Russia-Georgia Conflict in South Ossetia: Context and Implications for U.S. Interests
Russia-Georgia Conflict in South Ossetia:
Context and Implications for U.S. Interests
Updated October 24, 2008
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Russia-Georgia Conflict in South Ossetia:
Context and Implications for U.S. Interests
In the early 1990s, Georgia and its breakaway South Ossetia region had agreed
to a Russian-mediated ceasefire that provided for Russian “peacekeepers” to be
stationed in the region. Moscow extended citizenship and passports to most ethnic
Ossetians. Simmering long-time tensions erupted on the evening of August 7, 2008,
when South Ossetia and Georgia accused each other of launching intense artillery
barrages against each other. Georgia claims that South Ossetian forces did not
respond to a ceasefire appeal but intensified their shelling, “forcing” Georgia to send
in troops. On August 8, Russia launched large-scale air attacks and dispatched troops
to South Ossetia that engaged Georgian forces later in the day. By the morning of
August 10, Russian troops had occupied the bulk of South Ossetia, reached its border
with the rest of Georgia, and were shelling areas across the border. Russian troops
occupied several Georgian cities. Russian warships landed troops in Georgia’s
breakaway Abkhazia region and took up positions off Georgia’s Black Sea coast.
On August 12, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev declared that “the aim of
Russia’s operation for coercing the Georgian side to peace had been achieved.... The
aggressor has been punished.” Medvedev endorsed some elements of a European
Union (EU) peace plan presented by visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The
plan called for both sides to cease hostilities and pull troops back to positions they
held before the conflict began. It called for humanitarian aid and the return of
displaced persons. It called for Russian troops to pull back to pre-conflict areas of
deployment, but permitted temporary patrols in a security zone outside South Ossetia.
The plan also provided for a greater international role in peace talks and
peacekeeping, both of seminal Georgian interest. The EU objected to Russia’s
interpretation of the ceasefire as permitting Russian patrols in areas far outside South
Ossetia. On August 25, President Medvedev declared that “humanitarian reasons”
led him to recognize the independence of the regions. This recognition was widely
condemned by the United States and the international community. President Sarkozy
negotiated a follow-on agreement with Russia on September 8 that led to at least 200
EU observers to be deployed to the conflict zone by October 1 and virtually all
Russian forces to withdraw from areas adjacent to the borders of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia by midnight on October 10.
On August 13, President Bush announced that Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice would travel to France and Georgia to assist with the peace plan and that
Defense Secretary Robert Gates would direct U.S. humanitarian aid shipments to
Georgia. Secretary Rice proposed a multi-year $1 billion aid plan for Georgia on
September 3, and Vice President Cheney visited Georgia on September 4 to assure
that “America will help Georgia rebuild.” The Defense Department announced on
September 8 that it had completed deliveries of humanitarian aid and would later
send in a team to assess security assistance needs. Several Members of Congress
visited Georgia in the wake of the conflict and legislation has been passed in support
of Georgia’s territorial integrity and independence. P.L. 110-329, signed into law on
September 30, 2008, provides $365 million in added humanitarian and rebuilding
assistance for Georgia for FY2009.
Most Recent Developments..........................................1
Renewed Conflict in South Ossetia....................................4
Actions in Abkhazia and Western Georgia..........................6
Russia’s Partial Withdrawal......................................9
Russia Recognizes the Independence of the Regions.................10
The Follow-On Ceasefire Agreement.............................10
Implications for Georgia and Russia..................................11
Casualties and Displaced Persons................................15
International Humanitarian and Rebuilding Assistance................24
U.S. Reaction to Russia’s Recognition Declaration..................30
Georgia and the NATO Membership Action Plan....................32
110th Congress Legislation..........................................35
List of Figures
Figure 1. Map of South Ossetia......................................2
Figure 2. Conflict between Russia and Georgia.........................38
Russia-Georgia Conflict in South Ossetia:
Context and Implications for U.S. Interests
Most Recent Developments
Russian tax official Aslanbek Bulatsev was confirmed by the South Ossetian
legislature on October 22, 2008, as the region’s new “prime minister.” He pledged
to improve the regional economy to match that of Russia’s North Ossetia region.
Bulatsev joins other Russian officials who have long held top posts in South Ossetia.1
On October 15, 2008, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried reiterated that
the April 2008 NATO summit had declared Georgia and Ukraine will one day be
members of the Alliance, and stressed that “it is our view that countries should have
a right to choose for themselves whether they want to be in NATO. And if they do
want to be in NATO then they have to meet NATO standards.” He also suggested2
that “NATO membership for these countries is years away....”
On October 19, 2008, the Washington Post called for the United States and
Europe to cooperate to ensure that “Russian companies that invest in [South Ossetia
and Abkhazia] without obtaining the approval of the Georgian government can be
sued, sanctioned, and eventually prohibited from doing business in the West. The
territories should be placed under an international trusteeship while their future is
negotiated....” The newspaper also called for the Bush administration to insist that3
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili carry out democratization pledges.
An international donors’ conference in Belgium on October 22, 2008, received
pledges of $4.5 billion in aid for rebuilding Georgia (see below).
Tensions in Georgia date back at least to the 1920s, when South Ossetia made
abortive attempts to declare its independence but ended up as an autonomous region
within Soviet Georgia after the Red Army conquered Georgia. In 1989, South
Ossetia lobbied for joining its territory with North Ossetia in Russia or for
1 Open Source Center. Central Eurasia: Daily Report (hereafter CEDR), October 23, 2008,
Doc. No. CEP-25001.
2 U.S. Department of State. Press Briefing at U.S. Mission Geneva [by] Daniel Fried,
Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, October 15, 2008.
3 “Where Georgia Stands: the Struggle to Ensure That Russia's Aggression Doesn't Succeed
Has Not Ended,” The Washington Post, October 19, 2008.
independence. Georgia’s own declaration of independence from the former Soviet
Union and subsequent repressive efforts by former Georgian President Gamsakhurdia
triggered conflict in 1990. In January 1991, hostilities broke out between Georgia
and South Ossetia, reportedly contributing to an estimated 2,000-4,000 deaths and
the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
In June 1992, Russia brokered a cease-fire, and Russian, Georgian, and Ossetian
“peacekeeping” units set up base camps in a security zone around Tskhinvali, the
capital of South Ossetia. The units usually totalled around 1,100 troops, including
about 530 Russians, a 300-member North Ossetian brigade (which was actually
composed of South Ossetians and headed by a North Ossetian), and about 300
Georgians. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) did most of the patrolling. A Joint Control Commission (JCC) composed
of Russian, Georgian, and North and South Ossetian emissaries ostensibly promoted
a settlement of the conflict, with the OSCE as facilitator. According to some
estimates, some 20,000 ethnic Georgians resided in one-third to one-half of the
region and 25,000 ethnic Ossetians in the other portion. Many fled during the
fighting in the early 1990s or migrated.
Figure 1. Map of South Ossetia
Source: Central Intelligence Agency via the University of Texas at Austin. Perry-Castaneda Library
Map Collection. [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/georgia_republic.html]
Some observers warned that Russia’s increasing influence in South Ossetia and
Abkhazia over the years transformed the separatist conflicts into essentially Russia-
Georgia disputes. Most residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia reportedly were
granted Russian citizenship and passports and most appeared to want their regions4
to be part of Russia.
4 Vladimir Socor, Eurasia Insight, November 20, 2006.
In late 2003, Mikheil Saakashvili came to power during the so-called “rose
revolution” (he was elected president in January 2004). He pledged to institute
democratic and economic reforms, and to re-gain central government authority over
the separatist regions. In 2004, he began to increase pressure on South Ossetia by
tightening border controls and breaking up a large-scale smuggling operation in the
region that allegedly involved Russian organized crime and corrupt Georgian
officials. He also reportedly sent several hundred police, military, and intelligence
personnel into South Ossetia. Georgia maintained that it was only bolstering its
peacekeeping contingent up to the limit of 500 troops, as permitted by the cease-fire
agreement. Georgian guerrilla forces also reportedly entered the region. Allegedly,
Russian officials likewise assisted several hundred paramilitary elements from
Abkhazia, Transnistria, and Russia to enter. Following inconclusive clashes, both
sides by late 2004 ostensibly had pulled back most of the guerrillas and paramilitary
In July 2005, President Saakashvili announced a new peace plan for South
Ossetia that offered substantial autonomy and a three-stage settlement, consisting of
demilitarization, economic rehabilitation, and a political settlement. South Ossetian
“president” Eduard Kokoiti rejected the plan, asserting in October 2005 that “we
[South Ossetians] are citizens of Russia.”5 The Georgian peace plan received
backing by the OSCE Ministerial Council in early December 2005. Perhaps faced
with this international support, in mid-December 2005, Kokoiti proffered a South
Ossetian peace proposal that also envisaged benchmarks, but presumed that South
Ossetia would be independent.
In November 2006, a popular referendum was held in South Ossetia to reaffirm
its “independence” from Georgia. The separatists reported that 95% of 55,000
registered voters turned out and that 99% approved the referendum. In a separate
vote, 96% reelected Kokoiti. The OSCE and U.S. State Department declined to
recognize these votes. In “alternative” voting among ethnic Georgians in South
Ossetia (and those displaced from South Ossetia) and other South Ossetians, the pro-
Georgian Dmitriy Sanakoyev was elected governor of South Ossetia, and a
referendum was approved supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity.
In March 2007, President Saakashvili proposed another peace plan for South
Ossetia that involved creating “transitional” administrative districts throughout the
region — ostensibly under Sanakoyev’s authority — which would be represented by
an emissary at JCC or alternative peace talks. In July 2007, President Saakashvili
decreed the establishment of a commission to work out South Ossetia’s “status” as
a part of Georgia. The JCC finally held a meeting (with Georgia’s emissaries in
attendance) in Tbilisi, Georgia, in October 2007, but the Russian Foreign Ministry
5 CEDR, October 7, 2005, Doc. No. CEP-15001. CEDR, December 12, 2005, Doc. No.
CEP-27204. South Ossetians who were citizens of Russia voted in the 2004 Russian
presidential election, and a poster in South Ossetia afterward proclaimed that “Putin is our
president.” Many South Ossetians voted in the 2007 Russian Duma election and the 2008
Russian presidential election. CEDR, December 3, 2007, Doc. No. CEP-950289; February
claimed that the Georgian emissaries made unacceptable demands in order to
deliberately sabotage the results of the meeting.6 No further meetings were held.
During the latter half of July 2008, Russia conducted a military exercise that
proved to be a rehearsal for Russian actions in Georgia a few weeks later. Code-
named Caucasus 2008, the exercise involved more than 8,000 troops and was
conducted near Russia’s border with Georgia. One scenario was a hypothetical
attack by unnamed (but undoubtedly Georgian) forces on Georgia’s breakaway
regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian forces practiced a counterattack by
land, sea, and air to buttress Russia’s “peacekeepers” stationed in the regions, protect
“Russian citizens,” and offer humanitarian aid. The Georgian Foreign Ministry
protested that the scenario constituted a threat of invasion. Simultaneously with the
Russian military exercise, about 1,000 U.S. troops, 600 Georgian troops, and token
forces from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine conducted an exercise in Georgia,
code-named Immediate Response 2008, aimed at increasing troop interoperability for
NATO operations and coalition actions in Iraq. Most of these troops had left Georgia
by the time of the outbreak of conflict.7
Renewed Conflict in South Ossetia
Tensions escalated in South Ossetia on July 3, 2008, when an Ossetian village
police chief was killed by a bomb and the head of the pro-Georgian “government”
in South Ossetia, Dmitriy Sanakoyev, escaped injury by a roadside mine. That night,
both the Georgians and South Ossetians launched artillery attacks on each other’s
villages and checkpoints, reportedly resulting in about a dozen killed or wounded.
The European Union (EU), the OSCE, and the Council of Europe (COE) issued
urgent calls for both sides to show restraint and to resume peace talks.
On July 8, 2008, four Russian military planes flew over South Ossetian airspace.
