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Military Aspects of the War. The Battle for Gagra (The Turning-point), by Dodge Billingsley

Circassian Volunteers in Abkhazia

Chapter 9. 'The Abkhazians: A Handbook' by George Hewitt (Editor) Richmond, Surrey: The Curzon Press 1999.

Mr. Billingsley obtained a BA in history from Columbia University and a MA in War Studies from King’s College Department of War Studies in London. While in London, he also co-founded and edited the War Studies Journal. Mr. Billingsley has also been a guest lecturer for the U.S. Army and Navy, NY Military Association, and numerous academic institutes including Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, King’s College London, Monterey Institute, BYU’s Kennedy Center for International Studies, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona. He is also a past recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Regional Security Travel Grant and has written extensively for various defense and security related journals including Jane’s Intelligence Review, Journal of Electronic Defense and the Harriman Review. Read more [Combat Films]

Military Aspects of the War. The Battle for Gagra (The Turning-point)

The battle for Gagra (in particular and the northern territory of Abkhazia in general) was a turning-point in the Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1992-93. More importantly, however, events at Gagra perfectly illustrated in microcosm the strengths and weaknesses of both protagonists throughout the 14 months of military engagement. Kartvelian forces were never able to become a cohesive fighting machine, as seen so glaringly at Gagra. A lack of unit and individual discipline not only cost them on the battlefield, but it also made the Kartvelian troops exceedingly unpopular amongst the local inhabitants. On the other hand, Abkhazian units surrounding Gagra were filled with outside volunteers but still managed to be much more cohesive. Though outnumbered, they were able to find common cause and make better use of their limited resources. These factors, repeated as they were for the duration of the war, had a telling effect on the outcome of the conflict.

On 14th August 1992 Kartvelian troops invaded Abkhazia in a two-pronged attack. Mechanised units raced across the R. Ingur towards Sukhum, while an amphibious task-force landed in northern Abkhazia near the city of Gagra. After a brief stand-off at the Red Bridge leading into the centre of Sukhum, both sides agreed to pull their forces back. Abkhazian units moved adjacent to the R. Gumista on the northern edge of the capital, while Kartvelian forces back-tracked to the southern approaches of the city. A couple of days later Kartvelian units broke the fragile truce, racing through the city centre and forcing all Abkhazian units north of the Gumista. The Abkhazian leadership moved its headquarters even further north to Gudauta, as a front began to materialise along the Gumista. Unable to break the stalemate that ensued, both sides focused on the northern territory and the city of Gagra. For the next few months the war would centre on this small resort-city. The outcome would, however, have an impact on the course of the war long after the smoke had cleared from Gagra itself.

The battle for Gagra began on 15th August when Kartvelian forces landed near the Russian-Abkhazian border in Gjachrypsh (Leselidze) in an effort to isolate the Abkhazian military and trap it between Kartvelian forces moving southward and those trying to fight their way northward from Sukhum. After securing the border, Kartvelian units turned their attention southward towards Tsandrypsh (Gantiadi) and Gagra. By nightfall of 15th August the village of Tsandrypsh had fallen to Kartvelian units. The same night there were skirmishes in Gagra, which resulted in casualties, including at least three Abkhazians killed in action[1]. By the end of the weekend Kartvelian forces were in control of Gjachrypsh, Tsandrypsh and Gagra[2].

Kartvelian forces deployed in Gjachrypsh and on the Russian border were intended to guard the border with Russia to stop the flow of any outside-volunteers seeking to join the Abkhazian alliance[3]. While Shevardnadze dismissed statements by Abkhazian and Chechen officials regarding the deployment of volunteer-units from the North Caucasus to help Abkhazia, he was cautious enough to put the military in a position to defend Georgia's interests against such incursions. Outside-assistance from the North Caucasus or from ethnic Abkhazians from Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East depended on an open border with Russia. The airport and ferry-boat terminal in Sochi-Adler was a focal-point for volunteers arriving from abroad to help Abkhazia. The closing of the border was a must for Georgia.

But volunteers did arrive through the porous Russian border and mountain-passes. Strengthened by reinforcements from the North Caucasus, the newly established Abkhazian military began to encircle, or mass on the perimeter of, Gagra. They were soon ready to test the Kartvelian defences[4]. It is unclear which and where the first Abkhazian units attacked, but on the night of 24th August the Abkhazian Press Service announced that Abkhazian forces were assaulting Gagra[5]. The battle raged on the perimeter of the city into the morning of 25th August[6]. The strongest offensive-push was launched at 10.00 p.m. on the night of the 25th. Kartvelian forces managed to hold despite running low on equipment and ammunition. Abkhazian units were able to make gains into the city, but on the whole, Kartvelian forces were able to hold them off, bolstered by fresh supplies of ammunition and reinforcements from a private Kartvelian militia known as the Mkhedrioni (Cavalrymen)[7].

