Legal Case for Russian Intervention in Georgia
Fordham International Law Journal
Copyright c 2008
by the authors. Fordham International Law Journal is produced by The
Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress). http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj
Nicolai N. Petro
This Article examines the legal argument for Russia’s military intervention in Georgia.
Russia’s emphasis on the legal justification for intervention should be viewed as a significant step
to the adaptation of Russian foreign policy to post-Soviet norms. Finally, having weathered this
crisis, Russia will increasingly construct its foreign policy arguments with an eye toward both
following and shaping international law. Part I discusses the various legal documents Russia used in
order to justify its intervention in Georgia. Part II gives a critique of the Russian intervention as a
peace keeping operation to protect citizens. The article concludes questioning the circumstances
in which nations may act unilaterally if international consensus is thwarted by deliberate political
THE LEGAL CASE FOR RUSSIAN
INTERVENTION IN GEORGIA
Nicolai N. Petro*
Now that some time has passed since the events of early
August, it is possible to examine the legal argument for Russia's
military intervention in Georgia sine ira et studio. While such
arguments do not, of course, provide a full explanation for
Russia's intervention-that would require an examination of
Russia's economic, political and military ambitions in the
Caucasus-they do tell us a great deal about the context within which
foreign policy decisions are made. It is therefore striking that so
few western analysts bothered to seriously consider the legal
arguments Russia put forward for what it calls its "peace
enforcement" operation, a term introduced by former United Nations
("U.N.") Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali sixteen years ago.'
Had greater attention been paid, it would have revealed the
unusual degree to which Russia sought the support of
international institutions for what its leadership clearly believed to be a
solid legal case for humanitarian intervention. Since an appeal
to legal argument is often considered a hallmark of the Western
political tradition (and a weakness of the Russian political
tradition), Russia's emphasis on the legal justification for
intervention should be viewed as a significant step to the adaptation of
Russian foreign policy to post-Soviet norms.'
Having weathered this crisis, Russia will increasingly
construct its foreign policy arguments with an eye toward both
following and shaping international law. To the extent that
Western analysts continue to dismiss Russia's legal arguments, they
will persistently fail to grasp the degree to which being part of
* Nicolai N. Petro is professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island
(USA). He is the author or editor of eight books on Russian politics, and has served as
special assistant on Soviet affairs in the U.S. Department of State in 1989-90. Additional
publications are available on his web site: www.npetro.net.
1. See Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Empowering the United Nations: HistoricOpportunitiesto
Strengthen World Body, 71 FOREIGN AFFAIRS 93-94 (1992).
2. See Leonard Schapiro, The ImportanceofLaw in the Study of Politics and History, in
Russl..u STUDIEs 29-44 (Ellen Dahrendorf ed., 1987).
the international legal system has become a fundamental
ambition of Russian foreign policy.
I. THE LEGAL DOCUMENTS
Coming so soon after the latest review of Russia's foreign
policy doctrine, the August crisis tested one of its central
themes-Russia's commitment to international law. ' Most
observers however concluded that Russia's intervention, whatever
legal justification might be sought, was in fact a triumph of
Realpolitik over legality.
This is the view of two prominent legal authorities who have
explicitly challenged Russia's claim that it acted on the basis of a
"responsibility to protect," also known more colloquially as
"R2P." One, Gareth Evans, was formerly Australia's foreign
minister and co-chair of the international commission that worked
out the R2P doctrine. 4 The other, Antonio Cassese, served as
the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
Former Yugoslavia ("ICTY"), and is currently a professor of law
at the University of Florence.5 In order to address their specific
criticisms, however, it is important to review the legal documents
upon which Russia bases its case.
The rationale for Russian intervention is laid out by Russia's
ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, in his letter
of August 11, 2008 to the president of the U.N. Security
Council.6 In it Churkin cites the scale of the attack on Russian
peacekeeping forces and Russian citizens, as well as statements
of aggressive intent by Georgian political and military leaders to
"demonstrate that we are dealing with the illegal use of military
force against the Russian Federation. In those circumstances,
the Russian side had no choice but to use its inherent right to
self-defen[s]e enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter of the
United Nations."7 Concluding his letter, Churkin pledges that
Russia's use of force will be "strictly proportionate to the scale of
the attack," aimed at defending both peacekeepers and citizens,
and at preventing further attacks on them.8
As is well known, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter
specifies that member nations have an "inherent right of
individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs," and that
this right is in no way "impaired" by the Security Council's
failure to act.' Its invocation, however, shall be immediately
reported to the Security Council,' ° so by submitting this letter,
Russia fulfilled these essential requirements of Article 51. The
issue that remains in dispute is whether or not the shelling of
Tskhinval by Georgian forces in the early evening of August 7,
2008 and the advance of its forces into South Ossetia shortly
after midnight to "restore constitutional order in the entire
region," as Georgian military commanders put it,1 constitutes
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov argues that
Georgia's actions should be qualified as aggression based on United
Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 on the "Definition of
Aggression.' 1 2 The following two articles in that resolution are
directly relevant to his argument.
Article 2 states, "[t] he First use of armed force by a State in
contravention of the Charter shall constitute prima facie
evidence of an act of aggression .... "' By the general consensus
9. U.N. CHARTER art. 51.
11. 'Georgia Decided to Restore Constitutional Order in S.Ossetia'--MoD Official, Civ.
GEORGIA, Aug. 8, 2008, availableat
12. Definition of Aggression, G.A. Res. 3314 (XXIX), U.N. GAOR, 29th Sess.,
Supp. No. 31, U.N. Doc. A/9631 (Dec. 14, 1974), availableat http://wwwl.umn.edu/
It should be noted that General Assembly resolutions are intended to provide
guidance to the Security Council in determining the existence of an act of aggression, but
are not considered binding. See YoRm, DINs-EIN, WAR, AGGRESSION AND SELF-DEFENCE
129 (4th ed. 2005).
13. Definition of Aggression, supra note 12, art. 2.
of international observers, Georgia's shelling of the South
Ossetian capital of Tskhinval was the first use of armed force by a
state in this conflict.1 4
Article 3 states, "[a]n attack by the armed forces of a State
on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another
State" constitutes aggression.1 5 Churkin argues that the attack
on Russian peacekeepers, who were in South Ossetia in accord
with agreements signed and ratified by Georgia, and alongside
OSCE observers, constitutes an attack on Russia's armed
Georgia's counter claim that it has the right to use whatever
military force it may deem fit to "restore constitutional order" in
a separatist region because it is not a State, is contradicted by an
explanatory note to Article 1, clarifying that the term "State" is
used without prejudice to questions of recognition, or
membership in the United Nations. 7 In addition, Article 5 stipulates
14. The fact that Georgia initiated hostilities in Tskhinval, albeit "unavoidably,"
was finally acknowledged publicly by Saakashvili in his testimony last November to the
committee of inquiry set up by the Georgian parliament. See Saakashvili Testifies Before
War Commission, CIVIL GEORGIA, Nov. 28, 2008, c
ited in Johnson's Russia List 2008
file with Fordham International LawJournal).
Few western analysts now doubt that Georgia's actions preceded and precipitated
Russia's response. See, e.g., Ralf Beste et al., Did SaakashviliLie? The West Begins to Doubt
Georgian Leader, SPIEGEL ONLINE (F.R.G.), Sept. 1
international/world/0,1518,druck-578273,00.html; Nikolas Busse, Invasion?
Provokation? Die Nato sucht nach Antworten, [Invasion? Provocation? NATO Searchesfor Answers]
FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (F.R.G.), Sept.
