Fierce clashes between Russian and Georgian troops erupted in the southern suburbs of South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali. Georgia was under heavy bombardment from Russian planes.
In short, Russia has started a full-scale military invasion of Georgia.
This invasion is Russia’s decision to defend Russians in Tskhinvali, who had come under fire by the Georgian artillery and air assault. This is the worst fighting since the 1992-94 separatist war in the region.
The United States has been in support of Georgia’s bid to join NATO, and in this conflict has called for an immediate ceasefire and Russian withdrawal.
In response to many European calls for the “crisis” to be resolved, Georgia’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Victor Dolidze, told a crisis meeting of the OSCE’s permanent council in Vienna, “If this is not war, then I wonder what is.”
The UN Security Council has failed to agree to call for an immediate ceasefire.
South Ossetia broke from Georgia in the early 1990s. It has since been a constant source of contention between Georgia and Russia. South Ossetia has long sought unification with North Ossetia, which is inhabited by the same Ossetian ethnic group, but ended up across the border in Russia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Today, news agencies are stating that Russia and Georgia may be headed toward a wider war as Russian tanks rumbled farther into the contested province of South Ossetia, and Russian aircraft continued bombing Georgian towns, escalating a conflict that already has left hundreds dead.
Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said the country was “in a state of war” and accused Russia of beginning a “massive military aggression.” The Georgian parliament approved a state of martial law, mobilizing reservists and ordering government authorities to work round-the-clock.
The risk of the conflict setting off a wider war also increased because Russian-supported separatists in another breakaway region, Abkhazia, have also targeted Georgian troops by launching air and artillery strikes to drive them out.
A Georgian spokesman has stated that, “This is about annihilation of a democracy on their borders. We on our own cannot fight with Russia.”
Medvedev’s office said that Russia had not received the Georgian cease-fire proposal.
In response to the invasion, Georgia (who is a U.S. ally whose troops have been trained by American soldiers) launched a major offensive overnight.
Russia has laid much of the responsibility for ending the fighting on Washington, which has trained Georgian troops. Washington, in turned, blamed Russia.
Georgia claims it has shot down 10 Russian planes, and they have claimed to have captured two Russian pilots.