The 2008 South Ossetia War was a land, air and sea war fought between Georgia on one side, and the two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the Russian Federation, on the other. A civil war fought after the breakup of the Soviet Union left parts of South Ossetia in control of an unrecognised separatist government, other parts controlled by Georgia. Part of the long-lasting Georgian–Ossetian conflict and Georgian–Abkhazian conflict.
Ongoing skirmishes between Georgian troops and South Ossetian rebels escalated into war in the evening of 7 August, 2008, when Georgia launched a ground and air based military attack against Tskhinvali. Russia responded by sending additional troops into South Ossetia and launching bombing raids further into Georgia. The events during August 7 remain a matter of debates and controversy. One day later Abkhazia, like South Ossetia split since the early 1990s into a Georgian held part and a de-facto independent break-away part, opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia.
Within five days of fighting, Georgian forces were routed and Russian troops intruded into Georgia proper, occupying some parts thereof, including Georgian cities of Poti and Gori. A preliminary ceasefire was signed on 12 August 2008, although fighting did not stop immediately. Following the conflict, Russia withdrew most of its forces from Georgia proper, and completed its withdrawal on 8 October 2008.
The Ossetians are an Iranian people whose ethnogenesis lies along the Don River. They came to the Caucasus after being driven out of their homeland in the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Most clans settled in the territories today known as North Ossetia-Alania (currently part of Russia) and South Ossetia (currently part of Georgia).
In 1990, as the USSR was nearing its collapse, the longtime anti-Soviet dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia was emerging as Georgia's first independent leader. In basing his campaign for the presidency on a nationalist platform he projected ethnic Georgians, who at the time constituted 70% of the population, as the country's true patriots, to the debasement of South Ossetians as newcomers.
In late 1994, Georgia's Supreme Council ruled that the South-Ossetian autonomous region (oblast) be disbanded. The government in Tbilisi established Georgian as the country's principal language, whereas the Ossetians' first two languages were Russian and Ossetian.
Amidst rising ethnic tensions, a quasi-military conflict broke out in January 1991 when Georgian forces entered Tskhinvali; more than 2,000 people are believed to have been killed. The war resulted in South Ossetia, which has a Georgian ethnic minority of around one fifth of the total population (70,000), breaking away from Georgia and gaining de facto independence. After a cease-fire in 1992, Tskhinvali was isolated from the Georgian territory around it, and accounts of atrocities against Ossetians — rapes and grisly killings — circulated endlessly. Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian peacekeepers were stationed in South Ossetia under the JCC's mandate of demilitarization. The 1992 ceasefire also defined both a zone of conflict around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and a security corridor along the border of South Ossetian territories.
In the 2006 South Ossetian independence referendum, full independence was supported by 99% of voters, although ethnic Georgians living in the region did not participate. Georgia accused Russia of the annexation of its internationally recognised territory and installing a puppet government led by Eduard Kokoity and several officials who previously served in the Russian FSB and Army. Restoring South Ossetia and Abkhazia (a region with a similar movement) to Georgian control has been a goal of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili since the Rose Revolution.
According to the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, 90% of South Ossetians possess Russian passports and thereby qualify for protection under article 80 of the Russian constitution. The BBC and other sources confirm that Russia has issued "most citizens" with passports, "potentially justifying direct intervention". Reuters describes the government as "dependent on Russia, [supplier of] two thirds of [its] annual budget", and reports that "Russia's state-controlled gas giant Gazprom is building new gas pipelines and infrastructure" worth hundreds of millions of dollars to supply its cities with energy.
In mid-April, 2008, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Prime Minister Putin had given instructions to the federal government whereby Moscow would pursue economic, diplomatic, and administrative relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia as with the subjects of Russia. In April 2008, Georgia accused Russia of shooting down a Georgian spy plane flying over Abkhazia. Russia denied involvement. Also Georgian interior ministry officials showed the BBC video footage of Russian troops deploying heavy military hardware in the breakaway region of Abkhazia and said that "it proved the Russians were a fighting force, not just peacekeepers." All this was denied by Russia.
