Georgia. Conflict around South Ossetia, 2008
Type of conflict: Political conflict with Russia
Description in one sentence: The province of South Ossetia seeks independence from Georgia. Russia supports Ossetia and takes action
Parties involved: the government, the region of South Ossetia, the region of Abkhazia, Russia, European Union
Estimated number of victims: 2,000 deaths, 158,000 refugees
In Georgia, a former republic within the Soviet Union (now Russia), the region of South Ossetia wants to become independent. The situation deteriorates in 2008 after various violent incidents between South Ossetians and Georgians. The Georgian army invades the region and heavy fighting follows.
Within a day, Russia sends a large force of soldiers to South Ossetia to, as they put it, ‘secure the safety of the Russians in the region’. That leads to heavy fighting between the Russian army and Georgian troops. Russia, with far more military power, also occupies parts of Georgia. President Sarkozy of France secures an end to the war through negotiations.
During the conflict, Russia and Georgia accuse each other back and forth of disseminating incorrect information, though it is unclear who is right. A year later the European Union concludes that Georgia started the war and is therefore guilty. In the end, Georgia loses control of the region of South Ossetia because of the war. Few countries in the world, Russia being one of them, recognise the independence of South Ossetia. The situation remains very tense and unclear. During the Russian invasion in Georgia, the Dutch camera man Stan Storimans loses his life in a bomb attack. A Dutch investigation concludes that Storimans was killed by a Russian cluster bomb (which scatters lots of small bombs). But Russia claims the cameraman was killed by Georgian troops that possess cluster bombs.