Washington briefing: Europeans issue report on Ossetia war

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday October 01, 2009

Washington - More than a year after the brief but devastating confrontation over South Ossetia was fought largely on live television, European Union investigators determined that it was Georgia after all that launched the war; but they also said Russia's response, while initially justifiable, soon became excessive.

For most of August 8, 2008, Georgian officials did not hide the fact that they had launched an operation to take control of South Ossetia, and they provided regular updates on their military's advances. But after the magnitude of Russian involvement became clear, they changed tack and claimed their military action was merely a response to a Russian invasion.

Finally, the three-volume, 1,200-page, EU-sponsored report determined that the Georgian attack was not justified by international law and was the reason for the war; but it also determined that Georgia and Russia shared blame for the conflict and both violated international law.

The report also set the war's death toll at 850 people and estimated that 35,000 people, mostly Georgians, remained displaced as a consequence of the war. After the war Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and established a permanent military presence in both places.

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