In August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale attack to retake control
of South Ossetia, an enclave in the northern part of its territory
that had been trying to break away formally since the late 1980s. In
response, Russia bombed not only military but also civilian targets,
claiming that its intervention was meant to protect Russian citizens.
This quick escalation of events raised concerns about other unresolved
conflicts in the South Caucasus. In fact, within a few days, Russian
troops took control of South Ossetia and were ready to start a second
front in Abkhazia, another separatist area within Georgia.