The Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin showed a profound solidarity with the drive for self-determination in Abkhazia and South Ossetia that was curiously absent in its dealings with the neighbouring members of the Russian Federation. Triggered by a Georgian invasion of South Ossetia on 7 August 2008 (in response to the secessionist shelling of Georgian villages), Russia launched a decisive counterattack. First, the Georgian attempt to take Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, was repulsed. Two separate offensives followed: an amphibious assault on the port of Poti, and an attack on the town of Gori, severing communication links with the capital, Tbilisi. On 17 August, Russia began to withdraw, having achieved its objectives: Russian troops remain stationed in the breakaway republics, which are cleared of international monitors. Previous consideration of Georgian NATO membership has been abandoned, reducing Russian concerns about encirclement, which have been heightened by the bulk incorporation of eastern Europe into NATO, and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.
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