Events prior to August 2008 are described in Georgian–Ossetian conflict.
On August 4, it has been rumored that five battalions of the Russian 58th Army were moved to the vicinity of Roki Tunnel that links South Ossetia with North Ossetia. However, later an unnamed U.S. defense official said that there was no obvious buildup that indicated an invasion and his statement is latter confirmed by OSCE report
On 6 August, Georgia said it had lost an APC and that three Georgian soldiers had been wounded. Four people were killed that night 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. The Georgian Interior Ministry reported that as many as ten Georgian soldiers had died in the clashes throughout 7 August.
According to the The New York Times investigation Georgia provided intercepted cellphone records which according to Georgian side were recorded on August 7 morning and provide evidence that some parts of 135th Regiment of 58th Russian Army moved through the Roki tunnel that morning. The regiment is a supplier of Russian peacekeepers at the region. 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, according to a senior American official. 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.
Authorities of breakaway South Ossetia said number of injured persons as a result of overnight and early morning intensive fire increased to eighteen on its side. And 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, including one 88-year-old man and four women, 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 Ossetian side said early on August 7, that six persons were injured. The South Ossetian side has also claimed that the shootout resumed in the region at about 10am local time on August 7. It said that the South Ossetian village of Ubiat in the Znauri district came under fire.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that "mercenaries and military hardware" are moving through the Roki Tunnel, which joins Russia's North Ossetia to South Ossetia, to support the separatists. South Ossetia claimed on Thursday afternoon that large numbers of Georgian troops were moving towards the breakaway republic's de facto border.
At 19:10 Georgian President Saakashvili, ordered a unilateral ceasefire. Saakashvili called for talks "in any format," reaffirmed the long-standing offer of full autonomy for South Ossetia, proposed that Russia should guarantee that solution, offered a general amnesty, and pleaded for international intercession to stop the hostilities. Georgia reiterated that it was prepared to engage in direct talks with the de facto government of South Ossetia without any preconditions.
Following Saakashvili’s address, according to Jamestown Foundation report , attacks on Georgian villages intensified. The village of Avnevi was almost completely destroyed, Tamarasheni and Prisi shelled, and the police station in Kurta, seat of the Sanakoyev administration, smashed by artillery fire. Civilians began fleeing the villages. South Ossetia denies any such late-night bombardment. OSCE monitors in Tskhinvali also did not record any outgoing heavy artillery fire from the South Ossetian side at that time, according to a Western diplomat with access to the organization's on-the-ground reporting.
At 10:35 p.m. Georgian forces began another artillery assault on Tskhinvali. The Georgians used 27 rocket launchers, including 152-millimeter guns. Three brigades began the nighttime assault. 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. This caused an increased number of refugees to cross into Russia. Interfax quoted South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity as saying his forces were confronting Georgians in the outskirts of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia; he noted that fierce fighting was under way. In a televised address, Georgian President Saakashvili has vowed to restore Tbilisi's control over what he called the "criminal regime" in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and reinforce order.
At 23:30 on August 7, according to the 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 but before UN Georgia will claim that Russian forces have entered South Ossetia only on August 8 in 05:30 am Another sources at Georgian Government agree with the later time.
Around 00:53 on August 8 (local time, 20:53 August 7 UTC), Georgian forces began shelling the route along which refugees were being moved from the city. As the day progressed, Russian media reported that at least fifteen civilians had been killed in Tskhinvali. The Georgian Army crossed the border of South Ossetia on the early hours of August 8 after overnight bombardment of Tskhinvali by heavy artillery (howitzers), 122 mm multiple-launch rocket systems "Grad", and large-caliber mortars. Tanks and APC supported by artillery launched a thrust towards Tskhinvali. Opposed by South Ossetian forces, Georgians advanced and by the end of August 8 controlled a significant portion of the city. At 04:45 (00:45 UTC), Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili announced that Tskhinvali was nearly surrounded, and that Georgia controlled two-thirds of South Ossetia's territory. The result of Georgian night-day offensive was more than 1,600 civilians killed according to South Ossetian sources, but only about 100 according to Georgian.
