"The root of the Russian-Georgian antagonism is that Georgia has shown that creating a liberal democracy in this part of the world is possible, and that Georgia can be an example for other countries in the Russian sphere," says Tornike Gordadze, Georgia's deputy foreign minister. "The objective of the 2008 war wasn't to recognize the breakaway regions, but to change the regime in Georgia. Since that hasn't happened, they have failed. The Russian objective is now to discredit the government [by other means]."
Though Tbilisi still officially maintains that Russia started the war in an effort to unseat its pro-Western president, Mikhael Saakashvili, there seems no doubt that the war began on the night of Aug. 7 with a massive Georgian bombardment and armored assault on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. The attack resulted in the death of several Russian peacekeeping troops stationed there under international accords.
Russia reacted the next day with a major armored onslaught that quickly drove Georgian forces from S. Ossetia and occupied a wide swath of Georgian territory.