Fighting continued into 30th August. But by now the tide had turned and Kartvelian forces, still under fire, began to concentrate around the railway-station for an attempted break-out. On the afternoon of 30th August, at 2.00 p.m., Kartvelian forces launched a counter-attack southward in the direction of Pitsunda. But it too faltered and Kartvelian forces were compelled to retreat back to their previous position in and around Gagra. After a week of fierce fighting the battle-lines remained pretty much where they began at the beginning of the week.

Periodic fighting continued around Gagra for the next month and a half, but no clear advantage was recognised. However, Abkhazian units were consolidating their positions in the mountains surrounding Gagra. Peace-talks were held to find a political solution to the problems in Gagra, but they did not lead to any substantial changes[8]. On 26th September an agreement was reached that called for both Kartvelian and Abkhazian armed formations to withdraw from the city-limits and that all 'pickets' be removed from the city itself[9]. Kartvelian units were supposed to pull back north-west of Gagra while Abkhazian forces were to pull back to positions south-east of Pitsunda. It also called for the separation of both sides near the village of K’olkhida on the next day (27th September) and the placement of four observation-posts along the R. Bzyp[10]. The agreement was strikingly similar to the previous arrangement in Sukhum, in August, which called for each side to withdraw to the city-limits[11].

However, on the very day the cease-fire and withdrawal-agreement was reached (26th September) Kartvelian forces assaulted the village of Merkw’yla in southern Abkhazia near Ochamchira. The battle itself was inconclusive, but Abkhazian officials used it as a pretext to call off the cease-fire and lift the restriction on volunteers from the North Caucasus, stating: 'Since Georgia persists in violating the cease-fire agreement, the command of Abkhazia's militia decides to revise the time for the withdrawal of North Caucasian volunteers'[12].

With the agreement of 26th September to remove North Caucasian volunteers in a shambles, the stage was set for a major Abkhazian assault on Gagra. Abkhazians and Kartvelian officials both realised that holding Gagra and the road to the Russian border along the R. Psou was critical to maintain control of the region and perhaps win the war. For Abkhazia an open supply-route from the north was essential to independence, whilst Georgia realised that without the ability to control the border they could never withstand the strength with which volunteers and supplies from the North Caucasus would provide Abkhazia.

Skirmishes around Gagra intensified on 27th September as both forces jockeyed for tactical advantage. Kartvelian forces were able to penetrate the Abkhazian held village of Okhtari (as given by FBIS), which is near Gagra, and evacuate thirty Kartvelian hostages. However, they were forced to retreat in an abortive attempt to break out of Gagra and seize a stategic hilltop on the approaches to the city. There were last-minute attempts to enact a cease-fire, but the whole charade was merely posturing by both sides for tactical advantage. Geographically speaking, Kartvelian units were severely lacking. Abkhazian units controlled all the high ground..

Abkhazian strategy to capture and hold the high ground surrounding the city to gain advantage for purposes of reconnaissance had been accomplished in preceding weeks. By 2nd October Abkhazian units held all the strategic heights. On that same day a combined Abkhazian force of local Abkhazian and North Caucasian volunteers lashed out at the Kartvelian perimeter around Gagra. The first objective was to cross the R. Bzyp south of Gagra and occupy the strategically located village of K’olkhida.

The assault into Gagra itself was a three-pronged attack originating from the southern approaches of the city. One group followed the coastline and attacked the city from the beach and marsh-areas, through a camp-ground located on the southern edge of the city. The other two Abkhazian spearheads fought their way through the city along parallel axes (along the old and new highways). There is only one major road into Gagra, and it runs parallel to the coast. However, on the edge of the city this highway splits in two, rejoining in north Gagra near the Ukraina Sanatorium, to form the only highway to the Russian border. As the road splits, the old highway turns to the left towards the coastal edges of the city, passing the railway-station, central market and police-station. The other road, known as the new highway, continues straight ahead by way of an overpass hugging the hills along the eastern edge of Gagra.