The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that the incursion had helped discourage
Georgia from launching an imminent attack on South Ossetia. The Georgian
government denounced the incursion as violating its territorial integrity, and on July
11 recalled its ambassador to Russia for “consultations.” The U.N. Security Council
discussed the overflights at a closed meeting on July 21, 2008. Although no decision
was reached, Georgian diplomats reportedly stated that the session was successful,
6 CEDR, November 1, 2007, Doc. No. CEP-950449.
7 CEDR, July 18, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-548001; July 28, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-358017;
Georgia National Guard, “‘Immediate Response’ Underway in Republic of Georgia,”
Army.Mil News, July 15, 2008; Capt. Bryan Woods, “Security Cooperation Exercise
Immediate Response 2008 Begins with Official Ceremony in Republic of Georgia,”
Army.Mil News, July 17, 2008. According to one report, 130 U.S. troops were still in
Georgia at the time of the outbreak of conflict on August 7-8. They were moved from the
Vaziani air base to a Tbilisi hotel, and departed the country after the conflict. Roland
Flamini, “War Games Too Close for Comfort,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly, October
while Russian envoy Vitaliy Churkin denounced the “pro-Georgian bias” of some
Security Council members.8
The day after the Russian aerial incursion, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
arrived in Georgia for two days of discussions on ways to defuse the rising tensions
between Georgia and Russia. She stated that “some of the things the Russians did
over the last couple of months added to tension in the region,” called for Russia to
respect Georgia’s independence, and stressed the “strong commitment” of the United
States to Georgia’s territorial integrity.9
On July 25, 2008, a bomb blast in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia, killed one person.
On July 30, both sides again exchanged artillery fire, with the South Ossetians
allegedly shelling a Georgian-built road on a hill outside Tskhinvali, and the
Georgians allegedly shelling two Ossetian villages. Two days later, five Georgian
police were injured on this road by a bomb blast. This incident appeared to trigger
serious fighting on August 2-4, which resulted in over two dozen killed and
wounded. Kokoity threatened to attack Georgian cities and to call for paramilitary
volunteers from the North Caucasus, and announced that women and children would
be evacuated to North Ossetia. Georgia claimed that these paramilitary volunteers
were already arriving in South Ossetia.
On the evening of August 7, 2008, South Ossetia accused Georgia of launching
a “massive” artillery barrage against Tskhinvali, while Georgia reported intense
bombing of some Georgian villages in the conflict zone. Saakashvili that evening
announced a unilateral ceasefire and called for South Ossetia to follow suit. He also
called for reopening peace talks and reiterated that Georgia would provide the region
with maximum autonomy within Georgia as part of a peace settlement. Georgia
claims that South Ossetian forces did not end their shelling of Georgian villages but
intensified their actions, “forcing” Georgia to declare an end to its ceasefire and begin
sending ground forces into South Ossetia (for more on this view of events, see below,
International Response). Georgian troops reportedly soon controlled much of South
Ossetia, including Tskhinvali.
Russian President Medvedev addressed an emergency session of the Russian
Security Council on August 8. He denounced Georgia’s incursion into South
Ossetia, asserting that “women, children and the elderly are now dying in South
Ossetia, and most of them are citizens of the Russian Federation.” He stated that “we
shall not allow our compatriots to be killed with impunity. Those who are responsible
for that will be duly punished.” He appeared to assert perpetual Russian control in
stating that “historically Russia has been, and will continue to be, a guarantor of
security for peoples of the Caucasus.”10 On August 11, he reiterated this principle
8 CEDR, July 22, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950329; July 22, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950042.
9 U.S. Department of State. Press Release. Secretary’s Remarks: Remarks En Route
Prague, Czech Republic, July 8, 2008.
10 CEDR, August 8, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950325.
that Russia is the permanent guarantor of Caucasian security and that “we have never
been just passive observers in this region and never will be.”11
In response to the Georgian incursion into South Ossetia, Russia launched large-
scale air attacks in the region and elsewhere in Georgia. Russia quickly dispatched
seasoned professional (serving under contract) troops to South Ossetia that engaged
Georgian forces in Tskhinvali on August 8. That same day, Russian warplanes
destroyed Georgian airfields, including the Vaziana and Marneuli airbases near the
Georgian capital Tbilisi. Saakashvili responded by ordering that reservists be
mobilized and declaring a 15-day “state of war.”
Reportedly, up to 14,000 Russian troops had retaken Tskhinvali, occupied the
bulk of South Ossetia, reached its border with the rest of Georgia, and were shelling
areas across the border by early in the morning on August 10 (Sunday).12 These
troops were allegedly augmented by thousands of volunteer militiamen from the
On August 10, Georgian National Security Council Secretary Alexander Lomaia
reported that Georgia had requested that Secretary Rice act as a mediator with Russia
in the crisis over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, including by transmitting
a diplomatic note that Georgia’s armed forces had ceased fire and had withdrawn
from nearly all of South Ossetia.14 Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili
also phoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to report that all Georgian
forces had been withdrawn from South Ossetia and to request a ceasefire, but Lavrov
countered that Georgian forces remained in Tskhinvali.15
On August 11, Russia bombed apartment buildings in the city of Gori — within
undisputed Georgian territory — and occupied the city.
Actions in Abkhazia and Western Georgia
On August 10, the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Edmond
Mulet, reported to the U.N. Security Council that the U.N. Observer Mission in
Georgia (UNOMIG; about 100 observers in all) had witnessed “ongoing aerial
bombardments of Georgian villages in the Upper Kodori Valley” the previous day.16
11 CEDR, August 12, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950226.
12 CEDR, August 18, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-349001.
13 Anne Barnard, Andrew Kramer, C.J. Chivers and Ellen Barry, “Clashes in Georgia Move
Another Step Closer to All-Out War: Russian Bombers Strike Capital’s Airport,” The New
York Times, August 11, 2008; Dario Thuburn, “Russia’s Ragtag Volunteers Enrol for
Combat,” Agence France-Presse, August 10, 2008.
14 Agence France-Presse, August 10, 2008.
15 Interfax, August 10, 2008.
16 In July 2006, a warlord in the Kodori Valley area of northern Abkhazia, where many
ethnic Svans reside, foreswore his nominal allegiance to the Georgian government. The
They also had observed “the movement by the Abkhaz side of substantial numbers
of heavy weapons and military personnel towards the Kodori Valley.” Mulet also
warned that Abkhaz separatist leader Sergey Bagapsh had threatened to push the
Georgian armed forces out of the Upper Kodori Valley. In violation of their
mandate, the Russian “peacekeepers” “did not attempt to stop such deployments” of
Abkhaz rebel weaponry, Mulet reported. Fifteen UNOMIG observers were
withdrawn from the Kodori Valley because the Abkhaz rebels announced that their
safety could not be guaranteed, Mulet stated.17
Russian peacekeepers also permitted Abkhaz forces to deploy in the Gali region
and along the Inguri River near the border of Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.
Russian military and Abkhaz militia forces then moved across the river into the
Zugdidi district, southwest of Abkhazia and undisputedly in Georgian territory
(although some part is within the peacekeeping zone). Bombs fell on the town of
Zugdidi on August 10. As the local population fled, Russian troops reportedly
occupied the town and its police stations on August 11. Reportedly, the Russian
military stated that it would not permit the Abkhaz forces to occupy the town of
Zugdidi. The next day, the Russian military reported that it had disarmed Georgian
police forces in the Kodori Valley and the Georgian police had pulled out.18
On August 10, Russia sent ships from the Black Sea Fleet to deliver troops to
Abkhazia and take up positions along Georgia’s coastline. Russian military officials
reported that up to 6,000 troops had been deployed by sea or air. Russian television
reported that Igor Dygalo, Russian naval spokesman and aide to the Russian navy
commander-in-chief, claimed that Russian ships had sunk a Georgian vessel in a
short battle off the coast of Georgia.19 Georgian officials reported that the Russian
ships were preventing ships from entering or leaving the port at Poti. The Russians
reportedly also sank Georgia’s coast guard vessels at Poti. Russian troops occupied
a Georgian military base in the town of Senaki, near Poti, on August 11.
On August 12, the Russian government announced at mid-day that Medvedev
had called Javier Solana, the European Union’s High Representative for Common
Foreign and Security Policy to report that “the aim of Russia’s operation for coercing
the Georgian side to peace had been achieved and it had been decided to conclude the
operation.”20 In a subsequent meeting with Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and
chief of Armed Forces General Staff Nikolai Makarov, Medvedev stated that “based
on your report I have ordered an end to the operations to oblige Georgia to restore
Georgian government quickly sent forces to the area, defeated the warlord’s militia, and
bolstered central authority.
17 “Security Council Holds Third Emergency Meeting as South Ossetia Conflict Intensifies,
Expands to Other Parts of Georgia,” States News Service, August 10, 2008.
18 CEDR, August 10, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950192 and Doc. No. CEP-950191.
19 CEDR, August 10, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950216.
20 ITAR-TASS, August 12, 2008.
peace.... The security of our peacekeeping brigade and civilian population has been
restored. The aggressor has been punished and suffered very heavy losses.”
Seemingly in contradiction to his order for a halt in operations, he also ordered his
generals to continue “mopping up” actions, which included ongoing bombing by
warplanes throughout Georgia, the occupation of villages, and destruction of military
bases, bridges, industries, houses, and other economic or strategic assets.21
Later on August 12, Medvedev met with visiting French President Sarkozy, who
presented a ceasefire plan on behalf of the EU.22 President Medvedev reportedly
backed some elements of the plan. French Foreign Minister Koucher then flew to
Tbilisi to present the proposals to the Georgian government. Medvedev and
Saakashvili consulted by phone the night of August 12-13 and they reportedly agreed
in principle to a six-point peace plan, according to a press conference by Sarkozy.
The peace plan calls for all parties to the conflict23 to cease hostilities and pull
troops back to positions they had occupied before the conflict began. Other elements
of the peace plan include allowing humanitarian aid into the conflict zone and
facilitating the return of displaced persons. It excludes mention of Georgia’s
territorial integrity. The plan calls for the withdrawal of Russian combat troops from
Georgia, but allows Russian “peacekeepers” to remain and to patrol in a larger
security zone outside South Ossetia that will include a swath of Georgian territory
along South Ossetia’s border. The plan also calls for “the opening of international
discussions on the modalities of security and stability of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia.” This seems to provide for possibly greater international roles in peace
talks and peacekeeping, both of seminal Georgian interest. However, it does not
specifically state that international peacekeepers will be deployed within South
Ossetia. Supposedly, the Russian “peacekeepers” will cease patrolling the area
outside South Ossetia after the modalities of international peacekeeping are worked
out and monitors are deployed within this area, a process that could take some time.
An emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on August 13 endorsed the
peace plan and the possible participation of EU monitors. Medvedev hosted the de
facto presidents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Moscow on August 14, where they
signed the peace agreement. On August 15, Secretary Rice traveled to Tbilisi and
Saakashvili signed the agreement. France submitted a draft resolution based on the
plan at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on August 19, but Russia
21 CEDR, August 12, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950208.
22 President Sarkozy — whose country had taken the rotating leadership of the EU in July
Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other European leaders to work out the EU
23 The Russian Foreign Ministry has asserted that the parties to the conflict covered by the
peace plan are Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia signed the peace plan as a
mediator of the conflict, along with France, signing for the EU. The OSCE might also sign
as a mediator. CEDR, August 19, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950086.
blocked it, reportedly stating that only the verbatim elements of the vaguely-written
plan should be included in the resolution (see also below for UNSC action).24
The Russian military was widely reported to be carrying out extensive “mopping
up” operations throughout Georgia, except for the capital, Tbilisi. These appear to
involve degrading Georgia’s remaining military assets and occupying extensive
“buffer zones” of Georgian territory near the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On August 20, Russia’s General Staff deputy head Nogovitsyn claimed that the 6-
point peace plan permitted the establishment of “buffer zones” and no-fly zones near
Georgia’s borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He specified that the zone
around Abkhazia would include Georgia’s Senaki military base, precluding Georgia’s
use of the base. These zones appear somewhat like those established by Armenia
during the early 1990s conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno Karabakh
International media reported that Russian troops and paramilitary forces were
widely looting, destroying infrastructure, detaining Georgians, and placing mines
throughout the country, similar to what often took place during Russia’s operations
in its breakaway Chechnya region early in the decade. On August 18, Russian forces
burned the Ganmukhuri youth patriotic camp near Zugdidi, which Russia had
claimed was a Georgian military base. From the occupied base at Senaki, Russian
troops made repeated forays into the countryside. Russian forces occupying Poti
reportedly prevented most trade in and out of the port and widely pillaged. They
detained 20 Georgian troops and police guarding the port on August 19. They also
allegedly destroyed a Georgian missile boat and seized U.S. HUMVEEs being
shipped out of the port.25 France reportedly raised concerns that a mountain warfare
training base it had helped Georgia set up in Sachkere in Western Georgia for NATO
interoperability training was being threatened with destruction by Russian military
Russia’s Partial Withdrawal
On August 21, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Anatoliy
Nogovitsyn, stated that “by the end of August 22 all forces of the Russian Federation
[now in Georgia] will be within the area of responsibility of the Russian
peacekeepers.” Western media on August 22 reported sizeable but not complete
Russian military withdrawals. On August 22, Russian forces reportedly left the
village of Igoeti, 17 miles from Tbilisi, but an Ossetian militia occupied the village
24 Christopher Boian, “Russia Moves Toward Recognition of Georgian Rebel Zones,”
Agence France-Presse, August 20, 2008.
25 Bela Szandelszky and Mike Eckel, “Russia Moves Toward Pullback but Shows Strength,”
Associated Press, August 20, 2008.
26 “French-Funded Army Training Center in Georgia Threatened,” Agence France-Presse,
August 20, 2008.
of Akhalgori, 25 miles north-west of Tbilisi.27 Russian forces reportedly were
leaving Gori on August 22. Until then, access to the city had been partially restricted.
In the northwest, Russian troops reportedly left the Senaki military base.
Nogovitsyn and other Russian officials seemingly had argued that Georgia’s
actions had negated past ceasefire regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Nonetheless, Nogovitsyn asserted on August 28 that the 1992 ceasefire accords for
South Ossetia permitted Russia to deploy “peacekeeping” troops in Poti, more than
one hundred miles from South Ossetia, or in other areas “adjacent” to the region.28
Russia Recognizes the Independence of the Regions
On August 25, Russia’s Federation Council (upper legislative chamber) and the
Duma (lower chamber) met and recommended that the president recognize the
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In an announcement on August 26,
Medvedev claimed that “humanitarianism” dictated that Russia recognize the
independence of the regions, and he called on other countries to also extend
diplomatic recognition. Russia began searching for premises for embassies and
considering ambassadorial candidates.
On September 5, Nicaragua extended diplomatic recognition to Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, the only sovereign nation besides Russia to do so. At a late August
2008 summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (a trade and security
organization consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and
Uzbekistan), the communique appeared to reflect China’s disapproval of recognizing
breakaway regions.29 Similarly, a meeting of the Russia-led Collective Security
Treaty Organization in early September (other members include Armenia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) did not result in any members
extending diplomatic recognition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Follow-On Ceasefire Agreement
On September 8, 2008, visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian
President Dmitriy Medvedev signed a follow-on ceasefire accord that fleshed out the
provisions of the 6-point peace plan. It stipulated that Russian forces would
withdraw from areas adjacent to the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by
midnight on October 10; that Georgian forces would return to their barracks by
October 1; that international observers already in place from the U.N. and OSCE
would remain; and that the number of international observers would be increased by
October 1, to include at least 200 EU observers. An international conference on
ensuring security and stability in the region, resettling refugees and displaced
persons, and a peace settlement would be convened in Geneva in mid-October.
27 The Guardian (London), August 19, 2008.
28 CEDR, August 28, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950418.
29 CEDR, August 28, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950470.
In a press conference after signing the accord, President Medvedev asserted that
Russia’s recognition was “irrevocable,” and that Russian “peacekeepers” would
remain deployed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Although Sarkozy strongly implied
that the international conference would examine the legal status of Georgia’s
breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Medvedev pointed out that the regions had
been recognized as independent by Russia on August 26, 2008, and stated that
disputing this recognition was a “fantasy.” Sarkozy hailed the accord as possibly
clearing the way for the EU to soon re-open partnership talks with Moscow.30
On September 9, the Russian defense minister asserted that “around 3,800”
Russian “peacekeepers” would remain in Abkhazia and the same number in South
Ossetia.31 This assertion triggered criticism by the United States, Georgia, and
others that the ceasefire accords called for the numbers of Russian “peacekeepers”
to revert to pre-conflict levels, which before the build-up in Abkhazia were about
2,000 troops and in South Ossetia were 1,000 troops (500 Russian troops and 500
North Ossetian troops, whom were in actuality mostly South Ossetian). On
September 14, NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer reportedly criticized the
EU for not insisting that Russia reduce its “peacekeepers” to pre-conflict levels.32
Russia troops withdrew from Poti and Senaki on September 13 in accordance
with the follow-on accord. The European Union (EU) deployed 225 unarmed
monitors to Georgia by October 1, 2008, to patrol areas along Georgia’s borders with
its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in accordance with ceasefire
accords. Russian troops pulled back by October 9 from so-called “buffer zones”
they occupied outside of the borders of the regions. Troubling aspects included
Russia’s apparent backing to efforts by Abkhazia and South Ossetia to increase the
size of their territories at Georgia’s expense. In Abkhazia, Russian troops remained
in the Kodori Gorge area and appeared to support Abkhaz efforts to move the border
to the Inguri River. In South Ossetia, Russian checkpoints remained in Akhalgori
district, which was within the region’s Soviet-era borders but had been administered
by Georgia since the South Ossetian conflict of the early 1990s. The United States
continues to argue that the 6-point ceasefire plan calls for Russian troops in excess
of pre-conflict numbers to withdraw from South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Implications for Georgia and Russia
According to some observers, the recent Russia-Georgia conflict harms both
countries. In the case of Georgia and South Ossetia, the fighting reportedly has
resulted in hundreds of military and civilian casualties and large-scale infrastructure
30 Open Source Center. Central Eurasia: Daily Report(hereafter CEDR), September 28,
31 Conor Humphries, “Russia Establishes Ties with Georgia Regions,” Agence France-
Presse, September 9, 2008; “Russia to Base 7,600 Troops in Georgian Regions,” Deutsche
Presse-Agentur, September 9, 2008.
32 James Blitz, “NATO Head Attacks EU’s Georgia Deal,” Financial Times, September 14,
damage that has set back economic growth and contributed to urgent humanitarian
needs. Tens of thousands of displaced persons add to humanitarian concerns. The
fighting appears to have hardened anti-Georgian attitudes in both South Ossetia and
Abkhazia, making the possibility of re-integration with Georgia — which is still
hoped for by the Saakashvili government even in the face of Russia’s recognition of
the regions’ independence — more remote. Georgia also may face more difficulty
in persuading some NATO members that it is ready for a Membership Action Plan
(MAP), usually considered as a prelude to membership. In the case of Russia, its
seemingly disproportionate military campaign and its unilateral declaration of
recognition appear to have widely harmed its image as a reliable and peaceable
member of the international community. Russia also reports that its military
operations and pledges to rebuild South Ossetia are costing hundreds of millions of
According to a report prepared by the World Bank and other international
financial institutions, the conflict “resulted in shocks to economic growth and
stability in Georgia [including] a weakening of investor, lender and consumer
confidence, a contraction of liquidity in the banking system, stress on public finances,
damage to physical infrastructure,... and increased numbers of internally displaced
persons.” The conflict has caused an estimated $394.5 million in damages that will
need to be repaired within the next six months and has reduced projected economic
growth for the year from 9% to 3.5%, according to the World Bank. Lessened
economic growth rates may persist for several years.33 The European Commissioner
for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner,
reportedly stated in early September that it appeared that economic damage to
Georgia was less than feared, although still significant in terms of humanitarian
problems caused by the destruction of homes and the displacement of persons.
However, the Commissioner of Human Rights of the COE, Thomas Hammerberg,
reportedly found widespread destruction of ethnic Georgian villages and homes
during a visit to South Ossetia, apparently caused by Ossetian and North Caucasian
militias as part of “ethnic cleansing” efforts.34
Saakashvili announced on September 7 special subsidies to support the grape
harvest and welcomed announcements of U.S. and IMF aid (see below).35 Georgia
has moved quickly to rebuild roads, railways, and bridges to re-establish trade.
Although Georgian opposition politicians and other citizens largely muted their
criticism of Saakashvili in the initial period after the ceasefire, there are signs of a
growing debate about the causes and conduct of the conflict. Former legislative
speaker Nino Burjanadze has stated that at some point society will evaluate the
events of early August 2008. Opposition Republican Party leader Davit Usupashvili
stated in early September that “Saakashvili was misled by someone ... who told him
33 The World Bank. Georgia: Summary of Joint Needs Assessment Findings Prepared for
the Donors’ Conference of October 22, 2008 in Brussels, n.d.
34 “European Rights Commissioner Paints Grim Picture Of Georgian Conflict Zone,”
RFE/RL, September 30, 2008.
35 CEDR, September 6, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950156; September 7, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-
that the Russians were prepared to surrender Tskhinvali provided we would halt our
activities in Abkhazia.... He would not have walked into this trap had someone not
offered him assurances that the Russians were not going to move in through the Roki
tunnel.... He tends to trust and believe the wrong kind of people or take thoughtless
and emotional steps. In any case, it is a matter of his personal political responsibility.
At the same time, certain people must face criminal charges because of the things that
happened. The time for this will come....”36 Some politicians have signed a Charter
of Georgian Politicians, which pledges pro-government and opposition parties to
mute criticism during crises to the nation.
President Medvedev’s vow on August 8 to “punish” Georgia denoted Russian
intentions beyond restoring control over South Ossetia. When he announced on
August 12 that Russian troops were ending their offensive against Georgia, he stated
that Russia’s aims had been accomplished and the aggressor punished. Various
observers have suggested several possible Russian reasons for the “punishment”
beyond inflicting casualties and damage. These include coercing Georgia to accept
Russian conditions on the status of the separatist regions, to relinquish its aspirations
to join NATO,37 and to replace Saakashvili as the president.38 In addition, Russia
may have wanted to “punish” the West for recognizing Kosovo’s independence, for
seeking to integrate Soviet successor states (which are viewed by Russia as part of
its sphere of influence) into Western institutions such as the EU and NATO, and for
developing oil and gas pipeline routes that bypass Russia.
The prospects of improved Russia-Georgia relations appear dimmed by Russia’s
refusal to directly negotiate with Saakashvili, Georgia’s decision on August 29 to
sever diplomatic relations with Russia, and Russia’s retaliatory severing of
diplomatic ties with Georgia.39 Ruptured bilateral trade and transport ties — which
have wider regional economic and humanitarian repercussions — are likely to persist
for some time, according to many observers.
The Russia-Georgia conflict seemed to show that Putin was the dominant figure
in the Russian government. Putin left the Beijing Olympics early and flew to
Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia. State-controlled media showed Putin meeting with
military officers and seemingly in charge of military operations. Later government-
issued reports and telecasts of meetings between Medvedev and Putin during the
crisis appeared to show Putin “suggesting” courses of action to Medvedev.
Following international criticism of Russia’s incomplete withdrawal of military
troops from Georgia and its recognition of the regions as independent, both Putin and
Medvedev have escalated their anti-Western rhetoric, according to many observers.
36 Tara Bahrampour, “Georgians Question Wisdom of War With Russia,” The Washington
Post, September 9, 2008; “Georgian Opposition Leader Says President Walked into Trap,”
BBC Monitoring, September 5, 2008.
37 “Russia ‘Punishing’ Georgia for NATO Aspirations,” RFE/RL, August 10, 2008.
