The Five Day War: Putin’s first Crimea

The South Ossetia-Georgia conflict didn’t end in 1992. 16 years later warfare would resume, this time with Russia putting its military might behind the war.

Date: 7-12 August 2008
Location: Georgia


Georgian military

Russian military
South Ossetia

The Five Day War

South Ossetia had already chanced their arm at independence in 1991, but this time the whole conflict would be a lot worse. Joined by nearby region Abkhazia, the two provinces decided to breakaway from Georgian rule, this time with help from Russia.

Russia has undertaken ‘peacekeeping missions’ in Georgia since the 1992 South Ossetia war but by 2008, events had taken a turn for the worse. On 3 April Georgia accused Russia of shooting down one of their unmanned drones. This was confirmed on 26 May and so began the road to war.


Throughout July South Ossetian separatists constantly tested the patience of the Georgian hierarchy by launching raids, blowing up vehicles and capturing soldiers. Georgia eventually retaliated on 1 August attacking the Ossetian border troops with sniper fire. This developed in the coming days into intense shelling from both sides.

On 7 August, Russia decided enough was enough as Russian troops amassed on the border. This was followed shortly after by airstrikes particularly on the large settlement of Gori. Despite NATO demanding an end to hostilities, just two days later Russian tanks rolled into the country. It has been speculated that many Ossetians had been given Russian passports.

The Five Day War

Finally after five days of war, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev halted his country’s military advance. Along with French president Nicolas Sarkozy a six-point diplomatic push for peace was agreed. On 26 August, Russia formally recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The Five Day War

Despite its relatively short duration, 100’s died on both sides during the war. The events saw a strain in relations between Russia and the USA. The western media even compared it to Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland. Back in Georgia, the government in the capital Tbilisi had severed all ties with Russia by 29 August. Many see this war as the rebirth of Russian questions to Western domination. The 2013 Crimean crisis can be seen as yet another of these episodes. This won’t be the last of the conflicts in Eastern Europe.

The Five Day War

The Five Day War
A press conference is held at the Kremlin with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev