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August armistice anniversary2009-08-12 22:29
On the night of 7 and 8 August 2008 Georgian troops started a military raid on Tskhinval, the capital of their ex-autonomy. Russia rose to defend its peacekeepers and people of the region, mostly Russian citizens. Since the collapse of the USSR Ossetians had been trying to integrate into the peaceful northern state breaking away from nationalistic Georgians.
After 5 days of hostilities the Russian army defeated and completely ousted the Georgian militaries from the region. Russian troops crossed the line the peacekeepers had been on to launch preemptive blows on some military facilities of the adversary. With Georgia close to capitulation as a justly punished aggressor, it was French President Nicolas Sarkozy (France was the EU chairing country at the time) who urgently took a flight to Moscow in order to save Georgia.
On August 12 2008 as a result of intensive talks the document named the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan was worked out containing six principles of the crisis settlement. Clause 1 - to avoid use of force. Clause 2 - to put an end to hostilities. Clause 3 - to ensure free access of humanitarian aid. Clause 4 - to ensure the return of Georgian armed forces to their cantonment areas. Clause 5 - to ensure Russian armed forces' return to the line they had stood on before hostilities and before international mechanisms are set up Russian peacekeeping forces shall take extra security measures. Clause 6 - to start discussing South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's future status and ensure their security.
Certainly Russia as an actual winner could ask for more. But at that time it displayed respect for Georgia as an independent state and to Europe that was misinformed on the conflict escalation initiators. Following the meeting with Medvedev French President Nicolas Sarkozy went to Tbilisi. On August 14 he stated that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili agreed with basic principles of the ceasefire document in the zone of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict. However "upon request of the Georgian side we introduced several amendments twice coordinated with the Russian President over the phone". Thus South Ossetia's status issue was withdrawn from the document.
On August 23 President of Russia and President of France had a phone talk. Presidential press offices made absolutely different interpretation of achieved agreements. The French press release read about urgent creation of "an international mechanism under OSCE auspices in order to substitute Russian patrols in the security zone in the south of Ossetia", the Russian message had nothing to do with "Russian peacekeepers being substituted by OSCE security forces". Like then Russia keeps expressing readiness to cooperate with OSCE as set forth in Clause 5 of the conflict settlement principles.
For the following weeks Georgian and Russian sides continuously reproached each other for violations of the "Medvedev-Sarkozy plan". A day before recognition of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence Georgia emphasized that Russian troops were staying in its territory retrenching near Gori and Poti, though there is not a word about buffer zones Russia had drawn along the line of the hostilities in the six-clause document. In reply Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Colonel Anatoly Nogovitsin said the Russian militaries were controlling the situation in the region performing patrol tasks which is not in violation of the pre-coordinated peacekeeping obligations (clause 5).