• Acting President of Georgia Nino Burjanadze supports signing framework agreement with Russia and invites Russian President Vladimir Putin to Georgia.
• Russia establishes simplified visa regime with Adjara as earlier it had with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
• Nino Burjanadze meets with Russian President and declares breakthrough in bilateral relations.
• Mikheil Saakashvili elected President of Georgia.
• President Saakashvili visits Moscow on first official overseas trip and “stretches out a hand of friendship” to Russia. The new Georgian President offers to negotiate on withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia. Plans are made for Russian President Putin to visit Georgia. Putin asks Saakashvili to keep Vitali Khaburdzania on as Security Minister of Georgia, it is later revealed.
• President Saakashvili denied entry to Autonomous Republic of Adjara by local authorities. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns any use of force there by Tbilisi and accuses central Georgian government of “saber rattling.” President Saakashvili calls on Russia to maintain neutrality.
• Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov arrives in Batumi to support Adjaran leader Aslan Abashidze.
• Adjaran authorities blow up Choloki and Kakuti bridges connecting administrative border with rest of Georgia. Mass protests break out in Adjara.
• Georgian Ministry of Security exposes Russian General Yuri Netkachov’s involvement in illegal armed maneuvers and construction of fortification facilities in Adjara.
• Aslan Abashidze resigns and is taken from Adjara to Moscow by Russian National Security Secretary.
• Tbilisi hosts large-scale Russia-Georgia economic forum.
• Georgian government reinforces checkpoints near Tskhinvali to prevent smuggling after Russian commander of peacekeeping forces in conflict zone warns against Georgian checkpoints.
• Ergneti market on outskirts of Tskhinvali shut down, closing largest smuggling hub in Georgia which annually had cost state budget GEL 120 million in lost tax revenue.
• Fifty Georgian peacekeepers deployed in South Ossetian conflict zone are disarmed and detained by South Ossetian side in village of Vanati. Captives brought to centre of Tskhinvali forced to their knees in front of TV cameras. Crossfire in region results in casualties.
• Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares Moscow will defend Russian citizens living in Tskhinvali region.
• Georgia unilaterally simplifies visa regime for Russian citizens.
• President Saakashvili advises Russian citizens not to vacation in Abkhazia because vessels entering Abkhazia waters in violation of Georgian border will be fired upon. Kremlin declares it will respond to any attack on Russian citizens.
• Vladimir Putin cancels scheduled visit to Georgia, deeming it “inappropriate” amid increased tensions in Tskhinvali region.
• Georgian troops attack and capture strategic Tliakana hill. Russian armed forces convoy with heavy equipment approaches Roki Pass. President Saakashvili orders all police forces, except peacekeepers, withdrawn from conflict zone.
• Russia restores rail traffic with Abkhazia.
• Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly debates Russia-Georgia relations. Delegations from every country except Russia support territorial integrity of Georgia.
• Russian President Putin holds press conference in Moscow and compares situation in self-declared republics of Georgia with situation in Kosovo.
• Russia attends session of OSCE Permanent Council and vetoes extension of OSCE border monitoring mission in Georgia.
• Three policemen die in deadly blast outside Shida Kartli regional police building in Gori. Georgian Ministry of Interior later charges Russian military intelligence operative Roman Boiko with masterminding terrorist act and hands him over to Russia.
• Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Tbilisi and refuses to lay wreath at monument honoring fighters who died for territorial integrity of Georgia. Both sides agree to discuss completion of Russia-Georgia framework agreement, withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia, settlement of conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and simplification of visa regime.
• Georgian Parliament adopts resolution setting 1 January 2006 deadline for complete withdrawal of Russian military bases if withdrawal agreement not reached with Russia before 15 May 2005. Resolution envisages that, prior to withdrawal deadline, entry visas will no longer be issued for Russian military servicemen; debt owed by Russian military bases will be collected for budget of Georgia; restrictions will be imposed on movement and communication of Russian servicemen in Georgia.
• Foreign Affairs Ministers of Georgia and Russia sign communiqué in Moscow for withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia by end of 2008.
• Georgian Parliament tasks government to take measures for withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from conflict zones.
• Georgian peace plan supported by all OSCE member states, including Russia, at meeting of OSCE Ministerial Council. Plan envisages involvement of United States and European Union in settling South Ossetian conflict, demilitarization of region and negotiations on status.
• Russian sanitary service imposes restrictions on import of agricultural products from Georgia to Russia.
• Georgian Energy Minister Nika Gilauri raises possibility of Georgian government selling main pipeline to Russia state-run Gazprom
• Explosion of two gas pipelines and high-voltage power line in Russia’s North Ossetian Republic leaves Georgia without gas and power supply from Russia. Kremlin dismisses President Saakashvili’s allegation of Russian sabotage as “hysterical” reaction. Tbilisi’s repeated attempts to reach Moscow prove futile.
