Friday, August 29, 2008

Environmental consequences of the conflict

Military operations that took place in Georgia during the past two weeks directly and/or indirectly have affected the six countries of the Caucasus region as well as the courtiers of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins. The consequences of the armed conflict have to be evaluated after returning of Russian military troops to the positions as of August 6, 2008.

Assessment of the impact of the given armed conflict on the environment and consequently on the social and economic spheres goes far beyond simple calculation of hectares of burnt forests or the level of pollution of the Black Sea and transboundary rivers of the Caucasus.

Assessment of the impact of the conflict on the environment and perspectives of sustainable development can be grouped according to existing risk factors, expected/potential risk factors (since although so-called cease-fire agreement has been signed the military forces have not yet returned to the pre-conflict positions), and thematic risk factors:
  1. Loss of biodiversity, habitats, landscapes and forests

    • Military operations in South Ossetia, Kodori, etc.;

    • Aviation raids into the Oni district, Kodori, South Ossetia, city of Poti located in immediate proximity to the Kolkheti National Park;

    • Use of heavy weaponry in South Ossetia, Kodori and on the 1/3 of the Georgian territory, including the Kolkheti National Park famous for its wetland ecosystems;

    • Bombing of the forest massifs of the Borjomi gorge including Pan-European Park of Borjomi-Kharagauli with flammable substances and destruction of 230 ha of unique centuries old forest cover and its ecosystem took place after cessation of military operations at a distance of 100 km from the conflict zone;

    • Bombing of the forest massifs of the Ateni gorge rich in cultural heritage with flammable substances. The state of the cultural heritage of Georgia is not yet known.

  2. Threat to agriculture includes:

    • Interruption of the cycle of agricultural activities and burn out of agricultural lands. According to preliminary information, as a result of military operations the number of IDPs reached about 200,000, the majority of which were residents of rural areas of South Ossetia and Shida Kartli. Thus, the cycle of agricultural activities has been violently interrupted on about 40% of the territory of Georgia. The period needed for restoration of the given cycle is not clear yet, since mane villages are burnt out. Therefore, in the long run this risk factor will affect the state of cultivated cultural landscapes and their productivity;

    • Pollution of soil and irrigation water resources with fuels, military waste generated as a result of military operations, massive destruction of military ammunition will also affect agriculture.

  3. Damage of infrastructure includes:

    • Damage and destruction of water supply systems as a result of aviation attacks, military operations, etc. in South Ossetia, Shida Kartli, Kodori, city of Poti, etc. unavoidable will cause pollution of drinking water which consequently will affect agriculture and human health;

    • Damage and/or deliberate destruction of railroads, bridges on main motor roads of the Caucasus, pipelines, road infrastructure, ports (Poti), aerodromes, factories (for example: concrete factory in Kaspi), etc. Along with the blow on the economy of the whole Caucasus region, such actions cause pollution of rivers the majority of which belong to transboundary watersheds, as well as pollution of marine environment, soils and underground waters, complicate distribution of humanitarian aid to affected people thus aggravating the humanitarian catastrophe. Since operation of main oil and gas pipelines was suspended major regional environmental disasters as a result of aviation attacks has been avoided.

  4. Pollution of marine environment:

    • Explosion of vessels within the area of water of city of Poti will cause pollution of marine environment of the Black Sea as a result of oil spills and disposal of military waste in the water area of the city.

  5. Pollution of soil and destruction of topsoil:

    • About 40% of the territory of Georgia is under this risk factor as a result of improper disposal of military waste, destruction (explosion) of military ammunition, use of heavy weaponry, military operations, etc.

  6. Threat to human health and outbreak of epidemics:

    • In the context of the environment the human health can be affected by any of the listed risk factors, however the damage of water supply and sewerage systems, i.e. deterioration of sanitary conditions can be classified as the main risk factor.

  7. Use of land mines:

    • Considering the level of preparation of the sides of armed conflict and the previous experience of withdrawal of Russian military troops from Georgia it can be hardly predicted which territory and what facilities will be mined. Therefore the damage caused by such actions to infrastructure, human health and the environment can not be determined in advance.

  8. Humanitarian catastrophe:

    • Humanitarian catastrophe taking place within and outside the conflict area is a result of the aggregate of all the above listed. Humanitarian catastrophe aggravates each of risk factors and can not be resolved only through satisfaction of basic needs of thousands of IDPs in food, shelter and clothes;

    and finally,

  9. Deterioration of the order of regional concepts of spatial development as a basis for economic and social development and human well-being in the region.

Assessment of the environmental damage and impact on perspectives of sustainable development shall be and may be done only after returning of military forces to pre-conflict positions. As for long-term impacts of the mentioned risk factors, they can be assessed only in a perspective. All risk factors are interlinked between each other and a factor having the strongest impact on others can be hardly identified – these are usual consequences of military operations.

Environment Devastated by Russian Military Attacks

In addition to killing civilians, attacking and destroying both military and civilian infrastructures, the Russian military caused an ecological disaster in Georgia. According to the official as well as various international information sources and eyewitness reports, the Russian military attacks caused substantial negative impact on natural ecosystems of Georgia.

Although being far from conflict zones, three Protected Areas of Georgia are affected by military operations. These protected areas are: mountain forests of Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park (IUCN category 2) Terrestrial and marine parts of Kolkheti National Park (IUCN category 2) and riparian forests of Liakhvi Nature Reserve (IUCN category 1). Particularly high level damage is observed in the forests of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and adjacent areas.

Forest fires:

Russia military bombing of Borjomi Forests and Borjomi-Kharagauli National park

On August 15, at approximately 15:30 local time, Russian military helicopters started bombing the bordering territories of the City of Borjomi and settlement of Tsemi using incendiary munitions - weapon prohibited by the international convention. The broad areas of precious forest have been set on fire and fifteen seats of fire have been broken out in southern part Georgia.

The Borjomi forests are located in a mountainous central part of Georgia that are internationally recognized as having great significance to the global biodiversity. The area has one of the most popular spa and ski resorts and is famous for its mineral waters. But most importantly, the site is located at least 100 km away from the South Ossetia conflict zone.

On August 18, the BTC pipeline patrol again detected breaking out fire soon after the Russian helicopters flew over the Borjomi Gorge. The fire became stronger and spread as the Russian military forces occupied large part of the country, including major highways and hindered transportation of Georgian fire brigades. In response to the Georgian Government's appeal for assistance to neighboring countries, Turkey and Ukraine expressed their readiness to provide help, however as of August 19, have not been given safe, timely and adequate corridor by the Russian military forces.

The Borjomi-Kharagauli National park is the first national park in the Caucasus established according to IUCN criteria by WWF. In the core zone of the national park, the protection regime exists more than hundred years. The park includes pristine forests, sub-alpine meadows and represents habitat for many endemic, rare and relict species; it is the largest area of endemic oriental spruce.

Due to the forest fires, biodiversity of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park has been seriously damaged and adjacent settlements and tourist resorts, as well as to the BTC oil pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline are put at danger.

At present, according to preliminary estimations, around 350 ha of precious forest are burnt down in the Borjomi Gorge. The fire is still continuing.

Setting the fire in the national park and then creation of obstacles to extinguish the fire confirms that the Russian military intervention went beyond the local military operation and aimed at causing maximum damage to the population, economy and the nature. It is also important to note that fire bombs attack in Borjomi took place just after the President Medvedev signed the ceasefire agreement.

Black Sea:

Ecological Catastrophe caused by the oil spills by the Russian occupational forces in the Georgian coastal zone of the Black Sea

In addition, the Russian military attacks in western Georgia, i.e. blasting and sinking of Georgian vessels by the Russian forces in the Georgian Poti port, caused spilling of large amount of hydrocarbon (diesel and benzin) as well as hydraulic oil from the vessels.

Occupational forces did not allow the national environmental organizations to assess the situation on-site and determine quantity of oil spilled in the sea. According to the experts’ judgment, some 50-70 tons of oil were spilled in the Black Sea. Spilling of such large quantity of oil is unprecedented in the Georgia’s coastal zone of the Black Sea.

The port authorities and relevant institutions were not allowed by the Russian military forces to employ skimmer and containment booms, which made impossible to respond adequately to the spill and hindered minimizing damage on the environment.

The Black Sea current moved the spilled oil to the north of the city of Poti to the direction of the Kolkheti National Park and its protected sea zone. The Kolkheti National Park located 5 km north from the oil spill site is distinguished for its unique biodiversity and is a part of internationally recognized Ramsar protected sites

Since the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia and environmental organizations are not allowed to work on site (to go to the sea), it is rather difficult to indicate exact qualitative and quantitative parameters of environmental damage. However, considering the scale of oil spills, it is already possible to state that protected sea zone of the Kolkheti National Park and its surroundings are under ecological catastrophe, which could have serious negative impact on the whole Black Sea ecosystem.

