chapter  1
BySvante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr 3
Pages 7

Over the summer of 2008 tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi reached a peak, resulting in a full-scale war that rapidly expanded beyond South Ossetia and Abkhazia to include much of Georgia proper. From the moment the war broke out, Moscow has insisted that its decision to attack Georgia was a reaction to Tbilisi's aggression in South Ossetia, which was in turn portrayed as the Georgian government's opportunistic attempt to regain control of South Ossetia. Sukhumi's response to Tbilisi's offers was lukewarm: de facto Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh dismissed the initiative as a publicity stunt preceding the April 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest. Tbilisi's publicly stated fears that the rehabilitation of the Sukhumi-Ochamchire railroad constituted a preparation for war proved valid, for this rail line, which Russian military engineering troops completed only days before the attack, found immediate service in deploying thousands of Russian troops into Abkhazia and western Georgia.