• Narrow screen resolution
  • Wide screen resolution
  • Auto width resolution
  • Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size
  • default color
  • red color
  • green color

World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Mar 02nd
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Timeline Aug 10 - Russian Troops Tighten Hold on Georgia
Timeline Aug 10 - Russian Troops Tighten Hold on Georgia PDF Print E-mail
Written by NYTimes, CNN, Stratfor   
Sunday, 10 August 2008


Officials: Russia warns of push into Georgia, Russian Ships Steam Toward Georgia as Conflict Grows


Russian Troops Tighten Hold on Georgia

This article was reported by Anne Barnard, Andrew E. Kramer, and C. J. Chivers and written by Ms. Barnard.

GORI, Georgia — Russian troops that had poured into the disputed territory of South Ossetia moved to the enclave’s boundary with Georgia on Sunday, witnesses said, as the conflict appeared to be developing into the worst clashes between Russia and a foreign military since the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Overnight, Russia landed ground troops off of warships into the disputed territory of Abkhazia and broadened its bombing campaign to the Georgian capital’s airport.

The Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe said Georgia was ready to negotiate a ceasefire, but a top Russian defense official said no formal offer had been received.

Georgian authorities said Sunday morning that they expect Russian attacks to come on three fronts — from Gali and Zugdidi, two spots on the Abkhazian border, and from Ossetia, according to Gigi Ugulada, the mayor of Tbilisi. They also expect more bombing on the Kodori Gorge, the only part of Abkhazia that remains under Georgian control.

Witness reports from the border between South Ossetia and Georgia suggested that Russian forces had moved up to the winding, disputed boundary line.

But a top Russian defense official said Sunday that Russia had no immediate plans to move troops into Georgia.

“We don’t intend to take the initiative to escalate the conflict at this time,” Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said when asked if Russia intended to move troops into Georgian territory from Abkhazia or South Ossetia.

Still, a reporter in the border area saw artillery being fired from Russian-controlled areas into Georgian territory near the villages of Eredvy and Prisi, about two miles from the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. Grassy fields were burning in the villages and clouds of dust rose with the impact of the shells.

Russian TV also reported that Russia’s 58th Army was at the southern border of South Ossetia.

A refugee who said he was fleeing from Kakhvi, which he said was a Georgian-controlled enclave squeezed between parts of South Ossetia along the border, said that Russian forces were in the village.

He said that he ran away when Russian soldiers came to his house. Along the road, refugees carried their possessions in wheelbarrows and plastic bags toward the Georgian city of Gori.

The two sides may have different definitions of where the border with Georgia lies. The official borders of the administrative region of South Ossetia are larger than the area traditionally held by pro-Russian separatists, so if Russia occupied the whole administrative region it would be moving into areas normally held by Georgia.

An official at Georgia’s Interior Ministry, Shota Utiashvili, said Sunday that Georgian troops had completely withdrawn from South Ossetia.

Georgian soldiers leaving the area described said they had been ordered early Sunday morning to leave Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, at about 1:30 a.m.

Sergeant Georgy Diakonoshvili, leaving South Ossetia with his Georgian tank crew, said they had been exchanging fire with Russian tanks until their unit of 10 tanks was ordered to withdraw at 1:30 a.m. One infantryman with his unit was killed.

Near the border, Georgian soldiers were bewildered that they had been pushed out. Exhausted troops, their faces covered with stubble, said they were angry at the United States and EU for not coming to Georgia’s aid.

A Georgian major who only gave his name as Georgy, said, “Over the past few years I lived in a democratic country, and I was happy. Now America and the European Union spit on us.” He was driving an armored truck out of South Ossetia.

Shortly before dawn on Sunday, Georgia’s Interior Ministry said that Russian bombers had begun striking the airport at Tbilisi. The explosions could be heard in the city, Utiashvili said.

He said that Russia had built up large forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia — breakaway regions that have support from Moscow — including as many as 300 artillery pieces in South Ossetia alone. Russian forces, he said, were also poised just over the border at Larsi, a checkpoint, where they could open a third line of ground attack.

“We are not at war with the Georgian state,” Nogovitsyn, the Russian defense official, said. But he said Russia would send as many reinforcements as necessary to “the zone of conflict.”

Ambassador Heikki Talvitie, the Special Envoy of the Chairman of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the Georgian side is “ready to negotiate on a cease-fire, but they are waiting for an answer from the Russian side. OSCE is negotiating to guarantee safe passage out of the conflict zone,” he said, “including for the Georgian population, who find themselves in Russian-held territory.”

“There is no agreement, and we need a cease-fire,” he said.

As Russia moved more forces into the region and continued aerial bombing, it appeared determined to occupy both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, said Russia’s ambitions were even more extensive. He declared that Georgia was in a state of war, and said in an interview that Russia was planning to seize sea ports and an oil pipeline and to overthrow his government.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia left the Olympics in China and arrived Saturday evening in Vladikavkaz, a city in southern Russia just over the border. State-controlled news broadcasts showed Mr. Putin meeting generals, suggesting that he was directly in charge of military operations, eclipsing the authority of President Dmitri A. Medvedev.

Mr. Putin said that dozens of people had been killed in South Ossetia and hundreds wounded, and tens of thousands were reported to be fleeing. Georgia’s health minister said that more than 80 people had been killed, including 40 civilians who died in airstrikes in Gori, a city north of Tbilisi. Another Georgian official said at least 800 people, almost all of them civilians, had been injured. Each side’s figures were impossible to confirm independently, as was an earlier claim released by South Ossetians and repeated by some Russian officials that 1,500 people had been killed in the territory.

The fighting, and the Kremlin’s confidence in the face of Western outcry, had wide international implications, as both Russian and Georgian officials placed it squarely in the context of renewed cold war-style tensions and an East-West struggle for regional influence.

Western influence over Russia appeared minimal. The East and West were stuck in diplomatic impasse, even as reports of heavy civilian casualties indicated that the humanitarian toll was climbing. The United Nations Security Council was meeting Saturday to discuss the crisis, but with no resolution.

Georgian officials said their only way out of the conflict was for the United States to step in, but with American military intervention unlikely, they were hoping for the West to exert diplomatic pressure to stop the Russian attacks.

The Bush administration bluntly warned Russia to cease its attacks or face a deterioration of relations. James F. Jeffrey, the deputy national security adviser, traveling with President Bush in Beijing, said that the administration was concerned about reports that Russian ground forces were attacking Georgian positions on the border with Abkhazia and near the capital, while moving its Black Sea fleet into positions off Georgia for what could be a naval blockage. He said that “every escalatory step is a further problem,” and urged the Russians to respond favorably to Georgia’s pullback of forces from South Ossetia.

“We have made it clear to the Russians that if the disproportionate and dangerous escalation on the Russian side continues, that this will have a significant, long-term impact on U.S.-Russian relations,” Mr. Jeffrey said.

The White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, said that President Bush would speak this evening to Nicholas Sarkozy of France, in his capacity as current head of the European Union.

Senior European Union officials were adamant on Saturday that both Russia and Georgia were to blame for the recent escalation of the conflict, and that finger-pointing was counterproductive. Cristina Gallack, a spokeswoman Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said that the Union’s immediate objective was to reach a cease-fire, and European envoys were reported to be en route to the region.

Other Western officials monitored the movements with alarm. “The record is crystal clear,” said a Western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Russia has launched a full-scale military operation, on air, land and sea. We have entered a totally new realm — politically, legally and diplomatically.”

Russia appeared to be opening a second front in Abkhazia, to the west of South Ossetia, and to be aiming to drive Georgian troops from the Kodori Gorge, a small mountainous area in Abkhazia that Georgia reclaimed by force in 2006. Georgian officials said 12 Russian jets were bombing the area, shortly after a Western official said United Nations peacekeepers had withdrawn from the area at the request of Abkhazia’s de facto government.

Russia also notified Western governments that it was moving ships of its Black Sea fleet to Ochamchire, a port on the Abkhaz coast. Georgian officials said they expected Russian troops to land there.

Mr. Putin made clear that Russia now viewed Georgian claims over the breakaway regions to be invalid, and that Russia had no intention of withdrawing. “There is almost no way we can imagine a return to the status quo,” he said in remarks on Russian state television.

Mr. Saakashivili, the Georgian president, said Russia’s oil riches and desire to assert economic leverage over Europe and the West had emboldened Kremlin country to attack. Georgia is a transit country for oil and natural gas exports from the former Soviet Union that threatens Russia’s near monopoly.

“They need control of energy routes,” Mr. Saakashvili said. “They need sea ports. They need transportation infrastructure. And primarily, they want to get rid of us. “

In turn, Russian officials said that ties to the United States had emboldened Mr. Saakashvili, who wants to make Georgia part of NATO, into sparking the conflict. But there were signs that Mr. Saakashvili was feeling the limits of how much American help he could expect for his country’s assistance in the war in Iraq.

Pentagon officials said late on Friday that Georgia had requested assistance in airlifting home the approximately 2,000 Georgian troops now in Iraq. The request was under review, and standard procedures would indicate that the United States government would honor the request, officials said.

Alexander Lomaya, secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, said conflict arose because Russia sought to “thwart its neighbors’ movement toward Western society and Western values” and framed the stakes in expansive terms that were reminiscent of the cold war.

“If the world is not able to stop Russia here, then Russian tanks and Russian paratroopers can appear in every European capital,” he said. Russian officials, however, blamed outside meddling for stoking the conflict, and said their goals were narrow.

President Medvedev said Russia was acting to restore peace and protect its citizens and peacekeeping troops who had come under Georgian attack.

