day" and the destruction of several Georgian vessels. Reporter Hoda Abdel Hamid claimed that "Russia is clearly on the offensive."[260]

Russia accused Georgia of violating the ceasefire, saying "despite the assurances from the Georgian side that they have ended all military activities, Russian troops shot down a second Georgian drone over Tskhinvali earlier today."[257]

U.S. President George W. Bush ordered U.S. military to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies. The first U.S. C-17 Globemaster aircraft arrived in Tbilisi.[261]

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree requiring that Russian Black Sea Fleet should seek the permission of Ukraine's armed forces at least 72 hours prior to [Russian] ships or aircraft crossing the Ukrainian border.[262][263]

According to RIA News deputy chief of Russian joint staff eneral-colonel Anatoly Nogovitsyn claimed that there were no Russian tanks in Gori. He also said that the administration of the town left Gori before Russian arrival.[264][265]

Georgian soldiers returning to Tbilisi from the front outside Gori on August 14, 2008.

August 14: Russians in Gori[edit]

Early on August 14, a reporter from the Belgian national television station VRT claimed that about 3 Russian armored cars were blocking a major road towards Gori. He also stated he saw tanks and snipers nearby.[266][better source needed]

A BBC correspondent claimed to have heard a series of explosions coming from hills around the town.[267] The UK Telegraph wrote - "South Ossetian irregulars continuing to loot and pillage in Gori and nearby Georgian villages, often with the encouragement of Russian troops".[268]

According to Reuters, witnesses in Poti claimed that Russian tanks had entered the town and were "looting" or destroying infrastructure. Russia denied that its troops were in Poti.[269]

U.S. Secretary of State Rice said "the provisional ceasefire that was agreed to really must go into place. And that means that military activities have to cease". Although Defence Secretary Gates accused the Russians of going "far beyond reasserting the autonomy of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Gates nonetheless said that there was "no prospect" of US troops being deployed in the region.[270]

According to Interfax, army of Russian Federation gave back control of Gori to the Georgian Police. The representative of the Russian Ministry of Defence, major-general Vyacheslav Borisov claimed that the rumours about damaged town and marauding did not correspond to reality. Secretary of National Defence Сouncil of Georgia Alexander Lomaia said on "Rustavi-2" TV on the live broadcast that the situation in Gori was calm and Russian army only did patrolling job.[271]

Amid the ruins and tanks in the South Ossetian capital, the remaining residents shared scant goods and wondered why humanitarian aid promised by Russia had not arrived.[272]

August 15[edit]

04:44 GMT – The Russian Federal Immigration Service had officially registered over 17,000 refugees from South Ossetia. 1820 of them were children.[273]

07:55 GMT – Georgians in South Ossetia who fled during the fighting will not be allowed to return to their homes in the breakaway republic, according to South Ossetia President Eduard Kokoity.[273]

09:28 GMT - A senior Russian military official said that five U.S. Air Force C-17 planes had landed at Tbilisi airport, bringing "unknown" cargo to Georgia.[273]

09:40 GMT - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev blamed Georgia for provoking hostilities in its breakaway region of South Ossetia and criticised Western states for backing Tbilisi.[273]

On 15 August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Russian resort town of Sochi. In Sochi Medvedev said Georgia should sign the ceasefire immediately but he couldn't see the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia wanting to be a part of Georgia again. He claimed that Moscow was not against the idea of having international peacekeeping forces in the two regions, but the people living there trusted only Russian peacekeepers.[274]

The New York Times reported that Russia had deployed SS-21 Scarab missile launchers to South Ossetia.[275]

President Mikhail Saakashvili signed an EU-brokered ceasefire with Russia after nearly five hours of talks with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.[274]

Amidst what the Associated Press described as intense diplomacy to persuade Russia to pull troops out of Georgia, tensions soared after Russian General Anatoly Nogovitsyn was quoted by the Interfax News Agency as saying that by accepting a US missile battery Poland "is exposing itself to a strike".[276][277]

August 16[edit]

The Georgian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia had destroyed a major railway bridge in the Kaspi district responsible for bisecting Georgia from east to west and linking the hinterland to seaports on the Black Sea. Russians denied blowing up the bridge.[278]

According to the International Herald Tribune, Russian military units advanced to Igoeti, their closest approach to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The newspaper said the move "opened a new security vacuum between Gori and [Igoeti], creating fresh targets" for "looters and armed gangs in uniform - many of them apparently Ossetians, Chechens and Cossacks - [who] have operated behind the army's path, ransacking villages largely vacated by fleeing civilians." The IHT also noted that Russian soldiers remained in Zugdidi and Senaki in western Georgia, and another armored patrol was on the road to Abasha, near Kutaisi. A large contingent still occupied Gori, astride Georgia's most important road.[279]

