Georgia’s decision to move into South Ossetia now looks like a gamble always doomed to failure. Tbilisi’s relatively-small army was no match for the might of Russia, which quickly took control of the region, and forced Georgia to withdraw to defend the capital, Tbilisi.
Moscow denied its ground troops ever moved out of South Ossetia, but admitted bombing targets in Georgia proper. Russia now also controls another breakaway region, Abkhazia, where separatists attacked Georgian forces in the strategic Kodori Gorge.
The Kremlin said some Russian troops would begin withdrawing from South Ossetia as soon as a ceasefire is agreed. They will leave behind them a shattered city, with the survivors struggling to rebuild their lives.
No-one knows how many people were killed in the five days of fighting, nor how many were injured. It is thought 100,000 refugees escaped, many north into Russia itself, others south towards Tbilisi. Many, though, had nowhere to run and died in the fighting, the victims of a David and Goliath battle where this time, David lost.