Legal violations concerning Ecological Disaster caused by Russian attacks

By employing methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment, the Russian Federation violated international obligations it has undertaken. Russia is a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the two 1977 Additional Protocols of the Conventions. Paragraph 18 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (ratified by Russia 10-05-1954) stipulates the following:

All armed forces, whether regular or irregular, should continue to observe the principles and rules of international environmental and humanitarian law to which the parties to the conflict are bound in times of peace. Natural and cultural resources shall not be pillaged under any circumstances.

In Additional Protocol I (ratified by Russia on 29-09-1989), Article 35 - Basic Rules - states:
It is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.

Also in Additional Protocol I, Article 55 - Protection of the Natural Environment - states:
  1. Care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage. This protection includes a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population.

  2. Attacks against the natural environment by way of reprisals are prohibited

With specific relevance to the Borjomi operation, Russia is also a party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Protocol III, Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Geneva, 1980) which states (among other things):
It is prohibited to make forests or other kinds of plant cover the object of attack by incendiary weapons except when such natural elements are used to cover, conceal or camouflage combatants or other military objectives, or are themselves military objectives.

As well, the Statute of the International Criminal Court, established by the 1998 Rome Statute, which entered into force on July 1, 2002, stipulates in Article 8(2)(b)(iv) that the following act may constitute a war crime:
Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such an attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.

And although Russia is not an official party to it, the Rome Statute and International Criminal Court is presumed to represent customary international law and to be respected as binding by all states. Under Article 8, individuals, including heads of state, can be held criminally accountable if an attack is intentional; inflicts widespread; long-term and severe environmental damage; and the attacker knew the damage would be excessive. This applies to individuals that commit, order, or aid in the commission of such attacks.

Other rules of customary international law that prohibit damage to the environment in warfare and are binding on all states (Bronkhorst and Koppe, 2007), include:
Firstly, a duty of care or an obligation to show due regard for the environment during international armed conflict; secondly, a prohibition to cause wanton destruction to the environment during international armed conflict; and thirdly, a prohibition to cause excessive collateral damage to the environment during international armed conflict.

Even in self-defense, states are prohibited from engaging in military operations that are either unnecessary or disproportionate.

Thus, if the reports of use of incendiary devices by the Russian military in the Borjomi region are accurate, then it is likely that Russia has violated the above provisions of international law. Such malicious behavior - intentionally inflicting significant and unnecessary environmental harm as a weapon of war - has no place in modern warfare, and cannot stand uncontested by the international community.

The consequences for an international wrongful act as stipulated in the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, adopted by the International Law Commission November 2001 (discussed in Bronkhorst and Koppe, 2007) include:
The obligation to offer assurances and guarantees of non-repetition, the obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by the internationally wrongful act, either by means of restitution, i.e. to re-establish the situation which existed before the wrongful act was committed, or by means of compensation insofar as such damage is not made good by restitution.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, and national and international environmental organizations call upon the International Community to resolutely condemn Russian actions on Georgian soil and judge the relevancy of membership of the Russian Federation to such international environmental treaties as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention of Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution, Ramsar Convention, CITES and others.

Moscow through military aggression has invaded parts of the Georgian territory

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and restoration of Georgia’s independence, the Russian Federation has been pursuing the targeted policy aimed at fragmentation of the Georgian State and infringement of its sovereignty. To achieve this goal Moscow through military aggression has invaded parts of the Georgian territory conducting total ethnic cleansing on the occupied areas.

This is a follow-up to the policy the Russian State has been pursuing for many years through its client separatist regimes on the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Obviously, the Russian Federation uses ethnic cleansing as an instrument of its policy aimed at emptying the occupied territories of ethnic Georgians, in order to claim then that the population of these regions object to living within the state of Georgia.

It is an extremely cynical attempt to justify steps taken to infringe Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Russian president’s statement of 26 August 2008 came as a culmination of these acts.

On 26 August 2008, the president of Russia D. Medvedev made a statement on the recognition of independence of the so-called republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia created on the territories occupied by Russia.

By recognising independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian Federation violated the principles of the equal rights and self-determination of peoples, non-interference in internal affairs of another state and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act (1975), which constitute fundamental principles of international law.

In attempt to justify its own actions by deliberately misinterpreting the fundamental norms and principles of international law, the Russian Federation gravely violates the basics of the contemporary international system.

By recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian authorities not only undermine the principles of international law but also pose a real threat to the new world order established as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is an attempt to unilaterally alter the borders of a sovereign State with use of military force and reestablish the spheres of influence and dividing lines in Europe that would put a stop to democratic development and usher in an era of totalitarian rule through the same means that were employed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In legal terms, the right of peoples to self-determination means that this process should proceed within democratic frames. The will once expressed freely may only be superseded by an analogous decision made under no duress or interference by the external forces.

In the process of gaining independence from the colonial regime of the Soviet Union, all ethnic groups of the Georgian population which took part in the referendum of 31 March 1991 voted in favour of ‘restoration of Georgia’s independence on the basis of the 26 May 1918 Independence Act’, which, inter alia, represents a freely expressed will of the population to live in an independent state within the borders as defined in 1918-1921. The international community confirmed the democratic character of the referendum by recognising Georgia’s independence. The referendum involved over 90.79 % of the population, of which 99.8% voted in favour of Georgia’s independence, which means that the population of Georgia implemented the right of peoples to self-determination upheld by the UN Charter, UN General Assembly Declaration on Principles of International Law (1970) and the Helsinki Final Act (1975).

Therefore, all claims of the Russian Federation that Georgia’s international legal status was defined in disregard for the will of the Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples are absolutely groundless. The 1991 referendum was held throughout the entire territory of Georgia, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which implies that the aforesaid national minorities were also involved in this process. Recognising the right of the Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples to self-determination, Georgia emphasises the imperativeness of placing this process within a democratic framework and the necessity of upholding the fundamental principles of the contemporary international system: respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states and inviolability of frontiers.

The realisation of the right of peoples to self-determination by violating the principle of territorial integrity puts in jeopardy the peace and security of not only Georgia, but the international community as a whole.

A special mention should also be made of a great number of judgments of the International Court of Justice, which give recognition to the right of peoples to self-determination providing that the territorial integrity of a state concerned and inviolability of its frontiers are respected.

While considering the right to self-determination, the UN Human Rights Committee also emphasises the internal nature of this right.

The referendas in Abkhazia and South Ossetia referred to by the president of Russia as the basis of his decision were declared as illegitimate by the international community for they were held in violation of all basic principles of international law. The destiny of a concrete territory can be only decided by its indigenous population. And the indigenous population of the autonomous republic of Abkhazia is not made up of only those people who survived the ethnic cleansing and remained to live on the territory of Abkhazia, Georgia, but also of all internally displaced persons and refugees who became targets of ethnic persecution. The ethnic cleansing mentioned above was recognised by the OSCE Summits in 1994, 1996 and 1998 and the UN General Assembly’s Resolution of 15 May 2008.

The referendum indicated by the Russian Federation involved only a certain part of the indigenous population of Abkhazia, Georgia, who were exposed to obvious interference from the external forces, the Russian Federation in particular. By this time estimated 2/3 of the indigenous population had been expelled from the territory of Abkhazia, Georgia.

The results of the plebiscite held on 28 November 1996 indicate that an absolute majority (99%) of internally displaced persons from Abkhazia unanimously support the definition of the status of this territory only after the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Also groundless is the reference in the Russian President’s statement to Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (UN General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV) 24 October 1970). The Declaration’s formulation of the principle of the equal rights and self-determination of peoples makes clear its specific implications: ‘to bring a speedy end to colonialism, having due regard to the freely expressed will of the peoples concerned’. This provision carried a particularly meaningful focus in the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but after a span of 17 years, with the former Soviet republics already subjects of international law and the epoch of colonialism well sunk into oblivion, it should have long exhausted its topical meaning. With respect to the aforesaid Principle, the Declaration gives a clear explanation that ‘Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as authorising or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. Moreover, the last paragraph of the same Principle: ‘Every State shall refrain from any action aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of any other State or country’ contains a direct prohibition for the states against actions that the Russian Federation has been carrying out systematically.

The territorial integrity of Georgia has been recognised by the world community, including the Russian Federation. Georgia’s territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers have also been upheld in all respective documents adopted by various international multilateral forums. Georgia defined its state borders in full compliance with all principles of international law, on the basis of the 1921 Constitution of Georgia and the principle of uti possidetis stipulating that administrative borders of the Georgian SSR be recognised as state borders of Georgia until their final detailed delimitation, including the territories of the autonomous republic of Abkhazia and the autonomous region of South Ossetia.

The actions of the Russian Federation also contradict the UN Security Council’s resolutions recognising the territorial integrity of Georgia and adopted with the participation ofthe Russian Federation: 876 (1993), 881 (1993), 892 (1993), 896 (1994), 906 (1994), 937 (1994), 971 (1995), 993 (1995), 1036 (1996), 1065 (1996), 1096 (1997), 1124 (1997), 1150 (1998), 1187 (1998), 1225 (1999), 1255 (1999), 1287 (2000), 1311 (2000), 1339 (2001), 1364 (2001), 1393 (2002), 1427 (2002), 1462 (2003), 1494 (2003), 1524 (2004), 1554 (2004), 1582 (2005), 1615 (2005), 1666 (2006), 1752 (2007), 1781 (2007), 1808 (2008).

