2008 Georgia–Russia crisis

2008 Georgia–Russia crisis

The 2008 Georgia - Russia crisis began on March 6, 2008 when Russia announced that it would no longer participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States economic sanctions imposed on Abkhazia in 1996.cite web
title = Russian Federation Withdraws from Regime of Restrictions Established in 1996 for Abkhazia
publisher = Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia
url = http://www.ln.mid.ru/Brp_4.nsf/arh/79C58F476CAEC4E8C32574040058934C?OpenDocument
date = 2008-03-06
accessdate = 2008-03-06
] The crisis has been linked to the push for Georgia to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan and the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/europeCrisis/idUSL1644289|title=Russia tightens ties with Georgian rebel areas|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-04-16|accessdate=2008-05-14] Tensions in the crisis have been primarily centered around the breakaway state of Abkhazia and increased following the shootdown of a Georgian UAV drone airplane and subsequent buildup of military forces by Russia.


Lifting of CIS sanctions

Responding to Kosovo's recent declaration of independence, Russian officials declared Moscow should “reshape its relations with self-proclaimed republics”.cite news|url=http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/1550_february_20_2008/1550_kosovo.html|title=Separatist leaders give no indication of imminent recognition from Moscow|publisher=The Messenger|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-02-20] Russia responded to these calls for increased ties by lifting Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) sanctions, declaring them "outdated, impeding the socio-economic development of the region, and causing unjustified hardship for the people of Abkhazia". Russia also called on other CIS members to undertake similar steps, but met with protests from Tbilisi and lack of support from the other CIS countries. [ [http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=12565744 Russia expands economic ties with Abkhazia, Georgia angry, CIS idle] . Itar-Tass, 09.04.2008.] Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labour Party of Georgia, warned Abkhazia would be "finally separated from Georgia" and cited the lifting of sanctions as the first sign. [cite news|url=http://www.geotimes.ge/index.php?m=home&newsid=9712|title=Natelashvili: Georgia officially loses Abkhazia|publisher=The Georgian Times|date=2008-03-10|accessdate=2008-03-10] Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, raised similar concerns about the dropping of trade restrictions saying, "That could look like a de facto annexation and that would be a matter of great concern if it were the case."cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSL10832593|title=EU concerned at Russian moves on Abkhazia|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-03-10|accessdate=2008-03-10]

Increased involvement of Russia with breakaway republics in Georgia

Abkhazia and South Ossetia both submitted formal requests for recognition of their independence to Russia, among other countries, and international organizations as a response to the recognition of Kosovo. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hWgpFUH_fh_-0jPdK-9ZJFj_LgMw|title=Georgia's rebel Abkhazia calls for independence recognition|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-03-08|accessdate=2008-03-09] [cite news|url=http://www.tiraspoltimes.com/node/1616|title=Transnistria asks int'l community for recognition as Europe's newest country|publisher=Tiraspol Times|date=2008-02-29|accessdate=2008-03-09] Russia's Duma called a session for March 13 to discuss the issue of recognition in respect to the unrecognized republics in the Former Soviet Union. [cite news|url=http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=25099|title=RF Duma to hold hearing on unrecognized republics on March 13|publisher=PanArmenian Network|date=2008-02-27|accessdate=2008-03-09] Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said the European Union was concerned by what it considered moves by Russia to recognize Abkhazia. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said, there was "a growing preoccupation and anxiety that Russia may be paving the way for recognition of Abkhazia," and stated the EU's support for Georgia's territorial integrity.

The Duma Committee for CIS on March 13th, following a hearing on the unrecognized republics recommended an upgrading of relations with Abkhazia, Transnistria, and South Ossetia including the possibility of recognition. Other recommendations included or reported are the establishment of diplomatic missions in the regions with the foreign ministry to decide whether they are consulates or another type of mission, a removal of import duties on goods created by businesses with Russian shareholders in the regions, and increased humanitarian and economic assistance for Russian passport holders in the regions.cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hagoFjy_a2eH2-_rIyu5skFw1zfw|title=Russian lawmakers call for missions in Georgian rebel regions|publisher=Agence France Presse|date=2008-03-13|accessdate=2008-03-13] [cite news|url=http://www.javno.com/en/world/clanak.php?id=131742|title=Russia Seeks to Deepen Links With Rebel Regions|publisher=Javno|date=2008-03-13|accessdate=2008-03-13] The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily described the hearing as "the launch of a procedure of recognition."

On April 16, 2008, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was going to recognise some documents issued by the separatist authorities and cooperate with them on trade and other issues. Putin also instructed his government to recognise businesses and organisations registered under Abkhaz and South Ossetian law, and to look at providing consular services to residents in the two regions. Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze said Russia's move amounted to a "legalisation of the de facto annexation process" being conducted by Russia and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer urged Russia to reverse the move and called for restraint from Georgia.

