Year
2008
Month Day
August 08

5-day long Russo-Georgian War begins

On August 8, 2008, a long-simmering conflict between Russia and Georgia boiled over into a shooting war between the small Caucasian nation and the superpower of which it was once a part. The brief Russo-Georgian War was the most violent episode in a conflict that began more than a decade before.

Georgia declared independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as the latter was breaking up in 1991. A short time later, pro-Russian separatists took control of two regions composing a combined 20 percent of Georgia’s territory, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A stalemate ensued. In 2008, American President George W. Bush announced his support for Georgia’s and Ukraine’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a move that Russia viewed as tantamount to putting a hostile military on its borders. Relations between Russia and Georgia had already been tense, with the aggressive Vladimir Putin in power in Russia and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili declaring his intent to bring Abkhazia and South Ossetia back under Georgian control.

After accusations of aggression from both sides throughout the spring and summer, South Ossetian troops violated the ceasefire by shelling Georgian villages on August 1. Sporadic fighting and shelling ensued over the coming days, until Saakashvili declared a ceasefire on August 7. Just before midnight, seeing that the separatists would not, in fact, cease firing, Georgia’s military launched an attack on Tskhinvali in South Ossetia. Russian troops had already entered South Ossetia—illegally—and responded quickly to the Georgian attack. As Georgian troops seized Tskhinvali, the fighting spilled over into Abkhazia. The initial Georgian advance was repulsed, however, and within a few days Russia seized most of the disputed territory and was advancing into Georgia proper. The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in the early hours of August 13.

In the aftermath of the war, Russia formally recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. Russia subsequently occupied them, in violation of the ceasefire. Russia conducted a similar maneuver in Ukraine in 2014, annexing the Crimean Peninsula and backing separatists in the west of the country. The Russo-Georgian War displaced an estimated 192,000 people, many of whom fled ethnic cleansing of Georgians in the separatist territories.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Brigham Young chosen to lead Mormon Church

After Joseph Smith, the founder and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormonism, and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered by an angry mob in an Illinois prison six weeks earlier, Elder Brigham Young is chosen to be the Church’s next leader. The ...read more

Emiliano Zapata born

Emiliano Zapata, a leader of peasants and indigenous people during the Mexican Revolution, is born in Anenecuilco, Mexico. Born a peasant, Zapata was forced into the Mexican army in 1908 following his attempt to recover village lands taken over by a rancher. After the revolution ...read more

German saboteurs executed in Washington

During World War II, six German saboteurs who secretly entered the United States on a mission to attack its civil infrastructure are executed by the United States for spying. Two other saboteurs who disclosed the plot to the FBI and aided U.S. authorities in their manhunt for ...read more

Nixon resigns

In an evening televised address on August 8, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon announces his intention to become the first president in American history to resign. With impeachment proceedings underway against him for his involvement in the Watergate affair, Nixon was finally ...read more

Lights go on at Wrigley

On August 8, 1988, the Chicago Cubs host the first night game in the history of Wrigley Field. The first-ever night game in professional baseball took place nearly 60 years earlier, on May 2, 1930, when a Des Moines, Iowa, team hosted Wichita for a Western League game. The ...read more

Battle of Amiens

On August 8, 1918, the Allies launch a series of offensive operations against German positions on the Western Front during World War I with a punishing attack at Amiens, on the Somme River in northwestern France. After heavy casualties incurred during their ambitious spring 1918 ...read more