In a news conference, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said Georgian attacks on what he called “Russian citizens” in South Ossetia “amounted to ethnic cleansing.” He reserved some of his harshest language for Georgia’s allies, referring at one point to “Mr. Saakashvili and his Western friends” — an apparent reference to the United States, which has provided Georgia with extensive military aid since Mr. Saakashvili took office in 2004.

With Russia’s Black Sea fleet, warplanes and tanks bearing down on the small, mountainous country, Georgian officials acknowledged they were taken by surprise by the intensity of the Russian response.

But Russia, too, found itself facing resistance. Russia acknowledged that Georgian forces had shot down two Russian warplanes, while Mr. Lomaya said the Georgians had destroyed 10 Russian jets.

A close ally of Mr. Saakashvili’s, Gigo Bokarianot, a Parliament member, said Georgia was shifting its tactics to focus on air defenses. In Gori, people cheered as a Russian pilot ejected from an airplane that was shot down. Georgian television later showed a pilot’s bloody helmet and said a pilot had been captured.

Russian strategic bombers were seen over Georgia for the first time in the three-day conflict. Georgian tanks attacked the lone road linking South Ossetia to Russia, trying to cut off Russian supply routes. But Russia continued to flow forces into Georgia, and appeared on track to at least double the number of troops there. Georgian officials said at least 2,500 Russian troops were already in South Ossetia.

Along a military highway entering Georgia from Russia, military transports and armored vehicles were backed up for several miles. They were flying both Russian flags and plain red flags. The mood was buoyant.

“I am going to help our people,” said Zelimkhan Gagiev, 27, an irregular fighter in a maroon four-wheel drive who said he had family trapped in Tskhinvali. “If I can, I’ll fight to the death.”

The columns were headed to the Roki Tunnel, which gives access to South Ossetia.

Civilians came under fire on both sides. Georgian troops shelled the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, with artillery. Russian television footage showed damaged houses and apartment buildings.

Russian warplanes struck at least five Georgian cities. Witnesses said they struck a train station in Tsenakhi, five apartment buildings in Gori, and the Black Sea port of Poti.

Georgian officials said that Russian warplanes had attacked the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, operated by British Petroleum, that carries oil to the West from Asia, but that the pipeline had not been struck.

The Russian authorities said their forces had retaken the South Ossetian capital from Georgian control during the morning hours, while Georgian officials said they had withdrawn from the area voluntarily. But heavy fighting resumed there later Saturday, with Georgian tanks and heavy artillery attacking from the south, Russian television reported.

Twelve Russian troops were killed, according to Anatoly Nogovitsyn, a colonel general in the Ministry of Defense. When asked whether Russia was in a state of war with Georgia, General Nogovitsyn said it was not.

Roads were clogged with refugees, as South Ossetians fled north into Russia and Georgians from Gori fled southeast to Tblisi. Russia said 30,000 people had fled South Ossetia.

Andrew E. Kramer reported from Gori and Tbilisi, Georgia, and Anne Barnard from Moscow. Reporting was contributed by Michael Schwirtz from Gori; Ellen Barry from Moscow; Matt Siegel from Vladikavkaz, Russia; Steven Lee Myers from Beijing; and Katrin Bennhold from Paris.



Officials: Russia warns of push into Georgia

Story Highlights
Georgian officials say Russia intends to push troops deep into Georgia

Georgian forces pull out of Tskhinvali, call for cease-fire

Russian forces bomb airfield near Georgian airport

Russian ambassador: Thousands have been killed in South Ossetia

TBILISI, Georgia (CNN) -- Russian troops have warned they intend to push further into western Georgia, Georgian officials claimed Sunday as an increasingly violent territorial dispute in the former Soviet state threatened to spiral into a major international conflict.

The apparent move came after Georgian troops began withdrawing from South Ossetia, a breakaway region where military action by Tbilisi last week triggered a full scale military clash with Russia that some say has left hundreds dead.

Russia's military action -- which Moscow claims is a legitimate peacekeeping mission in response to Georgian aggression -- has provoked criticism from the U.S., which Sunday condemned it as "disproportionate."

Growing concerns over the conflict have threatened to spill over Georgia's borders with Ukraine Sunday saying it might ban Russia's fleet from Crimea bases after it mobilized off the coast of Abkhazia, another breakaway region.

Analysts say Russia is trying to assert its authority in the former Soviet Union territories, where it claims many people have greater allegiance to Moscow than to Western-leaning Tbilisi, a U.S. ally vying for NATO membership.

Violence has escalated over several days with claims of war planes shot down on either side and accusations of civilian casualties in bombing raids. Russia has claimed up to 2,000 people have died. Georgia puts the figure much lower.

As Russian troops took control in South Ossetia, the breakaway province where long-running tensions exploded into conflict last Thursday, the dispute threatened to open up on a second front Sunday.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Russian forces plan to move into the city of Zugdidi, which is beyond the border of the second Georgian restive province of Abkhazia.