On 12 August Russian President Medvedev met the President-in-Office of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and approved a six-point peace plan. Late that night Georgian President Saakashvili agreed to the text. Sarkozy's plan originally had just the first four points. Russia added the fifth and sixth points. Georgia asked for the additions in parentheses, but Russia rejected them, and Sarkozy convinced Georgia to agree to the unchanged text. On 14 August South Ossetia President Eduard Kokoity and Abkhazia President Sergei Bagapsh signed the peace plan as well.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has 200 personnel in the area, of which nine are military observers. OSCE is preparing to send 100 more observers to monitor the ceasefire, of which 20 are to be deployed immediately. On 18 August, Russia also initially opposed the deployment of 100 new observers into the region, but later accepted them.
After the cease fire had been signed, hostilities did not immediately stop. A reporter for the UK The Guardian was quoted on the 13th of August saying "the idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous" while Russian troops and irregulars advanced.
Despite numerous calls for a quick withdrawal from Georgia by western leaders Russian troops did occupy some parts of Georgia proper for about 2 months. Withdrawal from the so called "buffer zones" around South Ossetia and Abkhazia ended when control was handed over to EU observer mission on october 9th. On 9th September, 2008, Russia officially announced that its troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia would thenceforth be considered foreign troops stationed in "independent states" under bilateral agreements. Russian Troops remain in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia claimed Russia had bombed airfields and civil and economic infrastructure, including the Black Sea port of Poti. Between eight and eleven Russian jets reportedly hit container tanks and a shipbuilding plant at the port. Reuters reported that Georgian interior ministry officials claimed an attack on the civilian Tbilisi International Airport, though Russia rejected attack had place. Later, Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili denounced the attack had place, stating, "There was no attack on the airport in Tbilisi. It was a Tbliaviamsheni [Tbilisi military avionics plant]]."
According to Russian sources on August 15 and 17, about 20% of the Tskhinvali's buildings have suffered various damage, including 10% of "beyond repair". Russia's military claimed the retreating Georgian forces have mined civilian infrastructure in South Ossetia. On August 12 Tskhinvali's mayor claimed that approximately 70% of Tskhinvali's buildings, both municipal and private, have suffered serious damage.
Retreating Georgian forces have reportedly mined civilian infrastructure in South Ossetia, including some private house basements civilians used to hide during the Georgian offensive.
According to an 18 August report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), at the start of the military conflict on 7 August 2008, Georgian military used indiscriminate and disproportionate force resulting in civilian deaths in South Ossetia. The Russian military has since used indiscriminate force in attacks in South Ossetia and in the Gori district, and has apparently targeted convoys of civilians attempting to flee the conflict zones. HRW said that ongoing looting, arson attacks, and abductions by militia are terrorizing the civilian population, forcing them to flee their homes and preventing displaced people from returning home.
The organisation called the conflict a disaster for civilians, and said an international security mission should be deployed to help protect civilians and create a safe environment for the displaced to return home. HRW also called for international organisations to send fact-finding missions to establish the facts, report on human rights, and urge the authorities to account for any crimes. Alexander Brod of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, stated that groups such as Human Rights Watch are "in no position to make an objective assessment of war casualties." and said most western NGOs "report events from a Georgian perspective.
On 8 August the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged the combatants to form a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the wounded and besieged civilians from within Tskhinvali. The fighting had disrupted electricity and telephone services, and denizens were reportedly forced to shelter in their basements without access to water or medical supplies. Russian media reported on 9 August that several journalists had gone into hiding as they appealed to the international community for right of passage. On 10 August the Russian Ambassador in Tbilisi claimed that "at least 2,000" people had been killed, and the chief of Russian ground forces said that the Georgian shelling has destroyed "all the hospitals" in Tskhinvali. Human Rights Watch documented the damage caused to the hospital building by a rocket believed to have been fired from a Grad multiple rocket launcher which hit the hospital, severely damaging treatment rooms on the second and third floors. One doctor told Human Rights Watch that she could not leave the hospital because of the heavy shelling that went on for 18 hours. The staff had to move all the patients into the hospital basement because of the constant shelling, where they continued to operate until 13 August, when all the patients were evacuated to Russia.
