The 2008 war: why Georgia didn't stand a chance against Russia
Material posted: Publication date: 08-06-2017
Modern Russian history is not very rich lightning military victories. The five-day 2008 war against Georgia differs from most previous and subsequent campaigns. Russian troops resisted the conventional army, not a terrorist underground. Protecting South Ossetia, Russian forces acted swiftly and decisively, demonstrating a complete tactical and moral superiority over the enemy.

...In the early 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, South Ossetia has had de facto independence from Georgia, however, did not become a recognized member of the international community. In 1992 the parties with the mediation of the Russian Federation signed the Dagomys agreement, which brought peace for the next 12 years. The situation is fundamentally changed in 2003, when Georgia won the "revolution of roses". Who came to power Mikheil Saakashvili, among other things, announced the intention "to regain control over lost territories."

On the eve of

To attack the former province in 2008, Georgia had prepared thoroughly: the army was transferred to the brigade structure, its strength was brought to 37 thousand people. Equipment and weapons purchased in the United States, the Czech Republic, and Israel. Ukraine had acquired anti-aircraft missile systems "Buk", ibid., may have hired trained anti-aircraft gunners. Contract principle of formation and the salary in 600 – $ 700 a month did military service quite popular in the impoverished Republic.

Ossetians could oppose this force 52 units of light armored vehicles, 15 tanks and 24 self-propelled guns. But it's on paper. In particular, the head of the Ossetian Colonel Barankevich in conversation with journalists has noted, "we (on the go) was three tanks". So when it came to shooting, the most weighty argument Ossetian side was the old RPG-7. However, South Ossetia was not intended to defeat the vastly superior forces of the enemy. The Republic was to hold out until the approach of the Russian army.

Behind the main ridge of the Caucasus stood the 58th army is the most combat-ready and battle-hardened Union in our army. However, to get to the battlefield she could only squeezed through the needle of the Roki tunnel.

Large-scale exercises in the Caucasus annually. Script assist the Republic has also worked out regularly. Interesting fact: after the maneuvers the 76th airborne division went to Pskov on August 2 and six days later the Marines came back. But for the war.

The deterioration of the situation, for anybody not a secret. Skirmishes on the border has gradually turned into a mortar shelling of Tskhinvali. Russian fighter planes repeatedly shot down Georgian reconnaissance drones. The parties went to war, but in Moscow and Washington believed that Saakashvili would not dare to attack the former province under the noses of the Russian army. And in vain,


To the beginning of the war 2008 South Ossetia were only three serviceable tanks. Source:

War 08. 08. 08

Apparently, the Georgian leader believed that the only Russian battalion will not be able to prevent a decisive offensive and sweep the Republic. And after Georgia to establish control over the Ossetian land, Moscow will not hesitate to beat on a favorite vassal of the United States.

However, it is a sudden attack of the Georgians failed. Local fighting broke out on August 1. The authorities of Tskhinvali began the evacuation of city children and women. 7 August, Georgian troops moved to the borders of the deployment. In the middle of the same day officers went to the headquarters of peacekeeping forces.

In 1545, Georgian artillery started shelling the village of Khetagurovo, lying to the West of Tskhinvali. And at 23.40 shells flew already in the city itself. In total, the Ossetian capital, beat about a hundred guns and about 30 rocket launchers of volley fire (MLRS). While "Hail" has transformed city blocks into ruins, General Mamuka Kurashvili announced the beginning of operation to restore constitutional order.

Why the Georgian army bombarded the city from MLRS? There is an assumption that the Georgian generals had hoped for: crowds of refugees will clog the roads, and thereby will prevent the Russian army to pass through the Roki tunnel. If so, the General staff of Georgia coarsely miscalculated: in midnight with the Russian side of the border on combat alert has been raised 135 and 693-th infantry regiments. Georgian missile previously released package for package for shrunken city, Rokskogo tunnel already swept the Russian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

Later it became known that the command of the 58th army pre-assembled fifteen thousand soldiers, increasing their 14 tanks and 25 self-propelled guns. A connection could not defeat the Georgian group, but to slip through the tunnel and to disrupt the blitzkrieg is. In fact, it happened. The Russian military quickly took control of the sector between the exit of the tunnel and Java, and then the area between Dzhava and Tskhinvali.

By the morning of 9 August in the strategic plan the outcome of the company was predetermined. The 58th army has received the corridor to exit the theatre of war. Strategic plan of Saakashvili was thwarted. However, on the battlefield about it no one knew.


