On 8 August, Council members held a meeting under “any other business” on the situation in Georgia. The meeting was initiated by the EU members of the Council to mark the 11-year anniversary of the outbreak of conflict in Georgia. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, briefed members on the recent developments in the country. Following the meeting, the US and the EU members of the Council, including incoming member Estonia, held a press stakeout. They regretted the lack of progress in implementing the existing agreements while also reiterating their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Furthermore, they emphasised that Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia demonstrates a lack of respect for the rules-based international order and contributes to destabilisation of the region.
On 28 March, following the consultations on UNDOF the Council members discussed under “any other business” the situation in Georgia. Ukraine initiated the meeting because of concerns regarding the parliamentary elections on 12 and 26 March in Abkhazia, plans for the referendum on 9 April in South Ossetia, and the ongoing militarisation in breakaway territories in Georgia. Furthermore, Ukraine wanted to use the meeting to express support for the territorial integrity of Georgia. Ukraine also proposed a press statement following the meeting but its adoption was blocked by Russia.
At the request of Ukraine, Council members met under “any other business” on 6 December to address the situation in Georgia. Ukraine wanted to raise the issue of the 23 November agreement between Russia and Georgia’s region of Abkhazia on the establishment of a joint military force. Ukraine also proposed to issue a press statement reiterating the support for the territorial integrity of Georgia. The statement was not adopted due to an objection by Russia.
On 15 June Russia vetoed a draft resolution which would have extended UNOMIG’s mandate by two weeks. Ten Council members voted in favour and there were four abstentions (China, Libya, Uganda and Viet Nam). The mission was established in August 1993 by resolution 858.
On 18 May, the Secretary-General’s report on recommendations for UNOMIG’s future activities was issued. In other developements, the May session of the Geneva talks stalled when Abkhazia refused to attend and Russia and the South Ossetian delegation walked out.
On 13 February the Council adopted resolution 1866 extending UNOMIG’s mandate for four months and expressed the Council’s intention to outline elements of a future UN mission by the end of the mandate.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission in Georgia began shutting down. There was increasing tension during the month when Russia warned on 20 Janaury that it would impose “special economic measures” against countries supplying weapons to Georgia. On 16 January, a Georgian policeman was shot and killed while on duty near the South Ossetian administrative boundary line.
Irakli Alasania resigned as Georgia’s ambassador to the UN. He issued a statement on 24 December accusing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of precipitating the armed conflict in August and calling on all “decent and patriotic persons” to join forces to avert the impending “crisis” and restore security, stability and prosperity.
October, November and December 2008
On 9 October, the Council adopted resolution 1839 extending UNOMIG’s mandate on a technical basis for four months. Subsequent to the adoption, three rounds of internationally mediated talks in Geneva focusing on security and stability and repatriation of refugees were held, jointly chaired by the UN, EU and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Council had met seven times in a combination of closed consultations and open meetings on two draft resolutions, one by France and the other by Russia, on the Russian-Georgian conflict. On 26 August, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees recognising South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. On 20 August, Russia halted military cooperation with NATO following a call by NATO ministers on Russia to observe the ceasefire and withdraw its troops immediately. On 15 August, Russia and Georgia signed a ceasefire following intense internation pressure after Russia attacked Georgia’s military in South Ossetia on 8 August. (The previous day Georgia had complained that Ossetian separatists were attacking Georgian police and patrols and deployed a large force into South Ossetia.)
The Council held a private meeting on 21 July on the situation in Georgia convened at the request of Georgia. On 15 July, NATO had expressed concern with Russia’s statement that its military aircraft deliberately overflew Georgian territory, saying the action raised questions about Russia’s role as a peacekeeper in Abkhazia and facilitator of talks between Tbilisi and Sukhumi. On 5 and 6 July, there was series of explosions in Abkhaz-controlled territory as well as near the ceasefire line on Georgian territory. Four people were killed and sixteen injured. One staff member of UNOMIG was killed and another injured.
On 30 May, the Council met at the request of Georgia to discuss the UNOMIG report on the downing of an unmanned aerial vehicle. (On 26 May, UNOMIG released a report of its independent investigation of the downing of a Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle over Abkhazia on 20 April. A video taken by the drone before it was destroyed showed a fighter jet firing a missle at it. The report determined that the fighter jet was either a Russian-made MiG-29 or a Su-27.) On 15 May, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (14 in favour, 11 against and 105 abstaining) upholding the rights of Georgian refugees and internally displaced persons to return to Abkhazia.
On 15 April, the Council adopted resolution 1808 extending the mandate of UNOMIG by six months. That same month, Russia increased its peacekeeping force in Abkhazia to 2,500 citing a build up of troops on the Georgia-Abkhaz border. Georgia denied any troop buildup and voiced unhappiness with not being informed of the Russian troop increase.
On 15 October, the Council adopted resolution 1781 extending the mandate of UNOMIG for six months. In other developments, on 25 October, the first high-level contact between Tbilisi and Sukhumi (the Abkaz capital) took place to discuss the 20 September clash. (A clash between Georgian Ministry of the Interior units and an Abkhaz military unit left two dead, several wounded and a number taken prisoner. A Joint Fact-Finding Group led by UNOMIG was set up to investigate the incident.)
Georgia complained to the Council about military exercises conducted by Abkhaz troops in Abkhazia.
Georgia, called for a meeting of the Security Council stating that a Russian missile had impacted its territory on 6 August 2007. Subsequently, on 9 and 16 August, the Council had two informal briefings on the incident.
The Transdniester Republic, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh signed a joint declaration on “principles for peaceful and just settlement” of their respective situations.
Relations between Georgia and Russia were further strained when, according to Georgian officials, three Russian helicopters had fired into the Kodori Gorge. Russia denied this. A fact-finding team was sent to the area.
The Council in resolution 1716 of 13 October encouraged the resumption of joint patrols on 12 October by UN Observer Mission in Georgia and Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeepers in the upper Kodori Valley. That same month, UNOMIG investigated reports that three rockets had been launched from Abkhazia into the upper Kodori Valley.
Jean Arnault of France was appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Georgia and head of UNOMIG, succeeding Heidi Tagliavini of Switzerland.
The Council adopted a technical rollover of UNOMIG. It was triggered by Russian objections to standard UN language reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and supporting a political solution for the inclusion of Abkhazia within Georgia’s boundaries.
On 11 October, the Georgian parliament criticised the performance of Russian peacekeepers and threatened that Georgian consent for the presence of the Russian forces may be withdrawn by 15 February in the case of South Ossetia, and 15 July in the case of Abkhazia.
A protocol on strengthening the 1994 ceasefire was signed.
Tensions increased with breakaway South Ossetia.
Tensions arose between Tbilisi and the de facto autonomous region of Ajaria, culminating with the resignation of Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze.
Renewed tensions over Chechen fighters on Georgian soil emerged. The Russian Federation warned of possible military action. Russian special forces launched cross-border raids without approval from Tbilisi.
The “Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies between Tbilisi and Sokhumi” was submitted to the parties.
Renewed fighting between Abkhaz separatists and Georgian paramilitaries. Russia accused Georgia of harbouring Chechen forces. A UN helicopter was shot down in the Kodori Valley, Abkhazia.
Georgia and South Ossetia, with the participation of Russia, the Republic of North Ossetia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, signed the 1996 Memorandum on Measures to Provide Security and Strengthen Mutual Trust between the Parties to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.
The Moscow Ceasefire Agreement and the quadripartite agreement were signed. As a result, Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeeping troops were deployed and UNOMIG’s mandate was expanded. Agreement was also reached on practical measures on topics such as transport and communications.
The ceasefire collapsed. Georgia became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and agreed to the establishment of three Russian military bases on its soil.
The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was established to monitor the ceasefire.
A new ceasefire was reached under the Sochi Agreement.
The ceasefire collapsed, and interethnic fighting in the Russian North Caucasus erupted.
Both parties signed a ceasefire and peacekeeping plan.
Conflict between Georgian troops and Abkhaz separatist forces began.
Georgia became independent after a popular referendum. The Abkhaz population voted to remain with the Soviet Union.
South Ossetia declared independence, seeking unification with North Ossetia, Russia.
The Abkhaz Autonomous Socialist republic sought unsuccessfully to secede from Georgia to join the Russian Republic.
Abkhazia was incorporated into Georgia by Soviet authorities.
Georgia became part of the Soviet Union.