To reveal and analyze what actually happened, it is essential to have a unified version of key events.
To achieve this objective, I have examined the detailed timelines provided on the web sites of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russia Today news service, integrating these with various Georgian, Russian, and international press reports.
There are surprisingly few discrepancies about the actual sequence of events.
Those that exceed two hours are noted by ***italics.
For convenience, all times have been standardized to GMT (UTC). My notes, in CAPS, highlight certain details that emerge, though the timeline certainly raises as many questions as it answers.
[Local Time in Tblisi is GMT + 3].
After six days of sniper and machine-gunfire exchanges between Georgian troops and Ossetian militia, the conflict intensifies on August 7. The separatists claim the Georgians are seeking to occupy the surrounding hill. Georgia denies this but sends reinforcements to the border.
August 7 — Georgia attacks
[Note 15.10 GMT is 18.10 local time. The first reports of shelling were late at night at 23.53 local time]
15:10 — In a televised address Georgian President Saakasshvili announces a unilateral ceasefire.
18:00 — Tbilisi informs Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of peacekeepers, that the cease fire has been cancelled.
19:05 — Mamuka Kurashvili, chief of Georgian peacekeeping operations, announces on television that Georgian troops are engaged in an operation to “restore constitutional order throughout the region.”
***19:30 — Tbilisi says 100 Russian vehicles have crossed through the Roki tunnel into Georgia, and so begins shelling it. Later, however, it reports that “first Russian troops enter through Roki Tunnel” six hours later, at 01:30 on August 8.
20:53 — First reports of shelling of Tskhinvali.
22:45 — Georgia says it has occupied three villages in Southern Ossetia