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58th Army of the Russian Ground Forces in South Ossetia

The 2008 South Ossetia war, also known as the Russia–Georgia War was a war between Georgia on one side, and the Russian Federation together with Ossetians and Abkhazians on the other.

Background and History

The 1991–1992 South Ossetia War between Georgians and Ossetians had left most of South Ossetia under de-facto control of a Russian-backed internationally unrecognised regional government. Some ethnic Georgian-inhabited parts of South Ossetia remained under the control of Georgia. A similar situation existed in Abkhazia after the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993). Already-increasing tensions escalated during the summer months of 2008, especially between Russia and Georgia.


During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military attack against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reconquer the territory. The following day, Russia reacted by deploying combat troops in South Ossetia and launching bombing raids into uncontested Georgian territory. Russian and Ossetian troops clashed with Georgians in the three-day Battle of Tskhinvali, the largest battle of the war. Russian naval forces blocked Georgia's coast and landed ground forces and paratroopers on the Georgian coast. On 9 August Russian and Abkhazian forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia, and entered western parts of Georgia's interior. After five days of heavy fighting, the Georgian forces were ejected from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian troops entered uncontested Georgia, occupying the cities of Poti and Gori among others.

After mediation by the French presidency of the European Union, the parties reached a preliminary ceasefire agreement on 12 August, signed by Georgia on 15 August in Tbilisi and by Russia on 16 August in Moscow. On 12 August, President Medvedev had already ordered a halt to Russian military operations in Georgia, but fighting did not stop immediately. After the signing of the ceasefire Russia pulled most of its troops out of uncontested Georgia. However, Russia created buffer zones, around Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and check-points in Georgia's interior (Poti, Senaki, Perevi).

On 26 August 2008 Russia recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia completed its withdrawal from uncontested Georgia on 8 October, but as of 2009, Russian troops remain stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia under bilateral agreements with the corresponding governments. However, according to a number of sources, Russia has not fully complied with the peace agreement because Georgia lost control over some of the territories.

A number of incidents occurred in both conflict zones in the months after the war ended. As of 2010 tensions between the belligerents remain high.

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