The Abkhazian unit taking the old highway was ordered to fight its way into the city centre where it would link up with the unit following the seashore. The troops fighting along the new highway were ordered to cut a path through Gagra, racing to the northern end of the city to block any Kartvelian reinforcements that might arrive from the north. In this way Abkhazian units sought to trap the Kartvelian forces defending Gagra in a pincer-movement between Abkhazian forces advancing northward along the Old Highway and those barricading the highway at the northern end of the city.

The assault went as planned. By 6.00 a.m. on 2nd October the units fighting along the Old Highway had already broken through Kartvelian defensive positions around the overpass, meeting up with Abkhazian units fighting their way into Gagra from the seashore. Both units converged on Kartvelian forces holding the railway-station. The fire-fight for the railway-station lasted nearly three hours, but by 9.00 a.m. it had fallen to Abkhazian forces[13]. Abkhazian units continued to push through Gagra for the rest of the day. The next place of notable resistance was the Sanatorium opposite the supermarket. Kartvelian soldiers deployed inside were able to hold off the advancing Abkhazian forces for some time, but this position was eventually surrounded and collapsed finally at 5.35 p.m. Other Abkhazian forces in the meantime continued down the old highway through the centre of town, and by 4.00 p.m. all major Kartvelian positions were firmly under Abkhazian control, including the Hotel Abkhazia and the police-station. An hour and a half later Gagra was totally under Abkhazian control[14].

There were dedicated Kartvelian units. Initially, Abkhazian forces met stiff resistance. The units moving up the highway to K’olkhida were pinned down and could not move forward for some time. Eventually, they were able to break through but continued to meet stiff Kartvelian opposition at many points, most notably the railway- and police-stations. The battle at the police-station was unusually brutal, as it was defended by local Kartvelians[15] formed into a militia and members of the élite White Eagle unit[16]. Among the dead at the police-station were twelve members of the White Eagle unit -- Kartvelian shock-troops[17]. Another fierce battle took place at the rehabilitation-centre. There were high casualties, including many killed. Abkhazian units took 40 Kartvelian prisoners.

During the early morning hours of 3rd October Kartvelian helicopters arrived from Sukhum to blunt the Abkhazian assault, but it was too little too late. The Kartvelian defence of Gagra had turned into a large-scale, disorganised retreat. Questions remain regarding the Abkhazian strategy to cut off the retreating Kartvelian units fleeing Gagra. Abkhazian units earmarked to trap the Kartvelian units on the northern edge of the city were not effective. Empirical evidence suggests this may have been intentional. Abkhazian forces were not equipped to take large numbers of prisoners, and the main object was to secure Gagra not to kill or take prisoners, especially not thousands of them. The impending Kartvelian collapse in Gagra had caused a panic, and thousands of civilians also clogged the highway towards the villages of Gjachrypsh, Tsandrypsh and the Russian border in their desire to get out of Gagra before it was overrun[18].

There seems to be validity to the Abkhazian claims suggesting that the escape-route was purposely left open. The road between the mountains and the sea is very narrow at the northern end of the city[19]. One concentrated blocking-force could easily have trapped the swelling northward migration of Kartvelians. To credit the Kartvelian side, efforts were made to keep the retreat-route open. On the afternoon of 3rd October SU-25 ground-attack planes bombed Abkhazian positions at the junction of the old and new highways at the Ukraina Sanatorium, inflicting several casualties[20].

Immediately after the collapse of Gagra, on 4th October, Kartvelian units began preparations for a counter-assault on the Sanatorium in Old Gagra. This began with the extraction of the White Eagles from Gagra on 2nd and 3rd October to the villages of Gjachrypsh and Tsandrypsh for reorganisation and refitting. Much of this reorganisation centred around the combining of two units, the White Eagles and the Orbi[21] Battalion.

On 4th October the hastily organised White Eagle/Orbi unit was given new orders. The objective was to attack the Ukraina Sanatorium north of Gagra. The Abkhazian units occupying the Sanatorium were in possession of heavy weapons, including captured Kartvelian tanks. Recapturing these weapons was given top priority. The Ukraina Sanatorium is located on the northern end of Gagra, between Gagra itself (often called New Gagra) and Old Gagra (which are separated by 5-6 kilometers).

The attack was intended to be a two-pronged assault. The objective of the White Eagle/Orbi unit, which consisted of 65 troops, was to circle around through the mountains and attack the Sanatorium from high ground. Simultaneously, a much larger force, consisting of approximately 200 troops comprised primarily from the Military Police, Kutaisi Battalion and Avaza[22] Battalion were to advance southward on the highway, seize Old Gagra, and attack the Sanatorium head-on.