Map of hostilities. Source: author Andrei Nacu

Predators and victims

At dawn Georgian infantry and armor came to the outskirts of Tskhinvali. At six in the morning their tanks attacked the positions of peacekeepers. The first shot observation post, and then burned three Russian BMP. In the "boxes" killed five Russian soldiers. Retaliatory fire one of the attacking tanks were burned. Soon the town of peacekeepers was hit by the Georgian artillery. The shells of destroyed hospital destroyed the entire transport. Surviving peacekeepers hid in basements and kept the defense.

Early on the morning of the 4th Georgian brigade was to bypass the Tskhinvali from the West, and 3rd brigade from the East. However, their commanders failed to hold troops on the outskirts of the city. The aggressor was involved in street fighting. As a result, instead of workaround both parts went to the city center. The attack was attended by about 4,000 soldiers and about 600 armored vehicles.

Ossetian militia could not stop this Armada. To build a single line of defense also failed. The defenders of the city fought in small groups, thanks to them, the Georgian army has suffered losses and is mired in the city.

The day of Russian attack aircraft successfully covered bombs of the 42nd battalion of the 4th brigade, located on holiday to the West of Tskhinvali. Blow "Rooks" immediately sent to the light twenty Georgian soldiers, several dozen were wounded. The moral effect of the bombing was even more significant: the battalion commanders village in the cars and went to the rear. The rank and file fled the area, leaving wounded comrades, and serviceable equipment. The defeat of the battalion finally put an end to the coverage of the city.

By mid-afternoon, Russian troops deployed to the North of Tskhinvali a few MLRS batteries. Now, the Georgian military had experienced what a volley full package. By the end of the day the command of the 58th army was able to build strength up to 3 thousand people and organize effective counter-battery fire by the Georgian artillery.

However, the massacre of the innocents the battle of the 8th August was not. Georgia had modern anti-tank complexes, which have claimed some Russian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. On the Russian communications worked, the Georgian su-25. However, every hour the position of the aggressor became more and more hopeless. Instead of a handful of poorly armed militia and several hundred of Russian soldiers by the end of the day they were opposed by thousands of trained soldiers, dozens of tanks and SAU.

To break the aggressor for 48 hours

9 August was the black day of the Russian aviation in the war. First, the Georgian "Buku", for remote control which probably were Ukrainian aircraft gunner, managed to shoot down a heavy bomber Tu-22. It was not the only loss. Despite this, Russian aircraft continued to strike at Georgian military targets. Was destroyed ammunition depot in Gori. This shot, by the way, turned into a serious tragedy: the exploding tank shells damaged a nearby Khrushchev, killing 14 civilians.


The ninth also the another very unpleasant experience: the staff column of General Anatoly Khrulyov, which, in addition to the officers, there were many journalists, ran into the advanced units of the 2nd Georgian brigade, ready to carry out a second attack on Tskhinvali. The contact came as a surprise to both sides. Georgian soldiers shot unarmed reporters, the Russian officers were shot from a service pistol. He Khrulev was wounded in the leg.

The desperate situation in the besieged Georgian peacekeepers camp. In Tskhinvali there were fierce battles. To help the defenders of the city came to the fore GRU and company of the Chechen battalion "Vostok". From Sevastopol to the shores of Abkhazia came out of the black sea fleet headed by the cruiser "Moskva". The evening of Russian amphibious ships tried to break through Georgian torpedo boats. However, on the hike they were met by Corvette "Mirazh" and "Suzdal". One of the Russian missiles put to the bottom of a Georgian boat, the rest retreated.

Night at the Georgian naval base of Poti was hit by a missile "Point", his victims were 35 sailors, the port was paralyzed. At night it was bombed a military base and a collection of reservists in Senaki.

The turning point in the war came 48 hours after the beginning of the aggression. Georgia lost all efficient part with the exception of the 1st brigade, which quickly aircraft returned from Iraq. Its Navy and air force were suppressed. The interaction between the parts is broken, the staff demoralized.

Later it became fashionable to say that the small Georgian army crushed. In fact it is not. Victory over about 13-thousand Georgian case won about 3 -3.5 per thousand Russian soldiers and officers.

Russian losses, if you believe a roll-call list amounted to 67 people. Georgian army lost less than 200 people. Irregulars of the Ossetians and Abkhazians – 40 fighters. Among the civilian population and killed 1,600 people.

Crime without punishment

After defeating the Georgian army, Russia has not decided on a regime change in the country. In Moscow said that is an American concept, and the Russian Federation such things not engaged. Mikhail Saakashvili, for many years preparing his country for an offensive war and sanctioned the shelling of the city "Grad", got off lightly.


No paid and Georgian generals. In fact, the person taking key decisions about the beginning of the massacre, no responsibility incurred.

Having won a brilliant military victory in 2008, Russia was unable to convert it into a real geopolitical success getting in 2014 exactly the same problem, only much bigger scale.

Alexander Bevin


Tags: Russia , armed forces , Georgia