General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces had drawn up a plan of repelling Tbilisi’s possible attack on South Ossetia more than a year before the August, 2008 war and in addition was also training South Ossetian militias as part of this plan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on August 8.
During a joint news conference with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan, after a meeting in Moscow, Putin was asked whether or not Russia had an action plan “in case of Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia.”
“It’s not a secret that the plan was in place and the Russian side was acting in accordance to this plan,” Putin responded.
“The plan was prepared by the General Staff [of the Armed Forces] sometime in late 2006 or in the beginning of 2007. It was approved by me and agreed.”
“Moreover, as part of this plan training of South Ossetian militias was carried out,” he continued. “To say the truth, our military specialists though that it was somewhat useless in terms that it’s impossible [for militias] to resist regular army troops of any state, even of small state like Georgia. Nevertheless, it turned out that these people [trained militias] proved very much needed and they were defending their homeland very courageously. For three days they, before the Russian troops arrived, [South Ossetian militias] together with our peacekeepers were repelling push by the Georgian units. So they [the South Ossetian militias] played their role. In frames of this plan [military] hardware was also mobilized so on and so forth. So there is no secret about it; we had already been talking about it.”
This question about whether Russia had a plan or not was asked in the context of allegations voiced by Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, who served as Russia’s Chief of the General Staff until two months before the August war, who claimed that Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s President at the time of the August war, acted indecisively and delayed a response to Georgia’s attack on Tskhinvali. The allegation was voiced by Baluyevsky in a documentary about the August war, which has appeared recently on Internet. According to Baluyevsky “until receiving a kick from Vladimir Vladimirovich” Putin, who at that time was the Prime Minister, Medvedev and his associates “were afraid of something, to put it very mildly”. The documentary, which criticizes Medvedev for his delay to give a command of launching military operation, praises Putin for personally taking the lead in overseeing military operation against Georgia.
PM Medvedev said during his visit in Tskhinvali on August 8, that a decision to provide military help to South Ossetia was done in “a timely” manner.