9EA8-ATpl-Ecommon-Scontent.html; Charles Clover et al., Countdown in the Caucasus:
Seven Days that Brought Russia and Georgia to War, FIN. TIMES (U.K.), Aug. 2
, at 7,
available at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/O/af25400a-739d-I ldd-8a66-0000779fd18c.html;
Paul Reynolds, Georgia and Ukraine 'Shouldn't Join Nato,' BBC NEWS, Sept. 18, 2008,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7623240.stm; see also Manfred Ertel et al., Road to
War in Georgia: The Chronicle of a CaucasianTragedy, SPIEGEL ONLINE (F.R.G.), Aug. 2
, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,druck-574812,00.html; Brian
Rohan, Saakashvili "PlannedS. Ossetia Invasion": Ex-minister, REUTERS, Sept. 1
15. Definition of Aggression, supra note 12, art. 3(b).
that, "[n]o consideration of whatever nature, whether political,
economic, military or otherwise, may serve as a justification for
aggression" and, "[a] war of aggression is a crime against
international peace. Aggression gives rise to international
Relying on these definitions, Russia argues that South
Ossetia had the right to defend itself against Georgia's efforts to
change the status quo by force, and to appeal for international
assistance after it had been attacked.' 9
All the more so since General Assembly Resolution 3314
explicitly condemns the use force to suppress rebellious regions,
and stipulates that any territorial or other advantage gained
from such use of force should be considered unlawful. 20
In the case of South Ossetia, it can further be argued that
the prohibition on the use of force should be accorded greater
weight, since the peacekeeping forces were there in accord with
agreements signed by Georgia and had international standing.
The latter is reflected in point three of the 1994 Joint Control
Commission ('jCC") memorandum, where the Commission on
Security and Cooperation in Europe ("CSCE") Mission in
Georgia is listed as "taking part in the work of the JCC.''2 1 In 1996
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
("OSCE") representative Ambassador Dieter Boden also signed
the Moscow Memorandum, which listed the OSCE as "a party
assisting in its implementation. "22
18. See id. art. 5.
19. See, e.g.C,lover et al., supra note 14; PBS NewsHour, supra note 16.
20. See Definition of Aggression, supra note 12, art. 5(3) ("No territorial
acquisition or special advantage resulting from aggression is or shall be recognized as lawful.");
see also id. at Annex ("[rleaffirming the duty of States not to use armed force to deprive
peoples of their right to self-determination, freedom and independence, or to disrupt
21. See Polozhenie '0 Smeshannoi kontrolnoi komissii po
uregulirovaniyugruzino-osetinskogo konflikta' [Regulation "On the Joint Control Commissionfor Resolving the
Georgian-Ossetian Conflict], Oct. 31, 1994, http://www.caucasica.org/docs/detail.php?ID=1330&PH
PSESSID=85ce24d286e083a2941a5edb041f4078&print=Y& [hereinafter Polozhenie]
(available only in Russian, translated by the author).
22. See Memorandum 0 merakh po obespecheniyu bezopasnosti i ukrepleniyu vzaimnogo
doveriya mezhdu storonamigruzino-osetinskogo konflikta [Memorandum on Measures to
Guarantee Security and strengthen mutual trust between the parties in the Georgian-OssetianConflict],
SOUTH OssETIAN JoIN-r CONTROL COMMISSION OFFICIAL SITE, May 16, 1996, http://
sojcc.ru/soglashenia/96.html [hereinafter Memorandum] (available only in Russian,
translated by the author); see also TIM POTIER, CONFLICT IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH,
ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA: A LEGAL APPRAISAL 134-35 (2001), available at http://
LEGAL CASE FOR RUSS. INTERVENTION IN GEOR. 1529
Georgia was still a party to these accords in August 2008.
While the Georgian parliament did periodically pass resolutions
calling for withdrawal from these accords, as late as June 2008,
Alexandre Lomaia, the Secretary of Georgia's National Security
Council, said that Tbilisi had no intention of doing so. 2 3 It was
not until August 27, 2008 that Georgia's Prime Minister, Lado
Gurgenidze, formally ended Russian peacekeeping operations in
Georgia, and instructed the Foreign Ministry to notify Russia of
Tbilisi's intention to withdraw from the 1992 Sochi Agreement.24
This Agreement, sometimes known as the Dagomys
Agreement, is the foundational document that guided the actions of
the four parties in this conflict: Russia, Georgia, North Ossetia,
and South Ossetia.25 In the intervening years it has been
supplemented by more than eighty protocols, memoranda,
agreements, and other accompanying documents, available online on
the official website of the South Ossetian Joint Control
Three of these documents specify the competencies of the
peacekeepers and military observers in the region: the JCC
declaration ofJune 6, 1994 ("[o]n the basic principles in the
activities of military contingents and groups of military observers,
intended for the normalization of the situation in the zone of the
Georgian-Ossetian conflict,") 27 and two memoranda of October
karabakh-doc.azerall.info/ru/law/law031-1.php (documenting the OSCE's extensive
involvement in the conflicts in the region); see generally Konstantin Cheremnykh, Dieter
Boden's Moment of Truth, Jan. 1
, RPMONITOR, http://www.rpmonitor.ru/en/en/
detail.php?ID=7933 (detailing Ambassador Boden's personal diplomatic initiatives).
23. See Government Formally ScrapsRussian Peacekeeping,Civ. GEORGIA, Aug. 29, 2008,
http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19341 (last visited Jan. 29, 2009).
24. See id.
25. See Soglashenie '0 printsipakh uregulorovaniyagruzino-osetinskogo konflikta'
[Agreement "On the Principlesfor the Resolution of the Georgian-OssetianConflict"], June 24, 1992,
941a5edb041f4078&print=Y& [hereinafter Soglasheniel (available only in Russian).
Article 1 of the 1994 JCC declaration on basic principles
states that it is the responsibility of the peacekeepers "to control
the situation in the conflict zone and areas contiguous to it."'29
Article 3 specifies that peacekeepers shall:
[T]ake measures toward the introduction and support of a
heightened security regime in the conflict zone, and if
necessary in contiguous areas; oversee the fulfillment of the
accords on withdrawal of heavy equipment and arms from the
conflict zone; prevent the introduction into the conflict zone
of military groups, and other unauthorized formations,
capable of destabilizing the situation through their actions.30
Furthermore, the unified command of the JCC is to be
headed by a senior Russian military officer, who has sole
authority on the use of military force in the event of a violation of the
cease fire," as well as on the decision to pursue "criminal
elements beyond the conflict zone, '3 2 and on the placement of
The October 1994 memoranda reiterate the obligation of
all sides to decide contentious issues "exclusively through
peaceful means '3 4 and reaffirm that the head of the peacekeeping
force is responsible for taking "all measures necessary for the
preservation of peace and order, preventing the renewal of
armed conflict, and the disarmament of unlawful militarized
Finally, in the Moscow Memorandum of May 16,
1996"Measures to Guarantee security and strengthen mutual trust
between the parties in the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict"-the four
parties again "foreswear the use or threat of the use of force, and
28. See Soglashenie '0 dalneishemrazvitiiprotsessa
mirnogouregulirovaniyagruzino-osetinskogo konflikta i o Smeshannoi kontrolnoi kommissii (SKK)' [Agreement "On the
FurtherDevelopment of the Process of Peaceful Resolution of the Ceorgian-OssetianConflict and of the Joint
Control Commission (SKK)"], Oct. 31, 1994, available at http://www.caucasica.org/docs/
detail.php?ID= 1330&PHPSESSID=85ce24d286eO83a294 1a5edb041 f4078&print=Y&
[hereinafter Dalneishem] (available only in Russian); see also Polozhenie, supra note 21.
29. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supra note 27, art. 1 (translated by the author).
