Comment by the Information and Press Department on the 11th anniversary of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus
We remember the tragic events that took place 11 years ago. On the night of August 7-8, having crudely violated international agreements on the peaceful settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, the Mikheil Saakashvili government launched a full-scale military operation against South Ossetia. Without distinguishing between military facilities and residential districts, the Georgian forces subjected Tsinkhval to heavy shelling. They tried to attack a camp of Russian peacekeepers, 10 of which were killed. In all, 48 Russian servicemen were killed and 162 wounded.
The aggression against Tsinkhval, the universally recognised side of the conflict, was absolutely unprovoked. This obvious fact was later officially confirmed by a report of the International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in the South Caucasus, established by the EU and headed by Swiss representative Heidi Tagliavini, which was published in the autumn of 2009.
The attack on South Ossetia and preparations for a similar action against Abkhazia was the culmination of Tbilisi’s long-term policy of violence against these nations, which left them no choice but to ensure their security and their right to existence by self-determination as independent states.
On August 26, 2008, Russia recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, being guided by the provisions of the UN Charter and the 1970 UN Declaration Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and other fundamental international documents.
Obviously, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia have established themselves as sovereign states. Both republics have the attributes of statehood and efficient systems of legislative, executive and judicial authority. They control their territories, develop their national economies and culture and are actively building law-based societies.
The Russian Federation is actively cooperating with the young republics in the South Caucasus and rendering them substantial financial aid, including investment programmes on assisting their socio-economic development. Russia’s policy is absolutely transparent and is aimed at developing mutually beneficial ties with its partners while promoting trust and understanding.
It is regrettable that Georgia and the West have failed to draw lessons from the tragic events of 2008. Instead of trying to overcome the burden of the past, and facilitate neighbourly relations between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Tbilisi, which is actively supported by Western capitals, continues to promote anti-Russia hysteria, supply the region with arms and unceremoniously draw Georgia into NATO. This path is a dead end that in no way helps to establish peace, stability and security in the region.
For its part, Russia is working and will continue to work to resume dialogue and conduct a full-scale negotiating process between Georgia on the one hand, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the other. We have always emphasised that the signing of agreements on the reciprocal non-use of force should be the first step in this area.
We again urge Georgia and our Western partners to recognise the geopolitical realities that were established in the South Caucasus.