According to western media sources who had begun arriving in the city and were toured by the Russian military on 12 August, "[s]everal residential areas seemed to have little damage", while the heaviest hit appeared to be buildings in and near the government district. Russia reported that 20% of some 7,000 buildings in Tskhinvali suffered any damage, half of which were beyond repair.
From 8 to 13 August, the Tskhinvali hospital treated 273 wounded, both military and civilians. Forty-four bodies had been brought to the hospital; these represented the majority of Ossetians killed in Tskhinvali, because the city morgue was not functioning due to the lack of electricity. On 14 August South Ossetian officials claimed they have identified 200 corpses of South Ossetian civilians, saying that 500 are missing; at the same time, Russian investigators said they had identified a total of 60 civilians killed during the fighting. By 18 August, following an investigation in South Ossetia and amongst refugees, the number of dead civilians identified was put by Russia at 133; nevertheless, South Ossetian officials said 1,492 people died.. On a Russian blog the higher number was defended by an eye witness.
HRW entered the mostly deserted Tskhinvali on 13 August and reported that it saw numerous apartment buildings and houses damaged by shelling. It said some of them had been hit by "inherently indiscriminate" weapons that should not be used in areas populated by civilians, such as rockets most likely fired from BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers. Since Georgian and Russian forces use identical Soviet-era weapons systems including Grad rockets, HRW couldn't definitely attribute specific battle damage to a particular belligerent, but witness accounts and the timing of the damage would point to Georgian fire accounting for much of the damage. In Tskhinvali, HRW saw numerous severely damaged civilian objects, including a hospital, apartment buildings, houses, schools, kindergartens, shops, administrative buildings, and the university. However, the group also noted that Ossetian militias in some neighborhoods took up defensive positions inside civilian apartment buildings, which drew fire from Georgian forces.
On 18 August South Ossetians alleged that they "estimate 500 Ossetian civilians were kidnapped and taken away by Georgian forces from the south of Tskhinvali". Georgian government answered: "They want to exchange [Georgian hostages] for our hostages. The problem is we don't have any hostages so we can't do any exchange." By 20 August the South Ossetian estimate was scaled down to some 170 "peaceful citiziens" allegedly held by Georgia.
On August 26, Russian investigators said they found evidence of genocide by the Georgian military against South Ossetians. The Head of Russia's Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, said that witnesses reported that Georgian soldiers were throwing cluster bombs into shelters where civilians were hiding. He also said that investigators came across the body of a pregnant woman shot in the head.
On October 2 2008 Resolution 1633 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) confirms that Georgian army used cluster munitions saying "[t]he use of heavy weapons and cluster munitions, creating grave risks for civilians, constituted a disproportionate use of armed force by Georgia, albeit within its own territory, and as such a violation of international humanitarian law"
The UN refugee agency, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that thousands of refugees left South Ossetia, mostly for North Ossetia-Alania in Russia within the first days of the conflict. On 10 August, HRW obtained official figures on the number of displaced persons tallied by the Russian government agency in Vladikavkaz, according to which, the Federal Migration Service registered 24,032 persons who crossed the border from South Ossetia into Russia. However, 11,190 of those went back after the Russian intervention in the war; the government stated that “the overall number [of the displaced] was decreasing because of the people who return to join to volunteer militias of South Ossetia”; furthermore, the figures cannot be considered accurate, as many people cross the border back and forth and thus get registered two or more times. On 15 August the UNHCR, relying on figures provided by Georgian and Russian officials, said at least 30,000 South Ossetians have fled across the border into North Ossetia. On 16 August, Russia put this number at over 10,000 refugees, indicating that majority had returned.
