Why It Is Necessary to Know the Day the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 Started
Author: David Batashvili, Research Fellow of Rondeli Foundation
There is some confusion about the date of the start of the August war of 2008. People tend to name August 7 and August 8 interchangeably, as if there were no difference between the two dates. As it happens, there is a crucial difference. August 7, 2008 is the day when the Russian army actually invaded Georgia and started the war. Meanwhile, Moscow is lying that it started its military operation against Georgia on August 8, not before.
This lie has a very important political function. Russia uses it to claim that its attack on Georgia started only after Tbilisi had launched its military operation in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia. For some Georgians to follow Moscow in mentioning August 8 as they day the war started is an unbelievably foolish carelessness. Superficial treatment of history and facts that we too frequently indulge in, in this case directly harms Georgia’s interests, and supports the Russian disinformation.
As Vladimir Putin stated in 2012, the Russian General Staff prepared its plan of a war with Georgia in the late 2006 and early 2007. Moscow decided to implement that plan in 2008. Georgia’s developing relationship with the West meant that soon it would become extremely difficult to return it into the Russian sphere of influence. Such outcome was unacceptable for the Kremlin. Its key strategic goal is to restore its control over the former Soviet countries, in some form. The military attack against Georgia in 2008 became an effective strike that Moscow used to slow down Georgia’s permanent escape from its grasp.
In the morning of August 7, 2008, the regular non-peacekeeping Russian military forces violated Georgia’s border through the Roki Tunnel and invaded the country. This fact is confirmed by numerous sources, among them: information that got through the filter of the Kremlin’s official position and was published in various Russian media outlets; an official Russian criminal investigation of a Russian soldier’s death in Georgia’s Java District in the early morning of August 7; a statement made on August 7, 2008 by the leader of the Russian proxy regime in Sokhumi- Sergei Bagapsh; and the Georgian intelligence intercepts of the telephone conversations between Tskhinvali regime’s “border guards” concerning the Russian military column that crossed into Georgia through the Roki Tunnel in the early morning of August 7, 2008. For details and references regarding all these facts see my paper about the start of the Russo-Georgian War of 2008.
According to the international law, an invasion by the armed forces of one nation into the territory of another, without the consent of the latter, constitutes an act of aggression. According to the same international law, the nation against which such aggression is being performed has a right to self-defence. Georgia used this right in the late evening of August 7, when it started its military operation in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia in response to the Russian aggression. Russian armed forces had invaded Georgia at least 19-20 hours prior to the start of this Georgian operation.
The Roki Tunnel, through which the Russian army launched its attack against Georgia on August 7
The people who do not fully appreciate the significance of August 7 as the date the war started, point out sometimes that Russian troops had been present in Georgia illegally even during the days before August 7. This is probably true. However, there are several factors that make August 7 stand out.
One is the fact that numerous publically accessible sources, which are both quite different from and independent of each other, point at the presence of the Russian army in Georgia on August 7 specifically, removing any reasonable doubt about such presence. We cannot say the same about the days prior to August 7. Then there is the fact that the Georgian government received confirmed information about the invading Russian troops on August 7, deciding to launch a military operation in response. Also, the Russian troops that invaded Georgia on August 7 launched a military operation against it that continued ceaselessly during the following days of the Russo-Georgian War. On the basis of all this, the day the war started is not August 2 or August 5, but August 7.
Another opinion voiced sometimes is that Georgia in any case had the right to re-establish sovereignty on all of its territory. This is true, but what theoretical rights Georgia had has nothing to do with the actual historical facts that took place in August 2008. And these facts are that Tbilisi started its military operation only after repeatedly receiving information during August 7 about the Russian troops that had invaded Georgia.
Since the war of 2008, Russia has been consistently and purposefully portraying August 8 as the day the war started. It has been constantly pushing the narrative that the Russian military operation against Georgia was launched only after the start of the Georgian operation and not before, as actually happened. All the Russian disinformation, propaganda and diplomatic effort regarding the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 is built on this lie. The actual historical date – August 7 – smashes this whole construct that Russia has built for the sole purpose of the victim-blaming of Georgia.
