YEREVAN. - Russia’s aggression against Georgia started in 90s when Moscow responded to Georgia’s aspiration for independence by open military support to the anti-Georgian forces in two regions – South Ossetia and Abkhazia, said Georgian Ambassador to Armenia Tengiz Sharmanashvili.
After the units of the Russian army supported separatists, thousands of ethnic Georgians were urged to leave the regions, he added.
According to him, as a result of diplomatic efforts Russia managed to deploy its servicemen in the conflict zone. They acquired the status of “peacekeepers” and acted as mediators.
“Russia constantly violated the terms of agreements reached in 90s, as well as the UN Security Council resolution on Abkhazia and decision of the OSCE on situation in Tskhinval region. Russian peacekeepers got a mandate to maintain stability and prevent resumption of confrontation but have been aggravating the situation for 15 years,” he said.
The Ambassador stressed that “revolution of roses” made clear that Georgian society is expected to return to the European family. Therefore, the Georgian government started dynamic reforms in all fields aimed at providing democratic values and reaching European standards.
“Russia was faced with the task to block Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO and the EU and prevent such sentiments in other CIS states. It was the reason for Russian armed forces to invade Georgia and occupy 20% of its territory,” said Sharmanashvili.
Referring to the detailed chronicle of the 2008 events, Ambassador said that since April 2008 Moscow started sharply increasing its military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
According to him, Russia did not consider constructive initiatives and proposals to resolve the conflict and blocked them in the international organizations.
“On August 7, 2008 the Russian armed forces already deployed on the northern border of Georgia with Russia started mass, planned attack on Georgia. Russian forces crossed the border from South Ossetia, a few hours later from Abkhazia. It was a full-scale attack on land, sea, air, and through cyberspace. Moscow justified its invasion of Georgia voicing an absurd argument – protection of the so-called Russian citizens who have become citizens as a result of getting illegal passports,” he added.
According to him, as soon as the Georgian armed forces left the area of operation, Russian troops began to invade the interior of the country, occupying the Georgian towns and villages outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russian planes “bombed not only military targets in Tbilisi, Gori and Marneuli, but also residential buildings.”
“On August 12, on behalf of the EU, French President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for truce between Georgia and Russia, which stopped large-scale military aggression of the Russian Federation against Georgia. Russia’s aggression led to 396 deaths from the Georgian side, while 140,000 ethnic Georgians were forced to leave their homes,” said the Georgian diplomat.
Sharmanashvili stressed that Russia continues to increase its military presence in the “occupied regions”. Since 2009 Russian special services “have organized 12 terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage in Tbilisi and other Georgian regions”.
“It is noteworthy that Russia is still blocking the negotiations in the Geneva format,” concluded Sharmanashvili.
It should be noted that Russia’s interpretation of events differs from the Georgian fundamentally. The Kremlin says that on the night of August 8, 2008 Georgia committed an armed attack on South Ossetia as a result of which Russian citizens, including peacekeepers, were killed. Moscow insists it was forced to hold an operation “to force Georgia to peace”. On August 26, 2008 Russia formally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.