Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Friday honoured the 17 Georgian servicemembers who lost their lives during a battle in central Georgia’s Shindisi village during the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.
Paying homage to the servicemembers at their memorial on the 15th anniversary of the war, the head of the Government said they had demonstrated “great heroism, dedication and self-sacrifice”, and added the battle had been an example of an “unbroken spirit, courage, bravery and love of the motherland”.
Information released [following the battle] showed the enemy had an impression they were fighting a whole division, while [in reality] it was only a platoon”, the PM said, adding “a lot of details have come to light since this battle”.
He also said the then President Mikheil Saakashvili, whom he called a “traitor”, had demonstrated “cowardice” in front of cameras and in presence of foreign officials “while those servicemembers were fighting with dedication and sacrificing their lives for their homeland”, in reference to a TV report that showed the President’s entourage covering him from a reported air raid by Russian forces on frontlines.
Fortunately, the Georgian people have made appropriate conclusions. Of course, the occupation of our territories [following the war] is a heavy legacy. We should proceed with our reasonable, consistent steps and restore the territorial integrity of Georgia. This is a major goal”, Garibashvili said.
In the engagement, a 21-member detachment of Georgian soldiers came face-to-face with Russian troops on the fourth day of the armed conflict.
Greatly outnumbered, they were ordered to surrender by the Russian troops but issued a strong refusal and inflicted significant losses on the enemy in an uneven, 45-minute subsequent battle that left 17 of the 21 Georgian servicemembers killed.
In a wider context, the war between Russia and Georgia took the lives of 169 servicemembers and professionals of the Ministry of Defence, along with 19 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and 224 civilians.
Around 30,000 citizens of Georgia were forced to abandon their homes in the now-occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region.