Russia, Georgia resume direct air communication

Russia, Georgia resume direct air communication
08.01.2010 14:29 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Russia and Georgia have reopened air traffic with
the first direct passenger flight between the two countries since a
war in 2008. The Georgian Airways flight took off from the Georgian
capital Tbilisi and landed in Moscow two hours later.

Boeing 737 flights are scheduled for January 8, 9 and 10. Georgian
Airways said all the tickets were sold out for Friday, BBC reported.

Moscow-Tbilisi direct flights were cancelled in 2006 after the strain
on relations between the two countries, then restored in 2008 and
again abolished after the August conflict in 2008.

The 2008 South Ossetia War, also known as the Russia-Georgia War, was
an armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and the
Russian Federation together with Ossetians and Abkhazians on the
other.

The 1991 – 1992 South Ossetia War between Georgians and Ossetians had
left most of South Ossetia under de-facto control of a Russian-backed
internationally unrecognized regional government. Some ethnic
Georgian-inhabited parts of South Ossetia remained under the control
of Georgia. A similar situation existed in Abkhazia after the War in
Abkhazia (1992-1993). Already-increasing tensions escalated during the
summer months of 2008.

During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale
military attack against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reconquer the
territory. The following day, Russia reacted by deploying combat
troops in South Ossetia and launching bombing raids into uncontested
Georgian territory. Russian and Ossetian troops clashed with Georgians
in the three-day Battle of Tskhinvali, the largest battle of the war.
Russian naval forces blocked Georgia’s coast and landed ground forces
and paratroopers on the Georgian coast. On 9 August Russian and
Abkhazian forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge,
held by Georgia, and entered western parts of Georgia’s interior.
After five days of heavy fighting, the Georgian forces were ejected
from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian troops entered uncontested
Georgia, occupying the cities of Poti and Gori among others.

After mediation by the French of the EU, the parties reached a
preliminary ceasefire agreement on 12 August, signed by Georgia on 15
August in Tbilisi and by Russia on 16 August in Moscow. On 12 August,
President Medvedev had already ordered a halt to Russian military
operations in Georgia, but fighting did not stop immediately. After
the signing of the ceasefire Russia pulled most of its troops out of
uncontested Georgia. However, Russia created buffer zones, around
Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and check-points in Georgia’s interior
(Poti, Senaki, Perevi).

On 26 August 2008 Russia recognized the independence of South Osetia
and Abkhazia. Russia completed its withdrawal from uncontested Georgia
on 8 October, but as of 2009 Russian troops remain stationed in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia under bilateral agreements with the
corresponding governments. However, according to a number of sources,
Russia has not fully complied with the peace agreement because Georgia
lost control over some of the territories.

A number of incidents occurred in both conflict zones in the months
after the war ended. As of 2009 tensions between the belligerents
remain high.

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