In accordance with Article 25 of the UN Charter, resolutions of the Security Council are binding on all members of the United Nations. Any such resolution may be overruled by a next resolution adopted by the Security Council. Hence, no state is authorised to adopt unilaterally any decision contradicting the Security Council’s resolution, or to discuss in other multilateral format any issue within the Security Council’s competence without previous authorisation of the Security Council.

Due consideration should also be given to Resolution N62/249 (15 May 2008) of the UN General Assembly unambiguously recognising Abkhazia as an integral part of Georgia.

Russia claims that a state should be ruled by a government that represents all its population. There arises a rhetorical question: does it also hold true about the separatist authorities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Given that a vast majority of the indigenous population of these regions numbering over half a million could not take part in the election of the so-called ‘democratic government’ due to their forced expulsion from the original places of residence as a result of the ethnic cleansing conducted by the Russian Authorities.

It is cynical of Russia having violated the fundamental principle of the UN Charter on the non-use of force to accuse Georgia of the actions perpetrated by Russia itself.

Based on the foregoing, there is hardly any norm to be found in the entire international law system, which, in case of its due interpretation, would bring into legal frames the decision of Russia on the recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

For the time being the ethnic cleansing of Georgians on the Russian occupied territories, both in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and beyond is still under way. Moreover, after the Russian President’s recognition of independence of the separatist regions, the ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population has become even more intense. It provides yet another proof that persecution of ethnic Georgians on the occupied territories is a deliberate policy aimed at achieving political goals rather than being isolated cases of violence.

Through military aggression against and occupation of Georgia and by unilateral recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian Federation has shown to the international community that it does not refrain from violation of the fundamental principles of international law and illegal and indiscriminate use of force against its neighbouring sovereign state.

Russia’s aggressive acts threaten not only Georgia’s statehood but the modern world order as well since they aim at reinstating Cold War realities and run counter to the historical process of international community development based on democracy, equality and supremacy of international law. It is a highly regrettable that the UN Security Council’s permanent member is in deliberate violation of the fundamental principles, without strict adherence to which a peaceful and fair international order becomes a hardly conceivable prospect.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Timeline for 27th August


18:35 Remaining 85 Georgian civilian hostages held by Ossetian forces have been released from Tskhinvali.

07:00 The US Coast Guard battleship “Dallas”, loaded with humanitarian aid, enters Batumi port.

Timeline for 26th August


19:00 Statement of the President of Georgia in response to Russia’s decision regarding the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

16:00 Protest rallies continue
Local residents hold protest rally at the Russian check-point in village Teklati, near Senaki

14:30 Russia recognizes independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
• Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia.

10:00 Ossetians force Georgians leave their villages
• Residents of villages Karaleti, Meghvrekisi, Tkviavi north of Gori, near Tskhinvali, arrive to Gori. According to them, Ossetian paramilitaries were assaulting and looting them every day. Their houses were burnt, some of them killed while others were forced to flee.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Timeline for 25th August

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but is subject to verification.


Russian soldiers seize products from “Nikora” grocery shop in Poti

At night Russian militaries entered ‘Nikora’ grocery shop located near their illegal block-post by a heavy armored vehicle, forced the security to open the store house and took away ‘Nikora’s’ ready products. The occupants were reported drunk.

15:00 Russian military and Ossetian separatist forces remain in Akhalgori. As reported from local population South Ossetian separatists and Russian troops continue lootings.

12:30 – Lower House of the Russian Parliament - State Duma recommends President Medvedev to recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

11:15 Georgian and Russian sides exchange imprisoned persons with facilitation of Council of Europe High Commissioner for Human Rights in village Karaleti. Russian side released 7 prisoners. Georgia handed 6 persons to Russian side.

10:40 – Upper House of the Russian Parliament - Council of the Federation recommends President Medvedev to recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

10:00 Russian soldiers with two armored vehicles enter the territory of Coast Guard infrastructure in Poti Port. They steal office equipment and air conditioners.

Timeline for 26th August

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but is subject to verification.


19:00 Statement of the President of Georgia in response to Russia’s decision regarding the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

16:00 Protest rallies continue
Local residents hold protest rally at the Russian check-point in village Teklati, near Senaki

14:30 Russia recognizes independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
• Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia.

10:00 Ossetians force Georgians leave their villages
• Residents of villages Karaleti, Meghvrekisi, Tkviavi north of Gori, near Tskhinvali, arrive to Gori. According to them, Ossetian paramilitaries were assaulting and looting them every day. Their houses were burnt, some of them killed while others were forced to flee.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Russian Attack: Summary

Altogether, Georgia’s sovereign territory was subjected to aerial bombardment 42 times. The areas bombed far exceeded the putative conflict zone of South Ossetia.

The bombs and missiles were delivered during up to 158 illegal incursions into Georgia’s airspace, of which 96 are fully confirmed.

At least 165 bombs and missiles were used, including cluster bombs and other weapons banned by international agreements. At least three of the attacks directly targeted civilians in civilian areas.

Bombing runs before ceasefire

The list below indicates the areas bombed, the minimum number of times each was bombed, their distance from the conflict zone and/or Tbilisi, and the date(s) of the attack(s).

Target# times bombedDistanceDate
Shavshvebi village130 km08.08.08
Variani village120 km, 75 km from Tbilisi08.08.08
Gori517 km08-10.08.08
Vaziani Airfield22-3 km from Tbilisi08-09.08.08
Marneuli320 km from Tbilisi08.08.08
Bolnisi135 km from Tbilisi08.08.08
Senaki1213 km from Tbilisi09.08.08
Village Urta1330 km from Tbilisi10.08.08
Tbilisi Airplane Factory2Tbilisi09-10.08.08
Knolevi (Kareli district)110.08.08
Urta (Zugdidi district)110.08.08

In Upper Abkhazia, the Russian air force bombed villages and positions at least 4 times. The gorge was invaded by airborne Abkhaz and Russian troops on 10 August.

Bombing runs after Georgian ceasefire offer

At 17:30 on 10 August, the Georgian Foreign Ministry hands a diplomatic note offering an immediate Georgian ceasefire to the Russian Embassy. The Russian Air Force continues its attacks for three more days.

Anaklia (Zugdidi district)10.08.08
Settlements near Batumi (Khelvachauri district), close to Turkish border11.08.08
Shiraki airfield (Kakheti region)11.08.08
Gori, twice11-12.08.08
Senaki military airport11.08.08
Kodori gorge, Upper Abkhazia11.08.08
Senaki military base11.08.08
Kere and Sakasheti (Gori district)11-13.08.08
Kaspi (30 km from Tbilisi)11.08.08
Tkhviavi (near Tskhinvali)11.08.08
Vaziani military base (on the outskirts of Tbilisi)12.08.08
Orchosani (Gori district)12.08.08
Sakoritno (Kaspi district)12.08.08
Ruisi village (Kareli district)12.08.08

Occupation of Georgian towns and villages

Zugdidi (11.08.08);
Beloti village near Eredvi, Tskhinvali district (11.08.08);
Shindisi, Gori district (11.08.08);
Senaki (11.08.08);
Gori, the only connection between East and West connection blocked by Russians (11.08.08);
Khaishi, Svaneti region (12.08.08);
Upper Abkhazia (12.08.08);
Additional troops enter Gori (13 - 14.08.08);
Atosi village, Kareli district, East of Gori (13.08.08);
Pakhulani village, Tzalenjikha district (13.08.08);
Additional troops enter Zugdidi twice (14.08.08);
Mejvriskhevi village, Gori district (14.08.08);
Ruisi and Tzveri villages, Kareli district (14.08.08);
East deep from Senaki (14.08.08);
Abashistzkali village, 40 km.s away from the second largest city of Georgia, Kutaisi (15.08.08);
Igoeti (15.08.08);

Tbilisi Intrusion Threat:
12 August
15 August

Occupation of Georgian towns and villages after French-mediated ceasefire

Following the signature of the ceasefire agreement by all parties (Georgia, France and Russia), the Russian offensive should have ceased and a pullback to positions held before August 7th engaged. Instead, Russia deepened its occupation of Georgia, entering and occupying towns and villages far away from the conflict zones.

Igoeti, Kaspi district, 40 km.s away from Tbilisi (15.08.08);
Khashuri, 30 km.s west from Gori (15.08.08);
Surami, west of Khashuri (15.08.08);
Sachkhere parts, Western Georgia (16.08.08);
Akhalgori, 40 km.s North-West of Tbilisi (16.08.08);
Aditional Russian troops entered Senaki military base (17.08.08)
South Ossetian separatist paramilitaries entered additionally to Akhalgori (17.08.08)
Russian armored vehicles advanced towards Supsa oil terminal near Poti (17.08.08)
Russian Troops advanced and blocked road near Kaspi again (18.08.08)
Russian troops advanced towards Sachkere (19.08.08)
Russian troops entered Poti port again (19.08.08)
Russians opened checkpoints in Poti entrance (20.08.08)
Russians occupy village Chogha of Chkhorotsku district, Samegrelo region, in western Georgia (20.08.08)
Russian militaries occupy villages Perevi, Sachkhere in Sachkhere district, Imereti region, western Georgia (20.08.08)


Roads in the Svaneti Region were mined on 17.08.08. Road bridges on the old Gori road south of Kaspi were mined on the same date.