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. Earlier, he told the Interfax news agency that hundreds of armed volunteers from North Ossetia were heading to the Tskhinvali area. Abkhazian leader Sergei Bagapsh said that volunteers from Abkhazia were on the way to help the South Ossetians. 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.
On the morning of 8 August, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics, condemned the "aggressive actions" by Georgia and said that Russia would be compelled to retaliate. By 09:30, President Medvedev convened an emergency session of government officials to consider Russia’s options regarding the conflict.
Half an hour later, 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. The source also reported that the nearby city of Gori suffered a brief Russian air strike, with no casualties. Russian authorities rejected these reports, but a Daily Telegraph correspondent later reported that he saw unidentified jets near Gori, and the Georgian military described them as "Russian warplanes".
By 11:40, Saakashvili mobilised 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". 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". 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.
Acoording to General Uvarov, the senior Russian official, the first Russian combat unit — the First Battalion of the 135th Regiment — did pass through the Roki Tunnel at 2:30 p.m. The battalion, he said, did not reach Tskhinvali until the next evening, having met heavy Georgian resistance. Georgia disputes that account, saying it was in heavy combat with Russian forces near the tunnel long before dawn.
Georgia reported that they offered a three-hour ceasefire starting 15:00 local time (11:00 UTC), to let civilians leave the besieged capital of Tskhinvali. However, at 10:29 UTC, 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.
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; later that number was revised to 13 killed and 70 wounded. A column of Russian tanks from the 58th Army began moving to Tskhinvali to help. Saakashvili said that the Russian column consisted of 150 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and other equipment. A press video from 8 August showed Russian T-72 tanks, BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, and 152 mm 2S3 self-propelled howitzers moving south into the conflict zone.
Russian media reported that the Georgian army was falling back from Tskhinvali and Russian Su-24 bombers and Su-27 fighters were in complete control of the airspace above Tskhinvali. 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 hit. According to France Press, at 12:00 UTC 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. Russian tanks entered Tskhinvali shortly after, and by nightfall Russian and South Ossetian forces controlled a large part of the city.
The Georgian Interior Ministry said that a Russian fighter dropped two bombs on the Vaziani Military Base, near Tbilisi. Russian fighters also bombed a military airfield in Marneuli, near Tbilisi. At least four people were killed and another five wounded in the air strike in Marneuli, while three Georgian soldiers were killed at Vaziani. 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 from Tbilisi". When asked why Russian warplanes entered Georgian airspace well before Russian government approved the involvement in Southern Ossetia conflict, the officer responded, "According to the orders from the higher command."
Saakashvili initially said that Georgia was pulling its 2,000-strong troop contingency from Iraq. The head of Georgia's Security Council, Kakha Lomaia, later clarified that only 1,000 troops were being redeployed, 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. According to Georgia, the United States will provide the aircraft for transportation - a move that could risk U.S. involvement into the conflict; U.S. officials only said that all transportation options were being explored.
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 replied that no one wanted war, and Putin added that it is difficult to maintain peace in the Caucasus.
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". The Russian ambassador responded with news of the "treacherous attack on South Ossetia" by Georgian forces and reports of ethnic cleansing in the villages
Washington 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.
Russian media reported heavy gunfire between Russian and Georgian troops continued through the night, and CNN stated that an airfield near Tbilisi was bombed in the early hours of the day.
Before morning Russian planes bombed the Senaki military base killing 13 Georgian soldiers and wounding another 13. The base itself was mostly destroyed.
At 06:27 UTC, Reuters reported that two Russian fighters had bombed Georgian artillery encampments near Gori. The Georgian government reported that 60 civilians were killed when at least one bomb hit an apartment in Gori. 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. At 07:41 UTC, 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. It was confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence's press service that units of the Ivanovo-based 98th Airborne Division of the Russian Airborne Troops and Spetsnaz from the Moscow-based 45th Detached Reconnaissance Regiment would be moved to the conflict area.
