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Report on the conflict in Georgia: Georgian artillery opened fire in 1st (Maj)

(BRUSSELS2) The independent mission responsible for establishing the truth about the conflict in Georgia, chaired by the Swiss Hendi Tagliavini, has just submitted its report.

The first of its kind. His report is therefore important in more ways than one. It is the first of its kind in the history of the European Union. It intervenes: 1) in a conflict between Russia and another country on the European continent, 2) in application of the agreement signed between the European Union and Russia, the Medvedev - Sarkozy agreement, towards a ceasefire in first, then a peaceful settlement of the conflict 3) is published almost "hot": a little more than a year after the start of the conflict. Suffice to say that it was not obvious.

The answer is clear: the Georgians attacked first, violations of IHL are mainly the work of South Ossetians. It was "heavy fire from the Georgian artillery" which opened the conflict on the night of August 7 to 8, 2008. Followed by other movements of the Georgian army targeting Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and areas surrounding areas, which were soon under fire involving Abkhazian, South Ossetian and Russian military units and armed elements. And it was in a counter-attack movement that the Russians entered Georgia. (...) Many violations of international humanitarian law are due to the action of irregular armed groups coming from the South Ossetian side that the Russian armed forces did not want or could not control adequately". But for the report , this is only "the culmination of a long period of rising tensions, provocations and incidents". And, still today, "despite the establishment of an EU observation mission and the talks in Geneva, the situation remains tense and volatile and there are many fears of a resumption of hostilities".

(updated) American support in the background. The report highlights, if not questions, US military assistance. "The United States has set up an extensive military assistance program for Georgia, in terms of training, equipment and financial means. This military aid was primarily intended to assist Georgia to regain full control of the Pankisi Valley in the Caucasus where Chechen fighters had allegedly taken refuge, as Russia declared. Then, this aid was intended to prepare the Georgian armed forces for international missions, in Kosovo, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. At the end, the armed forces of Georgia had doubled their forces in terms of men compared to the Shevardnadze years, were better trained and equipped than before, and the forces were housed in modernized military bases: the largest of between them was in Senaki facing Abkhazia, and the other near Gori facing South Ossetia. More than a hundred military advisers were with the Georgian armed forces when the conflict broke out in August 2008, and it is estimated that a larger number of US specialists and advisers were active in the various Georgian administration and power structures. Military support - in equipment and training - had also been provided by a number of other papers led by Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Israel."

Report to download here - chapter 1 (summary, introduction).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).