Russian troops used explosive devices to destroy military installations in the Senaki base on 18.08.08 and the Osiauri base on 23 and 24 August.

A landmine blew up a crude oil train 5 km west of Gori on 24 August. Other mines and buried artillery shells were subsequently found at other spots of the tracks.

Landmines and bomblets left by the departing Russian army are targeting civilans. A blast killed a woman in Gori on 24 August and injured a man in Tirdznisi on the same date.

Mines of the "frog" type have been found in civilian gardens and orchards in Gori. These are antipersonnel mines that, when stepped upon, jump into the air and explode at chest or head height.

Cluster bombs

The use of cluster bombs against civilian targets has been confirmed by Human Rights Watch. Cluster bombs explode at altitude in order to scatter bomblets over a wide area. Most bomblets explode on impact. The effect of hundreds of bomblets exploding at the same time is to saturate the targeted area with high-speed shrapnel, killing everything alive. Because the bomblets can be scattered over a wide area, these are among the most destructive antipersonnel conventional weapons.

Bomblets that fail to explode on impact become landmines.

The exceptionally destructive power of these weapons has led them to be banned by 107 countries, including all of the European Union.

Current civilian, military and journalist casualty figures

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but is subject to verification. They do not include data on South Ossetian and Russian casualties, which they government of Georgia has no way of assessing.

The numbers of dead and wounded are based exclusively on bodies received by Georgian morgues, and does not include those kept, buried, burned or otherwise disposed of within the area of Russian control.

About 160 military personnel remain unaccounted for.

The number of registered IDPs only includes those IDPs who fled to areas of Georgian control, and does not include those who fled to Russia or who are displaced within areas of Russian occupation.

Georgians wounded:

Total: 2231
Military: 1964
Civilian: 267
Discharged: 1069

Georgians killed:

Total: 216
Military: 143
Civilian: 73


Killed: 3 (1 international, 2 Georgians).
Injured: 6 (3 internationals, 3 Georgians).
Detained by Russians/Ossetes: 10 (8 internationals, 2 Georgians).
Attacked by Russians/Ossetes: 3 (2 internationals, 1 Georgian).
Robbed by Russians/Ossetes: 12 (all internationals).

Number of registered IDPs: 119, 000

Russian Ceasefire Agreement Breaches: Checkpoints

The Russian Army has illegally established a number of checkpoints deep within sovereign Georgian territory, contravening the ceasefire agreement. On average, they consist of about 4 armoured vehicles, 60 soldiers, support vehicles and sometimes fortifications such as concrete blocks, razor wire, trenches or earthen berms.

When the number of vehicles or personnel differs significantly from this average, details are given.

The checkpoints regularly dispatch armoured patrols into surrounding towns and villages.

This map gives an overview of the current checkpoint situation:

Central Georgia

At 22:00 on 25 August, the Ministry of Interior confirmed 12 checkpoints in central Georgia (Shida Kartli and other areas adjacent to South Ossetia, as well as in parts of South Ossetia that were never part of the conflict). Their location is given on the map below, a list follows.

List of checkpoints in Central Georgia

  1. Perevi (Sachkhere district)
  2. Ghodora (Sachkhere district)
  3. Muguti (Znauri district)
  4. Ali (Khashuri district)
  5. Ptsa (Kareli district)
  6. Variani (Gori district)
  7. Karaleti (Gori district)
  8. Shavshvebi (Gori district)
  9. Ergneti (Gori district)
  10. Tsiara (Java district)
  11. Ikoti (Akhalgori district) 7 infantry combat vehicles, 1 armoured vehicle, 6 Ural-type vehicles, 2 Gaz-66 vehicles, 1 military power shovel, 1 mobile medical unit, 2 grenade launchers, trenches, and 100 soldiers
  12. Meghvrekisi and Brotsleti (Gori district) A large concentration of about 150 vehicles, most of them armoured, are stationed between the villages.

Western Georgia

At 22:00 on 25 August, the Ministry of Interior confirmed at least 20 checkpoints in western Georgia (Samegrelo, Svaneti, Upper Kodori, Gali, Ochamchire). Their location is given on the map below, a list follows.

Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region

  1. Teklati (near Senaki) - 5 armoured vehicles, 1 crane, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 vehicle with communication systems, 1 UAZ-type vehicle, 1 GAZ-type car, 1 large army tent, trenches are dug, 40 Russian servicemen

  2. Pirveli Maisi (Khobi district) - Near former Georgian police check-point: armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 UAZ-type vehicle, 1 large army tent, trenches are dug, 40 Russian servicemen

  3. Between Shua Khorga and Chaladidi (Khobi district) - Near the turning to Kulevi oil terminal: 4 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 large army tent, 30 Russian servicemen

  4. Menji (Senaki district) - In the Bakaraia neighborhood of the town, on the grounds of the Menji sanatorium, about 10 meters from the railroad: 3 armoured vehicle, 4 Ural-type vehicle, 2 cranes, 1 military power shovel, 1 large army tent, 40 Russian servicemen

  5. Kantisubani (Tsalenjikha district) - On the Tsalenjikha-Chkhorotsku road: (3 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 large army tent, trenches are dug, 30 Russian servicemen

  6. Chale and Muzhava (Tsalenjikha district) - At the entrances of the two villages: 3 armoured vehicles, 1 Ural-type vehicle, 20 Russian servicemen

  7. Chkhorotsku - On an old airfield, near the Senaki-Chkhorotsku highway: 3 armoured vehicles, 2 Ural-type vehicles, 1 vehicle with electricity generator, 2 large army tents, 40 Russian servicemen

  8. Nabada (a suburb of Poti) - 2 armoured vehicles, 1 Ural-type vehicle, 1 UAZ-type vehicle, 1 military power shovel, 1 large army tent, 30 Russian servicemen

  9. Upper Abkhazia/Kodori Gorge

    Sources report substantial Russian and Abkhaz deployments in the region. Howver, access is currently impossible, precluding an accurate count of Russian and Abkhaz personnel deployed.

  10. Gentsvisi

  11. Omarishara

  12. Sakeni

  13. Chkhalta

  14. Kvapchara

  15. Additional chekpoints

    Colonel-general Anatoly Nogovitsin, the deputy head of the Russian General Staff, listed the following additional checkpoints during a press conference on 22 August:

  16. Khudoni

  17. Jikmuri

  18. Ochamchire

  19. Gupagu

  20. Meore Gudava

  21. Anaklia

  22. Mount Kvira

Estimated number of personnel and equipment at illegal checkpoints:

  • Russian servicemen: 970

  • Armoured vehicles: 66

  • Infatry combat vehicles: 7

  • Grenade launchers: 2

  • Ural-type vehicles: 22

  • UAZ-type vehicle: 3

  • Gaz-66 vehicles: 2

  • Vilis-type car: 1

  • Military Army tents: 8

  • Cranes: 3

  • Military power shovel: 3

  • Vehicle with communication systems: 1

  • Vehicle with electricity generator: 1

  • Mobile medical unit: 1

Summary of Damage Inflicted by Russia

Russia's invasion is inflicting massive damage to the economy, infrastructure, and environment of Georgia. This document assesses the destruction caused by Russia during August 8-25, the period of ongoing occupation of Georgia.

The Russian army has significantly destroyed the country’s transport, energy, administrative, social, and civilian infrastructure, as well as damaged environment. Their actions have inflicted severe damage to the property of hundreds of Georgian and foreign companies, and to the houses and flats of thousands of civilians. Russian military planes intentionally set fire to large swathes of Georgia’s forests, resulting in a major environmental catastrophe and the potential loss of crucial natural assets, including endemic species.

The destruction by Russia catalogued in this document took place beyond the conflict zone, often close to Tbilisi. Damage caused by Russia inside the conflict zone cannot be assessed by the Government, since it has no access to the areas in question.

This document does not attempt to calculate the economic, environmental and commercial losses caused by Russia’s invasion and occupation of Georgia, since large areas of the country are still beyond the reach of Georgian authorities. Thus the exact estimation of the damage in monetary terms is the task for future.

Types of infrastructure damaged:

  1. Transport infrastructure
  2. Energy infrastructure
  3. Industrial enterprises
  4. Administrative, social & civilian Infrastructure
  5. Intentional Forest Fires

  1. Transport Infrastructure


    • August 9 and 13, Russian military jets bombed the Port of Poti on the Black Sea, in western Georgia. The bombs damaged Container Terminal #7, the largest and best-equipped terminal for handling containers. One of the two energy generators and fire control systems of the port were damaged.
    • Russia’s bombs killed 5 workers and injured more than 15 others. The Port of Poti is the main link on the TRACECA East-West transport corridor that handles cargo between Europe, Central Asia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
    • August 12, Russian troops have entered Poti Port and occupation of port is continuing till present.