Russian officials have warned that a move by Georgia to join NATO could force Russia to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia arguing that since the NATO referendum held in Georgia did not include the breakaway states it showed Georgia intends to join NATO without them. [cite news|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/03/11/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-NATO.php|title=Russia's NATO envoy says offering Georgia membership track would bolster separatists|publisher=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-03-11|accessdate=2008-05-14]

Direct dealings between Russia and Abkhazia on the transfer of Russian citizens in Abkhaz prisons raised concern from Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis since the dealings were done without seeking the permission of the Georgian government. [cite news|url=http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=24&art_id=nw20080423151654178C385867|title=Russia-Abkhazia direct dealing a 'concern'|publisher=Independent Online|date=2008-04-23|accessdate=2008-05-14]

Russia's state-owned Gazprom was reported to be planning oil and gas exploration in Abkhazia beginning July 1, 2008. In addition Abkhazia said international airline flights from Russia could use Sokhumi airport though the International Civil Aviation Organization said such flights would be unacceptable. [cite news|url=http://jamestown.orgf/edm/article.php?article_id=2373168|title=GAZPROM’S MOVE ON ABKHAZIA: MORE REASONS FOR GEORGIA TO BLOCK RUSSIA’S WTO ACCESSION|publisher=The Jamestown Foundation|date=2008-06-23|accessdate=2008-06-27] Officials from Gazprom said there were no plans for oil exploration in Abkhazia, but did say there was a proposal being considered to build a gas pipeline to Abkhazia. [cite news|url=http://uk.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUKL2520611520080625|title=Russia may supply gas to Georgia rebel region|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-06-25|accessdate=2008-06-27] Responding to Russian media reports that sea links between Sochi in Russia and Gagra in Abkhazia would be resumed, Georgia threatened to appeal to international marine organizations over the use of "illegal" routes. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080625/112069796.html|title=Georgia warns Russia, Abkhazia against establishing sea links|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-25|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Georgia drone-downing incidents

The crisis deepened on April 20, 2008 when a Georgian unmanned unarmed aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down over the Abkhazian conflict zone. Abkhazia's separatist administration immediately said its own forces shot down the drone because it was violating Abkhaz airspace and breached ceasefire agreements. Garry Kupalba, deputy defence minister of the unrecognised Republic of Abkhazia, told reporters the drone had been shot down by an "L-39 aircraft of the Abkhaz Air Force". He also identified the drone as an Israeli-made Hermes 450. [ [http://en.rian.ru/world/20080421/105569186.html RIA Novosti - World - Georgian president accuses Russia of aggression ] ]

However, Georgia's defence ministry released video the next day showing what appears to be a Russian MiG-29 shooting down the unarmed Georgian drone. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uyTFPwSXUI The video] , shot from the drone moments before impact, shows a jet launching a missile over what appears to be the Black Sea. According to Georgia the jet came from Gudauta and then returned to Russia. Moscow denied Georgia’s accusation and stressed that none of its planes were in the region at the time. [ [http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/23724 RussiaToday : News : Georgia behind Abkhazia tensions: Putin ] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7358761.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia 'shot down Georgia drone' ] ] Furthermore, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement accusing Georgia of violating 1994 Moscow agreement and United Nations resolutions on Abkhazia by deploying without authorisation a UAV (which also can be used to direct fire) in the in connexion with the incident involving the Georgian UAV on April 20, 2008"), 22.04.2008 ru icon]

On April 24, a closed-door U.N. Security Council emergency session convened at Georgia’s request failed to resolve the dispute, but the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Germany issued a joint statement expressing their concern over Russia’s recent moves in Abkhazia and calling Moscow to reverse or not to implement its decision to legalize ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin called the demand by the Western states "a tall order" and stressed that Russia had no intention of reversing its plans. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7364544.stm Russia criticised over Abkhazia] . The BBC News, 24 April 2008.]

Although Moscow denies that a MiG-class fighter was involved in the incident, the Russian envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has suggested that a MiG-29 belonging to a NATO member might have downed the Georgian spy plane. In response, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has reportedly remarked that "he'd eat his tie if it turned out that a NATO MiG-29 had magically appeared in Abkhazia and shot down a Georgian drone." [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/30/AR2008043003256_2.html Russia's Moves Add To Strains With Georgia.] The Washington Post. May 1, 2008.]

Early in May 2008, both Russian and Abkhaz sides claimed that three more Georgian reconnaissance drones were shot over Abkhazia, and declared that Georgia was preparing to mount an offensive into the region in the near future. Georgia denied these allegations, stating that it was "a provocation aimed at propagandistic support of Russia’s military intervention." [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17759 Abkhaz Claim Two Georgian Drones Downed, Tbilisi Denies.] Civil Georgia. May 5 2008.]

On May 26, 2008, the U.N. mission released the conclusion of its independent investigation into the April 20 incident. It confirmed that the Georgian video footage and radar data were authentic and the jet which destroyed the drone was indeed Russian. The conclusion report said that the jet flew towards the Russian territory after the incident, but it was unclear where the attacker took off, naming the Gudauta base as a possible locality. The mission also noted that “a reconnaissance mission by a military aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, constituted “military action” and therefore contravened the ceasefire accord. [ [http://www.unomig.org/data/other/080526_unomig_report.pdf Report of UNOMIG on te incident of 20 April involving the downing of a Georgian unmanned aierial vehicle over the zone of conflict] . UNOMIG. 2008-05-26.] Georgia hailed the report, [ [http://www.civilgeorgia.ge/eng/article.php?id=18393 UN Probe Says Russian Jet Downed Georgian Drone] . Civil Georgia. 2008-05-26.] but Russia dismissed it. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18397 Russian Air Force Official Denies UN Probe Claim on Drone Downing] . Civil Georgia. 2008-05-26.]