The UK Guardian said that South Ossetian forces had captured Akhalgori.[280]

During a meeting with the permanent members of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev declared about the signing of the ceasefire document agreed upon by the presidents of Russia and France on August 12 in Moscow.[281]

Georgian Foreign Ministry claimed that Russian forces and separatist units had taken 13 villages and the Inguri hydropowerpower plant, indicating that the border of Abkhazia was shifted toward the Inguri River.[282][283][284]

According to the Associated Press, Russian forces were digging in at Igoeti.[284]

August 17: Russians say withdrawal to begin August 18[edit]

The BBC's Richard Galpin, who has spent the past two days travelling from the Black Sea port of Poti to Tbilisi, says Georgian forces seem to be surrendering control of the highway to the Russians.[42]

Russia's president Medvedev promised Sarkozy that Russian troops would begin pulling out of Georgia on Monday.[285]

August 18: Russian pull-out claims[edit]

Anatoly Nogovitsyn from the Russian General Staff said around noon that Russia had started to pull troops from Georgia.[286] By 14:00 UTC - 5:00 PM in Georgia - ARD-correspondent Olaf Bock hadn't heard of any independent observers reporting either troop movement out of Gori or troops coming into North Ossetia from South Ossetia.[287][better source needed]

Four armored vehicles appeared in the village of Igoeti, intending to move towards the village of Lamiskana. Georgian police resisted the Russians and made a barrier with their vehicles. However, the soldiers received an order from their general to drive over the police vehicles and so they did. The police managed to get out of the cars and no one was injured.[288]

Late on afternoon, Russian units were still operating in the center of the country. Russian military convoys continued to move in and out of Gori, including tanks and an anti-aircraft gun. The situation was the same in western Georgia, the second flank of the Russian offensive. There was no evidence of a Russian pullback by mid-afternoon in and around Zugdidi. Russian tanks still occupied the regional police compound there. In the morning, a convoy of 12 Russian military vehicles, including three tanks, rolled south toward the port of Poti. In Senaki, Russian forces continued to occupy a Georgian air base and other positions in the city, located along Georgia's main east-west highway.[289]

According to RIAN, Russian troops were pulling out of the South Ossetian capital Tskinvali.[290]

August 19: Russians shut down port of Poti; NATO meeting called[edit]

The Wall Street Journal said Russian forces had seized control of Poti, which is the economically vital port.[291] An Azerbaijani news source quoted a Poti port official as saying, "All workers were expelled from the port".[292]

NATO countries convened for an emergency summit in Brussels to find some consensuses on a response towards Russia in regard to the conflict in Georgia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov levelled accusations at NATO of being "unobjective and biased" in maintaining support for a "criminal regime" that was "failing."[293][294]

The United Nations Security Council met to hear a briefings about the situation, including brief statements about human rights abuses and relief shipments to the area, and the promise of a permanent Russian military base in South Ossetia.[295] The Georgian ambassador reported cases of destruction of their civilian and military infrastructure and alleged a Russian backed cyber attack.[296] The Russian ambassador accused other parties of engaging in propaganda.[297]

Some Russian armour left Gori for an uncertain destination.[298][verification needed]

Russian and Georgian forces exchanged prisoners of war. Georgia said it handed over 5 Russian servicemen, in exchange for 15 Georgians, including two civilians. But Georgian official also said that it suspected Russia of holding 2 more Georgians prisoner.[45]

August 20–22: Russian withdrawal[edit]

On 20 August, a claim was made by an official from the Poti port that the Russian military had withdrawn.[299]

Russia issued new, reduced casualty figures for the Georgian conflict, with 133 Ossetian civilians listed as dead in South Ossetia. The figure was far lower than the 1,600 people Russia initially had claimed.[300]

On 21 August, Russian forces still continued to occupy Gori. Commander of Russian land forces, General Vladimir Boldyrev, claimed that it would take about 10 days for troops not manning the security zones to complete their withdrawal to Russia. Some Russian troops and military vehicles were on the move were seen moving in both directions on the road from Gori to Tskhinvali. There were reports of Georgian villages being looted and burned.[301]