30. Id. art. 3 (translated by the author).
31. Id. art. I (translated by the author).
32. Id. art. 4 (translated by the author).
33. Id. art. 5 (translated by the author).
34. Dalneishem, supra note 28, at point 5 (translated by the author).
35. Polozhenie, supra note 21, at point 10 (translated by the author).
LEGAL CASE FOR RUSS. INTERVENTION IN GEOR. 1531
political, economic or other forms of pressure on one another,"
and stipulate that the conflict zone is to be demilitarized.3"
At his news conference of August 28, 2008, deputy chief of
the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Anatoly
Nogovitsyn, referred to Article 3 of the 1994 JCC declaration on basic
principles as the legal basis for all actions taken by the Russian
peacekeepers, including their deployment in the security zone.3 v
Since these accords were binding on Georgia at the time, Russia
argues that the response of the Russian forces to Georgia's attack
was legal, 38 a point conceded by some Western analysts. 39
In an interview with the German news magazine Spiegel, for
example, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, professor of international law at
the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich, notes
that regimes like Abkhazia and South Ossetia that have
established their defacto independence over many years, are typically
considered protected from the use of force and have the right to
self defense.4" Likewise, Germany's military attach6 in Moscow,
Brigadier General Heinz G. Wagner, argued that "without a
doubt" Russia was justified in responding to the Georgian attack
on the peacekeepers who "on the basis of their armament and
equipment were not in a position to protect or to even defend
themselves."'" And, on August 20, 2008, one of Russia's leading
independent newspapers, Kommersant, quoted the newly
appointed U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, as saying that
Russia "responded to attacks on Russian peacekeepers in South
Ossetia, legitimately. '42 Originally posted on the U.S. Embassy's
website, his remarks were later disavowed by Washington.13
Others, like the vice president of the International Crisis
Group, Alain D616troz, distinguish between the initial rebuff of
Georgian aggression within the boundaries of South Ossetia,
which they consider perfectly legitimate, and the subsequent
illegal extension of peace enforcement activities into the territory of
Georgia proper.44 The Sochi agreements, however, clearly make
it the sole responsibility of the Russian military commander to
take "all measures necessary" to end hostilities both within the
conflict zone and, if necessary, in areas contiguous to it.45
The limited scope of Russia's intervention in the areas
contiguous to the conflict zone is confirmed by the circumscribed
deployment of Russian troops within the original security zone
and the areas contiguous to it, referred to as the "buffer zone. "'46
Of the 17,000 troops that Russia had in the conflict zone at the
height of this conflict, according to North Atlantic Treaty
Organization ("NATO") sources roughly 1000 or less than 6% were
deployed in both the security and buffer zones). 7 Russia's
strictly defensive posture is also apparent in the limited scope of
the attacks on Georgian military infrastructure within the buffer
zone, ignoring militarily significant targets deeper within
Georgia.48 Clearly, if Russia had wanted to occupy the entire country,
it could have done so with little difficulty after the collapse of the
Georgian Army on August 11, 2008.
Map 1: Russians in Georgia4 9
This map indicates the demilitarized zone (yellow), security
zone (orange) and buffer zone (red perimeter) established by
Russians on August 2
, along with new checkpoints in and
around Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
II. THE CRITIQUE OF RUSSIAN INTERVENTION
With this essential background, let us turn to Gareth Evans's
and Antonio Cassese's critiques of Russia's "peace enforcement"
First, Evans argues that the protection of Russian citizens is
not a valid rationale for intervention.5" R2P, he says, may only
be invoked if a state is unable or unwilling to act to protect its
own citizens, but not to protect one's citizens in another
country, particularly if there is reason to suspect that citizenship may
have been granted with an eye toward making just such a
claim.51 Cassese makes a similar point, saying, "South Ossetians
have Russian nationality only because Russia recently bestowed it
on them unilaterally. 52
Some 50-80% of Abkhaz, and perhaps as many as 95% of
South Ossetians hold Russian citizenship, along with their own.53
How did this unusual situation come about?
When the first fighting erupted between Georgia and its two
separatist enclaves in 1991, the entire region was still part of the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ("USSR") and all its
inhabitants were Soviet citizens. 54 A Russian law passed in 1992,
however, permitted all residents of ex-Soviet republics to apply for
Russian citizenship, providing that they were not already citizens
of another republic.55 Many Akbkhaz and South Ossetians argue
that they were not because their armed struggle for
independence had begun before Georgia had declared its own
independence from the USSR.5 6
The citizenship process, however, was a fairly arduous one
requiring frequent trips to Russia. 7 Since residents of Abkhazia
LEGAL CASE FOR RUSS. INTERVENTION IN GEOR. 1535
and South Ossetia were de facto being denied travel documents
by the Georgian government, the process was made simpler for
them by allowing them to apply to submit "emergency
applications" through the Abkhaz foreign ministry in Sukhum.5 s
The strong preference for Russian citizenship is no doubt
part of an emotional backlash to the fighting of the early 1990s,
but has been exacerbated by the application of economic and
political sanctions to force Abkhazia and South Ossetia to
reintegrate back into Georgia. 59 Without a valid passport, local
residents could not travel abroad, could not collect pensions,
could not access any social or public medical services."a As living
conditions in these regions deteriorated, Tbilisi reasoned that
the local residents would have no choice but to relocate to
Russia, or accept Georgian authority6. "
Sergei Bagapsh, then Abkhazia's prime minister, described
meeting with Georgia's president Eduard Shevarnadze in 1998
FORDHAM INTERNATIONAL LAWJOURNAL
to resolve the passport crisis.6 2 "Nobody cares about our need to
import medicines," he complained.6" According to Bagapsh,
however, Shevardnadze angrily refused to issue any Georgian
passports to Abkhaz, suggesting they make do with U.N. travel
documents.6 4 Bagapsh told him that, in that case, "We will ask
Russia to help-and in five years most of our citizens will have
Russians [sic] passports. '"65 This is precisely what happened.
Through the 1990s most of those who applied for dual
citizenship did so mainly to receive basic state benefits, like
pensions, and to be able to travel abroad.6 6 This changed in 2002
when Russian citizenship laws became more stringent.6 7 June of
2002 alone, saw some 150,000 Abkhaz apply for Russian
citizenship, just before the new law came into effect. 68
Not many years later, Alexander Ankvab, Abkhazia's new
prime minister, explained why so many Abkhaz prefer Russian
citizenship to Georgian as follows:
Russia helped us to survive ...When our passports, because
of the position of the Georgian authorities, lost their legal
status and our citizens could not leave the country . . .our
elderly could not get a Georgian pension, even in the
laughable amount of 10-60 rubles, but today from Russia 25,000
pensioners receive 40 million rubles in pension. More than a
hundred seriously ill received free medical care in Moscow.
This year Abkhazia received 200,000 free textbooks from
Tbilisi applied similar pressure on South Ossetia, with the
result that they too have become, as to the deputy speaker of the
South Ossetian parliament put it, "101% Russian citizens. "70
Since the use of economic sanctions is explicitly prohibited
by Article 4 of the Sochi Agreement,7 and by Article 1 of the
Moscow Memorandum of May 16, 1996,2 it would be a perverse
form of protection that punishes them twice: first, for having
been denied Georgian citizenship, then again for having
accepted Russian citizenship in order to survive.
Evans also argues that the threat posed by Georgia to the
South Ossetian population was not "of a nature and scale as to
make legitimate its use of military force. ' 73 Cassese makes a very
similar claim, saying that neither genocide nor ethnic cleansing
seem to have occurred, and that even "if war crimes were
perpetrated, they do not justify a military invasion. 7 4
The total number of civilian casualties from the war has not
yet been finalized. 7' To date, however, various investigations
have identified between 159 and 365 casualties by name.
According to South Ossetian Prosecutor General Taimuraz
Khugayev, there are still approximately two hundred burial sites left
to exhume in South Ossetia, and fifty in North Ossetia, which
could bring the total civilian casualty figure among South
Ossetians to over five hundred.7 6 While this is a significant figure for
a population that numbers only a few tens of thousands, most
Western observers are reluctant to call it genocide.