Georgia had officially suspended drone flights over Abkhazia in early June, but Abkhazia accuses Georgia of continuing to fly drones in the region. [cite news|url=http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2008_Georgia-Russia_crisis&action=edit&section=4|title=RGeorgia denies reports of new spy drone flights|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-18|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Military buildup in Abkhazia

The UAV incident triggered a new rise in tensions between the two countries. Russia accused Georgia of trying to exploit the NATO support to solve the Abkhazia problem by force and of sending its troops in the Georgia-controlled upper Kodori Valley in northeast Abkhazia. However, the U.N. monitors in Abkhazia stated earlier in April they did not observe any military buildup on either side of the demilitarization line. On April 29, Russia announced it would increase its military in the region and threatened to retaliate militarily to Georgia’s efforts. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, it has increased the number of its peacekeepers in Abkhazia to 2,542 peacekeepers, which is 458 short of the 3,000 limit set by agreement. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17786 Russia Gives Some Details on Troop Increase in Abkhazia.] Civil Georgia. May 9 2008.] The Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze said Georgia would treat any additional troops in Abkhazia as aggressors while President Saakashvili, in his televised address, pledged to pursue only a peaceful line in the conflict areas and called upon the Abkhaz and Ossetians to unite with Georgia in defying attempts by “outrageous and irresponsible external force to trigger bloodshed”. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17722 Saakashvili Calls Abkhazians, Ossetians to Jointly Resist External Force.] Civil Georgia. April 29 2008.] The European Union also urged caution, saying to increase troop numbers would be "unwise" given current tensions, while the United States has called on Russia “to reconsider some provocative steps” it had taken in respect of Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17780 Russia Takes ‘Provocative Steps’ with Georgia – U.S.] Civil Georgia. May 7 2008.]

Georgia suspended the talks regarding Russia's admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and threatened to veto the process. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7374546.stm Georgia-Russia tensions ramped up.] . The BBC News. April 30 2008.] Georgian officials claim Russia is changing facts on the ground in order to make it impossible for NATO foreign ministers to give Georgia a Membership Action Plan when they meet in December 2008. [ [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120950442699754031.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Russia-Georgia Tensions Flare Up] . "The Wall Street Journal". April 30, 2008.] Russian Cossacks and North Caucasian volunteers declared their readiness to fight Georgia in the case of a renewed confrontation in Abkhazia. [ru icon [http://www.pravda.ru/news/world/former-ussr/30-04-2008/266070-abkhazi-0 Казаки и кавказские горцы готовы помочь Абхазии.] "Pravda.ru". April 30 2008.] On May 6 2008, the Georgian state minister for reintegration Temur Iakobashvili said Georgia was on the verge of war with Russia. [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17775 State Minister: Georgia ‘Very Close’ to War.] Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2008-05-06.] Georgia requested from the U.N. mission to inquire into the number and deployment of the Russian peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia. Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the chief U.N. observer "agreed that actions by the Russian side do not contradict basic agreements on the conduct of the peacekeeping operation", but the mission later responded to this statement, declaring that it "has no authority to pronounce on the conformity between the CIS peacekeeping operation in the Zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict and CIS rules." [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17791 UNOMIG Denies Military Buildup in Abkhaz Conflict Zone.] Civil Georgia. May 8 2008.]

The Abkhaz foreign minister Sergei Shamba asked Russia to place Abkhazia under Russia's military control in exchange for security guarantees. [ [http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=12649152&PageNum=0 Abkhazia seeks security guarantees from Russia.] Itar-Tass. May 6 2008.] Sergei Bagapsh, president of Abkhazia's separatist administration, said he was in favor of Russia establishing a military base in Abkhazia and called for the signing of a military cooperation agreement with Russia modeled on the Taiwan Relations Act. [cite news|url=http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/1778751|title=Rebels offer Russia military base|publisher=Television New Zealand|date=2008-05-14|accessdate=2008-05-14] Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian Air Forces said if such a decision was made it would "promote the implementation of air defense tasks" and noted Russia has similar cooperation with Armenia.

[cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17836|title=Russian Air Defense Chief on Base in Abkhazia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-05-15|accessdate=2008-05-16] On May 16, 2008 Yuri Baluevsky, chief of general staff of the Russian armed forces denied Russia had any plans to build a military base in Abkhazia. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=17848|title=Russian Chief of Staff Denies Plans of Military Base in Abkhazia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-05-16|accessdate=2008-05-16] On May 18, 2008 Georgia detained five Russian peacekeepers along the administrative border with the Abkhazia region claiming that their armoured personnel carrier collided with a Georgian woman's car, in the town of Zugdidi. The peacekeepers were later released. Alexander Diordiev, a Russian peacekeeping official, confirmed the detention of the Russian soldiers but said there was no collision and instead that Georgians provoked the peacekeepers in an attempt to discredit the Russian presence. [cite news|url=http://mwcnews.net/content/view/22566/0/|title=Georgia: Russia 'bolstering forces'|publisher=Media With Conscience|date=2008-05-19|accessdate=2008-05-19] According to Diordiev peacekeepers were redeploying hardware near the village of Urta on the night of when Georgian law-enforcement officers blocked the road to the peacekeepers' armored personnel carrier and fuel tanker truck. Then, a damaged Volga car approached the scene and the Georgian police claimed that the car had been damaged by the Russian peacekeepers. Diordiev said that force was used against the peacekeepers. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080518/107679389.html|title=Incident with peacekeepers in Georgia a provocation - command|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-05-18|accessdate=2008-05-19] A statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry issued on May 19, 2008 has compared the Georgians’ actions to those of “true street bandits” saying The Georgians used “crude physical force,” striking one peacekeeper in the head and taking two to the police station. According to the statement only after the intervention of the Collective Forces for the Support of Peace command and the UN observation mission were the Russian peacekeepers released. Diordiev stated that the Georgians were informed in advance that the equipment would be moved. [cite news|url=http://www.kommersant.com/p-12551/r_527/Russian-Georgian_relations/|title=Foreign Min. Condemns Abkhazian Incident|publisher=Kommersant|date=2008-05-20|accessdate=2008-05-20]

