Russian president praises army on war anniversary

By the Associated Press | August 8, 2011 | 6:30 AM EDT

In this Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 photo, released by RIA Novosti news agency on Friday Aug.5, 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks during an interview with Russian and Georgian journalists at his residence outside the Black sea resort of Sochi. In his first interview with a Georgian media outlet, Medvedev harshly criticized his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili for starting the 2008 war with Russia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has marked the anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war by visiting an army unit that fought in the conflict.

Medvedev on Monday praised the troops for stopping the "aggressor" in the August 2008 war.

The conflict erupted when Georgian troops tried unsuccessfully to regain control over the Moscow-backed rebel province of South Ossetia, and Russia sent troops that quickly routed the Georgian military.

Georgia entirely lost control of both South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia. Russia has strengthened its military presence in both regions and recognized them as independent states, but only three other countries have followed suit.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Monday laid flowers at a cemetery where Georgian war victims were buried.