Melania Trump Club

Sunday, May 29, 2011

2008 military conflict with Russia

Georgian girl holding a poster and candles during the Russo-Georgian war in August of 2008.
2008 saw a military conflict between Georgia on one side, with Russia and the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other. In response to the shelling of Georgian towns around South Ossetia, supposedly by South Ossetian militias well equipped with Russian military supplies, Georgia massed military forces near the region. Russia also massed larger military forces near the border with South Ossetia. On 7 August, Georgian forces began a massive artillery attack on the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, which started after months-long clashes between Georgian police and peacekeepers, and Ossetian militia and Russian peacekeepers. On early August 8, Georgian Army infantry and tanks, supported by Interior Ministry commandos, began pushing into South Ossetia, supported by artillery and multiple rocket launcher fire and Su-25 strike aircraft. After several hours of fierce fighting, Georgia had captured numerous villages throughout South Ossetia, and had captured almost all of Tskhinvali from Ossetian militia and Russian peacekeepers. A Russian peacekeepers' base stationed in South Ossetia was shelled, and personnel were killed. Units of the Russian 58th Army, supported by irregular forces, subsequently entered South Ossetia through the Russian-controlled Roki tunnel, and a three-day battle left the city of Tskhinvali heavily devastated. Georgian forces were driven out of South Ossetia, and Georgian villages were burned by Ossetian militia to prevent refugees from returning. The Russian Air Force launched a series of coordinated airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia, and multiple targets inside Georgia proper, but met heavy resistance from Georgian air defenses. The Georgian Air Force also managed to carry out air attacks on Russian troops throughout most of the battle. At the same time, the separatist Republic of Abkhazia launched an offensive against Georgian troops in the Kodori Valley with the support of Russian paratroopers, marines, and naval forces. Georgian troops offered minimal resistance and withdrew Russian paratroopers launched raids against military bases in Senaki, Georgia, from Abkhazia. The Russian Navy stationed a task force of sixteen ships off the coast of Abkhazia, and in a brief naval skirmish with Georgian missile boats and gunboats, sank a Georgian Coast Guard cutter.

Following their defeat in South Ossetia, Georgian forces regrouped at Gori with heavy artillery. Russian forces crossed into Georgia proper, and all Georgian forces retreated to Tbilisi, leaving some military equipment behind. Russian forces entered the city and occupied numerous villages completely unopposed. Irregulars such as Ossetians, Chechens and Cossacks followed and were reported looting, killing and burning. Russian troops removed military equipment abandoned by retreating Georgian troops in Gori, and also occupied the port city of Poti, where they sank several naval and coast guard vessesls moored in the harbor, and removed captured military equipment, including four Humvees. Georgia lost a total of 150 pieces of military equipment (including 65 tanks), 1,728 small arms, and 4 naval vessels during the war.
On August 12, President Medvedev announced an intent to halt further Russian military operations in Georgia. Russian troops withdrew from Gori and Poti, but remained in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which it recognized as independent countries. Georgia, on the contrary, considers those territories to be under Russian occupation. Russia also created temporary checkpoints in several locations inside Georgia, but gradually withdrew from them.
Because of the intensive fighting in South Ossetia there were many disputed reports about the number of casualties on both sides, which targets had fallen under aerial attacks, the status of troop movements, and the most current location of the front line between the Georgian and Russian-Ossetian combat units.South Ossetian and Russian officials claimed the Georgian Army was responsible for killing 2,000, and later 1,400 South Ossetian civilians. These allegations have not been substantiated, and Human Rights Watch and European Union investigators in South Ossetia accused Russia of exaggerating the scale of such casualties. The actual death toll, according to the Russian Prosecutor's Office, is 162. Another 150 South Ossetian militiamen were also killed.  Russian casualties totalled 67 dead or missing, and 323 wounded. Abkhaz forces lost 1 dead and 2 wounded. Georgian military casualties totaled 170 dead or missing, 1,964 wounded, and 42 taken prisoner. Georgian civilian casualties stand at 228, with a total of 12 police officers killed or missing. A Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was also killed.

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