On May 19, 2008 Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that over the weekend Moscow's military leadership authorized peacekeepers to conduct armed operations on their own behalf if necessary. Sergei Shamba, the Abkhaz foreign minister, said the report was "credible." [cite news|url=http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1010/42/362875.htm|title=Tensions Heated for Abkhaz Leader Visit|publisher=The Moscow Times|date=2008-05-20|accessdate=2008-05-20]

On May 21, 2008 automatic weapons fire and grenade blasts were reported near the village of Kurcha. A passenger bus is also reported to have come under fire. Russian peacekeepers and UN observers were called to the scene of the violence. [cite news|url=http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=12702852&PageNum=0|title=RF peacekeepers in Abkhazia report automatic fire in Georgia|publisher=ITAR-TASS|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21] A deputy Georgian interior minister told journalists two buses of passengers going to vote in the Georgian elections were blown up and that the injured were being taken to Zugdidi hospital. [cite news|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/21/europe/EU-GEN-Georgia-Abkhazia.php|title= Heavy gunfire breaks out along border between Georgia, Abkhazia|publisher=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21] Abkhaz officials claimed the attacks happened in Georgian territory, not Abkhaz. Two Georgians were reported to be those injured in the attack. [cite news|url=http://www.euronews.net/index.php?page=info&article=488452&lng=1|title= Heavy gunfire breaks out along border between Georgia, Abkhazia|publisher=EuroNews|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21] Some reports said the Inguri Bridge, the only legal crossing-point between the breakaway region of Abkhazia and Samegrelo, was blocked by Abkhaz paramilitary units and that Bus crossing has also been banned. Dozens of local residents assembled in front of the administrative office of the district to protest the decision. [cite news|url=http://www.geotimes.ge/index.php?m=home&newsid=10855|title=Separatists block bridge|publisher=The Georgian Times|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21] Georgian officials accused Abkhazia of the attacks and preventing Georgians from voting in the legislative elections, which Abkhaz officials denied instead saying Georgia was responsible for the attack and Georgians in Abkhaiza were not interested in voting. Abkhazia said Russian peacekeepers were sent to the border to prevent further violence. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080521/108015785.html|title=Conflicting reports coming from Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21]

Georgia's Foreign Ministry has sent a protest note to the CIS secretariat demanding some Russian troops and armaments be immediately withdrawn from Abkhazia saying that according to the UN, an airborne battalion, 50 BMD-2 airborne combat vehicles, and two artillery batteries have been deployed in Abkhazia. The ministry said this was out of line with a 1995 resolution of the CIS presidents' council. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080521/108030559.html|title=Georgia demands withdrawal of 'illegal' Russian troops from Abkhazia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21]

On June 15, 2008 media reports circulated saying Russia had set up a military base near the village of Agubedia in Abkhazia's Ochamchir district and had deployed heavy armor there. Russia's Defense Ministry denied the report. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080615/110553913.html|title=Russia rejects reports of new military base in rebel Abkhazia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-15|accessdate=2008-07-11] The Georgian-backed Abkhaz government said on June 17, 2008 that Russia refuse to allow UN observers in the area. [cite news|url=http://news.trendaz.com/index.shtml?show=news&newsid=1225550&lang=EN|title=Russian Military Keeps UN Military Observers Out of Georgian Village: Abkhazia Legitimate Government|publisher=Trend News|date=2008-06-17|accessdate=2008-07-11]

On June 17, 2008 a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that Tbilisi's proposal to review the status of the peacekeeping operation in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone could "unfreeze" the conflict, while the situation in the Caucasus as a whole could "slip out of control." [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080617/110846941.html|title=Moscow warns against pulling peacekeepers out of Abkhazia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-17|accessdate=2008-07-11]

Georgian police said on June 18, 2008 that they detained four Russian peacekeepers and a military truck in the conflict zone between Georgia and its breakaway Abkhazia, accusing the peacekeepers of transporting ammunition and shells without coordination with the Caucasus states. Georgia's Interior Ministry said Tuesday that the peacekeepers were transporting 35 crates of ammunition, including guided missiles and anti-tank mines, a violation of agreements in the region. Russia's Defense Ministry said the arrest was "in violation of all regulatory norms in the buffer zone." The peacekeepers were released after nine hours of interrogation. [cite news|url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-06/18/content_8394219.htm|title=Four Russian peacekeepers arrested in Georgia set free|publisher=Xinhua|date=2008-06-18|accessdate=2008-07-11] Lt. Gen. Alexander Burutin, a deputy head of the General Staff, on June 19, 2008 compared the detention to a "bandit attack" warning Russian peacekeepers had every right to use their weapons and that future attempts at detaining peacekeepers may result in bloodshed. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080619/111333707.html|title=Russia warns Georgia detaining peacekeepers may end in bloodshed|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-19|accessdate=2008-07-12] A Russian military expert commenting on the detentions predicted war between Georgia and Abkhazia if such actions didn't stop. [cite news|url=http://news.trendaz.com/index.shtml?show=news&newsid=1227660&lang=EN|title=Russian Experts Forecast War between Georgia and Abkhazia in Sept|publisher=Trend News|date=2008-06-19|accessdate=2008-07-12] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would not tolerate such actions against peacekeepers. [cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL2144306520080621?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0|title=Russian president backs peacekeepers in Georgia|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-06-21|accessdate=2008-07-12]