At 07:57 UTC, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported that its 58th Army had fully freed Tskhinvali of Georgian armed forces., and at 08:30 UTC, the Russian General Staff confirmed the loss of two jets: a Su-25 and a Tupolev Tu-22M; the latter was later claimed to be running aerial reconnaissance missions. The Georgian government claimed they had actually downed 10 Russian jets and captured 3 pilots. At 10:30 UTC, Russian paratroopers were deployed in South Ossetia. President Saakashvili called for a ceasefire in a speech. At 10:41 UTC, 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. At 11:25 UTC, Georgian President Saakashvili asked his country's parliament to announce a state of martial law in Georgia. 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.
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. Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia would start negotiations only if Georgian forces withdrew to the positions they held before the conflict began; the Russian Foreign Ministry added a requirement that Georgia should promise to never attempt to retake the territory. At 16:15 the Russian Defense Ministry said it had not received any ceasefire proposal from Georgia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the only solution was for Georgian troops to leave the conflict zone.
According to a source in the Georgian government, the Roki Tunnel used by Russians to bring in supplies and reinforcements was demolished. The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the report. Time Magazine reporter John Wendle later confirmed that the tunnel had not been destroyed. Lomaia reported that Russia had bombed the Black Sea port of Poti and had started to bomb civil and economic infrastructure. There were also reports by the Associated Press of Russian ships patrolling the waters off Poti, though Russia denied they were implementing a blockade. 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. Meanwhile, Russia cut off all air connections with Georgia. On the same day, the United Nations once again failed to reach consensus on how to word any request for a cessation of hostilities. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that the Russian Federation begins operation "to force the Georgian side to peace".
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.
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.
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 in preparation to attack at dawn the next day. Vladimir Putin, after attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, flew to North Ossetia to oversee what he called a "humanitarian operation" and state that he believed it was now unlikely that South Ossetia could ever reintegrate within Georgia. He said the government was ready to earmark up to RUB10.1 billion (approximately US$425 million) for aid to the region. Putin's spokesperson gave assurances that the visit had no military component, and in the morning Putin left for Gorki outside Moscow to meet Russian president Medvedev.
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 a unilateral ceasefire. However, Russian troops refused to recognise a truce, claiming Georgian forces were not retreating, but merely regrouping. Georgia’s Internal Affairs Ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili, claimed that "Georgian troops have fully left South Ossetia", while according to Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili, Georgian troops had pulled out of Tskhinvali and, according to her, Georgian "forces have relocated and assumed new positions." Russian peacekeeping 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." Russia later acknowledged a withdrawal was in progress, with a spokesman noting, "Units of the Georgian armed forces have started withdrawing from Tskhinvali. The withdrawal has been spotted by the peacekeeping forces' intelligence.
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.
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. Russia confirmed receiving the offer but said that "the Georgian side has not stopped military actions in South Ossetia, Georgian troops continued shelling. 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.
Later in the day, Georgia 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. The Russian Ministry of Defence dismissed the alleged bombing as "another disinformation" by Georgia.
The Russian Defence Ministry announced that the Russian Navy sunk a Georgian missile boat after two alleged attacks of such boats earlier that day. 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.
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.
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". CNN reported that the Russian ambassador drew rebuke after making this comment. 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. 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. According to Newsru, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin later denied this, and rather said that Saakashvili "cannot be considered as a partner" because "no decent person would talk to him". He said that if an agreement of not using military force is signed, "peace will be restored whatever the fate of Saakashvili will be". He said Condoleezza Rice "misinterpreted" their phone conversation.
A Turkish TV crew was attacked while heading into South Ossetia and taken to Vladikavkaz for interrogations. They were later released by Russian authorities.
According to Georgian officials, 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. Russia denied any intention of occupying Georgia, "We have enough territory to think of, we don't need Georgia." said Aleksei Pavlov, a Kremlin spokesman. The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia claims that Russia began "intensive combat" in Gori following prior air strikes. Georgian troops reportedly returned fire. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not confirm or deny the reports.