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jim Jeffrey said the United States was urgently looking into the report, saying that it would be a very serious escalation for Russia to move into Georgia beyond the Abkhazia region.

Jeffrey, speaking to reporters in Beijing Sunday, said Russia's failure to end its "disproportionate" action against Georgia could have a "significant long term impact on U.S.-Russian relations."

Georgian troops meanwhile withdrew from the South Ossetia capital Tskhinvali to the positions they held before Thursday -- a move Georgian officials said was to encourage a cease-fire.

The official said about 200 Georgian soldiers and 37 Georgian civilians have died so far in Russia attacks.

The withdrawal comes after Russian forces launched an airstrike against a military airfield near the Tbilisi International Airport earlier in the day, Georgian officials told CNN.

The attack near the Georgian capital city came after intense fighting in the former Soviet republic, with dozens of Russian warplanes bombing civilian and military targets in Georgia on Saturday.

Alexander Lomaia, secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, said dozens of Georgian troops had lost their lives.

The situation in South Ossetia escalated rapidly from Thursday, when Georgia said it launched an operation into the region after its unilateral cease-fire was met with artillery fire from separatists that killed 10 people, including peacekeepers and civilians. It accused Russia of backing the separatists.

President George Bush, speaking from Beijing where he is attending the Olympic Games, called for an immediate halt to the violence, a stand-down by all troops and an end to the Russian bombings. He urged the sides to return to "the status quo of August the 6th."  Watch Bush call for end to violence »

A White House spokesman said Bush spoke to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who spoke to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the Olympic opening ceremonies, also called for both sides to stand down and for "the full respect of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The United States, the European Union, and NATO are working toward a cease-fire, and the U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the issue Saturday.

Georgia, a pro-Western ally of the United States, is intent on asserting its authority over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both have strong Russian-backed separatist movements.

Inside South Ossetia, civilians have been without water, electricity and basic services for more than a day, said Maia Kardava, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Tbilisi. She said the Red Cross was unable to reach colleagues based in Tskhinvali because their phones had lost power and they were huddled in bomb shelters.

CNN's Matthew Chance in Tskhinvali and Frederick Pleitgen in Tblisi contributed to this report.



Russian Ships Steam Toward Georgia as Conflict Grows (Update1)

By Paul Abelsky and Alex Nicholson

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Russia sent warships from the Black Sea fleet toward Georgia as it stepped up its conflict with the former Soviet republic over the separatist South Ossetia region.

The ships included a vessel based in the naval port of Sevastopol and four others from Novorossiysk, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported, without saying where it got the information. Georgian Economic Development Minister Eka Sharashidze said a ship carrying grain to the Georgian port of Poti was turned away by a Russian warship, suggesting an economic blockade.

``Russia has shown itself capable of crossing every line in this conflict,'' Sharashidze said in a telephone interview late yesterday from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

Russian jets crossed the border to attack military and civilian targets in as many as six locations simultaneously, Georgian Security Council Secretary Kakha Lomaia said. Russia's actions amounted to ``full-scale war,'' he said. Russian planes today bombed a military airfield near Tbilisi, Georgian Security Council secretary Kakha Lomaia said in a telephone interview.

``It's all going to hell,'' Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said yesterday in an interview on CNN in which he appealed for international help. ``We are willing to do cease- fire immediately providing the other side stops to shoot and to bomb.''

President George W. Bush said yesterday the fighting was a ``a dangerous escalation'' and called for an ``immediate halt to violence.'' The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory to discourage Americans from visiting the region. Russia demanded a withdrawal of Georgian troops from South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s and exists as a de facto independent state with Russian economic support.

Russian Peacekeepers

President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia's actions were a response to Georgia's assault on its citizens as well as the peacekeepers Russia has had in South Ossetia since the disputed region broke away in the early 1990s. Russia has received no official communication from Georgia about Saakashvili's offer of a cease-fire, the Kremlin press office said by telephone.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew to Russia's North Ossetia region to oversee a ``humanitarian operation'' as refugees fled from the violence. Putin made the unannounced visit on his return from Beijing, where he had attended the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the former president's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said by phone.

Putin met Medvedev early today at the presidential residence in Gorki outside Moscow and called for Georgia's military actions to be investigated by the Prosecutor General's Office. The meeting was broadcast on state television.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in New York that 2,000 civilians have died in South Ossetia since the outbreak of hostilities on Aug. 8 and that 30,000 people have fled their homes and crossed the border into Russia.

Churkin, who spoke at the UN after the Security Council failed for the third consecutive day to agree on a position on the fighting, said Georgia's military actions had ``all the elements of genocide and war crimes.''

Putin Comments

Putin said Russia's actions were ``absolutely justified and legitimate and more important, necessary,'' in a meeting with regional leaders in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, broadcast on state television. Putin's ``visit has no military component,'' and will be short, Peskov said.