The Abkhaz government claimed Georgian special forces were responsible for a bombing in Abkhazia on June 30, 2008 that wounded two in Sukhumi and another in Gagra the day before which wounded six. Abkhazia closed off traffic from Georgia in response to the bombing. [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/01/terrorism.georgia|title=Abkhazia closes border with Georgia after blast|publisher=The Guardian|date=2008-07-01|accessdate=2008-07-12]

May and June Events in South Ossetia

Georgia's foreign minister, Yekaterina Tkeshelashvili, said on May 15, 2008 that Georgia would regard any increase in Russian peacekeepers in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia as a "gross encroachment on Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity". [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080515/107490144.html|title=Georgia warns Russia against sending more troops to S.Ossetia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-05-15|accessdate=2008-05-19]

In South Ossetia three explosions were heard near the village of Eredvi with one blast meters away from a line Georgian military vehicles. South Ossetian authorities have called the blasts a "provocation". [cite news|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/24850|title=Blasts rock Georga-South Ossetia conflict zone|publisher=Russia Today|date=2008-05-16|accessdate=2008-05-16] Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia accused the South Ossetian administration of being responsbile, saying they had taken up “tactics of terrorism.” [cite news|url=http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/1608_may_19_2008/1608_spy.html|title=‘Georgian spy’ held in Russia|publisher=The Messenger|date=2008-05-19|accessdate=2008-05-19]

On May 20, 2008 Taimuraz Mamsurov, president of the south Russian republic of North Ossetia, asked foreign ambassadors for their support in uniting the province with South Ossetia. Georgian Ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili said such unification would contravene international law. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080520/107888655.html|title=Russia's N.Ossetia wants unification with Georgia's S.Ossetia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-05-20|accessdate=2008-05-20] South Ossetia's President Eduard Kokoity hailed Mamsurov’s pronouncement saying “South Ossetia’s main goal is unification with North Ossetia in the Russian Federation. We make no secret of this in front of the international community.” Both have suggested an interim period where South Ossetia is recognized as independent and then formally incorporated into Russia through a referendum. [cite news|url=http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2373078|title=MOSCOW ENCOURAGES NORTH-SOUTH OSSETIAN IRREDENTISM AGAINST GEORGIA|publisher=The Jamestown Foundation|date=2008-05-21|accessdate=2008-05-21]

On the night of June 14 into the early morning of June 15 of 2008 mortar fire and an exchange of gunfire were reported between South Ossetian and Georgian forces. South Ossetia reported that mortar fire was launched from Georgian-controlled villages on Tshinkvali, the South Ossetian capital, and that their forces came under fire from Georgian forces on the outskirts of the capital. Georgia denies firing the first shot claiming instead that South Ossetia had attacked the Georgian-controlled villages. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18548|title=One Dies, Four Injured in S.Ossetia Shootout|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-06-16|accessdate=2008-06-27] Russian, Georgian, and North Ossetia peacekeepers as well as OSCE monitors went to the site of the clashes however it was not determined who fired the first shot. One person was killed and four wounded during the violence. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jyl-ia34FGB728ru_85p2zz_v8IQ|title=Crossfire kills one in Georgian breakaway region|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-06-15|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Russian spy accusation

On May 16, 2008 it was reported that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed to have intercepted a spy working for Georgia who was trying to help rebels in Southern Russia. [cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL1617144720080516|title=Russia says catches Georgian spy: Interfax|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-05-16|accessdate=2008-05-16] The alleged agent was identified as Ramzan Turkoshvili, a Georgian-born Russian citizen, who the FSB said was recruited by Georgian intelligence officers working with Zelimkhan Khangashvili accused of being involved in a 2004 attack in Russia's Ingushetia province that left nearly 100 people dead, many of them police. The official also claimed Georgian intelligence paid Turkoshvili to establish contacts with militants in the North Caucasus and help Georgia finance them, ease their movement and gather information about potential recruits among Russian servicemen and officials. The FSB cast the detention as proof of Georgian support for militants operating in Russia's restive North Caucasus, including Chechnya, and confirms that Georgia's security service was "participating in disruptive terrorist activities" in the region. Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili denied the accusations and called it "a continuation of Russia's policy of provocation toward Georgia". [cite news|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/16/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-Georgia.php|title= Russia detains man accused of spying for Georgia|publisher=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-05-16|accessdate=2008-05-16]

Russian railway troops in Abkhazia

On May 31 2008, Russia sent its railway troops, allegedly unarmed, to repair a railway line in Abkhazia. Georgia condemned the move as an act of aggression aimed at preparing a full-scale intervention. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7429354.stm Russia army unit sent to Abkhazia] . BBC News. 2008-05-31.] The US Department of State also said that it was "dismayed" by the deployment. [ [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav060208a.shtml GEORGIA: "HUMANITARIAN" RUSSIAN RAILWAY TROOPS IN ABKHAZIA CAUSE FOR FRESH ALARM] . EurasiaNet. 2008-05-31.] On June 2, 2008, Temur Mzhavia, chairman of the exiled Supreme Council of Abkhazia, claimed that Russia plans to recognize Abkhazia on September 27, when the Abkhaz celebrate a “victory day”, but Vyacheslav Kovalenko, Russia’s ambassador to Georgia, dismissed such claims as “fabrications”. [ [http://www.kommersant.com/p899218/Abkhazia_Georgia_railway_troops/ Abkhazia Built Into Russia] . Kommersant. June 03, 2008.]