Russian forces moved into Senaki, which is inland from the Black Sea, and seized police stations in Zugdidi, just outside the southern fringe of Abkhazia. Abkhazian allies took control of the nearby village of Kurga, according to witnesses and Georgian officials. An Associated Press reporter saw Russian troops in control of government buildings in Zugdidi just miles from the frontier and Russian troops were reported in nearby Senaki.
During the early morning Moscow time, Russia declared itself ready to make peace with Georgia. UN officials confirmed Georgia was prepared to negotiate with Russia by withdrawing troops from South Ossetia and create a safe travel zone. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Russia is "ready to put an end to the war," but also accused the UN secretary-general's office of taking Georgia's side. The agreement was confirmed by UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynne Pascoe during a briefing to the Security Council.
The United Nations Security Council held a closed meeting on the issue at 5:30pm New York time.
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. 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.
Later, Russian media reported that Russian Airborne Forces Commander lieutenant general Valeriy Evtukhovich arrived in Abkhazia.
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 soldiers dead, 14 missing (whereabouts unknown).
Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov reported that nine Georgian special services agents were arrested, and they "prepared for terrorist attacks on the territory of the Russian Federation". He said that all nine agents confessed to the allegations.
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. Early Georgian officials said that all moved Georgian troops will be sent to South Ossetia war conflict zone. 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.
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; he did not specify their citizenship.
According to RIA Novosti, the earlier reports about Russians not being allowed to leave Georgia were denied by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that it received such reports from over 360 stranded Russian citizens.
The Georgian Minister of Defense announced that the Georgian military base in Senaki, outside Abkhazia, was captured by Russian armoured vehicles. UN officials B. Lynn Pascoe and Edmond 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 Georgian Interior Minister stated that police stations in Zugdidi had also been seized, which was later confirmed also by AP. According to witnesses and Georgian officials, Abkhazians also took control of the nearby village of Kurga.
According to Georgian officials, the city of Gori— from the Georgian capital—has fallen to Russian forces. Russian troops destroyed an empty military base which Georgian soldiers had previously fled and then took position just outside of the town. The Russian defense ministry denied the information, claiming there were no Russian troops in Gori. Russia's version of events was confirmed by Reuters reporters James Kilner and Margarita Antidze, who said that there is no "trace of troops or military vehicles, it is absolutely deserted".The UK Telegraph reported that it witnessed "Georgians in a full scale disorganised and panicked retreat from Gori". Georgian troops were falling back to defend the capital city of Tbilisi, following their retreat from Gori. 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 and Guardians journalist confirmed that city were bombed.
Since Gori is along Georgia's main highway, its alleged occupation by Russian forces would have cut Georgia's lines of communication and logistics in two. 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, from the capital. But note that several hours later, in the night of August 11 and August 12, reports of a wholesale Russian invasion or even an advance as far as Gori could not be confirmed by U.S. sources, based on on-the-ground intelligence. A U.S. defense official said he didn't see anything that supports that the Russians are in Gori and doesn't know why the Georgians were saying that.). A U.S. military official told CNN that Russian attacks on Georgia – including radars and communication systems – have devastated the country's command and control system to the point where Georgian leaders may not have a clear idea of the situation on the ground.
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.
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.
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." Meanwhile Russian Defence Ministry said it has no plans to attack Tbilisi. "We do not have and have never had any plans to advance on Tbilisi," Interfax agency cites a source in Russian command. Russian troops left the Georgian military base at Senaki, which they took earlier this day.
The Agence France-Presse reported that U.S. 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." The official also said there was no obvious buildup of Russian forces along the border that signaled an intention to invade.
Russia has deployed a ship off the coast of Poti and is reportedly enforcing a 50-mile exclusion zone around the port. Georgia also accused Russia of sending troops into Poti though Russia claimed they had only sent in a reconnaissance mission, which visited city only for a short amount of time.
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 this week; however, 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 telephone consultations with foreign ministers from the other G7 countries.
Vitaly Churkin, Russian representative at the United Nations declared to journalists that Russia would not accept the resolution on South Ossetia as prepared by the EU's presidency. It is not certain whether Churkin made the statement before or during negotiations over the resolution. The document proposes an immediate cease-fire, and restoring the territory of Georgia as it was before the beginning of the conflict.