On 5 September the first Western delegation consisting of European MPs betook themselves towards Tskhinval on a journey organised by the Russian Duma. Lubomír Zaorálek, Deputy Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic stated during the tour: "I did not fathom what the military purpose of this action had been. There is nothing but demolished abodes of ordinary peoples. This is a crime against humaneness. I think that there should arrive as many as possible ambassadors and journalists in order to see with their own eyes what we had seen." Кабанов, Николай Николаевич from the Latvian Seim said: "Unfortunately I do not behold anyone from these MPs, who arrived in Tiflis, to see (here) the South Ossetian side of this horrendous conflict. I anticipated that there are great destructions but could not imagine that they were on a such scale". The Bulgarian MP Petar Kanev said that they did not see any military object hit by the Georgian army and that the Interior Ministry stayed untouched amidst ruins of civil edifices.
Most refugees in the conflict are ethnic Georgians. Before the war started, one estimate of the population of Georgians living in South Ossetia was 18,000 people, or one quarter of the population of the break-away republic. On 15 August UNHCR said that up to 15,000 ethnic Georgians have fled into the other parts of Georgia from South Ossetia. In addition, as of 15 August, some 73,000 people were displaced in Georgia proper (most of them from the city Gori); many also fled from Abkhazia. Most had no possessions with them, save for the clothes they were wearing when they fled, and were crammed into makeshift centres without even basic amenities. By 19 August the UNHCR figure of the displaced persons rose to 158,000, the vast majority of them ethnic Georgians.
Between 9 and 12 August, residential districts and a media center in the Georgian city of Gori were attacked by Russian Air Force, killing and injuring numerous civilians (including several journalists, among them the Dutch cameraman Stan Storimans who died). On 15 August U.S. Human Rights Watch said it had collected evidence of Russian warplanes using RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 PTAB 2.5M submunitions; rights group urged Russia to stop using the weapons, which 107 nations have agreed to outlaw. On the same day, Russian General Nogovitsyn claimed: "We never use cluster bombs. There is no need to do so. During the final strikes, an air-to-ground missile smashed into the Gori hospital with deadly effect. On August 21, HRW reported that civilians continued to be killed and injured later due to contact with unexploded cluster munitions in Gori and at other locations.. Georgian military used Israeli-made M85 cluster munition against targets in South Ossetia, but according to the Georgian Ministry of Defense, they were used only on military targets. According to statement wich was announced on September 1, "Human Rights Watch has not independently confirmed this information, but has reported Russia’s use of cluster munitions during the fighting" ... it "is continuing to investigate use of cluster munitions by both Georgia and Russia."
On 10 August Georgia charged that ethnic cleansing of Georgians was occurring behind Russian lines. On 12 August HRW researchers in South Ossetia claimed that they witnessed at least four ethnic Georgian villages still burning from fires set by South Ossetian militias and witnessed looting by the militias. A HRW researcher said that "the remaining residents of these destroyed ethnic Georgian villages are facing desperate conditions, with no means of survival, no help, no protection, and nowhere to go." On 13 August an interviewed South Ossetian officer said that the forces "burned these houses (...) to make sure that they [the Georgians] can’t come back." HRW also learned from an Ossetian officer about the summary execution of a Georgian combatant, and that the looters, who were "everywhere" in the Georgian villages in South Ossetia, have been "now moving to Gori".
On 12 August Associated Press (AP, U.S. source) journalists toured by the Russian military through Tskhinvali claimed that they witnessed numerous fires in what appeared to be deserted ethnic Georgian neighborhoods and saw evidence of looting in those areas; they said that while a Russian army officer touring claimed said some of the buildings had been burning for days from the fighting, in fact none of the houses was burning before more than 24 hours after the battle for the city was over. By14 August, already after the official ceasefire, many international media outlets reported Georgian government and refugee stories that Ossetian and often also other pro-Russian irregulars (including reports of Cossack and Chechen paramilitaries, and even some Russian regular soldiers) were looting and burning Georgian villages in South Ossetia and near Gori. Some of the emerging stories featured reports of atrocities, including kidnapping, rape and indiscriminate murder. These reports could not be independently confirmed; as BBC News summed it up on 14 August, "The testimonies of those who have fled villages around South Ossetia are consistent, but with all roads blocked and the Russian military now in charge of the area, the scale of alleged reprisal killings and lootings is difficult to verify. The new waves of Georgian refugees bringing reports of the widespread pillage and "revenge" killings in the territories occupied by the Russian forces kept coming over the next days.
