Russia has not disputed the veracity of the phone calls, which were apparently made by Ossetian border guards on a private Georgian cellphone network. "Listen, has the armor arrived or what?" a supervisor at the South Ossetian border guard headquarters asked a guard at the tunnel with the surname Gassiev, according to a call that Georgia and the cellphone provider said was intercepted at 3:52 a.m. on Aug. 7.
"The armor and people," the guard replied. Asked if they had gone through, he said, "Yes, 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived."
In the first conversation, logged at 3.41 a.m., Gassiev told the supervisor that a Russian colonel had asked Ossetian guards to inspect military vehicles that "crowded" the tunnel. Gassiev said: "The commander, a colonel, approached and said, 'The guys with you should check the vehicles.' Is that O.K.?"
Asked who the colonel was, Gassiev answered: "I don't know. Their superior, the one in charge there. The BMP's and other vehicles were sent here and they've crowded there. The guys are also standing around. And he said that we should inspect the vehicles. I don't know. And he went out." A BMP is a tracked armored vehicle that vaguely resembles a tank. It was one of the principal Russian military vehicles seen in the war, and in the peacekeeping contingent.
At 3:52 a.m., Gassiev informed the supervisor that armored vehicles had left the tunnel, commanded by a colonel he called Kazachenko. The colonel's first name was not mentioned. According to unrelated Russian press reports after the war, Colonel Andrei Kazachenko served in the 135th Motorized Rifle Regiment. The regiment provided peacekeepers in South Ossetia and fought in Tshkinvali during the war, Uvarov said. The general said he had no information about Kazachenko.