Georgian Tapes Imply Russia Started War

Troops may have entered South Ossetia before Georgia attack
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2008 9:10 AM CDT
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, right, and visiting NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer speak during a NATO-Georgia meeting in Tbilisi on Monday, Sept. 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
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(Newser) – Although the bloodshed has ended, Georgia and Russia are still fighting—over which nation was the aggressor in last month's conflict. The Georgian government, which insists that Russia invaded its territory, has released tapes of intercepted phone calls implying that a Russian regiment entered South Ossetia 24 hours before Georgia attacked. Top American officials have called the tapes "credible if not conclusive," says the New York Times.

Russia does not dispute the authenticity of the tapes, in which Ossetian border guards ask about the whereabouts of "the armor and people" in the middle of the night. But military leaders interviewed at the Kremlin insisted that the troops in question were part of the peacekeeping force that already existed in South Ossetia. Georgia disputes that claim, saying that they were not notified of any new peacekeepers, and that Georgian officers at the border were caught off-guard.