    Main Railway Bridge:

    • August 16, Russian forces blew up the Grakali bridge on the central railway route connecting the eastern and western parts of Georgia. Passenger and cargo transport, including the transport of humanitarian aid was abruptly stopped.
    • The destruction of the bridge has disrupted international cargo traffic between Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Azerbaijani oil exports through Georgia were stopped. Armenia was effectively cut off from the world. Petrol rationing is in force there, and food prices have risen dramatically.
    • It will take at least two weeks to repair the bridge.
    • Ralway bridge in Marneuli 25 km from Tbilisi damaged.

    Road Bridges:

    • 17 August, Russian troops mined the road to the highly mountainous region of Svaneti (close to Abkhazia, Georgia, another conflict zone), thus potentially cutting off the region from the rest of Georgia and preventing goods and services from reaching its population.
    • August 17, two bridges in Kaspi mined.


    • The Russian Air Force bombed the Kaspi and Senaki rail stations, located 52 and 230 km respectively from Tskhinvali, Georgia, thus destroying vital rail infrastructure

    Maritime Blockade:

    • Since August 10, Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet has been blockading the territorial waters of Georgia, preventing ships carrying civilian cargo from entering the Port of Poti for example the cargo ship "Lotus - 1", loaded with wheat and other civilian goods, was prevented from entering Poti Port by Russian military forces (August 8-9).
    • This is resulting in massive commercial losses for companies and transporters, and preventing needed supplies from reaching Georgia and other countries in the region.

    Civilian Airports:

    • 9 August, Russia bombed Kopitnari Airport (20 km from Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city, and a full 180 kilometers from Tskhinvali, South Ossetia). The main runway was damaged.

    Civilian Radar Stations:

    • 13 August, a civilian radar station serving the civil aviation system of Georgia, located 5 km north of downtown Tbilisi on Makhata Mountain, was bombed and destroyed by Russian warplanes.

    Damage to Roads & Highways:

    • August 9, Russian jets bombed the bypass road of the Rikoti road tunnel, which connects the eastern and western parts of Georgia, therefore cutting country’s transport infrastructure.
    • Several hundred kilometers of roads and highways have been mined and damaged by the movement of heavy Russian military vehicles.

  2. Energy Infrastructure

    International energy pipelines:

    • Areas adjacent to all three international pipelines - BTC, SCP, and Baku Supsa - were attacked by fighter jets between August 8 and August 12.
    • The bombed locations were 20 km east of Tbilisi, far beyond the conflict zone. Several bombs were dropped only 5 meters from the Baku Supsa oil pipeline on August 8. Russian rockets caused an explosion on the 27th kilometer of the Baku-Supsa crude-oil pipeline near Tbilisi.


    • August 12, Russian bombers damaged electricity transmission lines leaving more than four thousand civilians without power.
    • Three transmission lines connecting the western and eastern parts of Georgia also have been damaged: "Kavkasioni" and "Kartli 2," and "Liakhvi" .
    • At present, the eastern and western parts of Georgia’s energy infrastructure are operating as separate systems.

  3. Industrial Enterprises

    Aircraft plant:

    • August 10, an aircraft plant adjacent to Tbilisi International Airport was bombed twice with long-delay blasting bombs. The landing strip and adjacent infrastructure was destroyed.

    Cement factory:

    • August 12, a cement factory in Kaspi owned by German manufacturer Heidelberg Cement was bombed; the factory is 30 km from Tbilisi.

    Wine factory:

    • August 16, Russian jets dropped unidentified devices on the wine factory in the village of Okami, in the Kaspi district, 52 kilometers from Tbilisi.

  4. Administrative, Social & Civilian Infrastructure

    Administrative buildings:

    • Russian forces and paramilitary troops have robbed and damaged nearly all the administrative buildings they have occupied. A precise damage assessment can only be made after the Russian Army withdraws.

    Damage to Civilian Police Equipment:

    • August 18, Russian armored vehicles intentionally drove into and damaged several police cars in Kaspi, 52 kilometers from Tskhinvali.

    Schools and Kindergarden:

    • Four schools in Gori district - Gori school #7, Nikozi, Tviti and Karzji schools were partially destroyed and several schools were damaged.
    • As A result of Russian jets bombing a kindergarten in Gori was destroyed.


    • August 11, Bombs hit a cemetery and fields near Batumi, 15 kilometers from the Georgian-Turkish border.


    • August 12, a bomb exploded in the backyard of the hospital in Gori (30 kilometers from Tskhinvali), killing a doctor and significantly damaging the hospital.


    • August 12, the University of Gori was hit by numerous bombs, destroying parts of the main building in the central square of the city.


    • August 12, the main market in Gori was bombed.

    TV Broadcasting Station:

    • August 12, Russian troops destroyed the Gori TV broadcasting station. As a result, TV and radio broadcasting has been interrupted in Gori and surrounding areas. One employee was killed, three wounded.


    • More then 30 base stations of leading mobile operators "MAGTI" and "GEOCELL" in Gori and Kaspi were completely destroyed.
    • Two fider-optic lines, following the railway and the highway in Gori and Kaspi was damaged.

    Civilian Homes:

    • In every territorial-administrative unit invaded by the Russian Army, its forces have robbed and/or burnt civilian houses. A precise assessment of damage can only be made after the Russian Army withdraws.
    • Thousands of houses in villages across South Ossetia and in the villages north of Gori have been looted and burned. A precise assessment is impossible at the moment, but the likely scale of the damage is suggested by satellite maps of burning Georgian villages published by UNOSAT.

  5. Environmental Damage

    Forest Fires:

    • According to UNOSAT, about 450 hectares of forest in southwestern Georgia, about 108 kilometers from Tskhinvali, burned after being intentionally set ablaze by Russian military helicopters on August 15. This has caused an ecological catastrophe and damaged the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.
    • August 16, helicopters set fire in the Kaspi district and in Surami, Khashuri district.
    • August 20, Russian military helicopters dropped fire setting bombs in Djevera (Gori district) and in Kiketi, 10km west of Tbilisi. The latter area was firebombed again after the fire was put down the next day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

President Medvedev to recognize independence

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
but is subject to verification.


10:40 – Upper House of the Russian Parliament - Council of the Federation recommends President Medvedev to recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Meeting with NATO representative Robert Simmons

On 22 August 2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Eka Tkeshalashvili held a meeting with NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for South Caucasus and Central Asia Robert Simmons.

The sides discussed the issues of NATO’s assistance to Georgia in various fields with focus on the Alliance’s firm and steadfast support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Note was also taken of the Alliance’s general approach to Russia’s aggression against Georgia and the urgency of immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia.

The sides focused on details of setting up a NATO-Georgia commission as well.

Following the meeting the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the NATO Secretary General's Special Representative held a joint press conference.

Timeline for 24th August, to 12:50


12:50 Forest is on fire in the surroundings of village Gldani on the outskirts of Tbilisi.

11:30 Georgian police release AP journalists detained by Russian soldiers
• An AP TV crew operating near Poti was arrested this morning by the Russian army because they did not have Russian media accreditation. They were taken to the Georgian police station in Poti and released there.

11:00 US Navy destroyer McFaul enters Batumi port.

10:30 Train carrying petroleum explodes on the railroad west of Gori.
• A train carrying 34 tanks of crude oil exploded at about 10:30 near the village of Skra, 7 km west of Gori, when moving from Azerbaijan to Batumi. 13 tanks are burning. The cause is suspected to be a Russian mine: Skra had been under full Russian control until the Russian pull-out of Gori. No casualties reported.

Intentionally set fires

Timeline for 23rd August, to 12:00


12:00 Chief of staff of Russian Army Anatoly Nogovitsin names at the press conferense places where Russian intends to organize checkpoints. In violation of the ceasefire agreement they are well out the conflict zone, namely in: Perevi – near Sachkhere; Ali - 90kms from Tbilisi and 7 Km from east-west highway, on the way from Khashuri to Sachkere and South Ossetia; Kvenatkotsa – in Kareli district near Agara, 1 km from eas-west highway; Variani – 10km north of Gori, on the road from Gori to Tskhinvali; Karaleti – 10km north of Gori, on the road to Tskhinvali; Shavshvebi – 40km west of Tbilisi on the east-west Highway, Monasteri – 35 Kms noerth-west from Tbilisi on the way to Akhalgori and 7kms from eastwest highway, Ikoti – 40Kms north-west from Tbilisi near town Akhalgori and 12kms from east-west highway.

11:30 Parliament of Georgia prolongs Martial Law till September 8.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meeting with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

On 22 August 2008 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze met with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, President of Ukraine’s special representative Konstantin Eliseev.

The Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia provided his Ukrainian counterpart with exhaustive information concerning the situation resulting from the unlawful actions of the Russian occupation army as well as on the population affected by ethnic cleansing.

