The Ossetians are the descendants of the Alans, a tribe once renowned for their skill at shooting arrows while atop horses. South Ossetia, though, is the product of more recent times fissured away from its North by Moscow's gerrymandering of borders and subsumed after the fall of the Soviet Union into the new independent state of Georgia. That didn't go down well with the South Ossetians and fighting broke out toward the end of 1990, leading to some 1,000 deaths. A cease-fire in 1992 muted tensions for a time, but an escalation allegedly provoked by Georgian shelling of a South Ossetian town in 2008 led to a full-blown war, with Russian troops backing up the South Ossetians as well as separatists in Abkhazia, another de facto independent republic in Georgia. Yet despite winning their nominal nationhood, neither the E.U. nor the U.S. recognize these Georgian breakaways.