Through the well-resourced information warfare, during the period after the war of 2008 Russia has partially succeeded in spreading the lie that its invasion of Georgia had been launched after the start of the Georgian operation and not before. A lot has changed during the last few years, however. One the one hand, new facts about the Russian aggression of 2008 have emerged. On another, as a result of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, attacks against political systems of the western states, and many other aggressive actions, today Russia’s foreign policy is getting a more adequate appraisal in the West than it used to.
At such time, Georgians need to be speaking their truth clearly and firmly. This should be easy when the objective historical facts are as clearly in their favor as is they are in this case. But to use this properly, one has to fully understand these historical facts. Unfortunately, this is not our strongest area, a very rich example of which is the confusion about the date the war started, with people naming various dates without understanding the key difference between them.
The Georgian government, and the whole political elite, has the primary responsibility not to make mistakes about such an obvious matter. This responsibility, however, rests on the whole of the society as well. We are not talking about something confusing or unclear here. 7 August, as they day the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 started, is an objective historical fact which happens to destroy the Kremlin’s false version about the start of the war. Meanwhile, the start of the war on August 8 is a lie employed against Georgia by Moscow’s propaganda and diplomatic machine as a political weapon. The choice between the two is not really so difficult.
- War in Ukraine and Russia’s declining role in the Karabakh peace process
- The Russian Exclave of Kaliningrad and the Lithuanian "Sting"
- Seventh Package of Sanctions and Embargo on Russian Gold
- What could be the cost of “Putin’s face-saving” for European relations
- In line for the candidate status, Georgia will get a European perspective. What are we worried about?
- Failed Tskhinvali Referendum
- The War and Georgia
- “Rural Orbanism”- Polarization as a determinant for Hungary's political future
- Illegal Presidential Elections in the Tskhinvali Region: Why Bibilov Lost and What to Anticipate in Future
- How to Respond to Russian Ultra-Orthodox-Historic-Hegemonism?
- The War in Ukraine and the UK’s New Role in Eastern Europe
- What Will the Abolition of the OSCE Minsk Group Bring to the South Caucasus?
- Why Has the Abkhaz Side Become More Active on Social Networks?
- Why a Neutral Ukraine Is Not on Putin’s Mind (Ukraine’s Neutral Status Is Getting Closer, but What Does It Mean to Putin?)
- Europe's energy future - challenges and opportunities
- Uncontrolled Mass Immigration and the Position of the Georgian Government
- Changes in Putin's propaganda narratives since the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Ukraine will soon embark on a path of practical integration into the European Union. What about Georgia?
- Positions and Actions of Turkey in the Russo-Ukrainian War
- NATO’s possible expansion in Northern Europe and its significance for Georgia and Ukraine
- Political Winter Olympics in Beijing
- What Is behind Putin’s Sudden Gambit in Ukraine?
- Abkhazia in 2021: Energy Crisis, New “Minister” and Political Controversy
- L'Europe pourra-t-elle éviter le “déjà vu” ? (France, President of the Council of the European Union, and the Tensions in Eastern Europe)
- US-Russia Relations and the Issue of Ukraine
- The New Targets of Ramzan Kadyrov’s Regime
- What are the Prospects of the Eastern Partnership Summit Set on 15 December?
- What Will the Post-Merkel Era Mean for the EU’s Russia and Eastern Neighbourhood Policy?
- What Lies Behind the Growing Cooperation of the Georgian and Hungarian Governments
- “Doberman” as a Minister: Inal Ardzinba’s Prospects and Challenges
- The Belarus Crisis: How to Enhance Our Resilience Against the Russian Strategy for Its Near-Neighborhood
- Moldova’s Gas Crisis Has Been Russia’s Yet Another Political Blackmailing
- Belarus One Year On: An Insecure Regime Under Russian “Protection”
- Russia’s Parliamentary Elections - What Can Be Said About the Regime’s Stability
- Vaccination: “To Be, or not to Be”…
- Can Georgia use China to balance Russia?