Russia will discuss a cease-fire ``only if Georgia withdraws all armed forces from the conflict zone and signs a non-aggression pact with South Ossetia,'' Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on state television today.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has sought support from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and his counterparts in France and Germany, according to an interview with BBC television that was published on the ministry's Web site. He and Rice spoke three times yesterday, the ministry said.

Civilian Casualties

Lavrov said 1,500 civilians and 15 Russian peacekeepers have been killed, while Deputy Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Nogovitsyn said two Russian aircraft had been shot down.

Saakashvili has signed a decree declaring a state of war, Lomaia said. At least 55 Georgians, both civilian and military, have been killed, he said.

The commander of Russian troops in South Ossetia, Lieutenant General Anatoly Khrulyov, was wounded yesterday when a column of armored vehicles moving toward Tskhinvali came under Georgian attack, state television station Vesti-24 reported, without saying how serious his condition was.

EU foreign ministers will meet early next week to discuss ways to resolve the crisis, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in an e-mailed statement from Paris yesterday.

Sarkozy proposed that a solution involve an immediate cease-fire, ``full respect'' for the territorial integrity of Georgia and a return to the situation on the ground that existed before hostilities erupted.

U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama separately spoke with President Saakashvili and called for the protection of Georgian sovereignty.

``Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border,'' McCain said in e-mailed statement yesterday.

The military escalation resulted from the ``lack of a neutral and effective peacekeeping force operating under an appropriate UN mandate,'' Obama said in an e-mailed statement, backing the deployment of international peacekeepers in Georgia's breakaway states.

Peacekeeping Mission

Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer, came to power in the 2003 ``Rose Revolution'' backed by the U.S. He vowed to bring South Ossetia and two other separatist regions under central control in a challenge to Russia.

South Ossetia has a population of about 70,000 and is connected to Russia's North Ossetia region by a tunnel through the Caucasus Mountains. Most residents hold Russian passports.

The conflict could endanger U.S. aspirations to secure an emerging energy corridor linking Central Asia to Europe and deals a blow to its plans for bringing the former Soviet republic into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's orbit.

Azerbaijan halted oil exports through the Georgian ports of Batumi and Kulevi because of the fighting, the head of the state oil company said yesterday, according to Reuters and Agence France Presse.

Georgia is a key link in a U.S.-backed ``southern energy corridor'' that connects the Caspian Sea region with world markets, bypassing Russia. The BP Plc-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey runs about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Nicholson in Moscow at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Paul Abelsky in St. Petersburg at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated: August 9, 2008 23:04 EDT



Explainer: Georgia's territorial turmoil

Story Highlights
Conflict over Georgian breakaway province has roots in Soviet era

South Ossetia broke away from Georgia but is not recognized as independent

Russia has said it will defend citizens, many of whom have Russian passports

(CNN) -- Russian troops, tanks and warplanes descended on the province of South Ossetia on Friday, responding to a Georgian offensive aiming to crack down on the province's separatists.

Georgian troops in armoured personnel carriers deploy to support the campaign to regain control of South Ossetia.

The conflict is rooted in a battle between the Georgian government, the people of South Ossetia and Russia, whose officials said they have peacekeeping missions in the area.

The Georgian government is battling with the people of South Ossetia because of their continued demands for independence.

The Georgian government insists South Ossetia must remain part of its territory and refuses to budge on the region's continuing demands for independence.

The Georgian government also refuses to bow to a push by some South Ossetians for a reunification with North Ossetia, which would place the region under Russian control.

Russian leaders have said they will defend their citizens in South Ossetia, referring to the nearly 70,000 people who have Russian passports or work in the neighboring country.

Leaders in Moscow insisted the Russian military response was aimed at protecting peacekeeping forces and civilians in South Ossetia, but Georgia cast it as a full-on invasion.

The battle holds significance to other world powers, including the United States, for its threat to the stability of a critical region, and for its importance in the oil trade.

World powers do not want to see the region destabilized by a military battle because the area is important for oil transport, serving as a keystone in a route that avoids Russia and Iran.



FACTBOX-Casualty tolls in Caucasus conflict     
August 9, 2008

Unofficial reports of casualties in South Ossetia and Georgia put the number of dead between 40 and about 2,000 since fighting erupted late on Thursday.

Below are the latest figures from all sides involved in the conflict.


Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko said at least 2,000 civilians had died in Tskhinvali as a result of fighting between Russian and Georgian forces, Interfax news agency reported. He said 13 Russian peacekeepers were killed and up to 70 injured in the fighting.
Sergei Sobyanin, the Russian government chief of staff, said 30,000 South Ossetian refugees had fled to Russia since early Friday.
Col-Gen Anatoly Nagovitsyn of the Russian Defence Ministry said 12 Russian soldiers were killed and 150 wounded.


