"The deadline was the spring of 2006. Only three or four persons were privy to it: the president, myself, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, and Prosecutor General Zurab Adeishvili," Irakly Okruashvili told Georgian Imedi TV channel.
He said the operation could have been a success if it had gone ahead then, but today there is little chance of recovering the territory, since the military presence has been built up in the unrecognized republic.
The former minister said he doubts the current efforts to restore control of South Ossetia will produce any results, describing Dmitry Sanakoyev, the Georgian-appointed head of the South Ossetian administration, as "a cartoon character."
Okruashvili, who announced Tuesday the creation of an opposition movement, For United Georgia, said the Georgian president lacked the resolve to order Russian peacekeepers out of the conflict zones.
"We launched a campaign to ensure the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Georgia, but the campaign went nowhere. The executive failed to do what parliament entrusted it with doing," he said.