2008 South Ossetia War
The Russia–Georgia War of 2008 (also known as the Five-Day War, 2008 South Ossetia Conflict or August War) was an armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and Russia and the separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other.
The 1991–1992 South Ossetia War between ethnic Georgians and Ossetians had left slightly more than a half of South Ossetia under de facto control of a Russian-backed, internationally unrecognised government. Most ethnic Georgian parts of South Ossetia remained under the control of Georgia (Akhalgori district, and most villages surrounding Tskhinvali), with Georgian, North Ossetian and Russian Joint peacekeeping force present in the territories. A similar situation existed in Abkhazia after the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993). Increasing tensions escalated during the summer months of 2008. On August 5, a Russian spokesman said Russia would defend Russian citizens in South Ossetia if they were attacked.
During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory. Georgia claimed that it was responding to attacks on its peacekeepers and villages in South Ossetia, and that Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country. The Georgian attack caused casualties among Russian peacekeepers, who resisted the assault along with Ossetian militia. Georgia successfully captured most of Tskhinvali within hours. Russia reacted by deploying units of the Russian 58th Army and Russian Airborne Troops into South Ossetia one day later, and launching airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia and military and logistical targets in Georgia proper. Russia claimed these actions were a necessary humanitarian intervention and peace enforcement.
Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces throughout South Ossetia for four days, the heaviest fighting taking place in Tskhinvali. On 9 August Russian naval forces blockaded a part of the Georgian coast and landed marines on the Abkhaz coast. The Georgian Navy attempted to intervene, but was defeated in a naval skirmish. Russian and Abkhaz forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia. Georgian forces put up only minimal resistance, and Russian forces subsequently raided military bases in western Georgia. After five days of heavy fighting in South Ossetia, the Georgian forces retreated, enabling the Russians to enter uncontested Georgia and temporarily occupy the cities of Poti, Gori, Senaki, and Zugdidi.
Through mediation by the French presidency of the European Union, the parties reached a preliminary ceasefire agreement on 12 August, signed by Georgia on 15 August in Tbilisi and by Russia on 16 August in Moscow. Several weeks after signing the ceasefire agreement, Russia began pulling most of its troops out of uncontested Georgia. Russia established buffer zones around Abkhazia and South Ossetia and created checkpoints in Georgia's interior. These forces were eventually withdrawn from uncontested Georgia. However some Western officials insist the troops did not return to the line where they were stationed prior to the beginning of hostilities as described in the peace plan. Russian forces remain stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia under bilateral agreements with the corresponding governments.
A number of incidents occurred in both conflict zones in the months after the war ended.
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