Mr Eliseev reaffirmed the Ukrainian side’s readiness to assist Georgia in overcoming the crisis. He also focused on the measures considered to be expedient in terms of Ukraine’s national security interests.

Meeting with Italian Ambassador

On 22 August 2008 a meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Italy to Georgia Vittorio Sandalli.

The meeting was attended by Ms. Nino Baratashvili, Counsellor of the First European Division of the European Affairs Department.

The sides discussed the issues of aggression and ethnic cleansing conducted by the Russian side in Georgia.

The Italian Ambassador once again confirmed the support and solidarity of his country towards Georgia.

Meeting with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office

On 22 August 2008, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eka Tkeshelashvili and State Minister for Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili held a meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Alexander Stubb.

The sides discussed the situation consequent to the Russian Federation’s intervention in Georgia and the issues related to implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed through the mediation of the President of France.

The sides also discussed prospects for elaboration of an international peace format aimed at resolution of the conflicts in Georgia and immediate steps to be taken shortly afterwards. The Finnish Foreign Minister stated that the assignment of an additional contingent of OSCE monitors to Georgia is an initial step for developing a new international peace mechanism.

The sides agreed to continue active cooperation on the issues of priority.

Following the meeting, the Georgian and Finnish Foreign Ministers held a joint press conference:

Press conference transcript:

Mrs. Eka Tkeshelashvili:

Greetings! I’d like to brief you on main aspects of our meeting.

As far as you know twenty OSCE monitors will shortly arrive in Georgia to assess the extent to which the Russian side complies with its commitments under the ceasefire agreement. It is the beginning of the process. OSCE plans to increase the number of monitors soon and extend the scope of their activity. We therefore discussed the ways in which this mission should be carried out and the area that needs to be covered by monitors and international observers. We also focused on the role the European Union should play in resolving the existing crisis.

Today we are faced with two tasks. The first task is a short-term one and envisages ensuring full compliance with the ceasefire agreement, which means that the Russian side should not be allowed to interpret this agreement wrongly and unilaterally and continue, based on its own discretionary decisions, deploying Russian troops on the territory of Georgia. We are also seriously focused on the second stage of the process, which will ensue after reaching compliance with the ceasefire agreement and de-escalation of the situation. This second stage envisages achieving restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity through international peaceful mechanisms and full protection of human rights throughout the entire territory of Georgia, which will prevent further emergence of such ‘uncontrolled places’ where human rights violations will run rife and criminal regimes will become a functioning reality. It must forever become a past chapter of Georgian history. The population on the territory of Georgia whatever their ethnic origin should be allowed the opportunity to benefit from the rule of law, democracy, absolute protection of human rights, they should consider themselves members of a European country and enjoy all the benefits of being citizens of a European country.

I would like to thank once again our guest for his personal and active involvement in the problem resolving process both in the capacity as OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Finnish Foreign Minister. Let me give him the floor.

Mr. Alexander Stubb:

Thank you very much.

I would like to stress three points. Point number one is about our operation of military monitors. So far things run very smoothly. We will able to bring in totally twenty monitors by this weekend, including seven so called APCs, armored vehicles with contributions from many OSCE countries. I think they will have calming effect on the ceasefire. And I think this very important element in providing us with objective information. It is very important that with the leadership of Colonel Lieutenant Steven Yang we can get this operation up and running. And that is what we are doing together with the head of the mission Terhi Hakala. So, point number one the operation of military observance is running smoothly.

Point number two. I still think that the ceasefire agreement is fragile, that is why we must focus all of our efforts to the withdrawal of the troops and to return to normalcy. I think the military monitors will play a very important role in this. But remember we must now focus on the withdrawal of troops. We hope that this process takes place smoothly.

Point number three. I think it is time for us in the international community not to start thinking of true international assessment of this conflict. We need to start reflecting upon how we arrange the future of stabilization of the region, how and what form of peacekeepers, international peacekeepers will be brought in, how do we get the political process going, will we have a high representative for the region, what is the long-term prospective. Because, all of us are involved in these processes from the beginning, we are in this process from the long run. So, that’s why we must start thinking of how all of us, the international community, the USA, the EU, the UN, the OSCE, Russia can solve this conflict and stabilize the region.

So, these are three main points that I wanted to stress. Thank you.

Timeline for 22nd August, to 20:00

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
but is subject to verification.


20:00 Russian troops are leaving Gori and Khashuri in eastern Goergia and Senaki and Khobi in Western Georgia. Russian troops remain in Poti and village Perevi in Sachkhere district.

19:30 Russian troops explode remaining installations of military base near Gori in village Khurvaleti.

14:30 Russian troops start withdrawal from Igoeti and Kaspi 25kms from Tbilisi towards Gori. Gori remains under Russian control.

14:00 100 armored vehicles start movement from Senaki towards Zugdidi. Russian troops still remain in Senaki and Poti.

12:00 Deputy Chief of Staff of Russian Army Anatoly Nogovitsin says on press conference that Russia will keep 18 checkpoints on South Ossetian-Georgian “border” and in buffer zone. The same amount of Check points and 2142 soldiers will remain on Georgian-Abkhazian “border”.

10:00 No evidence of Russian troops withdrawal is observed by 10:00

02:30 Unknown explosive device exploded in Marneuli, installed under the railway bridge – no damage reported

Reportedly antitank missile or explosive exploded under the Imiri railway bridge, Marneuli district, 25 kms south from Tbilisi. The bridge was not damaged

Russian troops dig entrenchments in village Chuberi near Enguri Power Plant. Military presence of Russian troops reported at the dam infrastructure of power plant.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ukraine-Georgia press conference

On 19 August 2008, at the GUAM press centre in the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Ukraine Merab Antadze and GUAM Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvili held a press conference for representatives of the mass media and diplomatic missions concerning the consequences of the Russian-Georgian conflict.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Ukraine Merab Antadze discussed the reasons behind the Russian-Georgian conflict and the consequences that ensued after the Russian Federation’s military aggression and ethnic cleansing conducted in Georgia.

GUAM Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvili focused the attention of the attending audience on the fact that Russia’s actions resulted in the disruption of regional cooperation and blockade of energy and transport communications and called on the chairs of the international organizations of which Russia is a member to exert pressure on Moscow in order to bring it back within the frames of international law.

Mr. Chechelashvili noted that with its actions Russia undermined BlackSeaFor, disintegrated CIS, restored the Big Seven and denied itself access to WTO and the right to act as a mediator in conflict resolution process on the territory of Georgia.

Civilians Killed by Russian Cluster Bomb ‘Duds’

(Tbilisi, August 21, 2008) – Georgian and Russian authorities should take urgent measures to protect the civilian population in Georgian villages from unexploded ordnance left by Russian attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch researchers documented additional Russian cluster munitions attacks during the conflict in Georgia, refuting Russia’s earlier denials that it used the weapon.
Human Rights Watch researchers saw and photographed unexploded submunitions from cluster munitions in and around the villages of Shindisi, in the Gori district of Georgia. Residents from Shindisi and the nearby Pkhvenisi village told Human Rights Watch researchers there are hundreds of unexploded submunitions in the area. Submunition “duds” are highly dangerous and can explode if picked up or otherwise disturbed.

“Many people have died because of Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Georgia, even as Moscow denied it had used this barbaric weapon,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Many more people could be killed or wounded unless Russia allows professional demining organizations to enter at once to clean the affected areas.”

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on August 8, 2008, Russian air strikes on Georgian armored units located near Shindisi and Pkhvenisi were followed by extensive cluster munition strikes that killed at least one civilian and injured another in Shindisi. At least two more civilians were killed and five wounded in the following days when they handled unexploded submunitions, including an incident 10 days after the initial strikes. As of August 20, Shindisi and Pkhvenisi areas remain under Russian control.

Zviad Geladze, 38, points to a cluster munition strike on the path to his farm field. © 2008 Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch called upon Russia to immediately stop using cluster munitions, weapons so dangerous to civilians that more than 100 nations have agreed to ban their use. Human Rights Watch also called on Russia to provide precise strike data on its cluster attacks in order to facilitate cleanup of areas contaminated by submunitions. Human Rights Watch called on Georgia to undertake an immediate risk education program for its population, including radio and television announcements about the dangers of submunitions.

In Shindisi, Human Rights Watch researchers saw unexploded dual purpose (anti-armor and antipersonnel) submunitions, commonly known as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) submunitions.

“Highly dangerous unexploded bomblets now litter farms, roads, and pathways in Shindisi and Pkhvenisi,” said Garlasco. “People remaining in these areas don’t realize the dangers these submunitions pose and are at serious risk of injury or death if they handle, or even approach, the bomblets.”

Human Rights Watch first reported on Russian use of cluster munitions in Georgia on August 15, after it identified strikes on Gori and Ruisi on August 12 that killed at least 11 civilians and injured dozens more. Russia subsequently denied any use of cluster munitions. Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy head of the Russian General Staff, stated on August 15, “We did not use cluster bombs, and what’s more, there was absolutely no necessity to do so.”