38 Robert Kagan, “Putin Makes His Move,” Washington Post, August 11, 2008.
39 The Russian Foreign Ministry asserted on August 18 that while Russia was ready for
negotiations with Georgia over the South Ossetia crisis, “we do not regard Mikheil
Saakashvili as a negotiating partner.” Interfax, August 19, 2008.
One Russian commentator has raised concerns that the hard line followed by the
Putin-Medvedev tandem has strengthened the influence of the so-called siloviki —
the representatives and veterans of the military, security, and police agencies — over
foreign and defense policy.40
Many observers have warned Russia that it risks international isolation by
engaging in behavior widely condemned by the world of nations. Prime Minister
Putin has downplayed the significance of various sanctions considered by the West,
including the value of Russia joining the World Trade Organization or retaining
membership in the G-8, and has appeared to implement pre-emptive trade restrictions
on U.S. food exports. At the same time, the EU and the COE have appeared to
retreat from considering sanctions against Russia (see below).
South Ossetia’s “president” Kokoiti has stated that his region seeks unification
with Russia, although according to one Russian media report, Russian officials have
urged him to soft-pedal this intention for the time being and to instead state that
South Ossetia seeks to remain independent.41 Abkhazia’s “president” Bagapsh has
stated that the region wants to remain independent, but to have ties with Russia that
appear virtually confederal in nature. In 5-10 years, he states, a decision could be
made on unification with Russia.42
On September 17, 2008, Russia signed Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual
Assistance agreements with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to some
Russian authorities, these agreements provide for the regions to “decide” on the
number of Russian troops they host, so render inoperable arguments by the EU and
the OSCE that Russian troop levels in the regions should accord with pre-conflict
The friendship agreements effectively make the regions dependencies of Russia,
according to some observers. They permit Russia to establish military bases in the
regions, which it has stated that it will do quickly. The agreements also provide for
Russian border troops to help defend the regional borders, provide for free entry into
Russia by residents of the regions, and provide for Russian embassies to protect the
interests of the residents of the regions when they travel abroad. Perhaps merely
codifying the existing trend before the Russia-Georgia conflict, the regions pledge
to “unify” their civil, tax, welfare, and pension laws and their banking, energy,
transportation, and telecommunications systems with those of Russia.
According to some observers, Russia’s recognition of the independence of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia has conferred legitimacy on the existing ruling groups
in the regions — which include corrupt “elected” officials and organized crime
leaders — and has given permanence to smuggling networks allegedly run by
40 CEDR, August 11, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-25028.
41 CEDR, September 12, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-25003; September 17, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-
42 Open Source Center. Europe: Daily Report, September 5, 2008, Doc. No. EUP-58009;
ITAR-TASS, September 10, 2008.
Russian “peacekeepers” and security personnel. These observers warn that this
enhanced Russian backing increases the threats posed by smuggling and other
criminal activities to Georgia’s stability. In the wake of recognizing the regions,
Russia reportedly requested some reshuffling of regional officials as a condition for
granting economic assistance, perhaps indicative of the criminal activities of the de
Casualties and Displaced Persons
Estimates of dead and injured have varied, in part because Russia initially
limited media and most NGO access to South Ossetia. However, early claims by
sources in South Ossetia that 1,500-2,000 people were killed during the conflict with
Georgia have appeared overblown. On September 3, an official in the Russian
Prosecutor’s Office stated that 134 civilians had been killed in South Ossetia, along
with 59 Russian military personnel.44 Russian military sources reported that four of
its warplanes had been shot down. On September 15, 2008, the Georgian
government reported that 372 citizens had died, of which 168 were military
servicemen, 188 civilians, and 16 policemen. However, there are dozens of “missing
persons,” which eventually may result in a revised death toll.45
According to a report prepared by the World Bank for the donors’ conference
in October 2008, about 127,000 persons were displaced by the fighting in Georgia,
South Ossetia, and Abkhazia at the height of the conflict. Over 68,000 displaced
persons (in Georgia and the regions) have returned to their homes, according to the
World Bank, but about 34,000 persons need temporary shelter until they can return
to their houses in the spring, and about 30,000 persons need long-term housing
because they cannot return or their homes have been destroyed. The returnees are in
need of assistance to restore their livelihoods and repair damage to their property.
In addition, 100,000 people that were affected directly or indirectly by the conflict
may be vulnerable and in need of assistance.46 Russia’s Emergency Situations
Ministry reported in mid-September that almost all of the 35,000 South Ossetians
whom had fled to North Ossetia during the fighting had returned to their homes and
that all the temporary accommodation facilities opened in North Ossetia had been
closed. According to Georgian reports, Ossetian and allied paramilitary forces in
South Ossetia were engaged in “ethnic cleansing” against ethnic Georgians, forcing
43 Michael Bronner, “When the War Ends, Start to Worry,” New York Times, August 16,
44 According to Russian oppositionist Andrey Illarionov, most of the South Ossetian
casualties were members of the separatist militia. CEDR, October 3, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-
45 CEDR, September 15, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950334; Institute of War and Peace Reporting,
September 25, 2008.
46 The World Bank. Georgia: Summary of Joint Needs Assessment Findings Prepared for
the Donors’ Conference of October 22, 2008 in Brussels, n.d. In addition to these newly
displaced persons, some 222,000 persons remain displaced in shelters, with host families,
or otherwise vulnerable due to earlier fighting in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, according to
the World Bank.
those remaining to flee the region. A similar process allegedly was threatened in
Abkhaz i a. 47
On August 12, 2008, Georgia filled a case against Russia at the International
Court of Justice (ICC) for alleged acts of ethnic cleansing and other crimes in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia between 1990 and 2008. President Medvedev also had
threatened to file a case with the Court about Georgia’s “genocide” in South Ossetia.
The Court held an urgent hearing on the case on September 8-10, 2008. Besides an
examination of Russia’s support for ethnic cleansing, Georgia has requested that the
Court declare as unlawful Russia’s moves to recognize the separatist regions and
Russia’s denial of the right of return of internally displaced ethnic Georgians. The
case also requests monetary compensation for the damage Russia has inflicted on
Georgia.48 On October 15, the ICC issued a “provisional measures” order to Russia
and Georgia to immediately cease and desist from further acts of ethnic
discrimination, to facilitate humanitarian assistance, and protect people and property
in the conflict zone.
Several NGOs have alleged that both Russia and Georgia committed human
rights abuses during the conflict. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has alleged that the
Georgian military used “indiscriminate and disproportionate force resulting in
civilian deaths in South Ossetia” on August 7-8, and that the Russian military
subsequently used “indiscriminate force” in South Ossetia and the Gori area, and
targeted convoys of civilians attempting to flee the conflict zones. HRW has alleged
that both Russia and Georgia used cluster bombs against civilians, and has rejected
claims by Russia that Georgia was carrying out “genocide” in South Ossetia. HRW
announced on September 1 that it had received a letter from the Georgian Defense
Ministry admitting that it had used cluster bombs near the Roki tunnel.49 The Dutch
government released a report on October 20 that concluded that Russia had used
47 Laurence Peter, “Civilian emergency hits Georgia,” BBC News, August 12, 2008; “15,000
Refugees Return to South Ossetia: Russian Ministry,” Agence France-Presse, August 20,
48 International Court of Justice. Press Release. Georgia Institutes Proceedings Against
Russia for Violations of the Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, No. 2008/23, August 12, 2008; Georgia Submits a Request for the
Indication of Provisional Measures, No. 2008/24, August 14, 2008; Proceedings Instituted
by Georgia Against Russia: Urgent Communication to the Parties from the President under
Article 74, Paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court, No. 2008/26, August 15, 2008. See also
News Conference with Legal Council for the Republic of Georgia Payam Akhavan, National
Press Club, August 21, 2008.
49 Human Rights Watch. Georgia: International Groups Should Send Missions to
Investigate Violations and Protect Civilians, August 18, 2008; Georgia: Civilians Killed by
Russian Cluster Bomb ‘Duds’,” August 21, 2008. “Georgia Admits to Dropping Cluster
Bombs,” Associated Press, September 1, 2008. Amnesty International. Civilians
Vulnerable after Hostilities in Georgia, August 14, 2008. For mutual accusations by Russia
and Georgia of human rights abuses during the conflict, see U.N. Office at Geneva.
Conference on Disarmament. Conference Hears Georgia Say Russian Forces Guilty of
Targeting Civilians; Russia Alleges Georgian Policy of Ethnic Cleansing, August 14, 2008.
cluster bombs in Gori.50 Russia has encouraged hundreds of South Ossetians to file
cases with the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court
alleging human rights abuses by Georgia during the conflict. Georgians similarly
have filed dozens of cases alleging Russian abuses.
Myriad world leaders and organizations initially rushed to mediate the Georgia-
Russia conflict. While many governments have appeared to consider that both
Russia and Georgia may share blame for the recent conflict, they have stressed that
the most important concern at present is implementation of a ceasefire regime and
urgent humanitarian relief. These governments have criticized Russia for excessive
use of force and peremptorily recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia in violation of the principle of Georgia’s territorial integrity, and Georgia for51
attempting to reintegrate South Ossetia by force.
Immediately after the events of August 7-8, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC)
met daily for several days to attempt to agree on a resolution, but Russia and China
refused to agree to various texts proffered by the United States, France, and Great
Britain. The latter states were working on a resolution based on the EU peace plan52
(see below). At the UNSC meeting on August 10, U.S. Permanent Representative
Zalmay Khalilzad denounced the “Russian attack on sovereign Georgia and targeting
of civilians and a campaign of terror,” and warned that “Russia’s relations with the
United States and others would be affected by its continued assault on Georgia and
its refusal to contribute to a peaceful conclusion of the crisis.” Churkin countered
that it was “completely unacceptable” for Khalilzad to accuse Russia of a campaign
of terror, “especially from the lips of a representative of a country whose action we
are aware of in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Serbia.”
On August 10, Lavrov claimed that Rice had “incorrectly interpreted” remarks
he made to her in a phone conversation earlier about Saakashvili. Lavrov
emphasized that Russia “cannot consider as a partner a person [referring to
Saakashvili] who gave an order to carry out war crimes,” but he rejected the inference
that Moscow was demanding Saakashvili’s ouster as a condition for ending military53
The presidents of the three Baltic states and Poland called on August 9 for the
EU and NATO to oppose the “imperialist policy” of Russia. The next day, Polish
50 Rikard Jozwiak, “Russian Cluster Bomb Killed Dutch Cameraman,” European Voice,
October 21, 2008.
51 Alexei Malashenko, quoted in Moscow Times, August 11, 2008.
52 Some observers pointed out that Russia and China dismissed arguments that Georgia was
dealing with its own internal affairs in South Ossetia, while Moscow and Beijing reject
international “interference” in how they deal with separatist problems in Chechnya, Tibet,
53 Agence France-Presse, August 10, 2008.
President Lech Kaczynski unveiled a plan worked out by the Baltic states, Poland,
and Ukraine, for an international stabilization force for the South Caucasus, and
recommended the plan to French President Sarkozy for consideration by the EU.
Commenting on the plan, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski stated that an
EU stabilization force was needed, since “it is no longer possible for Russian soldiers
alone to assure the peace in South Ossetia.” In apparent contrast to the Polish
position, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi warned against the EU adopting
an “anti-Russian” stance regarding the Russia-Georgia conflict.54 EU foreign
ministers met in Brussels in emergency session on August 13. They emphasized
support for the EU peace plan, called for bolstering OSCE monitoring in South
Ossetia, and suggested that EU or U.N. observers might be necessary.55
On August 19, Russia agreed to the stationing of 20 observers from the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to be deployed
immediately to an area adjacent to South Ossetia. They will supplement the 8
monitors who are already in Georgia and will later be bolstered to 100 monitors.
Secretary Rice stated that the United States would facilitate the transport and
equipping of the monitors. The initial group of monitors began work at the end of
European and other international leaders were overwhelmingly critical of what
they viewed as Russia’s non-compliance with the provision of the six-point peace
plan that called for Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces from Georgia.