On 13 August Russian interior minister Rashid Nurgaliev said there would be "decisive and tough" measures taken against looters; according to Russia's Interfax, two looters were executed by firing squad in South Ossetia. Nevertheless, on 15 August, The Daily Telegraph reporter witnessed South Ossetian irregulars continuing to loot and pillage around Gori, often with the encouragement of Russian troops, including a Russian officer shouting to "take whatever you want. Vehicles were even carjacked from the UN aid officials by paramiliaries while Russian soldiers watched. According to HRW, Russian military had indeed blocked the road from Java to Tskhinvali in an effort to prevent further attacks there, and by 14 August, researchers saw no more fires in this area; however, looting and burning of Georgian villages has continued in ethnic Georgian villages in Georgia's Gori district. On August 13, Major General Vyacheslav Borisov, the Russian commander in Georgia, was quoted as saying that "now Ossetians are running around and killing poor Georgians in their enclaves. Also on 15 August, the Russia-allied president Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia, in the interview for Kommersant, officially acknowledged that the alleged ethnic cleansing of South Ossetia was in fact committed against ethnic Georgians, saying that his forces "offered them a corridor and gave the peaceful population the chance to leave" and that the Ossetians "do not intend to allow" their return.
Russian (Novaya Gazeta) and British (The Sunday Times) journalists embedded with the Russian and Ossetian forces reported that irregulars are abusing and executing captured Georgian soldiers and suspected combatants captured during the "mopping-up operations" in South Ossetia and beyond.
On 16 August an AP (American news agency) reporter witnessed groups of Georgian forced laborers in Tskhinvali under armed guard of Ossetians and Russians; South Ossetia's interior minister Mikhail Mindzayev acknowledged this, saying that the Georgians "are cleaning up after themselves. The Independent reported that around 40 Georgian civilian captives, mostly elderly men, were "paraded" through the city and abused by South Ossetians. On 18 August South Ossetian leaders put the number of the hostages at more than 130, roughly half of them women and mostly former Georgian guest workers. The kidnapping of civilians by warring parties is a war crime according to the Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
On 17 August HRW appealed to Russian authorities to "immediately take steps to end Ossetian militia attacks on ethnic Georgians" in the Gori district of Georgia and for the Russian military to ensure safe passage for civilians wishing to leave the region and for humanitarian aid agencies to enter. The organisation said hundreds of vulnerable civilians still in the area, including many elderly; they said they are afraid to leave after learning about militia attacks on those who fled. The UN, which has described the humanitarian situation in the Russian military-controlled Gori as "desperate," has been able to deliver only limited food supplies to the city.
The looting and burning of Georgian villages in South Ossetia continued long after the ceasefire agreement had been signed. In the end of August it was reported that the Georgian villages Achabetiug, Kekhvi, Tamarasheni, Ksuisi and Eregvi were still under attack of Ossetian looters. It was also reported that according to South Ossetian officials ethnic Georgian civilians in South Ossetia were "detained for their own protection" and bussed to the Georgian side.
The Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs and the OSCE chairman Alexander Stubb twice visited the war-affected area in Georgia and accused the Russian troops of "clearly trying to empty southern Ossetia of Georgians. On August 27, the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner accused the Russian troops of "ethnic cleansing, creating a homogeneous South Ossetia.
On August 29 2008, the recently returned IDPs to the villages north of Gori which are still under the Russian military control had to flee a renewed harassments by the South Ossetian militias. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said that some 2,300 Georgian villagers arrived in Gori because of security concerns. The UNHCR official reported that that Russian forces had set up 18 checkpoints between Gori and South Ossetia, which were "an obstacle to the humanitarian relief effort and to people trying to return to their homes.
On September 8 it was reported that Russian soldiers prevented international aid convoys from visiting Georgian villages in South Ossetia. Likewise the ambassadors of Sweden, Latvia and Estonia had been barred from visiting Georgian villages beyond Russian checkpoints on September 5. The purpose of their visit had been to deliver aid, assess the situation and verify allegations of ethnic cleansing in they area. In a statement they said the restrictions violated the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and the cease-fire deal approved by Russia and Georgia.