Unexploded Russian submunitions found by Human Rights Watch researchers in Shindisi, a village in the Gori region of Georgia. These submunition "duds" are highly dangerous and can explode if picked up or otherwise disturbed. © 2008 Human Rights Watch

Zura Tatrishvili, 62, showed Human Rights Watch researchers an unexploded submunition that he had picked up without realizing that just touching it could make it explode. “We were playing with them, as were the Georgian soldiers,” said Tatrishvili. “It was only when one of the bombs exploded after a soldier threw it that we understood that they were dangerous.” Even now, Tatrishvili continues to keep his livestock in a pen with unexploded submunitions, demonstrating the need for clearance as well as education.

During the attack on August 8 in Shindisi, Vano Gogidze, 45, was killed and his relative, Dato Gogidze, 39, was injured. Also in Shindisi, Ramaz Arabashvili, 40, was killed and four people were wounded when a submunition that they had gathered from a field exploded on August 10. On August 18, in Pkhvenisi, Veliko Bedianashvili, 70, died when a submunition exploded in his hand. “There are so many of these lying around. The fields are full of them,” said his son, Durmiskhan Bedianashvili.

Zviad Geladze, 38, showed Human Rights Watch researchers fields contaminated with submunitions. He estimated the submunitions covered an area extending at least one kilometer through his farm. The fields are full of produce ready to harvest. Because humanitarian agencies continue to lack access to much of the Gori region, fields like Geladze’s may provide residents of the region with their only food source.

Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions or bomblets and cause unacceptable humanitarian harm in two ways. First, their broad-area effect kills and injures civilians indiscriminately during strikes. Second, many submunitions do not explode, becoming de facto landmines that cause civilian casualties for months or years to come.

Under international humanitarian law, indiscriminate attacks including attacks in populated areas with weapons that cannot be targeted solely at military targets are prohibited. Russia has an obligation not only to cease any such attacks, but also to take all necessary measures now to ensure the safety of the civilian population in areas over which it exercises effective control.

Human Rights Watch called on Georgia, which is known to have cluster munitions in its stockpiles, to join the international move to ban the use of cluster munitions and to publicly undertake not to use such weapons in this conflict. Neither Russia nor Georgia was part of the Oslo Process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions. In May 2008, 107 nations adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of the weapon. It will be open for signature in Oslo on December 3.

Restricted freedom of movement for diplomatic corps through Georgia

On 21 August 2008 the Embassy of the Russian Federation to Georgia sent a Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. The Note, in particular, indicates: ‘in order to arrange civilized movement throughout Gori for the delegations and persons intending to arrive or already present in Georgia and planning to travel to Gori, the Embassy requests advance notification on any such travel plan, delegation members, travel objectives and duration, transport vehicles and itinerary. In the given situation the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation must obtain such information in order to give respective instructions to the peacekeeping command, which will further ensure unhindered movement’.

In the aftermath of ethnic cleansing and mass and flagrant violation of human rights perpetrated by the Russian army on the territory of Georgia, the Russian Federation undertook to restrict freedom of movement for the diplomatic corps throughout the territory of Georgia. It points clearly to the degree of Moscow’s compliance with the ceasefire agreement signed by the Russian President and provides another proof of continued occupation of Georgian territory by the Russian armed forces.

By undertaking such actions, the Russian Federation grossly violates provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Article 26 of the Convention, in particular, stipulates that the receiving State shall ensure to all members of the diplomatic corps freedom of movement and travel throughout all of its territory.

Russia’s actions in Georgia contradict such universally recognized norms and principles of international common and codified law, which provide the basis and guarantee for establishing each state as a subject of international law within the international system.

It is a regrettable fact that the Russian Federation being a legal successor to the Soviet Union continues to base its actions on Soviet-imperialist traditions.

Extraordinary joint meeting

The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Security and Defence and the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus held an extraordinary joint meeting on 20 August 2008 to discuss the situation in Georgia.

French Minister of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet was invited as a rapporteur at the first part of the session, which was closed to the public. Following his address European Parliament members heard the remarks of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Eka Tkeshelashvili.

A majority of members of the European Parliament expressed their solidarity with and support for Georgia. The meeting condemned Russia’s aggressive actions. It was decided that the situation in Georgia will be discussed at the first plenary session of the European Parliament scheduled to take place at the beginning of September and that the European Parliament will adopt a respective resolution.

‘Given Russia defying its international commitments, the European Union can no longer continue its usual way of cooperation with Russia’ - Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Jacek Saryusz-Wolski is quoted as saying.

The focus of discussions was also the type of economic and political assistance the European Union may render to Georgia in the given situation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Timeline for 21st August, to 21:00

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
but is subject to verification.


21:00 Russian troops once again fail to pullout as agreed
Russia again delayed the pullout of its troops. According to the Commander of Russian Ground Forces, Army General Vladimir Boldirev, the process of withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia will take 10 days. He declared that peacekeeping checkpoints will start operating from August 22nd and remaining Russian troops will pullout in the coming ten days.

19:30 Russian militaries release 10 soldiers out of 20, captured on 19th of August in Poti Port.

18:00 Russian military handed 62 Georgian civilian hostages to Georgian side. Government of Georgia claims 101 more civilians are kept by Russian side in Tskhinvali.

16:00 According to the Foreign Minister of Finland and the OSCE Chair in Office Alex Stubb, there is little evidence of Russian troops withdrawing.

Russia restricts the freedom of movement throughout territory of Georgia
Embassy of the Russian Federation to Georgia handed a Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, according to which the Ministry of Defense of the RF must be in advance notified about any planned travel of all delegations and persons to Gori. The statement of Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers this as an attempt from Russian side to restrict the freedom of movement for the diplomatic corps throughout the territory of Georgia and serves as another proof of continued occupation of Georgian territory by the Russian armed forces.

15:00 Russians creating a buffer zone
According to Anatoly Nogovitsin,Ddeputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Russian forces will establish two lines of checkpoints in “a security zone” in the vicinity of South Ossetia“. “The first line will include eight checkpoints across the line of zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers. The second line – involving 10 checkpoints – will be set across the administrative border of South Ossetia. Total of 272 soldiers will be deployed on the eight checkpoints of the first line,” he declared, and added that there will be a buffer zone between these two lines. Nogovitsin did not give any other details or specifics about the exact area of the zone; however he said that the town of Gori would not be included in the zone.

11:00 Ambassador of France to Georgia Eric Fournier is being blocked near Gori by Russian troops on his way from Satchkhere to Tbilisi and is prevented to continue his drive. He has been allowed to continue at 13:00.

10:30 Russian troops dig entrenchments in Poti

• Russian occupants start digging entrenchments in Poti. Russian `BMP` armored tanks and `URAL` trucks are located at the Nabadi territory at the entrance of the city

As reported, Russian troops open fire on Humanitarian Airplanes above Gori.

Another illegal act carried out by the Russian Federation’s armed forces

It has become known that the Russian Federation’s armed forces illegally stationed on the territory of Georgia are mounting yet another provocation. In particular, Russian servicemen with the use of appropriate equipment are building a fixed control checkpoint on the Senaki-Poti highway, in the vicinity of the entrance to Poti, on the so-called 7th kilometer.

The aforesaid fact indicates the Russian side’s yet another attempt to proceed with and further expand its military intervention in and occupation of the territory of Georgia. It needs to be noted that Poti is located approximately 30 kilometers from the conflict zone of Abkhazia and approximately 160 kilometers from the conflict zone of the Tskhinvali region.

Against the background of the Russian Federation’s statement made at the highest level, actual facts of withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia point quite to the contrary.

We once again call on the international community to employ all resources at its disposal to put an end to Russian aggression.

Georgian Foreign Minister holds bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministerial Session in Brussels

On the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministerial Session on the situation in Georgia, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Eka Tkeshelashvili held a number of bilateral meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

On 19 August 2008, the Georgian Foreign Minister met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Bernard Kouchner, Federal Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria Ivailo Kalfin and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre.

The same day a working dinner was held with the foreign Ministers of the New Group of Friends. The Georgian Foreign Minister also met with OSCE Chairman-in-office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Alexander Stubb and High Representative of the Common and Security Policy of the European Union Javier Solana.

During these meetings, Minister Tkeshelashvili provided her foreign colleagues with exhaustive information on the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Georgia and the ongoing occupation. It was underlined that Russia continues naval and transport blockade disrupting military as well as civilian infrastructure and inflicting irreparable economic damage on the country.

The foreign diplomats unequivocally reaffirmed their support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and the necessity of Russia’s unconditional compliance with its commitments under the ceasefire agreement, envisaging, in particular, immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the Georgian territory. The Alliance member states were unanimous in pledging their support for Georgia in various important fields.

The countries also expressed their readiness for active involvement in terms of providing humanitarian assistance and carrying out restoration works on the territory of Georgia.

On the UN Security Council Session

On 19 August 2008, in New York, on the initiative of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, an emergency session of the UN Security Council was held to deal with the tense situation in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and other parts of Georgia.

