The Russo-Georgian War was an armed conflict between Georgia, the Russian Federation, and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The war took place in August 2008 amidst worsening relations between Russia and Georgia, which were both formerly constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The fighting took place in the strategically important Transcaucasia region, which borders the Middle East. It was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century.
As the Soviet Union weakened in early 1991, the Soviet Georgia declared independence as the new state of Georgia. Amidst this backdrop, a 1991–1992 war between Georgia and separatists in the South Ossetia region left parts of that region under de facto Russian-backed and internationally unrecognised separatist control. After the war was halted, a joint peacekeeping force of Georgian, Russian and Ossetian troops was stationed in the region. Meanwhile, a similar situation developed during 1992–1993 in the Georgian region of Abkhazia. After a prolonged lull, relations between Georgia and Russia began to worsen in April 2008. Ossetian separatists began shelling Georgian villages on 1 August, with a sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers in the region. Georgia launched a large-scale military operation during the night of 7–8 August, recapturing most of Tskhinvali in hours. The Georgian government said it was responding to attacks on its villages in South Ossetia, and that Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country.
Russia officially deployed units of the Russian 58th Army and airborne troops into South Ossetia on 8 August, launching air strikes against targets in Georgia proper. Russia claimed that its aim was "peace enforcement". Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces throughout South Ossetia for four days, with the heaviest fighting in Tskhinvali, until Georgian forces retreated. Russian naval forces blockaded part of the Georgian coast. Russian and Abkhaz forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia. During the war, South Ossetians razed most ethnic-Georgian villages in South Ossetia. This was the first war in history when cyber warfare coincided with military action. There was an active information war during and after the conflict.
President of France Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated a ceasefire agreement on 12 August. Russian forces temporarily occupied the Georgian cities of Zugdidi, Senaki, Poti, and Gori (the latter two after the ceasefire), and raided Georgian military bases. Russia recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 26 August. In response, the Georgian government cut diplomatic relations with Russia. Russia mostly completed its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper on 8 October. In the aftermath Russia's international relations were largely unharmed. The war displaced 192,000 people, and while many returned to their homes after the war, 20,272 persons remained displaced as of 2014. Russian military occupies Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire since August 2008.