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United States Army War College

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The Russian Military and the Georgia War: Lessons and Implications

Authored by Dr. Ariel Cohen, Colonel Robert E. Hamilton.

Brief Synopsis

In August 2008, the armed conflict on the territory of Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke out between Russia and Georgia. The Russian-planned military campaign lasted 5 days until the parties reached a preliminary ceasefire agreement on August 12. The European Union, led by the French presidency, mediated the ceasefire. After signing the agreement, Russia pulled most of its troops out of uncontested Georgian territories, but established buffer zones around Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On August 26, 2008, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, making them a part of what Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called Moscow’s “zone of privileged interests.” Since then, Russia has deployed troops to five military bases on occupied Georgian territory. This conflict clearly demonstrated weaknesses inherent in NATO and European Union security systems.

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