8 February• Georgian law enforcement officers detain three Russian peacekeepers without entry visas near Tskhinvali. Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili declares Russian peacekeepers require visas.
• Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Georgia’s position on entry visas for Russian peacekeepers “goes beyond any limits.”
• Russian Federal Consumer Protection Service head Gennady Onishchenko imposes ban on wine imports from Georgia and Moldova.
• Georgia and Russia sign agreements on Russian military personnel and cargo.
• Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili pledges to meet New Year in Tskhinvali in 2007.
• Russian Federal Consumer Protection Service head Gennady Onishchenko imposes ban on import of Georgian mineral waters Borjomi and Nabeghlavi.
• Vladimir Putin and Mikheil Saakashvili meet in Saint Petersburg and exchange harsh statements at joint press conference. Georgian President accuses Russia of annexing Georgian territories.
• Russia closes down Zemo Larsi checkpoint on pretense of reconstruction.
• Kodori Gorge ex-governor Emzar Kvitsiani declares open defiance of Georgian government and threatens armed resistance. Insurgence quelled within days. Kremlin expresses concern over deployment of Georgian troops in Kodori Gorge. Kvitsiani flees first to Sokhumi and later to Moscow.
• In address to UN General Assembly, President Saakashvili charges Russia with annexing Georgia’s regions.
• Georgian Ministry of Interior detains four Russian Main Intelligence Service officers in Georgia along with eleven Georgian citizens charged as accomplices in espionage ring. Georgian Ministry alleges stepped-up activity of Russian spy network despite handover to Russia of Intelligence Service officer suspected of masterminding 2 February 2005 terrorist attack in Gori.
• Russian Embassy in Georgia suspends issuance of entry visas for Georgian citizens. Moscow recalls Ambassador from Georgia. Russian diplomats and families return to Russia.
• President Putin labels Georgia’s detention of four Russian officers “state terrorism.”
• Detained Russian officers are handed over to OSCE.
• Russia suspends air, road, sea and rail traffic with Georgia.
• Deportation of Georgians from Russia begins with arrival of first 130 deportees in Tbilisi. Eventually, 1,300 Georgians deported from Russia and two Georgians die during deportation.
6 December• Russian Duma adopts two statements calling for recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
• Russian Ambassador Vyacheslav Kovalenko returns to Tbilisi.
• President Saakashvili expresses willingness to renew relations with Russia.
• Vladimir Putin says return of Russian Ambassador to Georgia is first step toward settling problems.
• Russian Ambassador Kovalenko tells press conference in Tbilisi that Russia wants to see Georgia as “independent, neutral state with neighborly relations with Russia.”
• Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reveals Kremlin “strictly warned” Tbilisi and Western partners that Russia will not allow Georgia’s membership in NATO.
• Kodori Gorge shelled with heavy artillery from military helicopters. Moscow denies responsibility, but declares incident is logical consequence of deployment of Georgian troops and establishment of Abkhaz government-in-exile there. UN investigation fails to identify responsible party.
• Vladimir Putin and Mikheil Saakashvili meet again in Saint Petersburg. President Saakashvili declares: “Georgia must have closest neighborly relations.” Moscow and Tbilisi agree to gradual lifting of imposed restrictions.
• Russia hands over military base in Akhalkalaki to Georgia.
• Direct charter flights between Moscow and Tbilisi resume.
• Russia resumes issuing education, business, labor and transit visas to Georgian citizens.
• Russia starts large scale military exercise, Kavkaz 2007, in North Caucasus.
• Russian jet fires missile near village of Tsitelubani in Gori district. Kremlin denies responsibility, but international expertise later establishes attack was carried out by Russian jet.
• Georgian internal special force and Abkhaz military group clash in Svaneti at administrative border with Abkhazia. Two Russian officers killed and seven Abkhaz fighters detained.
• Russian peacekeepers attack and severely beat Georgian policemen at Ganmukhuri patriot camp. Georgian President arrives on scene and demands that commander Sergey Chaban of Russian peacekeeping troops in Abkhaz conflict zone leave country.
12 November• President Saakashvili reveals Putin’s warning of Cyprus scenario in Georgia.
• Russia withdraws last military echelons from Akhalkalaki and Batumi.
• Russian Foreign Ministry describes early presidential elections in Georgia as “blatant farce.”
• President Saakashvili elected to second term and invites President Putin to inauguration to improve relations with Russia.
• Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends Georgian presidential inauguration and meets with President Saakashvili, Patriarch and opposition leaders.
• Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili announces Tbilisi willing to compromise in order to improve relations with Russia.