It is worth noting, however, that the United Nations'
"Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide," adopted on December 9, 1948, offers a rather broad
definition. It designates as genocide any of the following acts
committed with "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group," including: (a)
"[k]illing members of the group"; (b) "[c]ausing serious bodily
or mental harm to members of the group"; and (c)
"[d]eliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in
Whether or not the policies of the current Georgian
leadership constitute genocide, they do follow in the path set by
Georgia's first independent president Zviad Gamsakhurdia of driving
the "non-native" Abkhaz and South Ossetians populations out of
the region to make room for the return of the Georgian ethnic
population. Gamsakhurdia called this creating a "Georgia for
Georgians," adding that "subversive minorities" like the South
Ossetians "should be chopped up, they should be burned out
with a red-hot iron from the Georgian nation .... We will deal
with all the traitors, hold all of them to proper account, and
drive [out] all the evil enemies and non-Georgians... !"'7 Some
scholars have taken note of certain similarities between
Gamsakhurdia's ethnic cleansing policies and those of the late
Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.79
In 2004, as the newly elected president of Georgia, Mikheil
Saakashvili rehabilitated Gamsakhurdia, hailing him as a "great
statesman and patriot."80 Even after the war in August, 2008,
Saakashvili shows little sign of recognizing the right of Ossetians
or Abkhaz to exist, commenting to a French journalist that:
"Ossetia is a fiction .... The Georgians have always comprised the
majority of the population. Stalin did not create these Abkhaz
and Ossetian autonomies within Georgia to please Georgia. On
the contrary, he did not trust it. Stalin knew what he was doing;
he needed these levers.""'
Such attitudes seem fairly widespread among the Georgian
elite. They have been echoed by leading opposition figures,
such as Nino Burjanidze, and even by the Catholicos-Patriarch of
All Georgia, Ilya 11.82 Caucasus expert Donald Rayfield puts it
very bluntly. When it comes to granting Abkhazia or South
Ossetia independence, he says, "I don't know of any Georgian
politician with the courage to say anything along those lines, or with
the self-assurance not to believe he or she will be killed for
saying it. But if one does not appear, then what has happened in
August 2008 will happen again."83
Ultimately, only the opening of state archives will reveal
whether or not Georgian forces were indeed ordered to
terrorize the Ossetian population in this particular instance, although
there is evidence that senior military officials did threaten the
Abkhaz with physical elimination for their rebellion in 1992.84 It
is clear from the Ossetian response-some 17,000 fled north to
Russia in the first hours of the attack, swelling to over 35,000 by
the end of the week-that they regarded the possibility of the
restoration of Georgian sovereignty to be a dire threat to their
existence. 5 This begs the question: if the flight of nearly half an
82. See Nick Coleman, As Saakashvilifights on, Georgia's 'iron lady' waits in wings,
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, Sept. 2
, available at http://www.haaba.com/node/
189405/pdf; Francois d'Alancon, Ilia II: 'II n'y aurapas de paix en Georgiesansjustice' [Ilia
II: 'There will be no peace without justice in Georgia'], LA CROIX (France), Sept. 19, 2008,
83. Donald Rayfield, The Georgia-Russia conflict: lost territory, found nation,
OPENDEMOCRACY.NET, Aug. 18, 2008, http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/45806/
84. Georgian newspapers reported on August 25, 1992, that the commander of
Georgian forces in Abkhazia, Gia Karkarashvili, issued an ultimatum threatening all
97,000 Abkhaz with death in the conflict, if it would prevent separatism. The Abkhaz
web site "Circassian World" has placed the video of his remarks online; a similar threat
was apparently made by the head of Georgia's wartime administration, Giorgi
Khaindrava, on the pages of Le Monde Diplomatique in April 1993. See Gia Karkarashvili, The
Georgian Commander-in-Chiefon TV threatens the Abkhazian nation with genocide, Aug. 24,
html (video posted Oct. 30, 2008).
85. See generally Georgia-South Ossetia crisis timeline, RussiA TODAY, Aug. 9-17, 2008,
www.russiatoday.com (search for "timeline"); Vse bezhentsy Yuzhnoi Osettii, razmeshchennye
na yuge Rossii, vernulis nazad [All Refugees of Southern Ossetia,from the South of Russia, have
ethnic population, who had been labeled "ungrateful guests"
and "Indo-European swine" by the country's former president, is
not considered ethnic cleansing, then what is?8 6
Next, Evans argues that Russian actions cannot be deemed
humanitarian intervention because no U.N. Security Council
resolution preceded it, giving it legal authority. Cassese agrees with
this and adds that the 1992 agreement authorizes only the
monitoring of internal tensions, not the massive use of military force.
While Georgia may have been reckless in introducing troops, it
did not, he says, breach international law by sending its troops
into South Ossetia.8 7
But as Kristina Jeffers notes, consent-based peacekeeping
does not require Security Council approval. Rather, it falls
under Chapter VI of the Charter, which provides for a first
resort to regional agencies in situations that may threaten
regional peace and security." Such regional organizations include
the Commonwealth of Independent States ("CIS"),s9 the
Collective Security Treaty Organization ("CSTO"), and the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization, all of which have condemned
Georgia's actions as aggression and, to varying degrees, have
supported Russia's active role in supporting regional stability in the
Nor has a U.N. resolution always preceded legitimate
action. The Economic Community of West African States
Monitoring Group ("ECOMOG"), a West African multilateral military
LEGAL CASE FOR RUSS. INTERVENTION IN GEOR. 1541
force set up in 1990 to help end the Liberian civil war, never
received approval of its mission in Liberia, though it was
subsequently congratulated by the United Nations Security Council
for its efforts.91 Nor has France typically waited for a Security
Council resolution before any of its many interventions in
Chad.92 The point being that, Russia's actions to stem the
humanitarian catastrophe, appear to have been in good faith, and
undertaken with every expectation of subsequent international
It is also hard to support the argument that Georgia did not
breach international law, when General Assembly Resolution
3314 specifically states, in Article 5, that "[n]o consideration of
whatever nature, whether political, economic, military or
otherwise, may serve as a justification for aggression." Indeed, an
inquiry by the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe recently found
that (point 5):
[T]he start of shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian mil
on August 2008
, initiated a new level of escalation, namely
that of open and full-fledged warfare. The use of heavy
weapons and cluster munitions, creating grave risks for civilians,
constituted a disproportionate use of armed force by Georgia,
albeit within its own territory, and as such a violation of
interfnlaictitopneaalcelafwullya.n9d3 Georgia's commitment to resolve the
conNor is Cassese accurate in his description of the 1992 Sochi
agreement, as being nothing more than an agreement on the
"monitoring of internal tensions, not massive use of military
force."9 4 The instruments by which these it would be
implemented, and the responsibilities of the respective parties, are all
clarified in the subsequent accords already mentioned, most
notably Articles 1 and 3 of the 1994JCC declaration on basic
principles, that make it the responsibility of the senior Russian
military officer in charge of the peacekeepers to "prevent the
introduction into the conflict zone of military groups, and other
unauthorized formations, capable of destabilizing the. situation
through their actions. ''95 Once attacked by 13,000 Georgian
troops, common sense would seem to dictate that the 588
Russian peacekeepers stationed in South Ossetia had the right to
reinforcements sufficient to fulfillment this mandate. 96
Moreover, Evans is again wrong when says that "no effort
was made by Russia to seek Security Council approval."9 7 Russia
called the first of three emergency meetings of the Security
Council at 5:15 GMT on August 8.98 With the backing of the
United States and Great Britain, however, Georgia objected to a
three-sentence resolution that would have called on all sides "to
renounce the use of force," and the meeting adjourned after
forty-five minutes without taking action. 9
In fact, in the days and weeks leading up to the attack,
Russia sought international involvement not just from the United
Nations, but from a wide variety of international organizations,
including the EU and the OSCE. 1'0 The Russian delegation had
been working within the Security Council to get Abkhazia,
Georgia, and South Ossetia to sign a legally binding agreement on
LEGAL CASE FOR RUSS. INTERVENTION IN GEOR. 1543
the non-use of force. This request, however, was repeatedly
rejected by President Saakashvili, most recently on July 17, 2008.101
In the very first days of August, Georgia's deputy foreign
minister was invited to Moscow to seek a way to defuse the increasingly
tense situation, and Russia agreed to sponsor an international
peace conference on August 15 in Berlin, with the participation
of all parties, including the United States. 1 2
After the attack, Russia also appealed directly for assistance
to the Russia-NATO Council, a forum created to help resolve
conflicts which might arise between Russia and NATO, but, as
with Russia's other efforts to obtain an immediate ceasefire, this
one was thwarted by the United States. 10 3 When Evans argues
that Russia's legal position is weakened by the fact that it
attacked inside Georgia proper after Georgia had signed a
ceasefire agreement presented by OSCE mediators, he fails to
mention that Georgia was only willing to accept a ceasefire when
its military incursion faltered. 0 4 In sum, a careful review of the
diplomatic record both before and after August 8 reveals that
Russia went to significant lengths to obtain international
intervention, and intervened unilaterally only when its efforts to
obtain a ceasefire were blocked for political reasons.
Finally when considering the issue of the proportionality of
Russia's response to the crisis, it is relevant to note that Georgia
101. See Germany to Mediate in Russia-GeorgiaCrisis OverAbkhazia, DEUTSCHE WELLE,
July 17, 2008,
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3489457,00.html?maca=en-rss-enall-1573-rdf; Georgia pokes holes in German peace plan, THE LOCAL, July 18, 2008, http://
www.thelocal.de/national/20080718-13135.html; United Nations Department of Public
Information, Press conference by Russian Federation (Aug. 2
News/briefings/docs/2008/080826_Russia.doc.htm; Russia asks U.S. help with Georgia,
help-withGeorgia/UPI-73041217858519 [hereinafter Russia asks U.S. help with Georgia]
102. See Russia counts on U.S. help in Georgia-S.Ossetia standoff, RIA NovOSTI,
, http://en.rian.ru/world/20080804/115654886.html; Georgia to meet
South Ossetia rebels for landmark talks: official, TEHRAN TIMES, Aug. 7, 2008, http://
www.tehrantimes.com/indexView.asp?code=1 74826; Georgia denies it preparesarmed
operation against South Ossetia, ITAR-TAss (Russ.), Aug.
103. See Moscow recalls bid for Russia-NATO Councilemergency meeting, RIA NOVOSTI,
Aug. 18, 2008, http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080818/116113982.html; Russia asks U.S.
help with Georgia, supra note 101.
104. See Tony Karon, supra note 98; The Georgian War-minute by minute, August 9,
RussiA TODAY, Aug. 9, 2008, http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/28770; The
Georgian war minute by minute-August 12, RussiA TODAY, Aug. 1
www.russiatoday.com/news/news/28860; Transcript of Security Council meeting 5951,
supra note 98.
declared that it was in a state of war with Russia on August 9 and
launched a full mobilization of its military and reserves, while
Russia did neither.'1 5 It is also difficult to argue that Russia's
military response was disproportionate when, according to
NATO sources, Russia entered the conflict with roughly 8000
troops to Georgia's 13,000.16
The uncertainty surrounding the actual sequence of events,
along with initial Western reporting that, it is now widely
acknowledged, uncritically favored Georgia, led many analysts to
paint a rather simplistic picture of "Russian aggression.' °7 As
more details of this latest Georgian campaign have come to
light, this initial narrative has been called into question.18
Similarly, it is time to revise the dismissive attitude taken toward
Rus105. See Peter Walker, Georgia declares 'state of war' over South Ossetia,
GUARDIAN.CO.UK, Aug. 9, 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2O08/aug/O9/georgia.
106. See Busse, supra note 14; Giorgi Lomsadze, supra note 96.
107. See Mark Ames, The Cold War That Wasn't, THE NATION, Oct. 22, 2008, http://
www.thenation.com/doc/20081103/ames; Mary Dejevsky, Russia the bad guys? Who are
the West trying to kid?, THE INDEPENDENT, Aug. 1
opinion/commen tators/mary-dej evsky/mary-dej
evskyorussia-the-bad-guys-who-are-thewest-trying-to-kid-897498.html; Glenn Greenwald, The Russia/Georgiaconflict and the
tactics of 2002, SALON.COM, Oct. 2
2008/10/25/georgia; Anatol Lieven, Lunch with Putin, THE NATIONAL INTEREST, Sept.
17, 2008, http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=19894; Moscow Blog: The mess
in Georgia, BUSINESS NEW EUROPE, Aug. 19, 2008, http://www.businessneweurope.eu/
story1 205; Prezident Chekhii prizval ne 'plyt na modnoi volne:' Rossiya-ne aggressor, a
Gruziya-ne zhertva, [Presidentof Czechia implores 'do not swim on fashionablewave:'Russia is not
the aggressor,and Georgia is not the victim], NEWSRU.COM (Russ.), Aug. 1
/klausprint.html; Megan Stack, et al., Georgian
displays his media savvy, L.A. TIMES, Aug. 20, 2008, at A2, available at http://articles.
latimes.com/2008/aug/20/world/fg-media2O. Germany's Konrad Adenauer
Foundation sponsored a lively post-mortem discussion between Russian and Western journalists
that revealed vastly different views not just on the war itself, but on the legitimacy of
journalistic partisanship. See Morits Gatmann, Russians, GermansDisagreeover War,
KOMMERSANT, Oct. 1
108. See C.J. Chivers & Ellen Barry, Accounts Undercut Claims By Georgia on
Russia War, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 7, 2008, at Al, availableat http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/
&scp=l&sq=Georgia%20Claims%20on%20Russia%20War&st=cse; Did SaakashviliLie? The West Begins to Doubt GeorgianLeader, SPIEGEL
ONLINE (F.R.G.), Sept. 1
0,1518,578273,00.html; Ralf Beste et al., Russia and the West: The Cold Peace, SPIEGEL
ONLINE (F.R.G.), Sept. 1, 2008, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,57
5581,00.html; Tim 'Whewell, South Ossetia: The Plaything of Russia-or Georgia?, NEW
LEGAL CASE FOR RUSS. INTERVENTION IN GEOR. 1545
sia's legal and humanitarian arguments for intervention in this
Far from being an example of vigilante justice, Russia's
peace enforcement actions in South Ossetia appear to have been
a reluctant application of force to uphold its peacekeeping
mandate in the region. In the months preceding the attack, Russia
sought to have all parties sign a binding treaty disavowing the
use of force. Before intervening, Russia desperately sought
international support for an immediate ceasefire. When that
failed, Russia asked that international forces be sent to the
region to rebuff Georgian aggression. Russia acted unilaterally
only when all these efforts failed and the ethnic cleansing of the
population of South Ossetia appeared imminent. Even then,
Russia sought to adhere strictly to the confines of its original
In this context, the broader issue warranting discussion is
this: under what circumstances may nations act unilaterally if
international consensus is thwarted by deliberate political
gridlock? Russia's recent actions highlight the serious
shortcomings of the present international system and set a new standard
of action for the compulsory application of international law in
the absence of prior consent, which will be much debated.
The failure of Western analysts to consider the legal aspects
of Russia's response, and Russia's bonafide efforts to grapple with
its peacekeeping obligations in this conflict, have added
significantly to the intensity of the moral outrage felt by Russians at the
Western defense of Georgia. As Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of
Russia's leading foreign policy journal, Russia in Global Affairs,
recently put it,
Russia has been genuinely shocked by this foreign reaction
and by the one-sided support that Georgian President
STATESMAN, Nov. 20, 2008, at 34, availableat http://www.newstatesman.com/print/2008
Several senior Georgian officials, until recently close to President Saakashvili,
including former defense minister, Irakly Okruashvili and former ambassador to Russia,
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, have described plans for an invasion as having been drawn up well
before August and aimed at conquering both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. See Littell,
supra note 86; SaakashviliHoped To Crush S. OssetianResistanceandAttack Abkhazia-View,
ITAR-TASS (Russ.), Oct.
