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Volume12
MonthNovember
Year2010
Title"Don't Mess with Moscow"--Legal Aspects of the 2008 Caucasus Conflict
Author(s)Hannes Hofmeister
First Page147
AbstractThis Article deals with a highly topical issue in international law: The Caucasus War of August 2008. This conflict illustrates how international law has become one of the arenas in which contemporary wars are fought. Both Georgia and Russia claimed the mantle of legitimacy in an effort to shape international perceptions of the conflict. But which party to the conflict really acted in accordance with international law?

In order to answer this complex question, this Article will proceed as follows: It will first reconstruct the course of events that led to the outbreak of war. Having done so, it will then analyze the legality of Georgia's military action, paying particular attention to the legal status of South Ossetia-is it a state, a de facto regime, or still part of Georgia proper (an aspect largely ignored by the scholarly community). it will then examine Russia's military intervention. The author's conclusions are summarized in last part of the article.