News / Europe

Russia-Georgia Relations Remain Frozen Three Years After Shooting War

A column of Russian armored vehicles on its way to the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali in the Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, August 9, 2008 file photo
A column of Russian armored vehicles on its way to the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali in the Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, August 9, 2008 file photo

Multimedia

James Brooke

Three years after the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, the temporary ceasefire lines between the two look increasingly like permanent borders.

In the heart of the Caucasus mountains, this ancient Georgian watch tower is useful once again. From the top, Adam Bartnicki, a European military monitor, studies military movements on the South Ossetian side of a ceasefire line.

Through powerful binoculars he sees two new Russian bases nearing completion. “In the area of our responsibility we have maybe nine or 12 Russian Federation border guards' bases. They are like mushrooms,” said Bartnicki.

With their barracks, high fences and security lights, the new bases are home to 5,000 Russian military personnel stationed in South Ossetia - more than 10 times the number before the war.

Nearby, Lia Chlachidze is one of the few civilians remaining in the border village, Ergeneti, Georgia.  She lives among the abandoned grape arbors and charred ruins of 140 Georgian farmhouses burned during the five-day war.

“My parents are buried in the occupied territory," she said. "Who knows how many years will pass before I'm able to visit them. It's a human tragedy. I can't talk about it without crying."

Once a thriving market town, Ergeneti is now the end of the road for Georgia. At the heavily guarded police check point, the boundary is only crossed by stray dogs.

Georgian refugees from surrounding villages, are seen at the central square in the town of Gori, northwest of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, August 26, 2008
Georgian refugees from surrounding villages, are seen at the central square in the town of Gori, northwest of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, August 26, 2008

To the south, at a refugee camp in Gori, Nanuli Pervashvili bakes rolls for her family of four. She fled her apartment in South Ossetia, when the fighting started. “We left empty handed,” said Pervashvili.

Nearby, five Georgian men gather for a game of backgammon - on a weekday morning. Shalva Erbakidze said they cannot return home. "We don't work. They won't hire our people. Because we are refugees,” he said.

In Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, debate rages again among Georgians as the August 8th war anniversary approaches.

Opposition politician Nino Burjanadze says Georgia’s government will be celebrating a defeat on Monday.

“Last year I raised a question to the government: We celebrated the 8th of August with fireworks and with concerts. I asked, "What did we celebrate? What are we celebrating for?" If we really won something, why does nobody in Georgia know about that including me?,” he said.

In response,  Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tornike Gordadze  says that the government celebrates defeating the Kremlin’s attempt to install a friendly, authoritarian government in Georgia.

“We have survived. It was a very serious attempt to destroy our statehood," he said. "And the very objective of this war was not the occupation of these two regions, which still remain occupied today as 20 percent of the Georgian territory. But the objective was to destroy the current government and the current regime, to change the regime in Georgia.

One week before the anniversary, United States Marines wound up training exercises for Georgian soldiers. Officially, it was to prepare the Georgians for duty in Afghanistan. But many see these well publicized joint training exercises as a message that the West is watching the Russian military with more than binoculars.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid