Reply to Ronald Asmus’s Claim Russia Attacked First

Note Feb 2016: Can’t remember exactly what Asmus said but his general line was that Russia was the aggressor. Of course, as I show here and elsewhere, Saakashvili changed his story and the “Russians already in the Roki Tunnel” version only appeared when he had a defeat to explain away.

Response to Ronald Asmus JRL/2009/59/04

Will this canard never die?

Below is what Civil Georgia reported in 8 August in its entirety (my emphasis)

“President Saakashvili said he had announced a general mobilization of reserve troops amid “large-scale military aggression” by Russia.

In a live televised address on August 8, Saakashvili said Georgian government troops had gone “on the offensive” after South Ossetian militias responded to his peace initiative on August 7 by shelling Georgian villages.

As a result, he said, Georgian forces now controlled “most of South Ossetia.”

He said the breakaway region’s districts of Znauri, Tsinagari, as well as the villages of Dmenisi, Gromi, and Khetagurovo, were “already liberated” by Georgian forces.

“A large part of Tskhinvali is now liberated and fighting is ongoing in the center of Tskhinvali,” he added.

He also said that Georgia had come under aerial attack from Russian warplanes on August 8, which was an obvious sign of “large-scale military aggression” against Georgia.

The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs said that three SU-24 Fencer attack aircraft had breeched Georgian airspace on August 8, and one of them had dropped two bombs close to a police station in Kareli, slightly injuring several people.

“Immediately stop the bombing of Georgian towns,” Saakashvili told Russia. “Georgia did not start this confrontation and Georgia will not give up its territories; Georgia will not say no to its freedom… We have already mobilized tens of thousands of reserve troops. Mobilization is ongoing.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Georgians should stand together and save Georgia,” he added.

Note there is no mention of Russian forces in the Roki Tunnel: he gives quite different excuses.

Saakashvili’s story has changed: see my piece (with Georgian sources) on JRL/2009/ ( documenting the change. The “Russians are already in the Roki Tunnel” excuse – of which Saakashvili put forth two variations) only appeared after the operation went so badly wrong.

And BTW – here’s the Civil Georgia report of the Kurashvili statement from 8 Aug (

A senior official from the Georgian Ministry of Defense said Georgia had “decided to restore constitutional order in the entire region” of South Ossetia. Mamuka Kurashvili, an MoD official in charge of overseeing peacekeeping operations, told journalists late on August 7 that the South Ossetian side had rejected Tbilisi’s earlier decision to unilaterally cease fire and had resumed shelling of Georgian villages in the conflict zone.