A report from Interfax cited the Abkhaz defense headquarters as saying Abkhaz troops backed up with Russian paratroopers had launched an operation early in the day to push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge. 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 will begin".
As said by Madina Shavlokhova, Gzt.Ru reporter, she saw ex-commander of Vostok special battalion Sulim Yamadayev in South Ossetia within Vostok battalion. Later it was confirmed by his brother Isa Yamadayev, commander of 5th Company of Vostok. He said that 215 soldiers of Vostok are commanded by Sulim. Early, Sulim Yamadayev was declared as federal wanted for murder after conflict with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. Isa Yamadayev said that he is in Gudermes and later will move to South Ossetia with 100 soldiers.
Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Russia, Colonel General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, said the remaining Georgian troops in South Ossetia were surrendering and leaving the area. Nogovitsyn also said Russia had gained full control over Georgian airspace.
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.
An Associated Press reporter has seen 135 Russian military vehicles, including tanks, driving toward the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgian forces. 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 war has ended. Sergei Bagapsh, the President of Abkhazia said Abkhaz forces had taken the towns of Ashara and Tchalta and were advancing to the Georgian border. He said Abkhazia controls most of the Upper Kodori Gorge. A group of 250 Abkhaz soldiers was reported to have clashed with Georgian forces in the Gorge at the edge of Abkhazia. 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. 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.
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. Georgia has also filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice accusing Russia of carrying out ethnic cleansing in the 2008 conflict and in 1993. The deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma 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.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary-General of NATO, said Georgia remains a candidate for NATO membership in spite of the conflict.
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.
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. Sky News correspondents claimed that tanks were on the streets in Gori, adding that they and Norwegian journalists were robbed at gunpoint, apparently by South Ossetian irregulars. The New York Times said Czech journalists were also robbed and claimed that "the Russian military had firmly occupied this leafy city" of Gori. 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.
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.
Russia, in turn, accused Georgia, saying "[d]espite 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.
U.S. President George W. Bush ordered U.S. military aircraft and naval vessels to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies. At 17:25 UTC the first U.S. C-17 Globemaster aircraft arrived in Tbilisi
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree requiring that Russia seek the permission of Ukraine's armed forces "at least 72 hours prior to [Russian] ships or aircraft crossing the Ukrainian border.
According to RIA News deputy chief of Russian joint staff general-colonel Anatoly Nogovicin says: "With all responsibility I say: we don't have our tanks in Gori. Administration of Gori shameful leave town before we come to it. And we can't set dialogue with anyone of Gori administration.
A BBC correspondent claimed to have heard a series of explosions coming from hills around the town. The UK Telegraph said "South Ossetian irregulars continuing to loot and pillage in Gori and nearby Georgian villages, often with the encouragement of Russian troops".
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.
Although U.S. Secretary of State Rice said "[t]he provisional ceasefire that was agreed to really must go into place. And that means that military activities have to cease" and 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.
According to Interfax, army of Russian Federation gave back control of Gori to army of Georgia. Russian minister of defence general-major Vyacheslav Borisov said: "All previous talks about damaged town and marauding do not correspond to reality". Secretary of National Defence Сouncil of Georgia Alexander Lomaya also agreed with this message and said in live broadcast on "Rustavi-2": "In whole situation in Gori is calm and now Russian army only keeps up the order".
