I hate to say it, but at the time of Russia’s invasion of Georgia (which annexed 20% of their territory), I had the story completely wrong. I had been reading to much Lew Rockwell who tends to shill for the Kremlin.
The typical narrative in the alternative Libertarian press was complete Kremlin propaganda.
The reality is that Russia, alarmed by Georgia’s anti-corruption reforms and strengthening ties with the west, sparked an ethnic cleansing of Georgians at the hands of the Ossetians, and had all their “Genocie of Ossetians” propaganda ready for when the Georgian government responded.
—“South Ossetian separatists began attacking the Georgian villages in early August 2008, in order to force Georgia to respond militarily, thus giving a pretext for pre-planned Russian invasion. Russia was preparing to go to war with Georgia for years before 2008 and intended to achieve geopolitical goals. Some researchers paid attention to the military exercise “Kavkaz 2008”, which concluded in early August. During this exercise a written notice entitled “Soldier, know your probable enemy” (the enemy was clarified as Georgia) was circulated among the Russian participants. Russian journalists began arriving in Tskhinvali on 2 August to cover a war that had not yet begun. Some Russian regular troops entered South Ossetia before the Georgian military operation against Tskhinvali began on 7 August.”—
Evidence of ethnic cleansing of Georgians:
Top 10 Russian lies about Georgia war (http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/08/16/top-10-russian-lies-about-the-georgia-war/):
1. Inflated numbers of the death toll in South Ossetia during the Georgian operation, while in fact more Georgians were killed by the Russian invasion. 2000 instead of 162.
2. Russian media claimed that Tskhinvali was leveled by Georgian artillery. Actually, only 5% of building were affected.
3. Georgian operation was provoked by a long period of escalation and week of open hostilities.
4. Russian troops were in South Ossetia long before Russia was asked for help.
5. Russian peacekeepers weren’t attacked by Georgian forces.
6. Russia’s claims of a US citizen fighting for Georgia based on passport lost in airport in 2005.
7. Russia built a military base in the breakaway region before the war in 2008.
8. Investigation shows Russia’s claims of Ukrainian far-right fighters aiding Georgia are unfounded.
9. Russian media released a fake interview attempting to give away award-winning photos of victims of Russian bombing at Gori as staged, probe finds they are real.
10. Russian news edits real Fox News interview to produce example of “censorship by Western media” for domestic audiences.