In response to the war, Russia faced strong criticism from the US, the United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden and the Baltic states with Carl Bildt, foreign minister of Sweden and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, being quoted, Russia's claims it was defending Russian citizens in South Ossetia "recalled Hitler’s justifications of Nazi invasions and President George W. Bush warning Russia: "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century. In contrast, Italy was more supportive of Russia, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini stating "We cannot create an anti-Russia coalition in Europe, and on this point we are close to Putin's position". France and Germany took an intermediate position, refraining from naming a culprit while calling for an end of hostilities.
Also in response to the war, Viktor Yushchenko, the president of Ukraine, said he intended to negotiate increasing the rent on the Russian naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. On the other hand, the Abkhazian government said it would invite Russia to establish a naval base in the port of Sukhumi. According to Russia, any re-negotiation of the use of the Ukraine naval base would break a 1997 agreement, under which Russia leases the base for $98 million a year until 2017. A controversy arose over how Ukraine should respond to the Ossetia war, which contributed to the 2008 Ukrainian political crisis.
On 25 August 2008, the Federal Assembly of Russia unanimously voted to urge President Medvedev to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. On the following day, Medvedev agreed, signing a decree officially recognizing the two entities. Georgia has rejected this move outright as an annexation of its territory. Nicaragua recognized the republics on 5 September 2008. and a few other countries were supportive of Russia's decision.
The unilateral recognition by Russia was met by condemnation from NATO, the OSCE Chairman, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, Foreign Ministers of the G7, and the government of Ukraine due to alleged violation of Georgia's territorial integrity, and United Nations Security Council resolutions. Russian policy of recognition was supported by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation although the SCO Group didn't back it explicitly.
OSCE spokesman Martin Nesirky rejected the claim, saying "none of" its regular reports distributed to 56 members through diplomatic channels "contains information of the kind mentioned in the Der Spiegel story".
Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, observer of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and regular contributor to U.S. based think-tank Jamestown Foundation speculated in a Novaya Gazeta article that "Russia's invasion of Georgia had been planned in advance, with the final political decision to complete the preparations and start war in August apparently having been made back in April.
In September 2008, Irakli Okruashvili, Georgian defence minister from 2004 to 2006, Irakli Okruashvili, reported in an interview to Reuters that in 2004-2006 he and Saakashvili worked together on military plans to invade South Ossetia and Abkhazia, adding "Abkhazia was our strategic priority, but we drew up military plans in 2005 for taking both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well".
A US Defense official said that there was no obvious buildup of Russian forces along the border that signaled an intention to invade.
Speaking at an event organised by the German Marshall Fund in Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that Georgia had fired the first shots in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. This view was echoed by five former American Secretaries of State at a forum on presidential policy.
On 8 September, 2008, Dana Rohrabacher (Republican a senior member of the United States House of Representatives) Foreign Affairs Comittee, argued at a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, according to The Daily Telegraph, that "the Georgians had initiated the recent military confrontation in the on-going Russian-South Ossetian conflict", citing unidentified U.S. intelligence sources. Further, Telegraph reported that "Mr. Rohrabacher insisted that Georgia was to blame", citing him: "The Georgians broke the truce, not the Russians, and no amount of talk of provocation and all this other stuff can alter that fact." Telegraph stated: ""His comments got little attention in the United States but have been played prominently on state-run Russian television bulletins and other media."
Harvard B-School professor Noel Maurer disagrees with the view that 2008 South Ossetia war had a substantial negative impact on Russian financial markets: "Russian indices were in decline well before the war started. If anything has happened since, it is that the decline has slowed. This is not consistent with the hypothesis that the markets are punishing Russia for the war.
The Georgian financial markets also suffered negative consequences as Fitch Ratings lowered Georgia's sovereign debt ratings from BB- to B+, commenting that there are increased risks to Georgian sovereign creditworthiness. Standard and Poor's also lowered Georgia's sovereign credit rating.
