The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia today presented its findings to the Council of the EU, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN. It was especially critical of Georgia but also blamed Russia for escalating the five-day war on 7-12 August 2008.
Georgia's use of force in South Ossetia, beginning with the shelling of Tskinvali on the night of 7-8 August and including against Russian "peacekeepers," was not justified under international law, according to the report. On the other hand, the report finds Russia justified in using force to defend its "peacekeepers" but not in invading Georgia. The report rejects Russia's claims of "humanitarian intervention" as it did not accept this justification for NATO's 1999 Kosovo air campaign and because of Russian interests in South Ossetia.
The report accuses Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian forces of violating human rights and international humanitarian law but rejects Russian allegations that Georgia committed genocide. It points to the use of GRAD rocket launchers and cluster munitions as being "particularly dangerous for non-combatants because of their indiscriminate deadly effects."
The report concludes "there are no winners in this conflict."