Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was in South Ossetia on Saturday, honouring the fallen during last summer’s short war with Georgia on the first anniversary of the conflict.
He also decorated a number of officers and men who led the counter attack which it appears has definitively shorn Georgia of the rebel province, which broke away in the 1990s before Georgia tried to retake it by force.
“Georgia’s military aggression has changed the political map of the Caucasus for good,” said Medvedev.
South Ossetia is officially independent, but kept financially afloat by Moscow, as is the other breakaway region, Abkhazia, which was not involved in last summer’s fighting. Its independence is only recognised by Russia and Nicaragua.
The leaders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia linked up to visit what South Ossetia calls the Museum of Genocide set up to commemorate the Georgian invasion, and the atmosphere between them and their neighbour remains tense, with only the sticking plaster of a ceasefire covering the wounds of war.
The anniversary was also commemorated in Georgia where President Saakashvili insists he now seeks victory via democracy and good governance. Georgia remains committed to obtaining EU and NATO membership, and wants to show an example to the rest of the Caucasus of the benefits of taking a route independent of Moscow.