The planned assault collapsed nearly as fast as it began. The Kartvelian force making its way along the highway towards Old Gagra turned back to Tsandrypsh prematurely after seeing two ships 'full of Abkhazians' off the coast. Facing no opposition, whatsoever, the Abkhazian forces disbarked at Grebeshok and proceeded inland along mountain-paths to cut off the combined White Eagle and Orbi detachment[23].

The next day, on 5th October, Abkhazian forces engaged the Kartvelian unit in a 'very difficult mountain-place'[24]. By 6.00 p.m. the White Eagle/Orbi unit was trapped and on the defensive. Meanwhile, Abkhazian forces also attacked and broke through the hastily thrown up Kartvelian positions in Tsandrypsh. The Kartvelian collapse here resulted in additional chaos, and, as the White Eagle/Orbi unit lay pinned down in the mountains, thousands of Kartvelian civilians and military personnel were fleeing towards the Russian border. The retreat was completely unorganised, and Kartvelian units were scattered all over the nearby villages. Many left without their equipment. Abkhazian units continued mopping-up operations along the coastal highway, and at 6.40 a.m. on 6th October the Abkhazian State Flag was raised on the border with Russia[25].

Meanwhile, in the mountains the White Eagle/Orbi detachment was in a desperate position, under attack from three sides[26]. The unit was trapped for 12 days. The Kartvelian unit suffered heavy casualties, including 30 killed. Among the dead was the commander of the White Eagles, Gocha Q’arq’arashvili[27]. Reinforcements did arrive. Amidst the chaotic retreat down on the coastal highway 30 troops from the Military Police unit were able to make their way to their embattled comrades. This brought the fighting-strength upto 62 combatants but did not enable the Kartvelian unit to break out[28].

The situation in the forest continued to look bleak. However, in a stroke of luck a local Armenian villager happened upon the battle and was persuaded to travel across the border to Russia to relay the message of distress to the Kartvelian command in Sukhum. By telephone to Tbilisi he detailed the whereabouts and condition of the embattled unit. The Kartvelian command in Sukhum responded quickly by launching a rescue-mission of extraction. A single helicopter was despatched, which made two trips to extract the 62 fighters. The dead were left behind.

As the smoke cleared, the impact of the Kartvelian defeat started to become clearer. One manifest consequence of the victory was the tremendous boost of military equipment to Abkhazia. Accurate numbers are difficult to gauge, but Abkhazian units captured at least two tanks, 25 BMPs, six anti-tank guns, ammunition, radio-equipment and a small ship, which had been used to land Kartvelian forces[29]. However, the true importance of the battle was not immediately obvious.

The defeat at Gagra was a terrible blow to the Kartvelian military and ultimately foreshadowed the eventual failure of the whole Kartvelian war-effort. With the northern territory firmly in Abkhazian control, Georgia could not hope to stop the flow of men and equipment to Abkhazia from the North Caucasus. Moreover, the Kartvelian military (and the State) went into a bout of severe depression, which it could not shake. The Georgian government in Tbilisi established a special commission to determine the cause of the military débâcle. Although veteran-units of the battle still blame each other, the loss highlighted other deep-seated problems which would also remain characteristic of Kartvelian forces throughout the war.

On an operational level Kartvelian forces were just not trained for, or dedicated to, the art of war. The defensive positions protecting Gagra crumbled quickly after Abkhazian units were able to penetrate the perimeter of the city. Kartvelian forces did not employ a defence-in-depth, and their defensive action deteriorated into a rout once Abkhazian forces broke through. There was a substantial amount of house-to-house fighting, but this type of warfare hindered Kartvelian units from using heavy weapons, including their tanks and BMPs. Without heavy firepower, Kartvelian forces were easily driven from their positions. Others, usually small goups of ten to twenty, were trapped in buildings with no means of replenishment or communication with other units. There was also a severe lack of discipline amongst the rank and file, which increased the speed in which the Kartvelian positions crumbled.

To be sure, geography played a major role in the outcome in the Battle for Gagra. Abkhazian units did control the mountainous terrain surrounding the city, which made Abkhazian reconnaissance and spotting relatively easy. But Kartvelian forces should have had the advantage of being on the defensive. However, the mismanagement of Kartvelian forces and the lack of military preparation simply left too many open corridors into the city. Kartvelian forces were unable to defend them all and as a result were driven from Gagra and the northern territory.

