Georgia's people were already in disagreement prior to the invasion. In its wake, Georgia would have caused more harm than Russia did in action of relieving the qualms of the people. Georgia failed its people, and they cannot be given justification, other then remaining in existence. Russia did not overrun them, nor did they claim annexation.
Stalin was the greatest ruler of Russia and was a Georgian. He created a great Russia and save Russia from the fascist threat of Hitler. The Georgian people know how to run their country and don't need the Russian power getting involved. Russia has terrorized the Chechen population for the longest time, so if Georgia wants to be stern and tough on it's population then that is their right.
I think the actions during the South Ossetia war were legitimate. Georgia was fighting Russia for a piece of land that Russia took away from them. I think that they needed to create the war in order to get back some area that was rightfully theirs. Russia acted like a big bully in the situation and tried to push Georgia around. I think it was very courageous for Georgia to step up in this situation.
Both had humans rights violations but everyone should keep in mind that this is Putin's Russia.
Neither side exhausted all opportunities to reach a peaceful compromise. While Georgia may have felt that Russia was treating them as a subject state versus a sovereign state, Georgia provoked a response from Russia. Russia could have chosen to walk away, but did not. So neither acted in good faith.
On August 7th a cease fire was ordered by Saakashvilli, the military leader of Georgia. The cease fire held for a few hours, but around 10 p.m. fighting recommenced. During this period the South Ossetian army continued to move towards the border, stating that the cease fire was just a "ploy to by time". On August 8th, Georgia launched a military offensive called Operation Clear Field, resulting in many deaths that could have been avoided if the cease fire was followed.
Georgia first claimed that its attack was a response to Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, and that the aim of the attack was to restore constitutional order in South Ossetia. Later, Saakashvili said the aim of the Georgian attack was to counter a Russian invasion
Russia says it acted to defend Russian citizens in South Ossetia, and its own peacekeepers stationed there. The Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia suffered casualties during the initial Georgian artillery barrage on Tskhinvali and were besieged by Georgian troops for two days until a Russian unit broke through to their camp and started evacuating the wounded at 5 a.m. on 9 August
A situation like this should never warrant hostilities. Two countries went at each other's throats like a couple of children, one for power and one for protection. Georgia was the main culprit for attacking to take control of an area that they once had control of, which seems ridiculous to me when there didn't seem to be any good reason to not just let things be as they already were. Russia is less at fault for ostensibly trying to protect South Ossetia, but still committed some atrocities as well.
The people of South Ossetia were rescued by Russia, though both sides acted outside of UN guidelines in the process. Due to the observation of the world community such actions are less likely to happen in the future. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, especially when human behavior is involved. The young girl who made the video thanking Russia went viral and is still being seen and translated around the world.
The actions of the Georgia were not legitimate during the 2008 South Ossetia War. South Ossetia declared independence in 1990 and Georgia has tried to retake South Ossetia several times during the last almost 20 years. Taking countries by military action is no longer legitimate. If South Ossetia saw benefits to staying part of Georgia, then diplomatic route could be pursued but continued military action is stopping both countries from progressing other agendas.
Georgia is and was an independent nation. It even remained its own republic under the "United Soviet Socialist Republics". It reverted back to its own intact nation after the fall of the USSR. Russia was upset by Georgia's "Velvet Revolution" that saw the ouster of remaining democratically elected oligarchs from the Soviet era and put Western oriented leaders in office instead. Russia initially cut off gas lines and orchestrated an Internet attack. When this did not weaken the country enough to stop its efforts to join NATO, which Russia did not want, Russia invaded. Ossetia was the excuse, crushing a former territory on its border was the reason. Ossetia contains a small Russian minority and has Russian mob leaders as its head. Russia wanted to take over the territory to control the natural gas and pipelines located there. When local secession of that part of the country didn't work, they took over the whole country. Russia was not justified.