European and other international leaders likewise were overwhelmingly critical of
Medvedev’s decision to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Chancellor Merkel termed the recognition “absolutely not acceptable,” and raised the
hope that a dialogue still could be opened with Russia, although she stated that such
a dialogue presupposed “shared values, and those include respecting the territorial
integrity of individual states, as well as the use of international mechanisms to
resolve conflicts.”56 Sarkozy, in his capacity as the EU President, issued a statement
strongly condemning the recognition as “contrary to the principles of the
independence, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia,” and that the
EU would “examine from this point of view the consequences of Russia’s
decision.”57 Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini likewise decried the apparent
creation of ethnically-homogeneous enclaves in the region, but cautioned against a
Western reaction of isolating Russia.58
54 EDR, August 11, 2008, Doc. No. EUP-58004 and Doc. No. EUP-100019; August 12,
55 Council of the European Union. Council Conclusions on the Situation in Georgia, August
56 Associated Press, August 26, 2008.
57 “EU Condemns Russian Recognition of South Ossetia, Abkhazia: Presidency,” Agence
France-Presse, August 26, 2008.
58 Lisa Bryant, “West Slams Russian Recognition of Breakaway Regions,” Agence France-
Presse, August 26, 2008.
During a UNSC meeting on August 28, most members criticized Russia’s non-
compliance with the six-point plan and the recognition of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain, Costa Rica,
Belgium, and Indonesia. U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff
reportedly condemned Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as
incompatible with a UNSC resolution approved in April 2008 that reaffirmed the
commitment of U.N. Members to respect the territorial integrity of Georgia. He
raised the question that such disregard for the resolution by Russia could be a portent
of further disregard for the U.N. He also stated that Russia’s attack in Abkhazia
disregarded UNOMIG’s mandate. Churkin responded that UNSC members should
not have violated U.N. resolutions by recognizing Kosovo.59
Some observers have suggested that sanctions the West might take against
Russia might include no longer inviting Russia to participate in the Group of Eight
(G-8) industrialized democracies, withdrawing support for Russia as the host of the
2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and re-examining Russia’s suitability for
membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). U.S. analyst Ariel Cohen
urged the West “to send a strong signal to Moscow that creating 19th century-style
spheres of influence and redrawing the borders of the former Soviet Union is a
danger to world peace.”60 EU analyst Nicu Popescu has called for the EU to sanction
Russia, including by suspending talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation
Agreem ent . 61
At a session of the European Parliament (EP) on September 3, a resolution was
approved that did not impose sanctions on Russia, although it agreed that
consultations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement should be postponed
until Russia immediately and completely withdraws its troops from Georgia. The EP
strongly condemned Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia. It called for an international investigation of the causes of the Russia-
Georgia conflict, under the aegis of the U.N. or the OSCE. However, the EP also
asserted that “during the night of 7-8 August 2008 the Georgian army launched ... a
ground operation using both tanks and soldiers aimed at regaining control over South
Ossetia.” Nonetheless, the EP condemned “the unacceptable and disproportionate
military action by Russia and its deep incursion into Georgia,” and stressed that there
was “no legitimate reason for Russia to invade Georgia, to occupy parts of it and to
threaten to override the government of a democratic country.” The EP called on
sending EU observers to Georgia, a proposal endorsed at the meeting of EU foreign
59 John Helprin, “Russia Says it Is Ready to Negotiate with Georgia,” Associated Press,
August 10, 2008. U.N. Security Council. Security Council Briefed by Political Affairs,
Peacekeeping on Georgia Developments, Including 26 August Recognition Decrees on
Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Press Release SC/9438, August 28, 2008.
60 Ariel Cohen, “The Russian-Georgian War: A Challenge for the U.S. and the World,”
Heritage Foundation Web Memo, August 11, 2008.
61 EUObserver, August 13, 2008.
ministers on September 6. The foreign ministers concurred with the EP on opening
an international inquiry into the causes of the conflict.62
Similarly, some members of the COE advocated suspending Russia’s voting
rights in the organization because of its violations of membership commitments on
human rights. However, other members argued that Georgia also had violated
commitments on human rights. At the late September-early October 2008 session
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the resolution did
not mention sanctions against Russia (or Georgia), instead stressing that PACE
should facilitate dialogue between Russia and Georgia.63
On September 15, 2008, the EU External Relations Council decided on the
mandate, composition, and financing of the EU mission to Georgia. The Council,
composed of foreign ministers of the EU states, decided that at least 200 civilian
observers would be deployed to the buffer zones around Abkhazia and South Ossetia
by October 1. It also supported launching an independent international inquiry into
the causes of the Russia-Georgia conflict, called for a donors’ conference for
Georgian rebuilding to be held in Brussels in October, and appointed Pierre Morel
as Special Representative for the crisis in Georgia.64
Another conference, not mentioned in the foreign ministers’ statement, was held
on October 15 to consider the future of South Ossetia and of Abkhazia, as provided
for under the ceasefire accords. Reportedly, progress in planning this conference was
complicated by Russia’s insistence that Abkhazia and South Ossetia participate as
independent states. EU, UN, and OSCE mediators and emissaries from three
countries, Georgia, Russia, and the United States, were to sit down in what is termed
3+3 talks. They convened in a formal session in the morning and an informal session
in the afternoon, where the separatist emissaries could attend. Reportedly, the
Russian delegation was absent during most if not all the morning session. The
Georgians and the emissaries from Abkhazia and South Ossetia allegedly clashed at
the afternoon session, with the latter demanding that they be treated as
representatives of sovereign countries and walking out. Assistant Secretary Fried,
the U.S. participant, stated that the United States was amenable to working with
Russia on non-use of force pledges (beyond those that are associated with the
ceasefire accords). He stated that another Russian demand — for a ban on offensive
arms transfers to Georgia — seemed questionable given Russia’s buildup of arms in
the region. A future meetings is being planned for November 18.65
62 European Parliament. European Parliament Resolution on the Situation in Georgia,
September 3, 2008.
63 PACE. The Consequences of the War between Georgia and Russia, Resolution 1633,
October 2, 2008. Russia had threatened to resign from the COE if its voting rights were
64 EU. Conclusions of the 2,889th session of the European Union’s External Relations
Council Meeting on 15 and 16 September 2008 in Brussels, September 16, 2008.
65 U.S. Department of State. Press Briefing at U.S. Mission Geneva by Daniel Fried,
Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, October 15, 2008.
On September 18, OSCE talks on sending 100 observers were at least
temporarily suspended, reportedly over the insistence by some members that the
observers be given access to South Ossetia and Russia’s refusal to permit such
On October 21, 2008, the EP debated the status of EU relations with Russia in
light of the Russia-Georgia conflict. The EU’s Commissioner for External Relations,
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, underlined that the EU viewed the violation of Georgia’s
sovereignty and territorial integrity as “unacceptable,” but argued that the EU has
important interests in energy security and trade with Russia so should renew
EU-Russia talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. She stated that
the question about whether Russia is carrying out the ceasefire accords by keeping
thousands of troops in the regions should be dealt with at the status talks. French
Europe Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet, who was representing the current EU Presidency,
similarly reiterated Sarkozy’s call that EU-Russia partnership talks be resumed.
Other MPs raised concerns about Russian behavior and urged a continued
moratorium on the partnership talks. Proponents of restarting talks may prevail by
the time of the next biannual EU-Russia summit in Nice, France, on November 14.66
Several Western diplomats and analysts drew parallels between Russia’s
activities in Georgia and the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia (Yugoslavia), which
was aimed at forcing Serb President Slobodan Milosevic to end Serbian attacks in the
Kosovo region. Moscow opposed the NATO operation. According to former Greek
diplomat Alex Rondos, “Russia wants to serve up to the West a textbook copy of
what the West did to Serbia, but of course it’s a ghastly parody.”67 These observers
point to the large-scale ethnic cleansing and the deaths of thousands of Kosovars.
They are critical of Russia’s disproportionate response in Georgia and stress that
NATO’s military aircraft and artillery did not target civilians in Serbia, as Russian
forces and allied militias allegedly targeted ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia
and across the border. They also stress that NATO halted operations after Serbia
pulled its forces out of Kosovo and accepted international peacekeeping, while
Russia continued operations after Georgia’s withdrawal of troops from South Ossetia
and its calls for a ceasefire. Lastly, the international community spent several years
discussing the status of Kosovo and strengthening the capacity of the regional
government for self-rule.
While some commentators objected to Georgia’s military incursion into South
Ossetia as unjustifiable, others argued that Georgia had been provoked by Russia and
South Ossetia and had been forced to counter-attack. Taking the former view,
London’s Independent argued on August 10 that “U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice ... should, while defending Georgia’s sovereignty, also point out
to President Saakashvili that the US cannot underwrite a bellicose approach towards
66 EP. Plenary Part-Session, October 20-October 23, 2008, in Strasbourg. Debate on EU-
Russia Relations, provisional edition, October 21, 2008.
67 Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2008.
its separatist regions.68 The publication Jane’s similarly stressed on August 14 that
“Tbilisi’s confidence in launching its South Ossetian operations was incredibly
misplaced.”69 Taking the latter view, U.S. analyst Robert Kagan argued that Russia
“precipitated a war against Georgia by encouraging South Ossetian rebels,” and that
Saakashvili “[fell] into Putin’s trap.”70
Russia and Georgia have launched campaigns to convince international
observers that the other party initiated the conflict. Georgian officials released cell
phone intercepts on September 16 that they claimed showed that the Russian
offensive had been launched before the Georgian troops moved into Tskhinvali.71
Russian officials have denied that these cell phone intercepts indicate a pre-planned
massive movement of Russian attackers through the Roki tunnel. Russian
oppositionist Andrey Illarionov has alleged that North Caucasian “volunteers” moved
into South Ossetia in early August to prepare an attack. Some Russian military
forces also had been prepositioned, but major troop movements took place through
the Roki tunnel on the evening of August 7. Georgian troops became aware of this
attack, entered South Ossetia, and raced toward the Roki tunnel to try to halt the
Russian advance, he has alleged.72 Conversely, Russian authorities on September 25
released supposed captured Georgian “war plans” that they claimed “proved” that
Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was prepared in advance to annihilate ethnic
Ossetians and re-establish government control. Examining these conflicting
accusations, PACE approved a resolution on October 2, 2008, that urges an
international investigation of the causes of the conflict, among other matters.73
Taking a seemingly dim view of Russian intentions, U.S. analyst Ronald Asmus
has stated that “despite everything we may have hoped for we are in a new
geopolitical competition in the old Soviet spheres of influence. We may lose Georgia.
We may lose the ... best chance for a democratic future in the Caucasus. The next
target for Moscow will be Ukraine.”74 One Italian commentator asserted that
68 It conditioned this by adding that “the Russians should not be allowed to get away with
supporting breakaway regions within Georgia.”
69 “Baiting the Bear: Georgia Plays Russian Roulette,” Jane’s Intelligence Review,
September 2008 (article was available online on August 14, 2008).
70 Robert Kagan, “Putin Makes His Move,” Washington Post, August 11, 2008.
71 “Phone Taps ‘Prove Georgia’s Case,’” BBC News, September 16, 2008; C. J. Chivers,
“Georgia Offers Fresh Evidence on War’s Start,” New York Times, September 16, 2008, p.
72 CEDR, October 3, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950539. Illarionov also argues that ships of
Russia’s Black Sea fleet had been fully loaded before August 7 and set sail to Abkhazia at
the same time that the Russian troops were entering South Ossetia through the Roki tunnel.
73 PACE. The Consequences of the War between Georgia and Russia, Resolution 1633,
October 2, 2008.
74 Ronald Asmus, Christian Science Monitor, August 11, 2008; Ronald Asmus, “Black Sea
Watershed,” GMF News, August 11, 2008.
Russia’s actions in Georgia represented the beginning of Russia’s efforts to roll back
the Euro-Atlantic integration of Eastern European and Soviet successor states.75
Some observers have raised concerns that Russia’s alleged attempts to bomb the
Georgian sections of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the South
Caucasus [gas] Pipeline (SCP) were Russian attempts to disrupt Caspian energy
pipelines that it does not control. The BTC pipeline provides oil to Europe and the
United States. The SCP provides gas to Turkey and to EU-member Greece, and may
be further extended to other EU members. Azerbaijan’s pledge to provide gas
through a prospective Nabucco pipeline that would run through Georgia and Turkey
to Europe also might face greater Russian opposition, as might the proposed trans-
Caspian oil and gas pipelines, which would provide Central Asian countries with
non-Russian export routes to the West.
Some observers in Soviet successor states voiced concerns that Russia’s actions
in Georgia did not bode well for their own sovereignty and independence. Russia’s
Moscow Times newspaper termed Russia’s actions in Georgia “the strongest possible
signal of how far [Russia] is ready to go to retain influence” in other Soviet successor
states, and warned that these states are likely to “seek protection from the West,”
because of fears that they one day might be invaded.76 Ukraine’s officials reportedly
have heightened concerns about Russian intentions, including over threats by Putin
and others in Russia to encourage secessionism by eastern Ukraine and the Crimean
peninsula. Azerbaijan’s authorities also reportedly have a new level of hesitancy
about settling the problem of the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region by force,
because of fears that Russia might intervene. Similarly, some officials in Armenia
reportedly have added concerns that the country’s close security ties with Russia
could result in the infringement of Armenia’s sovereignty.77 While Kazakhstan and
Uzbekistan quickly endorsed Russia’s actions and shipped humanitarian assistance
to North and South Ossetia, they also have refused to extend diplomatic recognition
to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner reportedly warned on August 27 that
Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia amounted to “an armed seizure
of foreign territory,” and that Russia’s next targets might be “Ukraine, namely
Crimea, and Moldova.” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Ukraine
on August 27 where he called on Russia “to clarify its attitude to the territorial
integrity of its neighbors,” and called for greater EU and NATO efforts to support a
democratic Ukraine.78 Different views within the Ukrainian government on the
implications of the Russia-Georgia conflict contributed to the collapse of the
coalition government in mid-September and early legislative elections.
75 Open Source Center. Europe: Daily Report (hereafter EDR), August 12, 2008, Doc. No.
76 Moscow Times, August 11, 2008.
77 Ahto Lobjakas, “EU, U.S. Conduct Two-Pronged Diplomacy In Caucasus,” RFE/RL,
October 1, 2008.
78 EDR, August 27, 2008, Doc. No. EUP-100001; CEDR, August 27, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-
International Humanitarian and Rebuilding Assistance
Many countries, international organizations, and NGOs quickly mobilized to
deliver large amounts of relief to Georgia. The U.N. World Food Program reported
that it began efforts in Georgia on August 9, and UNHCR reported that its first aid
shipment arrived in Georgia on August 12. The ICRC issued a preliminary appeal
on August 11 for $7.4 million to support its efforts to monitor captured or arrested
persons, to provide surgical care for the wounded; and to assist civilians in South
Ossetia and the rest of Georgia and persons displaced to North Ossetia. The U.N.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a Flash Appeal
on August 18, 2008, for $58.5 million in humanitarian aid for Georgia over the next
few months. Pledges made as a result of this appeal have been included in the
amounts pledged at the October donors’ conference (see below).
Among international institutions and NGOs, Russia has permitted only the
ICRC and Human Rights Watch to work in South Ossetia.79 Regional “president”
Kokoiti has stated that he will not permit aid organizations that have their primary
offices in Georgia to conduct operations in South Ossetia.
In early September 2008, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced
plans for an 18-month stand-by assistance package of $750 million for Georgia,
which received final approval by the IMF in mid-September 2008.
The EU and World Bank convened a donors’ conference in Brussels on October
22, 2008, to garner international funds for Georgia’s rebuilding. Thirty-eight
countries and fifteen international organizations pledged approximately $4.5 billion
in aid to Georgia for the 2008-2010 period. The amount pledged was higher than the
basic needs outlined in a Joint Needs Assessment report presented to the conference,
indicating the high level of international concern over Georgia’s fate. The pledges
are addressed to meet urgent social needs related to internally displaced people, as
well as damaged infrastructure; budgetary shortfalls; loans, equity, and guarantees
to the banking sector; and core investments in transportation, energy, and municipal
infrastructure that will boost economic growth and employment. The United States
pledged the largest amount — $1 billion — for these efforts (see below).80
For years, the United States had urged Georgia to work within existing peace
settlement frameworks for Abkhazia and South Ossetia — which allowed for Russian
“peacekeeping” — while criticizing some Russian actions in the regions. This stance
appeared to change during 2008, when the United States and other governments
increasingly came to support Georgia’s calls for the creation of alternative
79 “Red Cross Says Its Experts Heading for South Ossetia,” Agence France-Presse, August
80 World Bank and the European Commission. Press Release: International Donors Pledge
US$4.5 billion in Post-Conflict Support to Georgia, October 22, 2008.
negotiating mechanisms to address these “frozen” conflicts, particularly since talks
under existing formats had broken down.
This U.S. policy shift was spurred by increasing Russian actions that appeared
to threaten Georgia’s territorial integrity. Among these, the Russian government in
March 2008 formally withdrew from economic sanctions on Abkhazia imposed by
the Commonwealth of Independent States, permitting open Russian trade and
investment.81 Of greater concern, President Putin issued a directive in April 2008 to
step up government-to-government ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He also
ordered stepped up consular services for the many “Russian citizens” in the two
regions. He proclaimed that many documents issued by the separatist governments
and businesses which had been established in the regions would be recognized as
legitimate by the Russian government. Georgian officials and other observers raised
concerns that this directive tightened and flaunted Russia’s jurisdiction over the
regions and appeared to be moving toward official Russian recognition of their
A meeting of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on April 23, 2008, discussed
these Russian moves. Although the Security Council issued no public decision, the
United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany stated that same day that they “are
highly concerned about the latest Russian initiative to establish official ties with ...
Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the consent of the Government of Georgia. We
call on the Russian Federation to revoke or not to implement its decision.”82 The
Russian foreign ministry claimed that Russia’s actions had been taken to boost the
basic human rights of residents in the regions.
According to one U.S. media report, Bush Administration officials “were taken
by surprise” by Georgia’s attempt to occupy South Ossetia in early August 2008,
since the Administration had cautioned Georgia against actions that might result in
a Russian military response. At the same time, a “senior U.S. official” on August 9
reportedly described the fighting in South Ossetia as localized and unlikely to
escal at e. 83
President Bush was at the Beijing Olympics when large-scale fighting began.
Although he did not cut short his trip (unlike Putin), President Bush stated on August
9 in Beijing that “Georgia is a sovereign nation, and its territorial integrity must be
respected. We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all
troops. We call for the end of the Russian bombings.” A similar statement was
issued by Secretary Rice. On August 10, Deputy National Security Adviser James
Jeffrey warned Russia of a “significant long-term impact” on US-Russian relations
if Moscow continued “disproportionate actions” in Georgia and urged Russia to
81 The economic sanctions had been approved by the Commonwealth of Independent States
in January 1996 at Georgia’s behest as an inducement to Abkhazia to engage in peace
negotiations with Georgia.
82 “Germany, Great Britain, France, U.S.A. and Germany Passed Communique,” Black Sea
Press, April 24, 2008.
83 Associated Press, August 11, 2008; Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2008.
respond favorably to Georgia’s withdrawal of forces from South Ossetia.84 Late on
August 10, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza flew to Tbilisi to
assist with Koucher’s EU peace plan.
On August 10, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Secretary Rice in
a phone conversation that “given the continuing direct threat to the lives of Russian
citizens in South Ossetia, Russian peacekeeping forces... are continuing operations
to force peace on the Georgian side.” U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N.
Khalilzad revealed that Lavrov had told Rice that Saakashvili “must go” as a
condition for a ceasefire.85
Vice President Cheney issued a statement on August 10 after a phone
conversation with Saakashvili that “Russian aggression must not go unanswered,”
and that the continuation of aggression “would have serious consequences for
[Russia’s] relations with the United States, as well as the broader international
community.”86 Also appearing to take a stronger stance, President Bush on August
11 referred to his conversation with Putin on August 8, stating that he had told Putin
that “this violence [in Georgia] is unacceptable,” and that he had “expressed my
grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly
condemn bombing outside of South Ossetia.”87 On August 12, Secretary Rice stated
that she was encouraged by reports from French Foreign Minister Koucher in
Moscow that there was progress in talks with President Medvedev about the EU
peace plan, and reiterated that the United States supports Georgia’s territorial
integrity and “its democratically elected government.”88
On August 10, the U.S. military began flying 2,000 Georgian troops home from
Iraq after Georgia recalled them. A U.S. military spokesman stated that “we want to
thank them for the great support they have given the coalition and we wish them
well.” Another military spokesman stated that “we are supporting the Georgian
military units that are in Iraq in their redeployment to Georgia so that they can
support requirements there during the current security situation.89 On August 11,
Putin criticized these U.S. flights as aiding Georgia in the conflict.
84 The White House. Press Briefing by Press Secretary Dana Perino and Senior Director
for East Asian Affairs Dennis Wilder and Deputy National Security Advisor Ambassador
Jim Jeffrey, August 10, 2008.
85 John Heilprin, “U.S., Russian Ambassadors Spar at UN over Georgia,” Associated Press,
August 10, 2008.
86 Stephanie Gaskell, “Cheney Warns Russia: Veep Says Attack on Georgia ‘Must Not Go
Unanswered’ as War Expands,” Daily News (New York), August 11, 2008.
87 The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. President Bush Discusses Situation in
Georgia, August 11, 2008.
88 U.S. Department of State. Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks by Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice on Situation in Georgia, August 12, 2008.
89 Kim Gamel, “U.S. Military Begins Flying Georgian Troops Home,” Associated Press,
August 10, 2008.
In a strong statement on August 13, President Bush called for Russia “to begin
to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe, and other nations,
and to begin restoring its place in the world [by meeting] its commitment to cease all
military activities in Georgia [and withdrawing] all Russian forces that entered
Georgia in recent days.” He raised concerns that some Russian troops remained in
the vicinity of Gori and Poti. He announced that he was sending Secretary Rice to
France to “confer with President Sarkozy” on the EU peace plan and to Georgia,
“where she will personally convey America’s unwavering support for Georgia’s
democratic government [and] continue our efforts to rally the free world in the
defense of a free Georgia.” He also announced that Defense Secretary Robert Gates
would direct a humanitarian aid mission, which already had begun with an airlift of
medical supplies to Tbilisi.90
The Bush Administration has hoped to maintain cooperation with Russia on
anti-terrorism (including assistance in operations in Afghanistan), non-proliferation,
and sanctions against Iran and North Korea. On August 14, however, Secretary
Gates stated that the Russia-Georgia conflict had forced the Administration to
reconsider efforts to carry on “a long-term strategic dialogue with Russia,” and that
“Russia’s behavior ... has called into question the entire premise of that dialogue and
has profound implications for our security relationship going forward, both bilaterally
and with NATO.”91
In seemingly harsh language on August 19, Secretary Rice asserted that Russia
is “becoming more and more the outlaw in this conflict,” and that by “invading
smaller neighbors, bombing civilian infrastructure, going into villages and wreaking
havoc and wanton destruction of this infrastructure,” Russia is isolating itself from
the “community of nations.”92
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza presented the most detailed
Administration position on the events in Georgia in a briefing on August 19 and in
testimony on September 10. He appeared to argue that the outbreak of fighting in
Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region on the night of August 7-8 was
preplanned and provoked by Russia. He pointed out that “South Ossetia’s
government and its security structures are run by Russian officials [who were]
commanding these South Ossetian forces that were shooting at ... Georgian
peacekeepers or troops and villages.” He also asserted that “there was an offensive
under way from Russia, through the Roki Tunnel, toward Tskhinvali and Kurta and
other ethnically Georgian villages. And at that point, the Georgian leadership told
90 The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. President Bush Discusses Situation in
Georgia, Urges Russia to Cease Military Operations, August 13, 2008.
91 Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker, “Aides to Bush Say Russia Offensive Jeopardizes
Ties,” The New York Times, August 15, 2008.