Russia's emergencies ministry stated that almost 18,000 refugees had returned to South Ossetia from Russia over the past nine days. "A total of 17,912 people returned in the period August 12-20," the ministry declared in a statement.[302]

By the evening of 22 August, some troops had withdrawn. However, Russian checkpoints remained near Gori as well as in so-called buffer zones near the borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and two Russian observer posts remained near Poti.[303]

Russia has announced its promised troop pullout from Georgia is complete. Russia says it will keep a permanent military presence in a large buffer zone bordering Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. According to a White House spokesman, American President Bush and French President Sarkozy have agreed that Russia is not in compliance with the French-brokered ceasefire.[304] The Kremlin, however, says in a formal announcement, that President Sarkozy, in a telephone conversation with Russian President Medvedev, has shown satisfaction with the Russian withdrawal.[305]

August 23[edit]

Russian forces withdrew from Igoeti, and Georgian police advanced towards Gori.[306]

August 24[edit]

On the 24th of August, with Russian forces still within the port of Poti, a US warship has arrived with aid supplies in Batumi.[307][308]

August 25[edit]

On the 25th of August, the Deputy Defense Minister of Abkhazia Anatoly Zaitsev claimed that 8,000 Georgian troops were massing at the border with Abkhazia.[309]

August 26[edit]

Both houses of the Russian Parliament pass unanimous resolutions calling on President Medvedev to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[310]

President Medvedev of the Russian Federation signed two Presidential decrees recognizing the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia as sovereign independent states. He authorized the drafting of treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with the new states.[311]

August 27[edit]

During the phone conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev, Sarkozy stressed the importance of the full implementation of the six-point plan.[312]

August 28[edit]

South Ossetian representative Mikhail Mindzaev claimed that Georgian pilotless flying machine was shot down on the night.[313]

The United Nations Security Council held a meeting to hear briefings about the humanitarian implications of the conflict, and for both sides to state their positions on the issue.[314]

Twelve Georgian prisoners arrested in Poti on 19 August, were released after being exchanged for former military commander Roman Dumbadze. Roman Dumbadze was arrested during 2004 Adjara crisis after declaring his opposition to Tbilisi, announcing that his soldiers "answer only to Aslan Abashidze, our supreme commander."[315]

September 9[edit]

Russia announced it would keep 7,600 troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the foreseeable future, asserting power in the breakaway regions even as it began a pullout from positions deeper in Georgia.[316][better source needed]

September 10[edit]

A Georgian police officer was shot and killed several hundred meters from a Russian checkpoint in Karaleti, twelve miles from South Ossetia. Russian officials denied responsibility, saying that it may have been perpetrated by South Ossetians.[317]

September 12[edit]

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin insists to reporters that Russia had no choice but to attack Georgia as Russia had been encircled on all sides. He said that Georgia "attacked South Ossetia with missiles, tanks, heavy artillery and ground troops. What were we supposed to do?" He claimed that if his country had not invaded, it would have been like Russia "getting a bloody nose and hanging its head down", and there would be a "second blow" into the North Caucasus. He insisted that President Dmitry Medvedev, not he, took all decisions regarding the conflict.[318]

September 13[edit]

Russian troops start withdrawal from Georgia.[319] By 11:00 MSK, all posts near Poti were abandoned, while withdrawals from Senaki and Khobi followed.[320]

September 24[edit]

On 24 September, a Russian truck strayed out of the Russian buffer zone near South Ossetia, and was stopped by Georgian police. The truck was found to be carrying explosives and jamming equipment, which was confiscated and shown to the media. The driver, an eighteen-year-old soldier from North Ossetia, was arrested and interrogated at a police station in Mtskheta. He was subsequently put in front of the media and allowed to answer questions from journalists before being handed over to OSCE observers.[321]

October 3[edit]

Seven Russian soldiers were killed and another seven wounded by a car bomb that exploded near the Russian peacekeeping headquarters. According to South Ossetian sources, the car had been found by Russian soldiers in a Georgian village, and had been confiscated and taken to the base, where it blew up. The Russian and South Ossetian governments blamed the Georgian Security Ministry for the attack, saying that it was an attempt to undermine the cease-fire, while Georgia claimed that Russia had organized the explosion as an excuse to maintain its presence in South Ossetia.[322]

October 5[edit]

On 5 October, Russian troops dismantled a checkpoint and withdrew from Nabakhtevi.[323]

October 9[edit]

On 9 October, Russian forces withdrew from the buffer zones adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The control of the buffer zones was handed over to the EU monitoring mission in Georgia.[324]

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External links[edit]