• President Saakashvili says Georgia will not “push out” Russian peacekeepers from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
• President Putin visits Dagestan and speaks of need to accelerate construction of road connecting Dagestan with Georgia to carry heavy military equipment.
• President Putin warns the West that Russia has response plan ready if Kosovo declares independence.
• Kosovo declares independence. United States and majority of EU Member States recognize independence of Serbia breakaway region.
• President Saakashvili and President Putin meet and publicly express hope of improved relations. Putin privately tells Saakashvili of “possible consequences” of Georgia’s accession to NATO, it is later revealed by Russian Foreign Minister.
• Dmitry Medvedev elected President of Russia. Vladimir Putin appointed Prime Minister two months later.
• Russia officially withdraws from Commonwealth of Independent States sanctions banning arms supplies and economic aid to Sokhumi.
• Regular air flights resume between Tbilisi and Moscow.
• President Saakashvili offers Abkhazia broader federalism and representation in central government.
• NATO members at Bucharest Summit fail to reach consensus on award of Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine, but agree that two countries will eventually become Alliance members.
• Prime Minister Putin writes Sukhumi and Tskhinvali leaders to express concern about Georgia’s possible accession to NATO and to promise Russian support. President Saakashvili describes Putin’s step as dangerous.
• Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declares that Russia will not allow Georgia’s accession to NATO.
• President Medvedev directs Russian government to establish direct ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
• Prime Minister Putin tasks government to take steps to lift restrictions on visa regime with Georgia and Georgian access to Russian market.
• Russian jet shoots down unmanned Georgian aircraft in Abkhazia. Video recording of incident released. Abkhaz side claims responsibility, but UN investigation later establishes attack carried out by Russian jet.
• Russia resumes post communication with Georgia.
• Russia deploys heavy equipment and artillery in Abkhazia for “strengthening peacekeeping forces.”
• Russian railway troops enter Abkhazia to repair Sokhumi-Ochamchire rail line. Georgian Foreign Ministry evaluates move as preparation for Russian intervention.
• Georgian President Saakashvili meets with Russian President Medvedev, who insists Russia and Georgia can solve problems without mediators.
• President Saakashvili describes restoration of railway in Abkhazia as Russian ploy to bring tanks into Georgia.
• Georgian law enforcement officers detain Russian peacekeepers carrying antitank mines and guided missiles in Zugdidi.
• Kommersant newspaper publishes details of secret document submitted to Moscow by Tbilisi. Document outlines plan to settle conflict in Abkhazia by moving peacekeeping forces back to Kodori River, establishing joint administrations in Gali and Ochamchire districts, and creating free economic zone there. Georgian President later confirms classified plan was sent to Russian counterpart, who never responded.
• Three Georgian policemen injured when convoy carrying Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration head Dimitri Sanakoev hits remote-controlled land mine. Situation in region grows tense.
• Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin declares Russia will not allow NATO expansion into Russia’s historically established sphere of influence.
• Shortly after U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice arrives in Tbilisi, two jets violate Georgian air space in Tskhinvali region.
• Russia admits its aircraft violated Georgian airspace the day before as warning to Georgia. In protest, Tbilisi recalls its Ambassador from Moscow.
• Russia launches large-scale military exercise, Kavkaz 2008, near Georgian border in North Caucasus for purpose of “bringing peace to the conflict zones.”
• German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits Georgia and presents three-point peace plan: 1) signing treaty on non-use of force and return of refugees; 2) providing economic rehabilitation of Abkhazia; 3) determining status of Abkhazia through negotiation. Tbilisi welcomes plan, but Sokhumi and Moscow reject it. Abkhaz side sets Georgian troop withdrawal from Kodori Gorge as precondition for negotiations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declares return of refugees is premature.
• Russian railway troops complete rehabilitation of Sokhumi-Ochamchire rail line two weeks ahead of scheduled 6 August completion.July
• U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza meets with representatives of Sokhumi regime, who refuse to begin negotiations with Tbilisi.
• Crossfire intensifies in Tskhinvali region, where six people are reported killed and evacuation of civilian population begins.
• Some 300 volunteers arrive in Tskhinvali from Russia.
• Diplomats accredited in Georgia arrive in conflict zone and provide first-hand accounts of shelling of Georgian villages.
• Ossetian military formations open fire on villages of Avnevi and Nuli.
• Shelling of Georgian villages continues. Two Georgian peacekeepers are killed. Russia’s special representative Yuri Popov does not arrive in Tskhinvali due to “flat tire.” Tskhinvali refuses to meet with Georgian State Minister for Conflict Settlement. President Saakashvili issues order for unilateral ceasefire. Ossetian military formations continue shelling Georgian villages. Georgian government decides to launch military operation.