Friday, August 8, 2008

The Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian Conflict

South Ossettia leader says 1,400 killed in conflict: Georgia launched a major military offensive today to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Rebel leaders said about 1,400 had been killed.

Georgian troops withdraw from South Ossetia: "Using grenade launchers (South) Ossetian local defense forces are destroying Georgian tanks. According to eyewitnesses they (the tanks) are on fire throughout the city," the committee said in a statement.

Video: Georgian troops retreat from S. Osettian capital: Georgian troops have reportedly left Tskhinvali, ending a day of violence in the South Ossetian capital. The breakaway republic’s authorities say hundreds of civilians have been killed.

Timeline of Russia-Georgia tensions over separatists: Following is a timeline of Russian-Georgian tensions, which have spiralled with Georgia attacking the capital of breakaway South Ossetia and Russia reportedly bombing Georgian territory.

MOSCOW—Following is a timeline of Russian-Georgian tensions, which have spiralled with Georgia attacking the capital of breakaway South Ossetia and Russia reportedly bombing Georgian territory.

1991 The Soviet Union collapses and Georgia, which was absorbed into the Russian empire in the 19th century, then taken over by the Soviet Bolsheviks in the next century, becomes independent.

1992-4 Minority ethnic groups in the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia fight separatist wars to end Georgian rule, resulting in thousands of deaths. Both rebel statelets have significant Russian financial and political backing, but have not been recognized by any foreign government and officially remain part of Georgia.

1994 Under a shaky ceasefire agreement, a mainly Russian peacekeeping force is deployed in Abkhazia. Russian troops also lead a joint peacekeeping force in South Ossetia.

2000 Russia's new president, Vladimir Putin, imposes visa requirements on Georgians going to Russia, unlike citizens from other countries in the 12-member Commonwealth of Independent States.

2002 After repeated accusations by Russia that Georgia is sheltering Chechen rebels, an air raid takes place on the Pankisi Gorge just inside Georgia. Russia denies being behind the attack, which killed one person.

Georgia applies to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, angering Russia. Georgia also becomes a key US ally after agreeing to host oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Turkey, avoiding Russia.

2003 The peaceful "Rose Revolution" ousts Eduard Shevarnadze and brings to power Mikheil Saakashvili, who immediately launches a strongly pro-Western policy aiming at NATO membership and economic and governmental reforms.

2005 Despite growing tensions with Saakashvili's government, Moscow agrees to remove Soviet-era military bases from Georgian territory by the end of 2008.

2006 Georgia is briefly left with severe gas shortages after a pipeline explosion inside Russia destroys a key export route. Those behind the bombing are never discovered.

Georgia arrests four Russian military personnel on spying charges. Moscow responds with sweeping economic sanctions, cutting all travel links, deporting hundreds of ethnic-Georgians from Russia, and stopping Georgian imports.

August 8, 2008 After weeks of tension and low-level clashes Georgia says it has taken control of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. Russia sends reinforcements into the territory, saying Georgian attacks killed more than 10 of its peacekeepers. Russian warplanes also reportedly bomb Georgian targets.

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