The new Russian troops' arrival in Abkhazia preceded by a few days a planned meeting between the presidents Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia on the sidelines of a CIS summit in Saint Petersburg on June 6-7. Saakashvili said he would hold a phone conversation with Medvedev on June 3 to discuss the deployment of Russian engineering units in Abkhazia. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18455 Russian, Georgian Presidents to Hold Phone Talks - Minister Says] . Civil Georgia. June 2, 2008.] On June 3, Nato's secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer accused Russia of breaching Georgia's sovereignty by sending in military railway personnel and demanded their withdrawal. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7434516.stm Nato warns Russia over Abkhazia] . BBC. June 3, 2008.]

On June 7, 2008 the Russia's defense minister said the railroad troops would leave within two months after they've finished work on the railroad. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080607/109500681.html|title=Russia says rail troops to leave Abkhazia within 2 months - 2|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-07|accessdate=2008-06-07] Moscow claimed to have found an anti-tank mine on June 13 on the section of the Abkhaz railway, which was being repaired by the Russian Railway Forces which Russia claimed was an attempt at carrying out a "subversive-terrorist act" against the Russian Federation’s Railway Forces. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18547|title=Moscow Claims ‘Terrorist Act’ against its Railway Troops Thwarted in Abkhazia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-06-13|accessdate=2008-06-14]

On June 18, 2008, a military official announced Russian railway troops had increased their security, following two blasts on the railway near Sokhumi, suspecting the bombings were targeted at their forces. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080618/111172256.html|title=Security enhanced for Russian railway troops in Abkhazia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-06-18|accessdate=2008-06-27] Malkhaz Akishbaya, chairman of the Georgian-backed Abkhazia exile Government, claimed the two blasts were directed at legalizing the presence of Russian railway troops. [cite news|url=http://news.trend.az/index.shtml?show=news&newsid=1227559&lang=EN|title=Sukhumi Blast is Provocation: Chair of Abkhazia Government|publisher=Trend News|date=2008-06-19|accessdate=2008-06-27]

On June 23, 2008 Sergey Bagapsh said the railways repaired by the Russian railway troops would be used to transport construction material for a sports complex to be used in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. [cite news|url=http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/1633_june_24_2008/1633_railroad.html|title=Abkhaz leader: New railways for Sochi Olympics|publisher=The Messenger|date=2008-06-24|accessdate=2008-06-27]

On July 24, 2008 the Russian Defense Ministry said Russian railroad troops had almost finished repair work on the railway in Abkhazia and would withdraw in early August. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry said there would be a ceremony for resuming the operation of the fixed section at the end of July, and the troops would return to their bases in Russia after taking part in the ceremony. [cite news|url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/24/content_8764242.htm|title=Russian railroad troops to withdraw from Abkhazia in early August|publisher=Xinhua|date=2008-07-24|accessdate=2008-07-25] Russian railroad troops finished pulling out of Abkhazia on July 30, 2008. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5g3Q_tL5k_HpmUNQNqCEbSsfO9MHw|title=Russia pulls some troops out of Abkhazia|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-07-30|accessdate=2008-08-10]

July 2008 events

A South Ossetian police official was killed in a bomb attack on July 3, 2008 and was followed by an intense exchange of gun fire. Later a convoy carrying Dimitri Sanakoev, the head of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration was attacked and three of his security guards injured. On July 4, 2008 two people were killed as a result of shelling and shooting in Tskhinvali and some villages in South Ossetia. The South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported that a South Ossetian militiaman had been killed and another injured in an attack on a police post in the village of Ubia and this was followed by the shelling of Tskhinvali, which resulted in the death of one man. The shelling involved the use of mortars and grenade launchers, they said. Georgia claimed it had opened fire in response to the shelling by South Ossetian militiamen of Georgian-controlled villages. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18677|title=Two Killed in Overnight Shelling in S.Ossetia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-04|accessdate=2008-07-13] South Ossetia called up military reservists and put its security forces on alert in response to the clashes. The head of Russia's peacekeeping troops in the region was quoted as saying extra soldiers could be deployed if the stand-off worsened. [cite news|url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080704.wgeorgia0704/BNStory/International/home|title=Russia accuses Georgia of open aggression|publisher=The Globe and Mail|date=2008-07-04|accessdate=2008-07-13] South Ossetia warned it would move heavy weaponry into the conflict zone with Georgia if attacks on the republic were not stopped. [cite news|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/27009|title=South Ossetia threatens Georgia with retaliation|publisher=Russia Today|date=2008-07-04|accessdate=2008-07-13]

On July 6, 2008 a bomb in Gali, Abkhazia killed four people and injured six. Abkhazia said the bombing and others before it were part of a campaign of "state terrorism" carried out by Georgian spies and called on G8 countries, the UN and the OSCE to stop it. Abkhazia also cut off all contact with Georgia in response to the bombing. [cite news|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/27084|title=South Ossetia threatens Georgia with retaliation|publisher=Russia Today|date=2008-07-08|accessdate=2008-07-13] Georgia condemned the bombings and blamed them on Russia, claiming the attacks were being done in the interest of a prolonged presence of Russian peacekeepers. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jooPIptpZ8OtHysOOA4COdgk1DXQ|title=Georgian government condemns Abkhazia blasts, blames Moscow|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-07-07|accessdate=2008-07-13]

