President Saakashvili acknowledged that the Georgian forces wanted to stop the Russian forces at the border, but “but we were late.”
Saakashvili told a group of foreign journalists in a conference call earlier on August 13, that the plan was to stop the Russian forces at the Roki Tunnel in the north of South Ossetia, which links the breakaway region with Russia’s North Ossetian Republic.
“Once they got to Tskhinvali, they could march on the capital. We tried to stop them in the mountains before Tskhinvali, but we were too late and there were too many of them,” Saakashvili said according to the transcript provided by the President’s press office.
“We knew they were on the border, but when 150 [Russian] tanks started to come in, we either would have stopped them before the bridge, in the Roki tunnel, or they would have got to Tskhinvali and got to anywhere,” he said.
In a separate statement, which was made later on the same day in a live televised address to the nation, Saakashvili tried to sound more optimistic and claimed that the Russian forces suffered significant losses, much more serious than the Georgian army.
“The Russians met an unimaginable resistance of the Georgian armed forces and I am not boasting,” he said. “Russia has lost more aircrafts than in any other conflicts of this scale since 1939.”
He has also claimed that 400 Russian soldiers were killed during the hostilities, “according to the most conservative estimates.”
“This loss has made the Russian leadership to think whether it was worth or not to advance to Tbilisi as they initially planned,” Saakashvili said.
The Russian general staff of the armed forces, however, said on August 13 that 74 Russian servicemen were killed and 171 wounded; 19 servicemen go missing.
Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff, said at a news conference on August 13, that although no verified data was available, but “I’ve heard Georgia has lost 4,000 men.”
Saakashvili, however, said that Georgia had lost “several dozen of soldiers.”
He also said that it was a painful decision to leave Gori and other places in the region, but it was a necessary maneuver in order “to save our armed forces.”