Part of the communication-breakdown was due to the nature of the Kartvelian military itself. By 20th September there were at least five independent Kartvelian military formations defending Gagra, totalling as many as 1,000 troops. Each unit was given its own sector to defend. However, command and control between units was non-existent. Each was simply tasked to take care of its own sector. While this may seem expedient on the surface, the many different militias represented various political parties and each had their own agenda and objectives. Throughout the war the Kartvelian forces were never able to become a cohesive army. There were continual divisions among units and unit-leaders. When the battle became intense, Kartvelian units were unable to come together and, as a consequence, crumbled into a rag-tag army blaming each other for the overall failure.

Abkhazian units, which included diaspora-Abkhazians from Turkey, Syria, Jordan as well as North Caucasians, were much better prepared to fight together for a common cause. The presence of outside volunteers on the Abkhazian side prompted Georgia and many external observers to conclude Russian complicity in favour of Abkhazia. Many in Georgia and elsewhere feel that the war was really a Russian-Georgian conflict. This is a complicated issue. Technically, all volunteers from the North Caucasus were Russian citizens. The real question, however, centres on motivation and how the volunteers saw themselves. There were many indications that Chechen assistance to Abkhazia was stimulated by independent aspirations related to a pan-Caucasian federation rather than any Russian plot. The best known Chechen to fight against Georgia, Shamil Basaev (now deputy to Chechen's President Maskhadov), stated that 'as long as the small Abkhazian people suffered in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, his units would help them, but in the event of hostilities between Russia and Georgia, the volunteers would fight on the Georgian side'[30].

There were, however, verified cases of Russian assistance. Russian pilots were actually shot down by Kartvelian units, but the incidents were isolated and more likely reflected free-lancing by rogue elements of the Russian military, a fact which has precedence elsewhere in the Caucasus, including the earlier Georgian conflict in South Ossetia[31]. Moreover, there were other indications that Russia (Yeltsin) knew of Shevardnadze's plan and was prepared to look the other way. Commenting on the unruly nature of the Kartvelian forces, Shevardnadze remarked that he was against sending his troops into Sukhum: 'I wanted our military units to go around Sukhumi and move to Gagra... When I spoke to Yeltsin on the next day [after the beginning of hostilities], he told me: "The generals can get out of control and you, as a smart man, should know it".'[32] Russia did meddle in the conflict, but the factor that made the difference were the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers that made their way to the region to engage Kartvelian forces throughout the war. This is not to say that the volunteers might not incidentally have served the strategy of some circles in the Russian military-political arena. However, the volunteers, many of whom were Chechen, had their own reasons for helping Abkhazia, as the more recent war in Chechenia has demonstrated.

There is no doubt that volunteers from abroad did add to the quantity and quality of the Abkhazian military effort, but their numbers were still small. Although Abkhazian veterans claim that there were only 300 combatants on their side, it is more realistic that their numbers exceeded 500. However, Abkhazians never held an overall numerical advantage. Locally-based UN military observers substantiate these Abkhazian claims, suggesting that Kartvelian troops did indeed outnumber Abkhazian personnel but were so ill-disciplined that the Abkhazian victory at Gagra should have come as no surprise[33].

What was a surprise was the ability of the Abkhazian movement successfully to incorporate volunteers from the North Caucasus and elsewhere, primarily Turkey, arriving to fight for Abkhazia. Abkhazia would prove most adept at this throughout the course of the war. Military cohesion on an individual- and group-level was always better on the Abkhazian side. The reasons for this need to be explored in depth. However, it must suffice to say that this factor, illustrated so clearly at Gagra, was one of the most crucial determining factors in Abkhazia's success and Georgia's failure.

In many ways the battle for Gagra was the battle for Abkhazia itself. Once in control of the border and port-facilities in the northern corner of Abkhazia, the Abkhazian leadership was assured that supplies and manpower would get through. On the other hand, after the loss of Gagra, Georgia could only hope for a break-out on the Sukhum front. Reeling from the loss of Gagra, Kartvelian forces proved incapable of further large-scale offensive operations. There were only four more meaningful offensives undertaken that are worthy of note (January 1993, March 1993, July 1993 and the final offensive of September 1993), and all were conducted by the Abkhazian side.

_______________________

[1] Press-release. The Press Service of the Supreme Soviet of The Republic of Abkhazia. 18th August 1992. Made available to the author by George Hewitt.

[2] 'Shevardnadze: Sukhumi Curfew Possible'. FBIS-SOV-92-159. 17th August 1992, p.39.

[3] 'Shevardnadze: Sukhumi Curfew Possible'. FBIS-SOV-92-159. 17th August 1992, p.39.