- Belarus’ exit from the Eastern Partnership and what to expect next
- Pacta Sunt Servanda: Agreements must be kept
- The West vs Russia: The Reset once again?!
- Associated Trio, What is Next?
- Formation of a New “Political Elite” in Abkhazia - Who Will Replace the Old “Elite?”
- The Cyber-Dimension of the Geneva Summit
- Securitization of the Arctic: A Looming Threat of Melting Ice
- Europe in Anticipation of the Results of a “Harmful Deal”
- What Should Georgia Expect from the NATO Summit
- The Issue of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region in the Context of NATO and European Union Membership
- (Re)Mapping the EU’s Relations with Russia: Time for Change?
- USA, Liberal International Order, Challenges of 2021, and Georgia
- The Political Crisis in Moldova: A Deadlock without the Way Out?
- Russia's Testing or Bullying?
- Georgia's transit opportunities, novelties and challenges against the backdrop of the pandemic
- ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’: A New Opportunity for Global Authoritarian Influence?
- Georgia’s Application for European Union Membership
- A New Dawn for Transatlantic Relations under Biden’s Presidency: What Are the Hopes for Georgia?
- The End of the Russian Natural Gas Monopoly in Balkans
- Who did the judge sentence: Navalny, Putin or Russia?
- 2020 Developments in Abkhazia: “Elections,” the Pandemic and Deeper Integration with Russia
- Could Belarus Become a Prelude to the Great Polish-Swedish War 400 Years Ago?
- Vladimir Putin's Annual Grand Press Conference - Notable Elements and Messages
- COVID 19 Pandemic Economic Crisis and Reducing the Instability of Georgia’s National Currency
- Russia’s Energy Policy in the Tskhinvali Region
- Who Won and Who Lost with the War in Karabakh?
- What Russia has Gained in Karabakh
- What Armenia Did and Did not Lose as a Result of the Ceasefire Declaration in Karabakh
- Escalation of the Karabakh Conflict: Threats and Challenges for Georgia
- Protests in Belarus, Lukashenko and the Russian Federation
- Some Thoughts on the Use of the Term „Post-Soviet Space“
- Georgia’s European Way During the Period of Pandemic Deglobalization
- Khabarovsk Krai Protests as an Indicator of the Russian Federation’s Stability
- The Pragmatism and Idealism of the Georgian-American Partnership
- Independence of Georgia and the Historic Responsibility of Our Generation
- Trio Pandemic Propaganda: How China, Russia and Iran Are Targeting the West
- Complications Caused by the Coronavirus in Turkey and Their Influence on Georgia
- From Russia with… a Canny Plan
- “Elections” in Abkhazia: New “President’s” Revanche and Challenges
- Consumer Crisis in the Tskhinvali Region: Food for Thought
- Georgians Fighting the Same Battle 99 Years Later
- Georgian Defense – Political Paradox and the Vicious Circle of Not Having a System
- Confrontation between Russia and Turkey in Syria
- Why It Matters: Georgia’s 'Troll Scandal' Explained
- Political Crisis in Occupied Abkhazia
- What is the Significance of Killing General Qasem Soleimani?
- What Will the New Dialogue Format with Russia Bring for Georgia?
- On the “Russian Culture Center” in Georgia
- Whither Economic Policy?
- Main Messages of Russian Propaganda
- Massive Cyberattacks On Georgia Calls For Defense And Resilience
- What do we know about the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Georgia?
- What is the Connection between NATO and Reclaiming Abkhazia?
- New Focuses of the Anti-Occupation Policy
- Georgia's Problems are not Addressed at G7 Meetings: Who is to Blame?