, http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/; Brian Rohan,
Saakashvili "PlannedS. OssetiaInvasion": Ex-Minister,REUTERS.COM, Sept. 1
Mikheil Saakasvili [sic] has received from the West, despite
violating every conceivable humanitarian norm of civilized
conduct. Moscow sees this as more than just a double
standard, but as unabashed cynicism ....Russia is now inclined
not only to reject completely a path determined by Western
values, but actually to deny that such values even exist.1"9
Not since the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 has a
single issue so united Russians. Many opposition politicians,
human rights activists, and even the jailed oligarch Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, have broadly supported President Medvedev in
opposing President Saakashvili's methods." 0 For Russian
pundits and policymakers, the West's ability to turn a blind eye to
Georgian aggression reveals once and for all the amoral
character of Western diplomacy; because of its willingness to turn
international law from what-now Russian Prime Minister-Vladimir
Putin once termed a "stone wall" behind which the weak can
find shelter"' into just another tool in the arsenal of state
But even as Russian elites opine that they have lost all
illusions about how the United States and its allies operate, the
Russian foreign minister describes the supremacy of international
law as "Russia's ideology in the area of international
relations."1 '1 2 The events of last August, according to Lavrov, force
Russia to redouble its efforts to ensure that international legal
standards are determined by a broader, more geographically
and culturally diverse array of states, and strive to make the
mechanisms for its implementation more effective."' In
ling this task, he feels that Russia can rely on the support of
many other rising global powers, which may well explain why,
outside the West, its actions in Georgia have been met by more
understanding than condemnation.
For the benefit of Western readers, Kishore Mahbubani, the
Dean of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore,
[M]ost of the world is bemused by western moralising on
Georgia .... It shows how isolated is the western view on
Georgia: that the world should support the underdog,
Georgia, against Russia. In reality, most support Russia against the
bullying west. The gap between the western narrative and the
rest of the world could not be greater .... The Financial
Times headline of August 18, 2008 proclaimed: 'West in
united front over Georgia.' It should have read: 'Rest of the
world faults west on Georgia.' 11 4
The slide in perceptions to which Mahbubani refers has
been documented statistically in the erosion of international
support for U.S. diplomatic efforts to define human rights. Only
a decade ago, the U.S. view of human rights was supported by
t7h7i%rd. 1o1f5 U.N. members; today it is approved by less than a
It may still be possible to reverse this trend, and avert the
growing isolation of Western legal norms by initiating an honest
dialogue on basic principles. In fact, Russian president Dmitry
Medvedev made just such an appeal during his first official trip
to the West, saying:
Russian and European democracy share common roots. We share the same set of values and the same sources of law: Roman, Germanic and French law. I have said in the past that democracy is always shaped by history and by the national set
Ministry's MGIMO University on the Occasion of the New Academic Year (Sept. 1,
2008), available at http://www.sras.org/sergey-lavrov-atmgimo; Dmitry Medvedev,
Vystuplenie na Konferentsii po mirovoi politike [Speech at Conference on World
Politics], KREMLIN.Ru (Russ.), Oct. 8, 2008, http://www.kremlin.ru/appears/2008/10/08/
1619_type63374type63377type8263 4 _207422.shtml.
114. Kishore Mahbubani, The West is strategically wrong on Georgia,FINANCIAL TIMES
(U.K.), Aug. 20, 2008, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/O/c65798bc-6ec6-l dd-a8Oa-0000779f
115. Ian Traynor, Haemorrhagingof western influence at UN wrecks attempts to push
human rights agenda, THE GuARDiAN (U.K.), Sept. 18, 2008, at 21, availableat http://
ting. We have a common history and we share the same
humanitarian values. This common thinking is the foundation
that enables us to speak not just the same legal or business
language today but, I hope, also the same political
It is highly significant that Russia sees itself as part of
European civilization in this unfolding global dialogue, for it is the
only European member of the select group of "BRIC"
countries-Brazil, Russia, India, and China-that seem destined to
become the driving forces in global economic development
before the middle of this century. 17 So long as Russia feels that
it has some say in framing and applying these European
standards, it will be an advocate for these standards in international
law. But, while reaffirming Russia's commitment to dialogue
with Europe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also issued the
To us, the CIS space is not a 'chessboard' for playing
geopolitical games. This is a common civilizational area for every
people living here, one that keeps our historic and spiritual
legacy alive. Our geography and economic interdependence
give tangible competitive advantages to all of the
Commonwealth countries.... The response of some western countries
to the South Ossetia crisis . . . vividly illustrates a deficit of
morality. Those incapable of siding with the truth and justice
simply cannot, no matter how hard they try, represent the
whole of European civilization, not to speak of the
incompatibility of that approach with other civilizations and cultural
The danger is that, by failing to give Russia's humanitarian
and legal arguments the recognition they are due, not only do
we risk undermining the credibility of the West's commitment
to international legal principles, we also risk alienating one of
the West's strongest potential allies in a critical future
strugglethe struggle over which civilizations will define the legal and
moral standards of the twenty-first century.
3. See generally Dmitry Medvedev, Kontseptsiya vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii [Concept of InternationalPoliticsof the Russian Federation],MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION , July 12 , 2008 , http://www.mid. ru/nsosndoc.nsf/0e9272befa 34209743256c630042dl aa/d48737161 a0bc944c32574870048d8f7?OpenDocument.
4. See Gareth Evans , Putin Twists UN Policy , THE AUSTRALIAN, Sept. 2 , 2008 , at 2, available at http://www.theaustralian. news.com.au/story/0 ,25197, 24278542 - 17062 ,00. html.
5. See Antonio Cassese, The Wolf that Ate Georgia, PROJEcT SYNDICATE, Sept. 8 , 2008 , http://www.project-syndicate.org/print-commentary/cassese5/English.
6. See Letter from Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, to the President of the Security Council (Aug . 11, 2008 ), U.N. Doc . S/ 2008 /545, availableat http://ivww.securitycouncilreport. org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27 - 4E9C - 8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/Georgia%20S% 2020 08%20545.pdf [hereinafter Churkin Letter].
16. See PBS NewsHour: Russia, GeorgiaAgree to Terms ofCease-fire Deal (PBS television broadcast Aug . 12 , 2008 ), transcript available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/ europe/july-dec08/ georgiadeal -08-12.html [hereinafter PBS NewsHour] ; see also Robert Misik, Georgische Verschwrungstheorien:US-Falkenals Kriegsziindler[GeorgianConspiracy Theories: US. Hawks as War Igniters] , DIE TAGESZEITUNG (F.R .G.), Sept. 13 , 2008 , http:// www.taz.de/ 1/politik/europa/artikel/1 /us-falken - als-kriegszuendler/?type= 98 .
17. Definition of Aggression, supra note 12, art. 1.
26. South Ossetian Joint Control Commission Official Site , http://sojcc. ru (last visited Jan . 30 , 2009 ).
27. Polozhenie ' Ob osnovnykh printsipakhdeyatelnosti voennykh kontingentov i grupp voennykh nablyudatelei, prednaznachennykh dlya normalizatsii situatsii v zone gruzino-osetinskogo konflikta' [Regulation "On the Basic Principles of the Activities of Military contingents and Groups of Military Observers, Intendedfor the Normalization of the Situation in the Zone of the Georgian-OssetianConflict"], MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RussIAN FEDERATION , June 4, 2004 , availableat http://www.mid.ru/BRP_4.NSF/0/2bd92ad3afa09703c3256e a90022457POpenDocument [ hereinafter Ministry of Foreign Affairs] (available only in Russian, translated by the author) .
36. Memorandum , supra note 22 (translated by the author) .
37. GeneralexplainsRussian troops'presenceoutside conflict zones in Georgia, BBC MONITORING , Aug . 28 , 2008 , cited in Johnson's Russia List 2008 (on file with Fordham International Law Journal) .
38. See Churkin Letter, supra note 6; Russian President Speaks with BBC (BBC network broadcast Aug . 26 , 2008 ), available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/ 7582706.stm.
39. See infra notes 40-42; see also Jon Swain, GeorgiaFired First Shot, Say UK Monitor, THE TIMES ONLINE (London) , Nov. 9 , 2008 , http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/ world/europe/article5114401.ece (according to two British military officers, subsequently identified as former British Army captain Ryan Grist and former RAF wing commander Stephen Young, Georgian forces were firing rockets at civilian areas in South Ossetia prior to any Russian military action ).
40. See generally Dietmar Hipp, Russland durfe Suedossetien zu Hilfe eilen [Russia Had the Right to Rush to the Aid of South Ossetia] , DER SPIEGEL (F.R .G.), Aug. 13 , 2008 , http:// www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1 518 , 571853 ,00.html.