[4] 'Mountain Peoples Take Up Positions'. FBIS-SOV-92-164. 24th August 1992, pp.58-59.

[5] Official Statement, Press Service of Abkhazia, 25th September 1992.

[6] 'Abkhazian Reservists Mobilized'. FBIS-SOV-92-165, p.50.

[7] 'Georgian Troops Killed in Gagra Attack'. FBIS-SOV-92-166, p.54. The Mkhedrioni would play a major role in the development of Georgia's military during the war. However, they were very independent-minded and often set their own agenda. They were very difficult to integrate with other Kartvelian units and in many ways were a hindrance to the war-effort. Shevardnadze spent a great deal of time trying to neutralise their influence during the war.

[8] 'Agreement Reached on Gagra Situation'. FBIS-SOV-92-159. 17th August 1992, p.38.

[9] 'Agreement Reached on Gagra Situation'. FBIS-SOV-92-159. 17th August 1992, p.38.

[10] 'Tripartite Commission Observers Arrive in Georgia'. FBIS-SOV-92-189. 29th September 1992, p.51.

[11] 'Tripartite Commission Observers Arrive in Georgia'. FBIS-SOV-92-189. 29th September 1992, p.51.

[12] 'Volunteers' Withdrawal Delayed'. FBIS-SOV-92-188. 28th September 1992, p.55.

[13] Tragedy of Abkhazia (in Russian), a compilation published in Sochi, 1994.

[14] Tragedy of Abkhazia (in Russian), a compilation published in Sochi, 1994.

[15] Many local Mingrelians were involved in the defence of Gagra. Kartvelian numbers were boosted later in the war by the arrival of between 700 and 1,000 Ukrainian volunteers. Abkhazian Armenians tended to fight for Abkhazia, whilst Armenians from Georgia were reported on the Kartvelian side.

[16] The dedication of local Kartvelian units was noticeable in comparison with other Kartvelian units operating in Abkhazia. However, dedication was one factor, training quite another. In this regard these units too were inadequate.

[17] Equivalent to US Army Rangers but not as well trained and certainly less well equipped. Interview with member of Abkhazian artillery battalion in Sukhum, June 1995.

[18] Just as happened south-east of Sukhum after the final rout of the Kartvelian forces in September 1993 BEFORE the arrival of forces in the Abkhazian alliance [Editor].

[19] Recall the proposed etymology of Gagra discussed in Footnote 2 of the Introduction [Editor].

[20] Interview with member of Abkhazian artillery battalion in Sukhum, June 1995.

[21] A type of vulture (Gyps Fulvus) in Georgian [Editor].

[22] 'Leopard' (Acinonyx Jubatus) in Georgian [Editor].

[23] Interview with member of Abkhazian artillery battalion in Sukhum, June 1995.

[24] Tragedy of Abkhazia (in Russian), a compilation published in Sochi, 1994.

[25] Tragedy of Abkhazia (in Russian), a compilation published in Sochi, 1994.

[26] Interview with member of the Georgian White Eagle Unit, Tbilisi, July 1995.

[27] He was the brother of Gia, commander of Kartvelian forces in Abkhazia, whose TV-appearance on 25th August was reported in the Georgian newspaper 7 dghe '7 Days' (No.31, 4-10 September 1992, p.3): 'On 25 August Gia Q'arq'arashvili, general of the National Guard stationed in western Georgia appeared on Abkhazian television. He issued an ultimatum to the Abkhazian side: if within 24 hours they should not lay down their arms and hand themselves over to members of the State Council, "the Abkhazians would have no-one left to carry on their race; 100,000 Georgians would be sacrificed for the 97,000 [27,000 is printed in error -- translator] Abkhazians, but Georgia's borders would remain in tact"' [Editor].

[28] Interview with member of the Georgian White Eagle Unit, Tbilisi, July 1995.

[29] Interview with member of the Georgian White Eagle Unit, Tbilisi, July 1995.

[30] 'The Georgian Chronicle', Monthly Bulletin, Center for Peace, Development and Democracy, March-April 1993, p.5.

[31] During the war between Georgia and South Ossetia, V. Adamia (leader of the Georgian military), claimed that both his forces and South Ossetian units rented Russian heavy weapons and personnel for military operations.

[32] 'The Georgian Chronicle', Monthly Bulletin, January-February 1993, p.7.

[33] Interview with UNOMIG commander J. Hvidegaard, Sukhum, June 1995.

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