TIMELINE: Georgia and Russia’s worsening relations

(Reuters) – Here is a chronology of recent events in Georgian-Russian relations after fighting in the capital of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region.

The issue of South Ossetia’s independence has bedeviled Georgia’s relations with Russia.

April 3, 2008 – NATO members states at a summit in the Romanian capital Bucharest agree that Georgia and Ukraine can one day join the alliance, though they stop short of giving them a firm timetable for accession.

April 16 – Russian President Vladimir Putin orders his officials to establish semi-official ties with separatist administrations in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia says the order is a violation of international law.

April 20 – Georgia says a Russian Mig-29 fighter jet has shot down a Georgian drone flying over Abkhazia. Russia denies involvement, though a United Nations report will later back the Georgian version of events.

April 21 – Georgia accuses Russia of shooting down the drone in an “act of international aggression”, but Moscow hits back, saying Georgia was deliberately fanning tensions.

April 29 – Russia dispatches extra troops to Abkhazia to counter what it says are Georgian plans for an attack. The next day NATO accuses Moscow of stoking tensions with Georgia.

May 4 – Separatists in Abkhazia say they shot down two Georgian spy drones over the territory they control, but Georgia denies any such flights.

May 6 – Georgia says Russia’s deployment of extra troops in Abkhazia has brought the prospect of war “very close”.

May 30 – Georgia says it stopped flights by unpiloted spy planes over Abkhazia but reserves the right to resume them.

May 31 – Putin, now prime minister, says he backs a Georgian proposal for Abkhazia’s autonomy but not full independence.

July 5 – New Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urges Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to refrain from “stoking tensions” in Georgia’s breakaway regions.

July 8 – Russian fighter jets fly into Georgian airspace over South Ossetia. Moscow says the mission was intended to “cool hot heads in Tbilisi.” Two days later Georgia recalls its ambassador from Moscow in protest.

August 4 – Russia accuses Georgia of using excessive force in South Ossetia after the Russian-backed rebels said Georgian artillery had killed at least six people.

August 7 – The head of Russian peacekeepers in the region is quoted as saying that Georgia and South Ossetian separatists agreed on a truce until they hold Russian-mediated talks.

— Russia later says that Georgia’s military operation in South Ossetia shows Tbilisi cannot be trusted and NATO should reconsider its plans to admit Georgia.

August 8 – Georgia says its forces have “freed” the greater part of the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali and accuses Russia of conducting a “large-scale” operation against Georgia.

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