Monday, August 18, 2008

Time Line Of Events Leading To The Russia-Georgia Conflict

Following the blogger conference last week, David Kakabadze, Director, Georgian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) was kind enough to assemble a time line of events between Russia and Georgia that have led up to and contributed to the current conflict between Russia and Georgia.

The first time line covers the immediate deterioration of relations this year from April to August.
Following that is a time line highlighting select events from January 2006 to the present that illustrate the building friction between the two countries.

TIMELINE - Georgia and Russia's worsening relations (with focus on military preparations)


  • April 3, 2008 - NATO member states at a summit in Bucharest agree that Georgia and Ukraine can one day join the alliance. They stop short of giving them a firm timetable for accession.

  • April 16 - Russian President Vladimir Putin orders officials to establish semi-official ties with separatist administrations in Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia says the order is a violation of international law.

  • April 20 - Georgia says a Russian Mig-29 fighter jet shot down a Georgian drone flying over Abkhazia. Russia denies involvement. A United Nations report later backs the Georgian version of events.

  • April 29 - Russia sends extra troops to Abkhazia to counter what it says are Georgian plans for an attack. The next day NATO accuses Moscow of stoking tensions with Georgia.

  • April 29 -Russia's Defense Ministry announced it would expand its peacekeeping contingent in Abkhazia, saying Georgia had amassed troops on Abkhazia's border in preparation for a military operation. Georgia denounced Russia's move as aggression and urged the international community to prevent an escalation of tension in the region.

  • April 30 - The European Union's foreign policy chief has warned Russia that its decision to send more peacekeepers to a Georgian breakaway region could prove counterproductive. Russia's Foreign Ministry gave assurances that Russia was not seeking war with Georgia. He also reiterated the Defense Ministry's warning that any attacks by Georgia on Abkhazia or the country's other rebel region, South Ossetia, would be met by a military retaliation from Russia.

  • May 1 - The Georgian Foreign Ministry has handed a protest note to the Russian ambassador over an increase in the number of Russian peacekeepers to 3,000 from 2,000 in the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia. Moscow said that this is within the limits envisioned by earlier agreements on the number of peacekeeping troops signed by the Georgian leadership.

  • May 4 - Separatists in Abkhazia say they shot down two Georgian spy drones over the territory they control. Georgia denies any such flights.

  • May 5 - Georgia has formally notified Russia that it is withdrawing from a bilateral air defense cooperation treaty, which was signed between the two countries' defense ministries on April 19, 1995. Analysts said Tbilisi's withdrawal from the agreement was part of its efforts to move closer to NATO and away from the CIS.

  • May 6 - Georgia says Russia's deployment of extra troops in Abkhazia has brought the prospect of war "very close".

  • May 9 - Russian peacekeepers deployed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone to strengthen the Collective CIS Peace Keeping Force have started performing their duties, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

  • May 15 - Georgia's foreign minister said that the country would regard any increase in Russian peacekeepers in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia as encroachment on national sovereignty. In response to a report from Russia's Defense Ministry, Georgia's first deputy defense minister said the country will continue to supply its armed forces with modern arms and equipment until they become the strongest in the region.

  • May 30 - Georgia says it stopped flights by unpiloted spy planes over Abkhazia but reserves the right to resume them.

  • June 14 - A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said that a terrorist act against Russian railroad troops, carrying out track repairs in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, had been prevented on June 13. Around 300 Russian railroad troops arrived in the self-proclaimed republic on May 31 as part of a Moscow humanitarian assistance initiative for Abkhazia. The deployment met a furious reaction from Georgia, which accused Moscow of preparing for military intervention.

  • June 18 -Two explosions have hit a railroad platform in the suburbs of Sukhumi, the capital of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, the head of the Abkhazia Railroad said. Abkhazian police suspect the incident could have been a terrorist attack aimed at Russian railroad troops.

  • At the same time Moscow demanded that Tbilisi review its stance on Russian peacekeepers deployed in the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia. Earlier in the day, Georgian police released four Russian peacekeepers detained for allegedly smuggling arms out of breakaway Abkhazia. Medvedev told Mikheil Saakashvili, that provocations against Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone were unacceptable.

  • June 19 - A Russian General Staff official warned Georgia that the patience of Russian peacekeepers was running out and any further detentions could end in bloodshed. Georgia's Interior Ministry claimed that the peacekeepers were transporting 35 crates of munitions, including guided missiles and anti-tank mines. Georgia refused to return the seized arms until an investigation has been completed.

  • July 1 - Abkhazia, the focus of an ongoing dispute between Russia and Georgia, closed its border with the rest of Georgia. Bridge across the Inguri River was closed to civilians, but staff of international organizations and peacekeepers based in the security zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict were allowed to pass. The move followed two explosions in Abkhazia that the local authorities blamed on Georgian special forces. Georgia's foreign minister said that the effective control Russia has assumed over the breakaway province of Abkhazia is unacceptable.

  • July 5 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urges Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to refrain from "stoking tensions" in Georgia's breakaway regions.

  • July 8 - Russian fighter jets fly into Georgian airspace over South Ossetia.
    Moscow says the mission was intended to "cool hot heads in Tbilisi." Two days later Georgia recalls its ambassador from Moscow in protest.

