Russian MiniLessons: Южная Осетия – South Ossetia

South Ossetia's north and its border with Russia are dominated by rugged mountains. The region has little agricultural land and few water resources to support it.

The following bilingual Russian MiniLesson is meant to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text. Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation.

Оn August 28, Russia признала независимость of South Ossetia. Непризнанное государство, dejure входит в состав Georgia, but defacto it became a отколовшаяся республика in 1992 and has effectively ruled itself ever since.

Political differences between South Ossetia and Georgia, as they attempted to negotiate the South Ossetia’s place in the new Georgian state, deteriorated to вооруженные столкновения in 1991, after which South Ossetia объявила независимость. However, the international community did not recognize the new state. South Ossetia turned to Russia for protection during the peace negotiations with Georgia in 1992. Under a Смешанной контрольной комиссии, South Ossetia, Georgia, and Russia agreed that a peacekeeping force made up of soldiers from all three countries would ensure peace in the region until a more permanent solution could be found. The region then became what is often referred to as a “замороженный конфликт”.

The major military confrontation between Georgian troops, on one side, and South Ossetia’s and Russian military, on the other side, which took place in August, 2008, was called “война” by some Russian media. Other media called it only “боевые действия”. Whatever it is called, although it is officially over, there is still no peace in the region, despite the mediation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on behalf of the European Union. One of the reasons is that the стороны interpret the мирное соглашение in different ways.

Nicolas Sarkozy supports Georgia in its call for a Russia to immediately вывести войска from Georgia. Point five of the peace agreement does state that Russia must withdraw its troops. However, this point also states that Russia has the right to принять дополнительные меры безопасности until the international community can agree on a mechanism to ensure the security of the region. Thus, Russia argues, its continued presence and actions in Georgia are justified.

In official statements, the Russian Foreign Ministry has argued that all Russian military units were returned to Russia, except for those which are in South Ossetia by the request of the South Ossetian leadership for поддержание мира and that Russian миротворческие силы have сформировали зону безопасности around South Ossetia, in accordance with point five of the peace agreement. This security zone contains посты staffed by a total of 500 Russian миротворцы.

The six points are listed below (translation as used by the Associated Press):

Шесть принципов мирного урегулирования

  1. Не прибегать к использованию силы.
  2. Окончательно прекратить все военные действия.
  3. Свободный доступ к гуманитарной помощи.
  4. Вооружённые силы Грузии возвращаются в места их постоянной дислокации.
  5. Вооружённые Силы Российской Федерации выводятся на линию, предшествующую началу боевых действий. До создания международных механизмов российские миротворческие силы принимают дополнительные меры безопасности.
  6. Начало международного обсуждения вопросов будущего статуса Южной Осетии и Абхазии и путей обеспечения их прочной безопасности.

About the Author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov has reported on political and social issues for the Russian press as well as American outlets such as Russian Life,, and Triangle Free Press. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the "real Russia" which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and went on to study TESOL and teach Russian at West Virginia University. He is currently working on an MA from St. Petersburg State in International Relations. Andrei contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS site, and is an overall linguistics and research resource. He additionally helps coordinate activities for our students in Moscow.

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Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad and Challenge Grant scholarship writing programs.

Program attended: All Programs

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