A source in the Georgian government told Reuters on Saturday 129 civilians and military were killed and 748 wounded.
Kakha Lomaia, the National Security Council secretary, said civilian and military deaths were likely to be under 100.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russian aerial bombing had killed around 30 Georgian soldiers.
Georgian Interior Minister Shota Utiashvili said Russian jets killed three Georgian soldiers when they bombed the Vaziana military base, 25 km (15 miles) from the capital Tbilisi.


South Ossetia's President Eduard Kokoity said about 1,400 people had died since Friday.


The U.N. Refugee Agency said the number of people who have fled from South Ossetia into Georgia proper is about 2,400.
The UNHCR, quoting Russian officials, says the number estimated to be going to North Ossetia, an adjacent region within Russia, stands at 4,000 or 5,000. (Compiled by Chris Baldwin in Moscow; editing by Ron Popeski and Mary Gabriel)


Georgia: A Timeline of Events Aug. 10
Stratfor Today » August 10, 2008 | 0326 GMT

Crisis in South Ossetia
Georgia: A Timeline of Events Aug. 10

10:32 p.m.: Russian navy ships fire on and sink a Georgian missile boat after the Georgian boats make two attempts to attack the Russian vessels, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman tells Interfax.

9:46 p.m.: French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Moscow the week of Aug. 10, Reuters reports, citing the Kremlin press service. Plans for the visit reportedly were made during Sarkozy’s second Aug. 10 conversation with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Sarkozy’s office cannot confirm the visit.
9:28 p.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tells U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili “must go,” Reuters reports, citing a statement the U.S. envoy to the United Nations made to the U.N. Security Council.
9:23 p.m.: The Russian Defense Ministry denies reports of a bombing hitting the Georgia’s Tbilisi International Airport.
8:32 p.m.: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner travels to Tbilisi on an EU mediation effort to try to end the conflict in South Ossetia, Reuters reports. Kouchner, whose country is the current EU president, is set to meet with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili before traveling to Moscow on Aug. 11 to talk with Russian leaders.
8:18 p.m.: Reuters reports that Georgia’s Tbilisi International Airport was also hit by a Russian airstrike, about 200 yards away from a runway.
7:44 p.m.: A Russian military official says there are no hostilities in Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia, Interfax reports. 7:33 p.m.: About 15 loud explosions are heard near South Ossetia’s capital of Tskhinvali, Reuters reports.
7:33 p.m.: About 15 loud explosions are heard near South Ossetia’s capital of Tskhinvali, Reuters reports.
7:18 p.m.: Russia bombs a military airport on the outskirts of Tbilisi, Georgia, Interfax reports, citing the Georgian Interior Ministry.
6:53 p.m.: The United States plans to present a U.N. security council resolution condemning Russia’s military action against Georgia as “unacceptable to the international community,” Reuters reports, citing a spokesman for the U.S. delegation at the United Nations.
5:00 p.m.: Sergei Bagapsh, president of Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia, has declared martial law in parts of the province, Interfax reports. Martial law is in place in the Gali, Tkvarcheli, Ochamchira and Gulripsha districts, and part of the Sukhumi district for 10 days as of midnight Aug. 10. Abkhazia also declares a partial military mobilization.
4:55 p.m.: Georgian forces are not leaving South Ossetia, only regrouping, Interfax reports, citing an unnamed Georgian minister.
3:36 p.m.: The Black Sea Fleet is interacting with Russian troops in South Ossetia, but no offensive steps have been taken, Interfax reports, citing the Russian General Staff.
3:18 p.m.: Russian troops do not plan to go beyond South Ossetia’s borders, Interfax reports, citing the Russian General Staff.
2:40 p.m.: Only two Russian planes have been lost in Georgia, not 12 as some reports have maintained, the Russian General Staff announces.
2:20 p.m.: The evacuation of civilians from the district center of Zugdidi near the border with Abkhazia has begun, Georgian media reports.
1:09 p.m.: The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic will decide on how to handle oil exports through Georgia on Aug. 11, Interfax reports.
12:53 p.m.: Georgian troops will be pushed out of the Kodori Gorge, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh says.
12:44 p.m.: Abkhazia “utterly rejects” dialogue with Georgia, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh says.
12:38 p.m.: Abkhazia has introduced troops into the safety area in Gali district near Abkhazia in a bid to restore order in the peacekeeping forces’ responsibility zone in Abkhazia and in Georgia’s Zugdidi district, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh says.
12:35 p.m.: Georgia announces that Russian troops have entered Tskhinvali.
12:09 p.m.: Abkhazia’s Security Council has backed “increased combat alert mobilization,” Interfax reports.
12 p.m.
11:27 a.m.:
The Russian Black Sea Fleet is blockading Georgia, Interfax reports, citing a fleet source.
11:22 a.m.: Diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia have been maintained, Interfax reports, citing Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
11:04 a.m.: Abkhazia will provide humanitarian aid to Georgian refugees, Interfax reports.
11:01 a.m.: The Georgian city of Gori is being evacuated, Georgian media outlets report.
10:38 a.m.: A general mobilization may be declared in Abkhazia in several hours after an 11 a.m. meeting to discuss the proposal of general mobilization, Interfax reports.
10:38 a.m.: Georgia did not take its armed forces out of South Ossetia despite Georgian statements to the contrary, the assistant to the head of the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia said, Interfax reports.