The Georgian Ministry of Defense said on July 7, 2008 a group of up to ten militiamen were apparently prevented from placing mines on a Georgian-controlled by-pass road linking the Georgian villages in the north of Tskhinvali with the rest of Georgia. The Georgian side opened fire and the group was forced to retreat towards the nearby South Ossetian-controlled village. On July 8, 2008 South Ossetia reported that it had detained four “officers from the artillery brigade of the Georgian Ministry of Defense” close to the village of Okona in the Znauri district at the administrative border the night before. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18718|title=S.Ossetia Claims it Holds Four Georgian Soldiers|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-08|accessdate=2008-07-13] Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told police to prepare an operation to free the four soldiers, but they were released before an operation was launched. [cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSL08676780|title=Georgia plans operation to free detained soldiers|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-07-08|accessdate=2008-07-13]

Russian military jets flew into the Georgian airspace through South Ossetia on July 9 2008 and then returned back to Russia. The next day, the Russian authorities confirmed the flight and said, in an official statement, the fighters were sent to prevent Georgia from launching an operation to free the four soldiers detained by South Ossetia. [cite news|url=http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/1646_july_11_2008/1646_russia_overflights.html|title=Russia says it sent warplanes over South Ossetia to ‘prevent bloodshed’|publisher=The Messenger|date=2008-07-11|accessdate=2008-07-13] In response, Georgia recalled its ambassador to Moscow "for consultations", stating that it was "outraged by Russia's agressive policies." [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18751 Georgia Recalls Ambassador from Moscow] . Civil Georgia. 2008-07-10.]

The incident coincided with the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tbilisi where she pledged the U.S. support for Georgia's bid to join NATO. She said that granting NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia would help resolve the Abkhaz and South Ossetian problems. The statement caused a negative outcry in Moscow: the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov responded, during his meeting with the de facto Abkhaz president Sergey Bagapsh, that Georgia’s NATO integration process "may undermine the conflict resolution" process. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18749 May Undermine Conflict Resolution] . Civil Georgia. 2008-07-10.] On July 11, 2008 Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the conflict zones. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gs9VScoLa74Nu8tNFmB4QOXKJ42Q|title=Georgia seeks urgent UN meeting on tension with Russia|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-07-12|accessdate=2008-07-13]

A South Ossetian envoy on July 11, 2008 declared that South Ossetia was capable of repelling any attack by Georgia without help from Moscow and also said the mainly Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone should be increased. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080711/113784564.html|title=S.Ossetia could repel Georgia attack without Russian help - envoy|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-07-11|accessdate=2008-07-13] The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement the same day that measures have been taken “to increase combat readiness” of the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Abkhazia. It also said that security had been tightened at the Russian peacekeepers’ base camps, observation posts and checkpoints, and “additional training” of the peacekeeping personnel had been conducted “to explain regulations of use of firearm while on duty.” [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18758|title=Russian MoD: Troops on Combat Readiness in Abkhazia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-11|accessdate=2008-07-13] Nika Rurua, Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, warned Georgia would shoot down Russia’s military aircraft should they appear in its airspace again; and an initiative was considered to this effect. It was decided instead to appeal to the world community on the matter. Media reports published information about Russia’s alleged plans to seize the Kodori Gorge specifying that the details of the operation were worked out by Russian high-ranking military officials, with Abkhazia’s President Sergey Bagapsh. Russia is reportedly planning to respond by revealing the details of a planned military invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia to release their detained officers. [cite news|url=http://www.kommersant.com/p911803/Georgia_and_Russia_are_teetering_on_the_brink_of_war/|title=“Georgia Is Able to Shoot Down Violators”|publisher=Kommersant|date=2008-07-12|accessdate=2008-07-13]

On July 14, 2008 Georgia's deputy defense minister Batu Kutelia said Georgia plans to expand its military more than 15 percent to 37,000 soldiers following events in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The additional manpower would be used to defend Georgia's airspace and the Black Sea coast. [cite news|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=a3AYHBQLQAt4&refer=europe|title=Georgia to Expand Military to Counter Russian Threat in Regions |publisher=Bloomberg|date=2008-07-14|accessdate=2008-07-17] On July 15, 2008 the U.S. and Russia both began exercises in the Caucasus though Russia denies the timing was intentional. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hl2IaaI7mzhpleTStjpbg4qAxt2A|title=Russia, US hold rival war games in restive Caucasus: officials|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-07-15|accessdate=2008-07-17] The Russian exercises included training to support peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia claimed the exercises were a manifestation of Russian aggression against it. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080716/114129465.html|title=Russian paratroopers arrive in North Caucasus for combat drills|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-07-16|accessdate=2008-07-17] Also on July 15, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were said to be planning to join the Union of Russia and Belarus, a spokesman for the Union said both regions have talked about joining the Union, but that they would need to be recognized as independent and become observers before they could join the Union as members. [cite news|url=http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/27526|title=Georgia’s breakaway republics reveal plan to join Russia|publisher=Russia Today|date=2008-07-15|accessdate=2008-07-17] [cite news|url=http://www.regnum.ru/english/1027897.html|title=Spokesman for Russia-Belarus Union State: Georgia can join the Union State as well|publisher=Regnum News Agency|date=2008-07-15|accessdate=2008-07-17] Georgia said on July 16, 2008 that if Russia did not accept a German plan for resolving the conflict Georgia would be forced to "unilaterally bring an influence to bear on the deployment of armed forces in Abkhazia." [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080716/114113148.html|title=Tbilisi pins hopes on German plan to resolve Abkhaz conflict|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-07-16|accessdate=2008-07-17]