While Georgia has no significant oil or gas reserves on its own, it is an important transit route that supplies the West, and journalists expressed fear that the war may damage the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, 30% of which is owned by BP. The BTC pipeline was shut down before the conflict because of the blast in Turkey on August 6, 2008, that was threatened and then claimed by the PPK' and the war created further problems for the operating company Botas International Ltd.
An extensive information war was conducted during the military conflict.
During the war, Georgian and Russian websites were attacked by hackers, including several Georgian governmental pages that became briefly unreachable. In response Estonia sent two specialists in information security from the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Estonia to Georgia, and Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website was hosted on an Estonian server. The Office of the President of Poland provided the website for dissemination of information and helped to get access to the Internet for Georgia's government after breakdowns of local servers caused by cyberattacks.
As of 8 August 2008, Georgia had a total armed Forces Personnel of 26,900, 82 T-72 Main Battle Tanks, 139 Armoured Personnel Carriers (BMP and BTR variants), 7 Combat aircraft (Su-25 ground attack) and 95 Heavy artillery pieces (including Grad BM-21 122mm multiple rocket launchers), according to Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments. Georgia had recently also been acquiring some western-made weaponry, including the UH-1 Iroquois helicopters and M4 Carbine rifles from the United States, 152mm SpGH DANA self-propelled guns and RM-70 Multiple rocket launchers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Turkish Otokar Cobra armoured vehicles, and German Heckler & Koch G36 and Israeli IMI Tavor TAR-21 rifles. According to a US military trainer, the Americans had trained Georgian soldiers with M-4 rifles, but when the fighting started, the Georgians went back to Soviet AK-47s, the only weapon they trusted and had serious firing problems. Georgian Ministry of Defense released a press statement, that "the Georgian armed forces have GRADLAR 160 multiple launch rocket systems and MK4 LAR 160 type (with M85 bomblets) rockets with a range of 45 kilometers". Ukraine has supplied Georgia with weapons, reportedly including Tor and Buk AA missile systems, Armoured Personnel Carriers and small arms. Russia's deputy chief of General Staff, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said the Tor and Buk missile systems were responsible for the downings of 4 Russian aircraft in the war. According to U.S analysts, Georgian SA-11 Buk-1M was certainly the cause of the Tupolev-22M's loss, and contributed to the losses of the 3 Su-25s. Western analysts believe that Georgia’s Air force, Naval and Armored forces have been virtually destroyed . and will require substantial equipment to regain functionality.
In the combat for Tskhinvali, Georgia reportedly committed several infantry battalions supported by T-72 tanks and artillery. The Georgian Air Force has also been engaged in the conflict. Following the Russian response, Georgia recalled all 2,000 of its troops that had been stationed in Iraq. The troops and their equipment were transported by the United States Air Force using C-17 Globemaster aircraft. American trainers claimed that the Georgian military was unready for combat. According to an "Intelligence Briefing" published at oraclesyndicate.twoday.net, the 1st and 2nd Brigade, the Independent Tank Battalion with headquarters at Gori and most of Georgia's front line artillery units were no longer combat capable as of 19th of August.
At the outbreak of the war 127 U.S. military trainers including 35 civilian contractors were present in Georgia. Additionally, 1000 soldiers had participated in the military exercise "Immediate Response 2008" which ended only days earlier. Several of these soldiers were still in the country. EUCOM stated that neither participated in the conflict. According to South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity, "many mercenaries from Ukraine and the Baltic states" participated in the fighting on the Georgian side. This was not confirmed by Georgia.
South Ossetian Sector
RASHID NURGALIEV CONGRATULATED STUDENTS OF THE ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT OF THE MOI OF RUSSIA ON THE DAY OF KNOWLEDGE.
Sep 02, 2011; MOSCOW, Russia -- The following information was released by the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation: Today, Minister...
RASHID NURGALIEV HELD OPERATIVE GATHERING OF COMMANDERS OF SPECIAL UNITS OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS AGENCIES FOR CONSTITUENT ENTITIES OF THE CENTRAL FEDERAL DISTRICT.
Jul 18, 2011; MOSCOW, Russia -- The following information was released by the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation: In the frame of...