10:35 a.m.: Inhabitants of Georgian villages near the boundary with Abkhazia are entering the Abkhazian region of Galskiy en masse, Interfax reports, citing eyewitnesses reports.
10:25 a.m.: Following incessant airstrikes from the Russian aircraft that continued almost all night, the Georgian armed forces have relocated to new positions, Georgian National Security Council Secretary Alexander Lomaia says. He adds that Tskhinvali has been practically effaced from the face of the earth as a result of the airstrikes.
10:18 a.m.: The Russian Black Sea Fleet has strengthened peacekeepers on the Abkhazian coast near Sukhumi at the request of the peacekeepers iafter Georgian warships reportedly tried to enter Abkhazian waters, Interfax reports, citing a deputy of the Abkhazian president.
10:09 a.m.: U.N. observers have left the Kodori Gorge, Abkhazian media reports.
10:02 a.m.: Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko has sent his foreign minister, Vladimir Orgyzko, to Tbilisi for consultations with the government of Georgia, the Ukrainian press service reports.
10:02 a.m.: The Russian Defense Ministry has advanced two conditions for a cease-fire in South Ossetia — one, that Tbilisi remove all of its troops from the zone of conflict, and two, immediately sign an agreement about the non-applicability of force with South Ossetia — Interfax reports.
10 a.m.: Georgian forces have withdrawn from the separatist enclave of South Ossetia and Russian troops are now in control of the regional capital, Tskhinvali, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports, citing a spokesman from the Georgian Interior Ministry.
9:26 a.m.: The Georgian city of Zugdidi, located on the border of the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia and Georgia proper, is being prepared for evacuation, Interfax reports. One of the city’s residents says Zugdidi is full of police cars equipped with loudspeakers, and announcements are being made to the population to evacuate.
9 a.m.
8:39 a.m.: The Abkhaz army begins advancing into the safety zone in the Galskiy region on the border with Georgia, according to Interfax.
8:35 a.m.: Georgian troops are not leaving the upper part of Kodori Gorge, and military operations in this region are continuing, Interfax reports.
8:30 a.m.: The planned evacuation of civilians from South Ossetia has been postponed due to safety concerns and is planned for noon local time Aug. 10, Interfax reports. Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the mixed peacekeeping forces, says he negotiated with representatives from Georgia and “we agreed to terms about the evacuation of the injured from the conflict zone.”
8:23 a.m.: Interfax reports that the Russian commander of the mixed peacekeeping forces in Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone, Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov, says that the situation in the area is tense overall and that “both sides are actively preparing for another round of combat.”
8:01 a.m.: Russian aircraft are once again bombing the Kodori Gorge in Georgia, according to Georgian media. The village of Azhara in the gorge’s upper portion reportedly has been targeted.
7:40 a.m.: About 30 injured Russian soldiers were taken from South Ossetia overnight, Interfax reported Aug. 10. The hospital administration said the soldiers’ injuries were not major.
7:02 a.m.: The bodies of numerous Georgian soldiers are in the streets of Tskhinvali, the capital of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, Interfax reeports, citing comments from South Ossetian government representative Irina Gagloeva. Gagloeva says she cannot confirm how many Georgian soldiers were dead and that six incapacitated Georgian tanks are in the city streets.
6:51 a.m.: Calm has settled over Tskhinvali, the capital of the separatist Georgian region of South Ossetia, Interfax reports. Irina Gagloeva, an official representative of South Ossetia’s government, says there is relative calm after an “intensive skirmish and artillery barrage in the heights above Tskhinvali” and that only short bursts of automatic gunfire are being heard.
6:40 a.m.: Interfax reports that fighting continued the entire night around Tskhinvali. South Ossetia’s Committee for Information and Media reported that Georgian forces continued “bombardment of the city and a number of other populated areas of South Ossetia” and that the city was nearly destroyed.
6:18 a.m.: Citing Georgian media, Interfax reports that Russian forces have bombed the Tbilaviastrov factory in Tbilisi, Georgia, which refurbishes Su-25 fighter jets used by the Georgian military.
6 a.m.
4:40 a.m.: Haaretz reports that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has recommended a complete cessation of the sale of arms and security-related equipment to Georgia in light of the situation in South Ossetia. The ministry recommends that the issue be re-examined after the fighting ceases and the situation stabilizes, but the Defense Ministry will make a final decision in the coming days.
3:59 a.m.: The Georgian government asks the U.S. government to airlift approximately 2,000 Georgian soldiers from Iraq so they can defend their homeland, according to ABC News.
3 a.m.
1:41 a.m.:
Xinhua reports that Russia plans to send warships to the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia. An unidentified U.S. State Department official reportedly said the United States has “been notified that Russia has plans to move elements of its Black Sea fleet to Abkhazia, to Ochamchira, ostensibly to protect their civilians … a couple of cruisers, or large-scale naval vessels.”  STRATFOR


The Georgian war – minute by minute, August 10
23:26 – Georgia-sponsored ‘government of Abkhazia in exile’ reports shelling of Kodori gorge by Russian military.
20:23 GMT – EU allocates one million euros of humanitarian aid for South Ossetian conflict victims.

