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2008 Russo-Georgian War Recap: August 1
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Aug.'17 / 14:30

Nine years have passed since the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008. Civil.ge will use its archives and other sources to provide a daily recap of the events of the war. We start on August 1, 2008, amid the final stage of pre-war escalation, and will continue up to the occupation of Akhalgori Municipality by the Russian troops on August 16.

Context

The August 2008 war was a culmination of a long series of tensions that were amplified following the international recognition of Kosovo on February 17, 2008. Russia has pledged to deliver a response, and has taken series of diplomatic steps that were meant to clear the way for Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

  • On March 6, Russia withdrew from the CIS agreement dating to 1996, which prohibited the CIS member states from political, military, and economic relations with Abkhazia. 
  • On March 21, the Russian State Duma (Parliament) passed a resolution calling the Russian government to consider recognition of independence of the two Georgian regions.
  • Then, on April 16, Vladimir Putin issued a decree instructing the Russian government agencies to establish direct official relations with Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. 

These political moves were followed by military developments.

Russia launched a military buildup in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region that continued through the pre-war months. Suspicions mounted on Gudauta base (Abkhazia) was re-enforced with troops and equipment. A base in Java (northwest of Tskhinvali), outside the area of responsibility of the peacekeeping personnel deployed there, was under active construction.

Security incidents multiplied:

When on April 20 the Georgian side attempted to observe this process in Abkhazia through an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), it was shot down by the Russian MIG-29 jet. 

On May 30, a 400-strong force of Russian Railroad Troops was deployed in Abkhazia to repair the rail line to Ochamchire – a town in close proximity to the Georgian government-controlled territory. The railroad repairs were completed on July 30. 

Mid-June saw explosions and mine incidents in Tskhinvali Region near villages Kekhvi, Ergneti, Tamarasheni and Kokhati. There also were exchanges of fire involving villages Sveri, Prisi, Zemo Prisi and Andzisi. 

In July the situation escalated further, with an assassination attempt against Dmitry Sanakoev, the head of the Georgian Provisional Administration of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia conducted on July 3. Six Georgian policemen were wounded as a result of the attack. 

On July 8, four Russian military jets violated Georgian air space on the eve of the visit to Georgia by the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. 

On July 15, Russia launched large-scale “Kavkaz-2008” military exercise in the North Caucasus. During the exercise a leaflet entitled “Warrior, Know Your Probable Enemy” was distributed among the Russian troops. The leaflet consisted of information about the Georgian Armed Forces. 

Meanwhile, a last-ditch effort for conflict resolution in Abkhazia, advanced by the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was rejected by the Abkhaz and, subsequently, shelved by the Russian leadership. As August approached, the security situation deteriorated further. 

From 24 to 28 July several explosions occurred in Tskhinvali Region. 

On 29 July, exchanges of fire took place near the villages of Sveri, Andzisi, Khetagurovo, and the Avnevi-Zemo Nikozi bypass road. Georgian peacekeepers’ checkpoint on Sarabuki heights was shelled with 120mm artillery – for the first time since the early 1990s.

August 1

  • Around 08:00 a pickup truck carrying Georgian police officers was hit by two remote-control explosive devices on the Eredvi-Kheiti bypass road. Five Georgian policemen were injured as a result, one of them severely.  
                          
  • Intense shootouts started in the evening and continued overnight. Both sides have accused each other of opening fire first. Six Georgian civilians and one Georgian policeman were injured as a result of artillery shelling of the Tbilisi-controlled villages of Zemo Nikozi, Kvemo Nikozi, Avnevi, Nuli, Ergneti, Eredvi and Zemo Prisi. Tskhinvali reported six troops killed by Georgian fire, with 15 others injured.

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