Moscow had to intervene to protect people in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, when Tbilisi shelled civilians and peacekeepers, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, calling it a difficult decision.
At the time, Georgia was led by Mikhail Saakashvili, who later fled to Ukraine and remains wanted on criminal charges back home. Medvedev called the behavior of Saakashvili “criminal,” and criticized the “scoundrels” who ordered troops to open fire on the houses of civilians and Russian “peacekeepers.”
“I made a difficult, but the only possible decision – to stand in defense of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he wrote on social media network VKontakte, reflecting on the events of 12 years ago.
“Firstly, to protect them from aggression, and then, at the request of their citizens, recognizing their complete independence.” Otherwise the region would have turned into a “powder keg,” he explained.
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On the night of August 8, 2008, Georgian forces started shelling the breakaway region of South Ossetia where Russian peacekeepers were stationed and sent the troops there. In response, the Russian military entered South Ossetia. The military forces in another breakaway region of Abkhazia announced mobilization, fearing the renewal of fighting with Georgia. After five days, Medvedev announced that the operation had been completed. Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia at the end of August following the requests of the two regions that had been in conflict with Tbilisi since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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