On August 8 2008, Russia launched a full scale invasion of Georgia which resulted in Russia annexing two Georgian provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
On 1 August 2008, South Ossetian separatists from South Ossetia (a region which was part of Georgia up until 2008), backed by Russia, launched a terror campaign against Georgian Police, armed forces and civilians which culminated with artillery shelling of Georgian villages.
The Georgians responded in kind and small scale skirmishes continued up until 7 of August.
To put an end to these deadly attacks and to restore order, the Georgian Army was sent to the South Ossetian conflict zone on 7 August.
This was what Putin had been waiting for since the South Ossetian – Georgian hostilities first flared up.
The Russian army was already stationed near Georgian border, biding its time and on August 8 Putin declared that the "Russian speaking minorities" in South Ossetia are in grave danger from the evil Georgians, and ordered the Russian army to invade not just South Ossetia, but the whole of Georgia.
Russian troops entering Georgia.
Interestingly enough, Putin used the excuse that he just wants to "protect" south Ossetia and support their right for independence from Georgia, while at the same time he was engaged in a bloody and brutal war in Chechnya, a region that tried to break away from Russia and sought independence from Russia.
In The Chechen war, the Chechen death toll estimated to be anything from around 80,000 to over 100,000 people. Russia conquered all of Chechnya completely and installed a brutal puppet regime headed by a dictator which mercilessly continues to oppress and persecutes the Chechen people up until today.
But suddenly when it came to Georgia, Putin was determined to “protect” the South Ossetians, and help them break away from Georgia.
Grozny, capital of Chechnya, after the Russian army destroyed it in 2008.
The Russian – Georgian war was brief and brutal. Russia launched a large-scale land, air and sea invasion of Georgia on 8 August with the stated aim of "peace enforcement" operation.
Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces in and around South Ossetia for several days, until Georgian forces retreated. Russian and Abkhaz forces from another separatist region in Georgia, Abkhazia, opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge held by Georgia. Russian naval forces blockaded part of the Georgian coast. The Russian air force attacked targets beyond the conflict zone, in undisputed parts of Georgia, and started bombing and shelling Tbilisi, Georgia's capital.
The Georgian army was no match for the Russian army and after a few days of fighting a ceasefire agreement was reached on 12 of August.
Georgian soldiers near a bombed building in Gori, Georgia.
Hundreds of Georgians were killed by the Russian forces and hundreds of thousands were displaced, and by the time the cease fire was announced, Russia had occupied both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which represented 20% of Georgia's sovereign and internationally recognized territory.
The South Ossetians destroyed most of the ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia and were responsible for an ethnic cleansing of Georgians from their lands. Russia also recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia on 26 August.
In response, the Georgian government severed diplomatic relations with Russia.
Russia mostly completed its withdrawal of troops from undisputed parts of Georgia on 8 October, but Russian troops remain in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia to this very day, which are today not independent but are under Russian occupation and control and are de facto annexed to Russia.
To this day Russia continues to push the border line which separates Georgia and South Ossetia into Georgian land by a few kilometers every year.
Charles King,"The Five-Day WarManaging Moscow After the Georgia Crisis."
Svante E. Cornell; Johanna Popjanevski; Niklas Nilsson, "Russia's War in Georgia: Causes and Implications for Georgia and the World."
Vladimir Socor, "The goal behind Moscow's proxy offensive in South Ossetia."