Exactly 12 years ago, in August 2008 between Russia and Georgia there was an armed conflict which nearly escalated into full-scale war. In the night of 8 August, Georgia started shelling and bombing the capital of South Ossetia — Tskhinvali, and later, Georgian troops crossed the demarcation line with the breakaway Republic. At that time South Ossetia and Abkhazia was considered as the zones of frozen conflict since 1992, national autonomy seeking independence from Tbilisi in Soviet times, but to no avail. In South Ossetia were Georgian and Russian peacekeeping forces, but by 2008, after coming to power in Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, relations between the countries deteriorated, which led to the transition of the conflict into a “hot” phase. “” remembered the events of those days.

The situation in the troubled region with a long conflict, which is rooted in the times of the Russian Empire, began to deteriorate in the spring of 2008. On March 6 Moscow has lifted a ban on economic relations with Abkhazia and introduced to his troops. 16 April 2008 the Russian foreign Ministry officially announced that it will build with the Autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia a special relationship. And the next day to the border of South Ossetia began to pull Georgian troops.


Since the beginning of summer 2008 in Abkhazia settled a Russian military contingent. The grounds were reports about the concentration of Georgian forces on the borders of the disputed territories. In addition, in Moscow considered that the flight of Georgian reconnaissance aircraft over the republics is a violation of the Moscow agreement on ceasefire and disengagement of forces of 14 may 1994.

On 30 April the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation issued a decree “On measures on strengthening of the CIS collective forces for peacekeeping in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict”, which allowed to transfer into Abkhazia forces, including rail. Because of this, Tbilisi has accused Moscow of preparing the annexation.

In July, it became clear that hostilities can not be avoided. Tskhinvali and Tbilisi began to accuse each other of shelling border villages, including with the use of heavy weapons. South Ossetia showed that the concentration of Georgian troops coming across the border. In early August under regular shelling from the Georgian side began the evacuation of civilians in Tskhinvali. On 6 August it became known that from Abkhazia to South Ossetia moving column of Russian military equipment, but it did not.


00:06 Georgia began intensive shelling of Tskhinvali, and at 01:38 stormed the city in all directions with tanks. At 07:23 ground part of the supported aircraft, and at 09:23 Georgian media announced the capture of Tskhinvali. The commander of Georgian peacekeepers Mamuka Kurashvili called the military operation in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict “establish constitutional order in South Ossetia”. He also called for Russian peacekeepers stationed in the conflict zone, not to intervene in the situation.

“it Was a full feeling that only shoot at our house. Beating and beating on it” — later told the eyewitness of those events to the edition “Caucasian knot”. According to her, people managed to escape and wait out the shelling in the basement only due to the fact that men are under incessant artillery fire to get out, shut the gas valve and began to extinguish the ground floor fire. “The main unspoken question was: "why Russia can’t protect us, because we too, its citizens?" I Said that our South Ossetian army and the second will not stand against the Georgian parts. Remembered what terrible atrocities did the Georgians in South Ossetia in the early 1990s,” says the girl.

Somewhere in the afternoon of 8 August, according to the inhabitant of Tskhinvali, people heard the clang of caterpillars. “Believing in Russia began to smile, they say, no one did not betray us, and we finally saved! she says. — The people, as sunflowers, blinking from too bright after the basement, the lights, reached for the door. Don’t know what stopped us, but we are not out of the door. In a nearby house an elderly man was posmotrela. He got out of the house, and began waving his arms and shouting: "We won! Yay! Yay!quot; the Tank turned toward him and fired. Then the tank fired at the house in which lived the man he killed. Then at our house. No hope left — Georgians in the city.”

Russian peacekeeping forces remained in Tskhinvali, but could not offer serious resistance to the regular army in a state of full combat readiness. However, on the first day in the fighting involved Russian aircraft that launched strikes on strategic targets of the Georgian army — the military base in Gori, airfields.

9 August in Tskhinvali continued clashes between the approaching Russian units and the Georgian army in South Ossetia arrived armed formations of Abkhazia. The capital of South Ossetia was completely destroyed, all communications are broken. “In a crisis situation, on the verge of death in people waking up all the best that is in them — says the eyewitness events. In the basement people have shared the last they had: the last loaf of bread — the youngest, the last clean sheet — the neighbor. People began to exchange things, no one thought that we will be able to survive.”


South Ossetia has thrown new Russian part, formed a strike group. Aircraft continued to attack military targets in Georgia. Ultimately, a group of Russian howling��to together with the Abkhaz reached 29 thousand men against a comparable number of the Georgian army. From Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia was attended by 200 tanks and 700 armored personnel carriers, and about 900 artillery systems. Georgia has deployed 240 to 300 tanks and armored personnel carriers, and an unknown number of artillery. Fighting began and in the Black sea off the coast of Abkhazia, where they landed the Russian troops, and where he arrived a group of 10 black sea fleet.

Fracture was achieved only on August 10, the Georgian foreign Ministry has sent Moscow a note that Tbilisi stop military actions in South Ossetia. However, the war is not over. Russian troops moved further deep into the territory of Georgia on the road of Gori — Tbilisi under the order of President Dmitry Medvedev, who on 9 August, without waiting for the response of the international community on what is happening, announced “operation to enforce peace in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict”.

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

Joint Russian and South Ossetian group moved in the direction of Tbilisi. The Abkhaz group engaged in the liberation of the Kodori gorge from Georgian troops. More than any other in the Georgian territory were affected town of Gori, 80 km from Tbilisi, where numerous military facilities.

As you move Russian troops into Georgia fighting took place on the outskirts of the towns of Zugdidi and Senaki, and continued bombing the border with South Ossetia villages. Georgia has accused Russia that are subject to attack civilians, but Russia insisted that its goal is only the Georgian army, its strong points and infrastructure.

Cliff Volpe / Getty Images

Armed forces Tbilisi was prepared for the fact that the Russian part will be included in the capital of the state. However, President Medvedev on the evening of 12 August announced that the operation to enforce peace is complete. At that time, Russian tanks were about 25 kilometers from Tbilisi. Deputy head of the Russian General staff, Colonel-General of the armed forces of the Russian Federation Anatoly Nogovitsin said that the intelligence and defense operations cease “in the borders, where they are in the time of the order.”

After the conflict, South Ossetia and then Abkhazia declared independence. Moscow has supported them, what was the cause of the rupture of diplomatic relations with Tbilisi. In Georgia believe that Russia occupied these territories.

According to official data, the losses of the armed forces of Georgia amounted to 170 people killed and missing, even in 1964 people were injured. Losses among the civilian population is 228 people. The official losses of the Russian army — 64 killed, 283 wounded��x, and three missing.

Data on losses in South Ossetia seriously differ. The international Commission Tagliavini, who prepared a report on the conflict from the official authorities with a list of 365 deaths without separation of military and civilian. However, already in 2008, the Prosecutor General of South Ossetia Taimuraz Khugaev said that in fact the victims of the Georgian aggression began almost 1.7 million people, however, to establish circumstances of death happened only in the case of 500 victims. Moreover, according to the Prosecutor, the vast majority of those killed are civilians. About 30 thousand people were forced to leave their homes, many of them died under fire, and part of, according to unconfirmed reports, was forcibly deported to Georgia.

The investigative Committee of Russia on the results of the five-day war opened a criminal case under article “Genocide” and “killing of a large number of civilians.” Materials related to the armed conflict, the Russian side handed over to the international criminal court. However, the court sanctioned the initiation of the investigation only in 2016 and planned to complete it by 2020.