- The Cyber Dimension of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War
- Vladimir Putin’s Main Messages in his Interview with the Financial Times
- Georgia and Russia’s Post-modern Fascism
- Dugin has Come Out as a Supporter of Georgia – How Did This Happen?
- The Outcome of the European Parliament Elections - What Does it Mean for Georgia?
- Deterring Russia
- On NATO, Russia and Pat Buchanan
- Why Local Elections of March 31, 2019 in Turkey are Important?
- Does the Principle of Strategic Partnership Work in Ukraine-Georgia Relations?
- A New Chance for Circular Labor Migration between Georgia and the EU
- Modern Russia’s Own Wars of Religion
- Georgia’s Trade with Electricity: The Influence of Bitcoin
- Bolton’s visit to Moscow– what to expect in U.S-Russia relations?
- Georgia’s External Trade: How to Strengthen Positive Trends
- The Risk of the Renewal of the Karabakh Conflict after the Velvet Revolution in Armenia
- The Situation in Syria’s Idlib Province, Interests of the Parties and Threats
- The Helsinki Summit and its General Results
- Georgia’s Position in the Westernization Index 2018
- Why Did the Results of the G7 Summit in Charlevoix not Meet Our Expectations?
- How to Win Cold War 2.0
- The Ben Hodges Model – a Real Way for Georgia’s Membership in NATO
- The Russian “Ambassador’s” Rotation in Abkhazia
- Why did the Foreign Ministers of G7 not remember Georgia during their 23 April 2018 Toronto Meeting?
- Georgia and the American Strategy
- Putin’s Pre-Election Economic Promises: Myth and Reality
- Trade of Electricity: Successes of 2016, Reality of 2017 and Future Prospects– the Impact of Bitcoin (Part Two)
- Let Geneva Stay the Way it is
- Trade of Electricity: Successes of 2016, Reality of 2017 and Future Prospects – the Impact of Bitcoin (Part One)
- Turkey’s Military Operation in Afrin – a New Phase in the Syrian Conflict
- Kremlin New Appointments and the Occupied Regions of Georgia
- Geopolitical Vision of the Russian Opposition
- Dangers Originating from Russia and Georgia’s Security System
- Eurasian Custom Union and problems of Russian – Georgian FTA
- Is Georgia’s Export Growth Sustainable?
- Russia’s Influence over the Field of Security in Tskhinvali Region is Growing: Support for Full Integration
- Russia’s Influence over the Field of Security in Abkhazia is Increasing
- What Awaits the People of Gali?
- Growth of Military Spending and Relations with Russia: Azerbaijan trying to Gain Advantage over Armenia
- Disrupt and Distract: Russia’s Methodology of Dealing with the West
- Trojan Horse Model IL- 76 or Why Would Russia Want to Fight Georgia’s Forest Fires
- Russian Diplomats in Georgia – who are they, how many of them are there and what are they up to
- Putin’s Visit to the Occupied Abkhazia: Was our Reaction Actually Adequate?
- Is it Acceptable for Georgia to Declare Neutrality?
- Georgia’s European Perspective in the Context of EU’s Future Evolution
- Brexit Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom have been re-launched: What will be their Influence on Georgia?
- How to Stop the “Creeping Occupation”
- Kremlin’s Policy in the Occupied Regions of Georgia Moves to a New Stage
- Syrian Civil War in the Context of Regional Security
- The Winnable Second Round of Russia’s Neighbors’ Struggle against Its Imperialism
- Turkey’s Domestic and Foreign Policy in the Context of Regional Security
- Post-Soviet States – Struggle for the Legitimation of Power
- Parliamentary Elections in Armenia – The Triumph of the Governing Party
- Current Foreign Policy of Georgia: How Effective is it in Dealing with the Existing Challenges?
- Military Resilience - a Needed Factor for NATO-Partners
- Observations on the Agreement Reached with Gazprom
- New Russian Weaponry in the Caucasus and Its Impact on Georgia’s NATO Aspiration