Permanent Representative of Georgia to UN Irakli Alasania addressed the Security Council session acquainting its members in detail with the existing situation in Georgia. He asserted that the Russian Federation is carrying out a massive military intervention in Georgia and urged the Council members for action.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet expressed their deep concern over the situation in Georgia and called on the Russian Federation for immediate compliance with the commitments undertaken on the basis of the ceasefire agreement.

Representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium and Costa Rica also registered unanimously their support for the principles of Georgia’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders and urged Russia for adherence to the commitments under the ceasefire agreement and immediate withdrawal of its troops from the territory of Georgia.

The Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations developed a draft resolution of the UN Security Council, which should provide legal guarantees for the fulfillment of the peace agreement reached between Georgia and Russia.

Despite the commitment undertaken by the Russian Federation at the highest level to fulfill this agreement, Russia’s Permanent Representative to UN V. Churkin insisted on removal of the key points of this agreement from the draft resolution, which made it impossible to adopt the document.

The international community should no longer be surprised at the fact that the Russian Federation, which in the 21st century occupied the territory of Georgia thus lifting the veil from the hitherto disguised priorities of its own foreign policy, does all in its power to prevent the UN Security Council from adopting a resolution that could make Russia give up on its designs.

Timeline for 20th August, to 22:30


22:30 Russians reopen Gori check-points
• Russian troops reopen check-points in Gori that had been reportedly closed several hours before.

18:30 Russians drop fire-setting bombs 10 Km from Tbilisi
• In Kiketi, 10 km from Tbilisi, Russian military aircrafts drop fire-setting bombs, the forest in burning.

16:00 Russians occupy village in Chkhorotsku district, Samegrelo region, western Georgia
• Russians enter village Chogha of Chkhorotsku district, Samegrelo region, with armored vehicles and start digging the trenches.

15:30 Russians make checkpoint in the entrance of Poti.

14:00 Houses in Gori district burning
• Houses in village Dzevera in Gori district are burning. Besides, the Boshuri forest is also burning and the villages Bisi and Bobnevi are under danger.

13:00 Russian militaries try to prevent Matyas Eorsi from entering Gori
• Representative of the Council of Europe Matyas Eorsi is prevented by Russian militaries from entering Gori. After long dispute he entered the city, and was stopped again on his way back.

12:00 Governor of Shida Kartli arrested
• Representative of President-Governor of Shida Kartli Lado Vardzelashvili is arrested by Russian militaries at one of illegal Russian checkpoints as he was trying to release the trucks with humanitarian aid to the population of Gori district. He was released from detention after two hours.

Russian militaries do not allow the trucks with humanitarian aid to enter village Karaleti in Gori district.

11:00 Russian militaries occupy village in Sachkhere district, Imereti region, western Georgia
• Russian militaries occupy the village of Perevi, Sachkhere district, Imereti region. Over 50 Russian soldiers and three tanks are stationed there. It is reported that aggressors urge the population to get out of their houses and flee the village.

Vashadze received members of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia

On 20 August 2008 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze received members of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia Sandra Kalniete and Karlis Sadurskis. The meeting was attended by Director of the European Affairs’ Department Kakha Sikharulidze and II Secretary of the same Department Eka Chokheli.

The guests once again reiterated the support of Latvia and the people of Latvia towards the territorial integrity of Georgia and emphasized that the aim of their visit is to support the Georgian people.

The sides respectively assessed the recent developments in Georgia and touched upon the possible ways out of the present situation.

The Latvian side stressed that the Latvian people maintain firm in supporting Georgia and its foreign policy goals and expressed its hope for the normalization of situation in the nearest future.

Vashadze met with EU Special Representative for South Caucasus

On 20 August 2008 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze met with EU Special Representative for South Caucasus Peter Semneby.

The sides focused on the European Union’s role in resolving the issue of immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territory of Georgia and expressed their support for the unwavering principle of the international community’s respect for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Georgian Deputy Minister emphasized that Russia’s foreign policy is based on aggression the key instruments of which are conduction of ethnic cleansing in the neighbouring countries and complete destruction of their national economies.

Mr. Vashadze provided the European side, upon the latter’s request, with detailed information on the demographic composition of the Tskhinvali region prior to and after the Russian-Georgian conflict.

MFA reply to News-Georgia Agency

Question: In his interview to Vremya Novostey, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko accused Georgia of gross violation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the preamble of which reads that conscious of the need to prevent any military conflict, the state parties refrain from the use of force. How will you assess this statement?

Reply: It needs to be emphasized first of all that the Georgian side considers the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe as a cornerstone of the system of European security and strictly adheres to each of the Treaty-stipulated commitments.

As for Mr. Grushko’s comment, such absurd accusations take on a particularly cynical overtone when voiced by an official of the state, which has unleashed a large-scale military aggression against its neighbouring sovereign state, occupying a considerable part of its territory and conducting ethnic cleansing there.

It would be expedient for the Russian side to recall, while making similar statements, the so-called military operation Russia carried out in Chechnia, which entailed dire humanitarian consequences.

Furthermore, it is Russia’s non-fulfillment of its international commitments (Istanbul commitments) that has blocked the entry into force of the adapted CFE Treaty for so many years. Moreover, in December 2007 Russia violated the CFE Treaty by imposing a moratorium on its implementation thus putting the system of European security under serious threat.

NATO Foreign Ministerial Session

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes the statement adopted by the NATO Foreign Ministerial Session on the situation in Georgia.

A special reference should be made to the Alliance’s unqualified support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Of paramount importance to Georgia is NATO’s firm position on the urgency of unconditional implementation of the ceasefire agreement and immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expresses its gratitude to the Alliance member states for their readiness to render humanitarian and economic assistance to Georgia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia commends the Alliance’s decision to set up a NATO-Georgia Commission and expresses readiness to start, after reaching an agreement on respective modalities, active cooperation in this format in near future.

Georgia is determined to continue cooperation with the Alliance in the frames of Intensified Dialogue on Membership Issues and expresses hope that its relations with NATO will move to a qualitatively higher level of Membership Action Plan (MAP).

Georgian military servicemen taken hostage at the Poti seaport

On August 19, 2008, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General A. Nogovitsyn stated that the Russian peacekeepers had apprehended and disarmed twenty heavily armed Georgian paramilitaries, who were driving Hummer type five military vehicles (HAMVEE).

The above statement is slanderous and does not adequately reflect the real state of affairs.

In accordance with the ceasefire agreement, Georgian troops are returning to the places of their previous deployment. In particular, on 19 August, at 01:00, a small Georgian unit including 20 servicemen equipped with light weaponry was deployed at a small-sized military base next to one of the private terminals of the Poti Port.

On August 19, at 08:30 am, a column of Russian heavy military vehicles once again invaded the Poti seaport, which is a private-owned facility, and the Russian military unit took hostage the Georgian soldiers deployed there.

During withdrawal from the facility, Russian soldiers took with them five Hummer type military vehicles, which belong to the Armed Forces of the United States and were prepared for transportation to the United States. The above vehicles were brought to Georgia back in July, as US side needed them for participation in the international training "Immediate Response-2008”.

When moving out from the seaport territory, the Russian militaries blindfolded and placed several Georgian military servicemen on the Russian military vehicles to use them as "live shields”.

Thus, the General Nogovitsyn’s statement, according to which the heavily armed Georgian paramilitaries were allegedly imprisoned on August 18, by the Russian military servicemen deployed at the Russian peacekeeping check-point, is absolutely false and misleading.

It should be stressed as well that the Poti seaport is located far beyond the area envisaged in the ceasefire agreement brokered by the President of France; as a matter of fact, the above facility is situated approximately 30 kilometers away from the administrative border of Abkhazian region and 160 kilometers away from the administrative border of so-called South Ossetia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia strongly demands the Russian side to immediately release the illegally imprisoned Georgian military servicemen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More military monitoring officers

On 19 August 2008 the Permanent Council of the OSCE adopted the decision on increasing the number of Military Monitoring Officers in the OSCE Mission to Georgia by up to one hundred. The OSCE Member States have decided that 20 MMOs will be deployed immediately in the areas adjacent to South Ossetia. As regards to the rest of the additional MMOs, the modalities for their deployment are to be proposed by the OSCE Chairmanship, Finland without delay.

By deployment of additional OSCE Military Monitoring Officers in Georgia, the international mechanism is starting to operate, as stipulated by the cease-fire accord signed by the Georgian and Russian sides under the mediation of the President of France. According to paragraph 5 of the accord, "while awaiting an international mechanism, the Russian forces will implement additional security measures” in the conflict zone.

Furthermore, the deployment of the OSCE Military Monitoring Officers in Georgia implies that the Russian Federation, first of all, must withdraw unconditionally and without delay all its military forces from Georgia, and in parallel to this, immediately stop implementing aforementioned "additional security measures” carried out by so called peacekeepers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia would like to underline the active input and leading role of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, without which it would be impossible to reach consensus on such decision. The Georgian side expresses its hope that the Russian Federation will comply with its obligations in good faith and abstain from impeding further decisions, essential for meeting all obligations under the cease-fire accord.