92 U.S. Department of State. Secretary Rice Delivers Remarks in Brussels, Belgium, August
some of us: We have no choice but to defend our villages and our people” and lift a
cease-fire that Georgia had declared earlier.93
Despite this evidence, Bryza maintained, “whoever shot whom first is now no
longer the issue at all. It is that Russia has escalated so dramatically and brutally....
Russia has moved well beyond South Ossetia.... It used strategic bombers to target
civilian[s],” blocked the port of Poti, and destroyed east-west rail lines. Moreover,
he stressed, Russian forces also invaded Georgia from its breakaway Abkhazia
region, which “has nothing to do with South Ossetia at all.... In the case of Abkhazia,
it was the Abkhaz who attacked the Georgians.” Bryza stated that the Administration
in early August had “strongly recommended” to Georgia that it “not engage in a
direct military conflict with Russia.”
Indicative of heightened tensions in U.S.-Russia relations, Prime Minister Putin
alleged on August 28, 2008, that the United States may have orchestrated the conflict
in Georgia to disguise its economic and foreign policy problems and boost the
prospects of a presidential candidate. He also alleged that the United States not only
failed to dissuade Georgia from operations in South Ossetia on August 7-8, but
armed the Georgians and directed them to attack. White House press secretary Dana
Perino responded that the allegations were “patently false” and “not rational,” and
that “it is a time for the countries who believe in sovereignty, independence, and
territorial integrity to band together to fight against” Russia’s violation of such
principles.94 President Medvedev later repeated the allegations that Saakashvili had
received “direct orders, or [at least] silent approval” from the United States to launch
an “idiotic action” against South Ossetia.95
Vice President Cheney visited Georgia on September 4 to assure that “America
will help Georgia rebuild and regain its position as one of the world’s fastest growing
economies. [Saakashvili] and his democratically elected government can count on the
continued support and assistance of the United States.” He also stated that the United
States was coming to the aid of Georgia, as it had aided Georgia after the 2003 “rose
revolution” that had brought Saakashvili to power, to help Georgia “to overcome an
invasion of your sovereign territory, and an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change
your country’s borders by force.... We will help your people to heal this nation’s
wounds, to rebuild this economy, and to ensure Georgia’s democracy, independence
and further integration with the West.”96 He visited Ukraine on September 5 to
similarly reassure the country of U.S. support for its sovereignty and independence
in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Georgia and Medvedev’s assertions of a Russian
93 U.S. Department of State. Foreign Press Center. Briefing: The Situation in the Republic
of Georgia and its Implications for the Caucasus, August 19, 2008. See also Commission
on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Hearing on Georgia and the Return of Power
Politics. Testimony by Matthew J. Bryza, September 10, 2008.
94 The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Press Briefing, August 28, 2008; Steve
Gutterman, “Putin accuses U.S. in Georgia War,” Associated Press, August 28, 2008.
95 Associated Press, September 8, 2008.
96 The White House. Office of the Vice President. Remarks by Vice President Cheney and
President Saakashvili of Georgia After Meeting, September 4, 2008.
sphere of influence in Soviet successor states and special interests in the fate of
Russian “citizens” abroad.
In a speech in Italy on September 6, 2008, that appeared to mark deepened U.S.-
Russian tensions, Vice President Cheney stated that “Russia has violated the
sovereignty of [democratic Georgia]; made and then breached a solemn agreement,
in a direct affront to the EU; severely damaged its credibility and global standing; and
undermined its own relations with the United States and other countries. This chain
of aggressive moves and diplomatic reversals has only intensified the concern that
many have about Russia’s larger objectives. For brutality against a neighbor is
simply the latest in a succession of troublesome and unhelpful actions.” He stated
that such actions include Russia’s use of energy “as a tool of force and manipulation”
in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and beyond; Russian arms sales to Syria and Iran; and
Russian antagonism toward NATO enlargement and the advance of democracy in
Europe. He concluded that such actions are “no way for a responsible power to
Secretary Rice delivered a speech on September 18 that similarly strongly
excoriated Russia for its aggressive foreign policy behavior, including the invasion
of Georgia. She stated that “Russia’s leaders had laid the groundwork” for “what by
all appearances was a premeditated invasion” of Georgia “months ago, distributing
Russian passports to Georgian separatists, training and arming their militias, and then
justifying the campaign across Georgia’s border as an act of self-defense.” However,
she did not call for U.S. or international sanctions on Russia, and stated that “the
Sochi declaration signed earlier this year provided a strategic framework for the
United States and Russia to advance our many shared interests. We will continue by
necessity to pursue our areas of common concern with Russia.... Whatever the
differences between our governments, we will not let them obstruct a deepening
relationship between the American and Russian people.”98 In a retort on September
22 to Secretary Rice’s speech, the Russian Foreign Ministry asserted that Russia’s
military response to Georgia’s “attack on Russia” had been proportionate.99
The major Administration action to date has been the September 8 withdrawal
of consideration by Congress of the U.S.-Russia Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear
Cooperation, submitted to Congress in May 2008. In his letter of withdrawal,
President Bush stated that his decision was in response to “recent actions by the
Government of the Russian Federation incompatible with peaceful relations with its
sovereign and democratic neighbor Georgia.” He added that “if circumstances
should permit future reconsideration of the proposed Agreement ... the proposed
Agreement will be submitted for congressional review.”
97 The White House. Office of the Vice President. Remarks by Vice President Cheney at
Ambrosetti Forum, September 6, 2008.
98 U.S. Department of State. Secretary Rice Delivers Remarks on U.S.-Russia Relations to
the German Marshall Fund, September 18, 2008.
99 CEDR, September 22, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950228.
U.S. Reaction to Russia’s Recognition Declaration
On August 26, President Bush condemned Medvedev’s decision to recognize
South Ossetia and Abkhazia as “inconsistent with numerous U.N. Security Council
Resolutions that Russia has voted for in the past and ... with the French-brokered
six-point ceasefire agreement.... We expect Russia to live up to its international
commitments, reconsider this irresponsible decision, and follow the approach set out
in the six-point agreement.”100 Secretary Rice expressed “regret” that Russia had
violated a provision of the six-point peace plan that calls for international talks on the
future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. She stated that any attempt by Russia to bring
the matter of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence before the U.N. Security
Council would “simply ... be dead on arrival.” The State Department also hinted at
possible “consequences” for U.S.-Russia relations.101
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reported on
September 5 that USAID, the State Department, and the Defense Department had
provided $38.36 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Georgia. Of this
amount, the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) reported that its air transportation
costs were $15.4 million for 59 flights to Georgia.102 Among U.S. Navy and Coast
Guard deliveries, the USS McFaul docked at Georgia’s port of Batumi to deliver
nearly 80 tons of humanitarian assistance on August 24; the U.S. Coast Guard cutter
Dallas docked at Batumi to deliver 34 tons of assistance on August 27; the USS Mt.
Whitney docked at Poti to deliver 17 tons of aid on September 5. The Defense
Department announced on September 8 that with the USS Mt. Whitney aid delivery
it had completed its role in delivering urgent humanitarian supplies.
On September 3, Secretary of State Rice announced a multi-year $1 billion aid
plan for Georgia. According to the State Department’s Deputy Director of Foreign
Assistance Richard Greene, the Administration envisaged that over one-half of the
funds could be allocated from FY2008-FY2009 budgets, and that the remainder for
FY2010 could be appropriated by “the next Congress and the next administration.”
The Administration envisaged that its proposed $1 billion aid package would be in
addition to existing aid and requests for Georgia, such as FREEDOM Support Act
and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funds. The added aid was planned
100 The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. President Bush Condemns Actions
Taken by Russian President in Regards to Georgia, August 26, 2008.
101 U.S. Department of State. Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, August
26, 2008; Associated Press, August 26, 2008. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried has
stated that without Secretary Rice’s efforts, “we would have no ceasefire at all with which
to push the Russians and achieve some stability. Second, Secretary Rice focused the initial
outrage and anxiety felt in Europe into a unified front at NATO in support of Georgia’s
territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the ceasefire agreement.” U.S. Department of State
Official Blog. DipNote. Secretary Rice: Leadership Through Negotiation in Georgia,
August 25, 2008.
102 USAID. Georgia: Complex Emergency Fact Sheet, No. 17 (FY2008), September 5,
for humanitarian needs, particularly for internally displaced persons, for the
reconstruction of infrastructure and facilities that were damaged or destroyed during
the Russian invasion, and for safeguarding Georgia’s continued economic growth.103
Besides the envisaged aid, the White House announced that other initiatives
might possibly include broadening the U.S. Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement with Georgia, negotiating an enhanced bilateral investment treaty,
proposing legislation to expand preferential access to the U.S. market for Georgian
exports, and facilitating Georgia’s use of the Generalized System of Preferences.
White House encouragement also was central to the elaboration by the IMF of a $750
million aid package for Georgia (as described above, in the “International Response”
Congress acted quickly to flesh out the Administration’s aid proposals for
Georgia. The Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing
Appropriations Act, 2009 (H.R. 2638/P.L. 110-329), signed into law on September
30, 2008, appropriates an additional $365 million in aid for Georgia and the region
for FY2009 (beyond that provided under continuing appropriations based on FY2008
funding) for humanitarian and economic relief, reconstruction, energy-related
programs and democracy activities (see also below, the “110th Congress Legislation”
At the EU and World Bank-sponsored donors’ conference on October 22, 2008,
USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore announced that the United States would “make
available by the end of 2008 approximately $720 million of the $1 billion we have
pledged.” Of this $720 million, $250 million would be provided for direct budget
support, $100 million for urgent civilian reconstruction and stabilization needs, and
up to $80 million for economic reconstruction. Also included in the $720 million are
funds “already redirected to assist Georgia: $100 million in new funding for
Georgia’s Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact [and] $150 million in
Overseas Private Investment Corporation support to make affordable mortgages
available.” She also pledged more humanitarian aid for the winter.105
Although U.S. officials stressed that the early U.S. aid response focused on
humanitarian and economic assistance, EUCOM sent a team to Georgia in early
September to assess defense needs (this EUCOM effort was separate from the earlier
EUCOM humanitarian assistance assessment effort). In October, Congress
authorized $50 million for FY2009 for security assistance for Georgia (see below).
103 U.S. Department of State. Secretary Condoleezza Rice. Remarks On U.S. Economic
Support Package for Georgia, September 3, 2008; Briefing On U.S. Economic Support
Package for Georgia, September 3, 2008.
104 Venla Sipila, “IMF, U.S. Confirm Financial Assistance to War-Torn Georgia,” Global
Insight, September 4, 2008.
105 U.S. Department of State. U.S. Pledges $1 Billion in Assistance to Georgia, October 22,
Georgia and the NATO Membership Action Plan
Some observers in Georgia and the West have argued that NATO’s failure to
offer Georgia a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the April 2008 NATO summit
emboldened Russia’s aggressiveness toward Georgia. Others consider that NATO’s
pledge that Georgia eventually would become a member, as well as Georgia’s
ongoing movement toward integration with the West, spurred Russian aggression.106
Saakashvili argued on August 10 that Russia wanted to crush Georgia’s
independence and end its bid to join NATO. France and Germany, which had voiced
reservations at the April 2008 NATO summit about extending a MAP to Georgia,
may argue even more forcefully against admitting Georgia, citing both the higher
level of tensions over the separatist regions, Georgia’s military incursion into South
Ossetia, and the danger of war with Russia. Although the United States strongly
supported a MAP for Georgia at the April 2008 NATO summit, recent events may
have dimmed this prospect.
An emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors on August 12, 2008 reiterated
“in very strong terms” support for a sovereign, independent Georgia, and
“condemned and deplored [Russia’s] excessive, disproportionate use of force,”
according to a report by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. He termed
Georgia “a highly respected partner of NATO,” and stated that the question of a
MAP for Georgia remains “very much alive” and may be decided in December 2008.