19:28 GMT – Russia sends troops to Abkhazia – peacekeepers’ deputy commander.

19:17 GMT – French and Finnish Foreign Ministers arrive in Tbilisi to mediate peace deal.

18:20 GMT – Georgian rocket boat destroyed while attacking Russian Navy ship in Black Sea.

18:01 GMT – Russian citizens not allowed to leave Georgia – relatives’ reports.

17:46 GMT – Abkhazian official claims Georgian commando wounded two Abkhazian soldiers.

17:43 GMT – Man who gave criminal orders cannot be treated as partner – Russian FM, Sergey Lavrov

17:33 GMT – UN Security Council again discusses the situation in South Ossetia.

17:29 GMT – 20,000-strong rally gathers in Tbilisi to support Georgian troops.

17:00 GMT – Georgian troops retreat from Tskhinvali – Saakashvili.

16:43 GMT – Medvedev calls for unconditional withdrawal of Georgian troops from South Ossetia.

15:52 GMT – Russian combat planes bomb runways of Georgian military air bases - Defence Ministry source tells RIA Novosti news agency.

15:27 GMT – Georgian troops start arriving back from Iraq.

15:22 GMT – Two journalists reported dead in South Ossetia.

15:02 GMT – Georgia continues shelling South Ossetia despite announcing ceasefire – Russian Foreign Ministry.

14:54 GMT – Israeli Foreign Ministry suggests banning sale of arms to Georgia.

14:25 GMT – Bodies of Georgian soldiers killed in South Ossetia to be handed over to Georgian side – South Ossetian officials

14:12 GMT – Foreigner evacuees from Georgia arrive in Armenia.

14:32 GMT - Tbilisi says it has sent a note to the Russian embassy announcing Georgia’s decision to end  hostilities.

13:20 GMT - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin briefs President Medvedev on the latest developments in South Ossetia. Medvedev orders the military prosecutor's office to document crimes committed against the civilian population in South Ossetia.

12:55 GMT - Russia’s Emergency Situations Minister, Sergey Shoigu, says Russia plans to send a humanitarian aid convoy from Russia's North Ossetian city of Vladikavkaz to Tskhinvali - Ria Novosti reports.

11:20 GMT - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, says talks with Georgia will only be possible after a ceasefire deal. The diplomat told the press more than 2,000 people have died over four days of fighting.

10:40 GMT - Deputy Head of the General Staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, tells a media conference that Moscow rejects Washington’s analysis of the conflict in South Ossetia

08:54 GMT - Russian PM Vladimir Putin says the Russian government is planning to spend $10 billion rubles ($US 420 million) on aid to South Ossetia.

08:14 GMT – EU’s 27 Foreign Ministers to hold an emergency meeting early next week to discuss ways of stopping the conflict - Ria Novosti reports.

07:43 GMT - Russian peacekeepers deny Georgian troops have left the conflict zone.

06:17 GMT - Georgia claims its troops have completely left the territory of South Ossetia.

05:30 GMT - Russia will address the Hague Tribunal and Strasbourg International Court over the ‘murder’ of Russian peace keepers in South Ossetia.




News Analysis: In Georgia Clash, a Lesson on U.S. Need for Russia (August 10, 2008)

Global Politics Ignite a Smoldering Dispute (August 9, 2008)

Battle Cry: Taunting the Bear (August 10, 2008)

Candidates’ Reactions to Georgia Conflict Offer Hints at Style on Foreign Affairs (August 10, 2008)

Fear and Anger Among Those Left in Besieged City (August 10, 2008)

Times Topics: South Ossetia

Times Topics: Georgia (Country)

Times Topics: Mikheil Saakashvili

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 August 2008 )
< Prev   Next >

In Memory

Rafik Hariri
Rafik HaririIn Memory of Rafik Hariri, he rebuilt Beirut, at the time of his brutal Assassination Lebanon witnessed the birth of the Cedars Revolution
Gebran Tueni
Gebran TueniIn Memory of Gebran Tueni One of the most Prominent founders of the Cedars Revolution
Sheikh Pierre Gemayel
Sheikh Pierre GemayelIn Memory of Sheikh Pierre Gemayel Another Prominent founder of the Cedars Revolution
George Hawi
George HawiIn Memory of George Hawi another Anti-Syrian who supported the formation of the Cedars Revolution