Amid the ruins and tanks in the South Ossetian capital, the remaining residents shared scant goods and wondered why humanitarian aid promised by Russia has not arrived (Brisbane Times)
On August 15:
04:44 GMT – The Russian Federal Immigration Service has officially registered over 17,000 refugees from South Ossetia, who fled to Russia after Georgia’s military assault. 1820 of them are children. (Russia today's timeline of the conflict)
07:55 GMT – Georgians in South Ossetia who fled during last week's fighting will not be allowed to return to their homes in the breakaway republic, according to South Ossetia President Eduard Kokoity. (Russia today's timeline of the conflict)
09:28 GMT - A senior Russian military official said that five U.S. Air Force C-17 planes have landed at Tbilisi airport, bringing unknown cargo to Georgia. (Russia today's timeline of the conflict)
09:40 GMT - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed Georgia for provoking hostilities in its breakaway region of South Ossetia and criticised Western states for backing Tbilisi. (Russia today's timeline of the conflict)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, meets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Russian resort town of Sochi. (BBC's timeline of the conflict)
On Sochi meeting Mr Medvedev says Georgia should sign the ceasefire immediately but he cannot see the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia wanting to be a part of Georgia now. Moscow is not against the idea of having international peacekeeping forces in the two regions, he says, but the people living there only trust Russian peacekeepers. (BBC's timeline of the conflict)
At the same time, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Tbilisi for talks with Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili, in a show of US support for the Georgian government. She brought with her the formal ceasefire agreement brokered by French and current European Union leader Nicolas Sarkozy. It is hoped Mr Saakashvili will sign the agreement. (BBC's timeline of the conflict)
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".
The Georgian Foreign Ministry stated in a press release 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. Russian denied blowing up the bridge.
According to the International Herald Tribune, Russian military units advanced to Igoeti, their closest approach yet 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 roamed the roads to Abasha, near Kutaisi. A large contingent still held Gori, astride the country's most important road.
A Georgian Foreign Ministry statement claimed that Russian forces and separatist units had taken 13 villages in the buffer zone along the border of the separatist region of Abkhazia that was created at the end of the 1992-1993 war over the region. The statement went on to claim that temporary administrations had been set up in those villages. A power plant was also claimed to have been taken in the maneuver. The statement indicated that the effect of this action was to shift the border of Abkhazia toward the Inguri River.
According to the Associated Press, Russian forces were "digging in" at Igoeti, which is about 30 miles west of Tbilisi.
The UK Guardian said that South Ossetian forces had captured Akhalgori while the New York Times reported that Russia had deployed SS-21 Scarab missile launchers to South Ossetia, an accusation that Russia denies.
Russia's president Medvedev nonetheless said Russian troops would begin pulling out of Georgia on Monday.
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.
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, about 40 miles northwest of Tbilisi, 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, near Georgia's border with the rebel province of Abkhazia. As they had the day before, Russian tanks occupied the regional police compound there. In the morning, a convoy of 12 Russian military vehicles, including three tanks, rolled south toward the key Black Sea 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.
According to RIAN, Russian troops were pulling out of the South Ossetian capital Tskinvali.
The Wall Street Journal said Russian forces had seized control of Poti, rendering "another big blow to Georgia's economy. An Azeri news source quoted a Poti port official as saying, "workers were expelled from the port".Russian forces reportedly commandeered the Georgian missile boat, Tbilisi, and sank it.
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. While, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov levelled accusations at NATO of being "unobjective and biased" in maintaining support for a "criminal regime" that is "failing."
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. The Georgian ambassador reported cases of destruction of their civilian and military infrastructure and alleged a Russian backed cyber attack. The Russian ambassador accused other parties of engaging in propaganda.
A claim was made by an official from the Poti port that the Russian military had withdrawn. However, Russian forces have remained in the port as of August 22, "excavating trenches, setting up mortars and blocking a key bridge with armored personnel carriers and trucks.
Despite selective Russian fortification in some areas, some Russian forces were seen heading north, out of the area that the French-brokered cease fire signed between Russia and Georgia demanded Russia leave. There was question as to whether or not Russian forces would have left the area fully by Friday, as they had stated they would since Tuesday. There were reports of Russian forces looting civilian property and of civilian starvation in Gori.
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 cease fire that Sarkozy brokered between Georgia and Russia. 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.
On the 24th of August, with Russian forces still within the port of Poti, a US warship has arrived with supplies and aid.
On the 25th of August, the Deputy Defense Minister of Abkhazia Anatoly Zaitsev claimed that 8000 Georgian troops were massing at the border with Abkhazia.
The Georgian pilotless flying machine is shot down(Southern Ostetii Michael Mindzaev has informed the Ministry of Internal Affairs).
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.