  • July 15 - The active stage of Caucasus 2008 large-scale military exercises started in several regions of the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation.

  • The exercise involves units of the North Caucasus Military District, Airborne Troops, Air Force Command, Black sea Fleet naval base, Caspian Flotilla, border troops and Interior troops regional command. The exercise involves some 8,000 military personnel and about 700 armor units.

  • July 15 - A joint Georgian-U.S. military exercise, Immediate Response 2008, has started near Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, the Georgian Defense Ministry said Tuesday (July 15).

  • A total of 1,650 personnel, including troops from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, are taking part in the $8 million exercise, planned by the U.S. Armed Forces European Command and financed by the U.S. Defense Department.

  • Aug. 4 - Russia accuses Georgia of using excessive force in South Ossetia after the Russian-backed rebels said Georgian artillery had killed at least six people.

  • Aug. 7 - Georgian troops attack South Ossetian capital after a truce with rebels breaks down, Russia says Tbilisi cannot be trusted and NATO should reconsider its plans to admit Georgia.

  • Aug. 8 - Russia sends forces into Georgia to repel the Georgian assault. Medvedev vows to defend Russian "compatriots". -- Saakashvili says the two countries are at war.

  • Aug 9 - President Saakashvili declared a 15-day ‘state of war’ to facilitate mobilization.

  • Aug. 10 - Georgia offers Russia a ceasefire after pulling troops from Tskhinvali after three days of fighting with Russian forces.

  • Aug. 11 - Russia issues an ultimatum to Georgian forces near Abkhazia to disarm or be attacked. Georgia rejects the demand. Saakashvili says Russia wants to replace his government and control energy routes through the Caucasus. Russia rejects a Georgian ceasefire proposal.

  • Aug. 12 - Medvedev issues orders to stop fighting in the five-day war in Georgia. Medvedev is quoted as saying that the aggressor has been punished and sustained very serious losses. Russia says its troops will remain in current positions in Georgia. Georgia says it needs more evidence of a Russian halt to operations and will remain prepared for everything.

  • Aug. 12 - The US defense official said about 8,000 to 10,000 Russian troops have moved into South Ossetia. They also have flown SU-25, SU-24, SU-27 and TU-22 fighters and bombers during the campaign.

  • Aug 13 - Jubilant rebel troops proclaimed the "liberation" of Abkhazia on Wednesday (Aug 13) as they surveyed a remote gorge abandoned by Georgian forces. Witnesses said that Russian troops have set up at least two checkpoints on the outskirts of the Georgian town of Gori, 25 km (15 miles) south of Tskhinvali, in what Georgia said was a breach of a ceasefire. Georgia had earlier accused Russia of sending dozens of tanks and armoured personnel carriers into Gori.

  • Aug 14 - Russian General Staff said it was legitimate for "Russian peacekeepers" to be in Poti and for what it termed "reconnaissance parties" to be in Gori, two days after Russia signed up to a French-led peace plan to stop the fighting.Major-General Vyacheslav Borisov said that for another two days Russian troops would stay in the region to carry out procedures of handing over control functions to Georgian law enforcement bodies after which they will leave. More than 100 Russian military vehicles were massed two km (1.5 miles) from the centre of Zugdidi, in western Georgia, a Reuters witness said. Russian forces said they had shot down a total of three Georgian spy drones over South Ossetia and reported sniper attacks by Georgian special forces on and around the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali.
Sources: Reuters, Ria-Novosti, AFP, Russia's Ministry of Defense
Timeline: Key Events in Russian-Georgian Relations
Associated Press
Friday, August 8, 2008; 12:00 AM


The standoff between Russia and Georgia has been years in the making. Here are some key events influencing the relationship recently:

July 11, 2008: Georgia threatens to shoot down Russian planes if they intrude on Georgian airspace again, after Russia confirms that four of its planes circled over South Ossetia.

April 3, 2008: Georgia fails to secure a roadmap to NATO membership at an alliance summit in Romania when NATO leaders delay a decision under Russian pressure.

March 18, 2008: Moscow agrees to restore air travel between Russia and Georgia. In October 2006, Russia banned flights, stopped mail service and cracked down on Georgian migrants after Georgia briefly detained four Russian military officers it accused of spying.

Nov. 15, 2007: Russia completes withdrawal of troops based in Georgia since the 1991 Soviet collapse, although several thousand remain as peacekeepers in the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and in Abkhazia, despite protests from the Georgian government.

Nov. 7, 2007: Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili uses force to crack down on anti-government protesters. He also expels three Russian diplomats and accuses Moscow of fomenting the unrest. Russia responds by expelling three Georgian diplomats.

July 2006: Saakashvili passes up a Moscow summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an alliance of former Soviet nations, after the Kremlin tells him that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not have time for a one-on-one meeting.

March 2006: Russia bans imports of Georgian wine, a major export, citing health concerns.

January 2006: A pipeline explosion in southern Russia leaves Georgia without natural gas supplies for a week during a harsh winter; Saakashvili blames Moscow. Russian officials deny involvement.
Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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