41. DeutscherBrigadegeneral: 'Russen Reagierten Angemessen in Georgien' [GermanBrigadier General: 'Russians Responded Appropriately in Georgia], FRANKFuRTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (F.R .G.), Aug. 24 , 2008 , http://www.faz.net/s/Rub97F2F5D596354F4BBE6190 38133D791F/ Doc-E165540C383384391A3E84BC63A0469EC-ATpl-Ecommon-Sspe zial .html.
42. Conor Sweeney , Russia'sFirst GeorgiaMove Legitimate: U.S. Envoy , REUTERS , Aug. 22 , 2008 , http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Georgia/ idUSLM47889020080822 .
43. Cf Helene Cooper et al., How a Squabble Became a Showdown , N.Y. TIMES , Aug. 18 , 2008 , at Al ( indicating that while the State Department maintained a balanced tone, many in Washington were openly supportive of Georgia and critical of Russia) .
44. See International Crisis Group: "Nam Trudno Ponyat, Pochemu Rossiya Ne Dala GruziiKulakom Po Nosu, No v Predelakh Yuzhnoi Ossetii" [It is Difficultfor us to Understand why Russia did not PunchGeorgia in the Nose, but within the Bordersof South Ossetia],REGNUM NEWS AGENCY (Russ .), Oct. 6 , 2008 , http://www.regnum.ru/news/1064733.html? forprint.
45. See Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supra note 27, art. 1.
46. See Laura Canali , I Russi in Georgia, infra note 49.
47. See Busse, supra note 14.
48. See id.; see also Michael Schwirtz, Anne Barnard & Andrew E. Kramer , Russian Forces Capture Military Base in Georgia, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 12 , 2008 , at A13 ( "Russia insisted that it had not entered Cori. This appeared to be confirmed by American officials in Washington, who said that Russian units had stopped near the boundary with South Ossetia."). Western reporters visiting the buffer zone after the end of combat operations often expressed surprise at the relative lack of damage, particularly in
50. See Evans , supra note 4.
51. See id.
52. See Cassese, supra note 5.
53. See George Hewitt, Abkhazia: Land in Limbo, OPEN DEMOCRACY, Oct. 10 , 2006 , at *3, http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/3983/pdf; Stephen Shenfield, The GeorgianAbkhaz Conflict: Past,Present, Future,JRL REs. & A ALYrICAL SUPPLEMENT , May 2004 , at *21, http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/8226. cfm ("[i]t is believed that in between 50 and 80 percent of Abkhazia's population hold Russian passports.").
54. See POTIER , supra note 22, at 14.
55. See GEORGE GINSBERGS , FROM SOVIET TO RussIAN INTERNATIONAL LAW: STUDIES IN CoNTINUITY AND CHANGE 152 ( 1998 ).
56. See generally Clifford J. Levy , Russia Declares Its Recognition of Two Enclaves , N.Y. TIMES , Aug. 27 , 2008 , at Al.
57. See Alexander Osipovich, ControversialPassport Policy Led Russians into Georgia: Analysts , GEORGIAN DAILY , Aug . 21 , 2008 , http://georgiandaily.com/index.php?option= comcontent&task=view&id=6373& Itemid = 68 .
58. See id. at 224-26.
59. See JIM NICHOL , CONG. RESEARCH SERV., RUSSIA-GEORGIA CONFLIcr IN SOUTH OSSETIA: CONTEXT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. INTERESTS 4- 6 ( 2008 ), availableat http:// fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34618.pdf.
60. See 'PassportPolicy Led Russia Into Georgia ,' INDEPENDENT ONLINE (S. Mr .), Aug. 21 , 2008 , http://www.iol.co. za/index.php?clickid=3&art-id=nw20080821100247324C 633608 &set id=l.
61. See Anna Matveeva, Georgia: Peace Remains Elusive in Ethnic Patchwork, in SEARCHING FOR PEACE IN EUROPE AND EURASIA: AN OVERVIEW OF CONFLICT PREVENTION AND PEACEBUILDING ACTIVITIES 416 , 418 - 22 .
Russia did adhere to the Commonwealth of Independent States ("CIS") sanctions imposed on Abkhazia in 1996. See id . at 422.
These sanctions, however, allowed for the provision of humanitarian, economic, and educational assistance to Abkhazia, in keeping with the protocol of May 8, 1997 on the Dniester region . See id. at 423 ; Letter from Ambassador Sergei Lavrov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations , to the Secretary-General, Annex I ( Jan . 31, 1996 ), U.N. Doc . A/51/62, available at http://www.un.org/ documents/ga/docs/51/plenary/a51- 62 .htm.
It was not until March 2008 that Russia pulled out of the Decision on the Concept for Prevention and Settlement of Conflicts in the Territory of States Members of the CIS, citing "a change in the circumstances." See Letter from Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, to the President of the Security Council (Mar . 10, 2008 ), U.N. Doc . S/ 2008 /168, availableat http:/ /www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27 - 4E9C - 8CD3 -CF6E4FF96F F9 %7D/Georgia%20S2008% 20168 .pdf.
Most analysts see the move as retaliation for the U .S. -led recognition of the independence of Kosovo . See, e.g., Levy, supra note 56; see generally Modest Kolerov, Free Russia Foundation's Kolerov on NATO, Possible Conflicts in Caucasus, VREMYA NOVOSTEI (Russ .), Apr. 30 , 2008 (available only in Russian).
62. See Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, Abkhazia: Wedded to Independence,OPEN DEMOCRACY, Aug . 21 , 2008 , http://www.opendemocracy.net/russia/article/akhazia-wedded-toindependence.
63. Id .
64. See id.
65. Id .
66. See Shenfield, supra note 53 , at *6, see also GINSBERGS , supranote 55 , at 224-36.
67. See Oxana Shevel , Between Identify and Real-Politik: Russian Citizenship Policy Dilemmas 9-14 (paper presented at the American Political Science Ass'n 2008 Annual Meeting , Aug. 8 , 2008 ), available at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/-postcomm/ papers/ 2008-09/081208_Shevel.pdf.
68. See Osipovich, supra note 57.
69. Sergei Leskov , PremierAbkhazii Aleksandr Ankvab: ' Rossiya pomogla nam vyzhit' [Abkhaz Premier Aleksandr Ankvab: 'Russia helped us survive'], IZVESTIA (Russ .), Oct. 19 , 2006 , http://www.izvestia.ru/politic/article3097667/index.html (available only in Russian, translated by author ).
70. Fabrice Node-Langlois, Quatorze Annee de Peurs en Ossgtie du Sud [FourteenYears of Fear in South Ossetia] , LE FiGARo (France), June 7, 2006 , at 6.
71. See Soglashenie, supra note 25 , art. 4 ( "[t]he parties consider it unacceptable to apply economic sanctions and blockades, any other impediments on the free transit of goods, services and people and pledge to guarantee the conditions for humanitarian assistance to the population.") (translated by author ).
72. See Memoradum, supra note 22, art. 1.
73. Evans , supra note 4.
74. Cassese , supra note 5.
75. See generally List of South Ossetian Residents Killed During the Georgian-South Ossetian Military Conflict, The White Book: South Ossetian Tragedy http:// www.whitebook2008.com/list.html (last visited Jan . 23 , 2009 ).
76. See Yana Amelina, Tbilisi Will Answerfor Bloodshed, STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION , Oct. 18 , 2008 , http://en.fondsk.ru/article.php?id=1683; see also Georgia, lordinedi Medvedev: "Basirusse in Abkhazia e Ossezia del Sud" [Georgia, Medvedev's order: "Russian Bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia"],CORRIERE DELLA SERA (Italy) , Sept. 9 , 2008 , http:// www.corriere.it/esteri/08_settembre_ 09/georgia_basi-russe _4f8985c4-7e61-1 Idd-8e bb-00144fO2aabc.shtml.
77. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide , G.A. Res. 260A( II1 ), Art. 2 , 78 U.N.T.S. 277 ( Dec . 9, 1948 ), available at http:// www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html.