According to media reports, on July 19, 2008 a Georgian police post was attacked by Abkhaz militias using grenades, one of the militiamen died from a grenade exploding accidentally. Abkhaz officials condemned the reports as false. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18818|title=Georgian TV Reports: Police Post Attacked on Abkhaz Border|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-20|accessdate=2008-07-21] Georgian media also reported on July 19 that a battalion of Russian troops had moved into the lower Kodori Gorge. [cite news|url=http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews+articleid_2413551~title_Georgian-TV-Company.html|title=Georgian TV Company Alleges Russian Battalion Brought into Abkhazia|publisher=iStockAnalyst|date=2008-07-19|accessdate=2008-07-21] Georgia's Defense Ministry claimed Russian troops encroached on Mamison and Roksky passes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia respectively and are in combat alert. Abkhazia's Foreign Minister said no new troops were brought in over the quota. [cite news|url=http://www.kommersant.com/p914485/Georgia_Troops_Russia/|title=Georgia Raises Alarm|publisher=Kommersant|date=2008-07-21|accessdate=2008-07-21]

A U.N. report issued July 23, 2008 on the period between April and July 2008 noted discrepancies with the Georgian account of a shooting in Khurcha on the day of Georgian elections. In particular the report noted the way the incident was filmed suggested the attack was anticipated. The report said reconnaissance flights by Georgia were a violation of the ceasefire, but said the shooting down of those fights also constituted a breach of the ceasefire. Concerning a military buildup by Georgia the UN report said it found no evidence of a buildup but noted observers were denied access to certain areas of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia including the Kvabchara Valley. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18857|title=UN Observers on Polling Day Abkhaz Shooting|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-29|accessdate=2008-07-30]

On July 28, 2008 a spokesman for the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia said South Ossetian forces had blocked peacekeepers and OSCE observers from the village of Cholibauri which is close to where Georgia says South Ossetia is building fortifications.cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18854|title=Georgians fire on South Ossetian villages - S.Ossetian president|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-07-29|accessdate=2008-07-30] On July 29, 2008 South Ossetia said two South Ossetian villages had been fired on by Georgian forces in response to South Ossetia reinforcing its positions on the perimeter of the conflict zone. [cite news|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080729/115197261.html|title=Georgia reports Shootout in S.Ossetia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-29|accessdate=2008-07-30] Georgia said the same day that Georgian posts on the Sarabuki heights were attacked by South Ossetian forces with no injuries reported.

At the end of July South Ossetia confirmed it had been setting up military fortifications in the conflict zone and acknowledged this violated previous agreements, but claimed it was in response to similar actions by Georgian forces. [cite news|url=http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18867|title=S.Ossetia Confirms Setting Up Military Fortifications|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-07-30|accessdate=2008-08-10]


This crisis gave rise on August 7, 2008, to a war involving Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Russia.

Post War Events

On October 3rd (Tskhinvali time) a car filled with explosives blew up near Russian headquarters in Tskhinvali, capital city of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia. Seven Russian peacekeepers were killed and seven others wounded. [ [http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnTRE4924SO.html] ] The Russians accused the Georgians of a "Terrorist Attack", claiming that just before the blast, the Russians arrested four Georgians and seized light firearms and two grenades. "The cars and the detained people were escorted to Tskhinvali. During the search of one of the cars, an explosive device equivalent to some 20kg of TNT went off," a military spokesman told Interfax. The explosion caused devastation, shattering windows 350ft away and sending black smoke into the sky. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/04/georgia.russia] ] The Russian Defense Ministry also views the incident "as a deliberately planned terrorist act aimed at preventing the sides from carrying out the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan," the ministry said in a statement. [ [http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnTRE4924SO.html] ] The South Ossetian leader accused Georgia of State Terrorism saying "The latest terrorist attacks in South Ossetia prove that Georgia has not renounced its policy of state terrorism. We have no doubt that these terrorist acts are the work of Georgia special forces. [ [http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081004/NEWS03/810040325/1013/NEWS03] ] The Georgian government blamed Russia for the incident. "If provocations and tensions are in the interest of anyone, it's the Russians," Shota Utiashvili, the Interior Ministry spokesman, told the Reuters news agency, "They are doing everything not to pull troops out within the set term". [ [http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081004/NEWS03/810040325/1013/NEWS03] ] The French Presidency of the European Union condemned the attack. [ [http://www.citizen.co.za/index/article.aspx?pDesc=1,1,22&type=top&File=081003195658.4p90gpn0.xml] ]

On October 4th South Ossetia's Interior Ministry said a total of 11 people had been killed, including civilians. Colonel Ivan Petrik, the Russian "peacekeepers' " chief of staff, had been killed in his office. Russia's RIA news agency quoted the commander of Russia's forces in Georgia, Major-General Marat Kulakhmetov, as saying they had stopped two cars on Friday in the village of Ditsa, in a Russian-controlled buffer zone around South Ossetia, and escorted them to Tskhinvali. As they were being searched, a bomb went off. Georgia denied the charges, saying it would have had [? hard] to find Ossetians to take the car into the area under Russian control. "I don't understand the logic. How could the Georgian secret service plan that the Ossetians would steal the car and that the Russians would take it to their base. Are we geniuses or what?" Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said."The Georgians did not take any car to Ossetian territory or drive it to the Russian base." [ http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnTRE49320Z.html]

See also

* Georgia-Russia relations
* Controversy over Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence
* Controversy over Kosovo independence
* Frozen conflict
* Georgia and the European Union


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