At the same time, there was evidence of hesitancy among some NATO members
about moving forward with a MAP for Georgia at the December 2008 session.107
NATO foreign ministers met in emergency session on August 19 in the face of
Russian delays in withdrawing from Georgia. The day before the meeting, Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko had warned that “Russia is fairly
carrying out its obligations, including within the framework of our partnership with
NATO. We continue to help NATO in Afghanistan, give transit opportunities and
maintain cooperation in counteracting terrorism and the WMD non-proliferation. But
if NATO tries to keep covering for Georgia we may have problems with the
At a press conference following the session, NATO Secretary General Scheffer
announced that “NATO-Russia Council meetings would be placed on hold until
Russia adhered to the ceasefire, and the future of our relations will depend on the
concrete actions Russia will take to abide by the peace plan.”109 However, seeming
to reflect disagreement within NATO about how to treat Russia, the final statement
106 For background, see CRS Report RL34415, Enlargement Issues at NATO’s Bucharest
Summit, by Paul Gallis, Paul Belkin, Carl Ek, Julie Kim, Jim Nichol, and Steven Woehrel.
107 Robert Wielaard, NATO Extends Warm Support for Georgia,” Associated Press, August
12, 2008; “Georgia Still on Track to Join NATO, Alliance Chief Says,” Deutsche
Presse-Agentur, August 12, 2008. Russia’s NATO Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin denounced
Scheffer’s comments and demanded that NATO colleagues condemn Saakashvili.
108 ITAR-TASS, August 18, 2008.
109 “NATO Rebukes Russia as Hostilities Ease,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, August 20, 2008.
did not specifically state that NATO-Russia Council meetings would be suspended,
although it did warn that “we have determined that we cannot continue with business
as usual.”110 It also stated that a new NATO-Georgia Commission would be set up
to a body to oversee cooperative initiatives, including repairing Georgia’s military
capabilities. Russia responded by suspending most cooperation with NATO,
although Russia’s emissary to NATO stated on September 3 that Russia would
continue to cooperate with NATO on trans-shipment of supplies to Afghanistan.111
The inaugural meeting of the NATO-Georgia Council was held in Tbilisi on
September 15 as part of a visit by the North Atlantic Council ambassadors and
Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. A communique adopted at the inaugural
meeting reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial
integrity, raised concerns about Russia’s “disproportionate” military actions against
Georgia, and condemned Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia. The ambassadors stressed that NATO would continue to assist
Georgia in carrying out the reform program set forth in Georgia’s IPAP with NATO.
In a separate statement, de Hoop Scheffer reportedly indicated that it might prove
difficult to resume meetings of the NATO-Russia Council until Russia drew down
the number of troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to pre-conflict numbers.112 On
September 18-19, a meeting of NATO defense ministers further discussed Georgia’s
rebuilding needs and the implications of Russia’s actions for Euro-Atlantic security.
While the defense ministers were meeting, Russian President Medvedev accused
NATO of “provoking” the August Russia-Georgia conflict rather than guaranteeing
Congress has long been at the forefront in U.S. support for Georgia, including
humanitarian, security, and democratization assistance as well as support for conflict
resolution. Among recent actions, the Senate approved S.Res. 550 (Biden) on June
government ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Congress had begun its August 2008 recess during the height of the Russia-
Georgia conflict, but many members spoke out on the issue. Several Members also
visited Georgia after the ceasefire. Among the initial statements were:
110 NATO. Statement: Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign
Ministers held at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, August 19, 2008.
111 “Envoy Says Russia to Continue Cooperation with NATO on Afghanistan,” BBC
Monitoring International Reports, September 3, 2008.
112 NATO. NATO-Georgia Joint Press Statement on the Occasion of the North Atlantic
Council Visit to Georgia and the Inaugural Meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission,
September 15, 2008; James Blitz, “NATO Head Attacks EU’s Georgia Deal,” Financial
Times, September 14, 2008.
113 Prashant Rao, “NATO Mulls Response as Russia Accuses it over Georgia,” Agence
France-Presse, September 19, 2008; “Medvedev Accuses NATO of Provoking Georgia
War,” Agence France-Presse, September 19, 2008.
!On August 8, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard
Berman urged all parties to cease fighting and for Russia to
withdraw its troops and respect Georgia’s territorial integrity.114
!On August 8, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph
Biden called for U.S. officials and the U.N. Security Council to
facilitate negotiations between the conflicting parties and stated that
“Moscow has a particular obligation to avoid further escalation of
!On August 8, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stated that
Russia’s invasion of Georgia caused little surprise, given Russia’s
other increasingly aggressive foreign policy actions, and called for
an international peacekeeping force for South Ossetia.116
!On August 10, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl
Levin averred that the United States does “not have much impact, I
believe, in terms of [Administration] declarations anymore,” but
should work with Europe to make clear to Russia that its action “is
way out of line” and to convince it to halt aggression in Georgia.117
!On August 12, Senator Biden warned Russia that its aggression in
Georgia jeopardized congressional support for legislation to
collaborate with Russia on nuclear energy production and to repeal
the Jackson-Vanik conditions on U.S. trade with Russia.118
!On August 12, the bipartisan leadership of the House issued a
statement strongly condemning “the recent Russian invasion of the
sovereign state of Georgia,” and calling for the “world community
to re-engage in negotiations to end the conflict and restore stability
in this region [and] ensure that the needs of ... the Georgian people
114 “Statement by Congressman Howard Berman, Chairman of House Committee on Foreign
Affairs, on Escalating Violence in South Ossetia,” States News Service, August 8, 2008.
115 “Biden Issues Statement on Continued Violence in South Ossetia,” States News Service,
August 8, 2008.
116 “Ros-Lehtinen Comments on Outbreak of Violence in Georgia,” States News Service,
August 8, 2008. She stated that Russian aggression against Georgia was “another reason for
the Administration to withdraw the nuclear cooperation agreement from consideration by
117 Ben Feller, “Bush Seeks to Contain Violent Conflict in Georgia,” Associated Press,
August 10, 2008.
118 “Op-Ed: Russia Must Stand Down,” States News Service, August 12, 2008.
119 Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Republican Leader John Boehner,
and Republican Whip Roy Blunt, Joint Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Georgia, August
!Senator John McCain, the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate
Armed Services Committee, who had previously visited South
Ossetia, condemned the Russian military incursion on August 8 and
warned Russia that there could be severe, long-term negative
consequences to its relations with the United States and Europe. He
also stated on August 12 that he had phoned Saakashvili to offer
!Senator Barack Obama, Chairman of the Senate Europe
Subcommittee, on August 8 condemned the Russian military
incursion into Georgia, called for Georgia to refrain from using force
in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and urged all sides to pursue a
political settlement that addresses the status of the regions. Both
Senators McCain and Obama have urged NATO to soon extend a
MAP to Georgia.120
Upon ending its recess, Congress convened several hearings and instigated other
legislative actions dealing with the Russia-Georgia conflict. On September 9, the
Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Current Situation in Georgia
and Implications for U.S. Policy. That same day, the House Foreign Affairs
Committee held a hearing on U.S.-Russia Relations in the Aftermath of the Georgia
Crisis. On September 10, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
held a hearing on Georgia and the Return of Power Politics. On September 17, the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Russia’s Aggression Against
Georgia: Consequences and Responses. On September 30, 2008, a congressional
appropriation of $365 million in added foreign assistance for Georgia and the region
for FY2009 was signed into law (H.R. 2638; P.L. 110-329). On October 7, 2008, a
congressional authorization of $50 million in defense support for Georgia for
FY2009 was signed into law (S. 3001). See also below, the “110th Congress
110th Congress Legislation
P.L. 110-329 (H.R. 2638)
Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act,
2009. Division B, Title 2, Chapter 1 provides an additional $365 million for the
“Economic Support Fund,” to be made available for assistance for Georgia and the
region for humanitarian and economic relief, reconstruction, energy-related programs
and democracy activities, and which may be transferred to, and merged with, funds
appropriated under the headings “Assistance for the Independent States of the Former
Soviet Union” and “International Disaster Assistance,” of which up to $8 million
may be transferred to, and merged with, funds made available for “International
Broadcasting Operations” for broadcasting to Georgia, Russia and the region.
Provides that none of the funds made available in prior Acts making appropriations
120 Steven Hurst, “McCain: Today We’re All Georgians,” Associated Press Worldstream,
August 12, 2008; Steven Hurst, “Obama Notes Georgian Role in Crisis,” Associated Press
Worldstream, August 12, 2008.
for foreign operations may be reprogrammed for assistance for Georgia. Introduced
on June 7, 2007. Signed into law on September 30, 2008.
P.L. 110-417 (S. 3001)
Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009. Sec.
1207 extends the 1207 authority through September 30, 2009. Authorizes the
Secretary of Defense to provide services to, and transfer defense articles and funds
to, the Secretary of State for reconstruction, security, or stabilization assistance to
Georgia. Provides that up to $50 million in assistance may be provided to Georgia,
without that assistance counting against the authorized annual funding limit.
Introduced on May 12, 2008. Passed the Senate on September 17, 2008. Passed the
House on September 24, 2008. The Senate agreed to the House amendment on
September 27, 2008. Signed into law on October 14, 2008.
H.Con.Res. 409 (Shimkus)
States that it is the sense of Congress that Georgia and Ukraine are strong allies
that have made important progress in the areas of defense, democratic, and human
rights, and that the United States should take the lead in supporting the awarding of
a Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine at the NATO Foreign Ministers’
meeting in December 2008. Introduced on September 9, 2008. Referred to the
House Foreign Affairs Committee.
H.Con.Res. 421 (Schwartz)
Calls on the International Olympic Committee to designate a new venue for the
2014 Winter Olympic Games. Introduced on September 18, 2008. Referred to the
House Foreign Affairs Committee.
H.Con.Res. 430 (Hastings)
Expresses the sense of Congress that the policy (popularly known as the
“Stimson Doctrine”) of the United States of not recognizing territorial changes
effected by force, should continue to be the guiding foreign policy of the United
States in diplomatic discourse. Urges Russia to withdraw its recognition of South
Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries and to refrain from acts and policies
that undermine the principle of inviolability of borders and territorial integrity.
Introduced on September 25, 2008. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign
H.R. 6851 (Hastings)
Republic of Georgia Enhanced Trade Assistance, Economic Recovery, and
Reconstruction Act of 2008. Authorizes assistance to facilitate trade with,
reconstruction efforts, and economic recovery in Georgia, which are necessitated by
the destruction and disruption caused by the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war.
Authorizes to be appropriated $500 million to remain available until expended.
Introduced on September 9, 2008. Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee
and the Financial Services Committee.
H.R. 6911 (Berman)
Stability and Democracy for Georgia Act of 2008. Authorizes assistance to
meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Georgia, and for other purposes.
Introduced on September 16, 2008. Referred to the House Foreign Affairs
Committee. Committee mark-up completed.
H.Res. 1166 (Wexler)
Expresses the sense of the House of Representatives regarding provocative and
dangerous statements and actions taken by the Government of the Russian Federation
that undermine the territorial integrity of the Republic of Georgia. Introduced on
April 29, 2008. Passed the House on May 7, 2008.
S. 3567 (Clinton)
Calls for establishing a Commission on the conflict between Russia and Georgia
to examine the causes of the conflict and make recommendations on U.S. policy
toward Russia, Georgia, and other countries in the region. Calls for the Commission
to have nine members and to operate for six months. Introduced on September 24,
S.Res. 550 (Biden)
Expresses the sense of the Senate regarding provocative and dangerous
statements made by the Government of the Russian Federation that undermine the
territorial integrity of the Republic of Georgia. Introduced on May 2, 2008. Passed
the Senate on June 3, 2008.
S.Res. 690 (Kerry)
Expresses the sense of the Senate concerning the conflict between Russia and
Georgia. States that irrespective of the origins of the recent conflict in Georgia, the
disproportionate military response by Russia is in violation of international law.
States that Russia’s actions in Georgia have diminished its standing in the
international community and should lead to a review of multilateral and bilateral
agreements. Calls on the United States to provide rebuilding aid and support
democracy in Georgia, and to reaffirm that Georgia will eventually become a member
of NATO. Introduced and passed by the Senate on September 27, 2008.
Figure 2. Conflict between Russia and Georgia