78. Robert English , Georgia: The IgnoredHistory, 55 N.Y. REv. OF BooKs No. 17 , 11 ( Nov . 6, 2008 ), availableat http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22011.
79. See id.; see also Robert H. Donaldson & Joseph L. Nogee , The World Can Look Very Different from Other Side , TULSA WORLD, Aug . 24 , 2008 , at G4, available at http:// www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx? subjectID=65&articlelD=20080824 65 _G4_ Russia489763 .
80. English , supra note 78.
81. Piotr Smolar , M. Saakachvili: "La Russie est tellement vulnerable!" [Interview with M. Saakashvili: "Russiais so vulnerable!"] , LE MONDE (France), Sept. 19 , 2008 , availableat http://www.ambassadegeorgie.fr/index.php?option=comcontent&task=view&id= Returned], NEWSRU.coM (Russ.) , Aug. 30 , 2008 , http://txt.newsru.com/arch/russia/ 30aug2008/usr.html.
86. SeeJonathan Littell, Carnetde route en Georgie, [Travelogue in Georgia], LE MONDE (France), Oct. 3 , 2008 .
87. See Cassese, supra note 5.
88. See Kristina Jeffers, Misreading Moscow: Toward a New Interpretation of Russian Peacekeeping in the Early 1990s ( 2006 ) (unpublished M.A . Thesis , Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University), available at http://fletcher.tufts.edu/ research/2006/Jeffers.pdf.
89. On March 24, 1994 the Commonwealth of Independent States ("CIS") was granted observer status at the United Nations . Jeffers, supra note 88, at 13.
90. See "Press Conference With South Ossetia's President Eduard Kokoity, Abkhazia's President Sergei Bagapsh and Transdniestria's President Igor Smirnov;" FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE , Nov . 17 , 2006 , cited in Johnson's Russia List (on file with Fordham International LawJournal); GlavaMID Rossii Sergei Lavrov dal interryupolskomu telekanalu [Russian Foreign Ministry Head , Sergei Lavrov, interviewed on Polish television], RossIIsKAYA GAZETA (Russ.) , Sept. 10 , 2008 , http://www.rg.ru/ 2008 /09/10/lavrov-interviewanons. html; Natalya Litvinova, ODKB predosteregaetNATO [CSTO warns NATO], Sept. 6 , 2008 , http://osinform.ru/8517-odkb -predosteregaet-nato-ot .html.
91. See generally S.C. Res . 1071, U.N. Doc . S/RES/1071 (Aug. 30 , 1996 ); see also Jeffers, supra note 88 , at 14 n.33.
92. See , e.g., Vincent Munie , CentralAfrican Republic: France'sLong Hand,ALLAnucA, May 29 , 2008 , http://allafrica.com/stories/200805290721.html; Republic of Chad and the CentralAfrican Republic, GLOBAL POLIcy FORUM , http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/ issues/chadcaridx.htm (last visited Oct. 20 , 2008 ).
93. Luc Van der Brande et al., The Consequences of the War between Georgia andRussia, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) , Doc. 11724 (Oct. 1 , 2008 ), available at http://assembly.coe.int/Main. asp?link=/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc08/EDOCI 1724.htm.
94. See Cassese, supra note 5.
95. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supra note 27.
96. See Helena Bedwell & Alex Nicholson, Abkhazia Seeks Recognition, Russian Troops in Georgia, BLOOMBERG .cOM, Aug. 20 , 2008 , http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news? pid=newsarchive&sid=atzbkPai3Y20; Giorgi Lomsadze, Georgia: Flaws Found in Tbilisi's War Planningand Operations, EURASIANET .ORG, Sept. 15 , 2008 , http://www.eurasianet. org/departments/insight/articles/eav091508_pr.shtml.
97. See Evans , supra note 4.
98. See generally Transcript of Security Council meeting 5951, Aug. 8 , 2008 , available at http://www.undemocracy.com/securitycouncil/meeting-5951. For more information on the development of events, see Time line: Georgia-Ossetiaarmed conflict, August 8 , RUSSIA TODAY , Aug . 9, 2008 , http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/28664; Tony Karon, Has Georgia Overreached in Ossetia?, TIME, Aug. 9 , 2008 , http://www.time.com/ time/world/article/0,8599, 1831073 ,00.html.
99. Mark Ames , Georgia Gets Its War On... McCain Gets His Brain Plaque ..., ExILEDONLINE.COM, Aug. 9 , 2008 , http://exiledonline.com/georgia-gets -its-war-onmccaingets-his-brain-plaque.
100. In an August 10 interview with the BBC, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called on the U .S., the EU , France, Germany, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ("OSCE") and other members of the international community to join in peacekeeping efforts. Russia calls on internationalcommunity to join peace efforts in S. Ossetia, ITAR-TAss (Russ .), Aug. 10 , 2008 , cited in Johnson's Russia List, http:// www.cdi.org/russia/Johnson/ (on file with Fordham International Law Journal).
109. See Fidor Lukyanov, Seven Theses Prompted by Russia-Georgia Conflict, RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY , Aug . 26 , 2008 , http://www.rferl.org/content/Seven_ ThesesPromptedRussiaGeorgiaConflict/1193933.html.
110. See Khodorkovskii odobril deistviya Medvedeva v Yuzhnoi Osetii [Khodorkovskii Endorsed Medvedev's Actions in South Ossetia], OBSHCHAYA GAZETA (Russ .), Sept. 11 , 2008 , http://og.ru/news/2008/09/11/41296.shtml; Fred Weir et al., Roots of Georgia-Russia Clash Run Deep, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR , Aug . 12 , 2008 , at 1, available at http:// www.csmonitor.com/ 2008 /0812/pOlsO8-woeu.html; Russia's Use of Force in South Ossetia IsJustified,Says Party Leader,INTERFAX (Russ .), Aug. 10 , 2008 , http://www.interfax.com/.
111. See Vladimir Putin, Vystuplenie i diskussiya na Miunkhenskoi konferentsii po voprosam politiki bezopasnosti [Speech and Discussion at the Munich Conference on the Issues of Security Policy], KREMLIN.RU (Russ .), Feb. 10 , 2007 , http://www.kremlin. ru/appears/2007/02/10/1 7 3 7 _type633 7 4type63376type63377type63381 type82634_ 11 8097.shtml.
112. See Lavrov for Need of Common View of Contemporary History by RF, US, ITAR-TASS (Russ .), Oct. 13 , 2008 (on file with Fordham International LawJournal ).
113. See Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Address at the Foreign
116. Dmitry Medvedev , Russian President, Responses to Questionsfrom German Political, Parliamentaryand Civic Leaders, KREMLIN.Ru, June 5, 2008 , http://www.kremlin.ru/ eng/text/speeches/2008/06/05/2239_type82914type84779_ 202294 .shtml.
117. Muriel Motte , Les 'bric' Tiennent Leurs Promesses [The BRIC countriesKeep Their Promises] , LE FIGARO ( Fra .), Oct. 23 , 2006 , http://www.lefigaro.fr/eco-entreprises/ 2006 1023. F1IG000000280 les-bric-tiennent leurs-promesses .html.
Even among even this select group, however, Russia is distinguished by the fact that its current spending is not financed by foreign-held debt, its population is almost entirely debt free, and it spends a higher percentage of its GDP on research and development than any of the other BRIC nations . See Ilmira Malikova , Zhizn v zaimy [Life in Debt], STRANA. RU (Russ .), May 31, 2006 , http://www.strana.ru/text/stories/01/12/06/ 2171/282967.html; Yekaterina Dranitsyna, Forum Evokes Russian Resourcefulness, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES (Russ .), June 16, 2006 , http://www.sptimes.ru/index.php? actionid= 2&story_id=1 7920 ; Michael Peel & Stefan Wagstyl, Investors in Russia confident despite tensions, FIN . TIMES, June 14, 2007 , http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/75bO905e-19c6-1 ldc - 99 c5- 000b5df10621 .html?nclickcheck=l. ditions.' 18