By going to war with Georgia in 2008, Russia halted NATO's expansion eastward, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev explained on Monday. “If we had wavered in 2008, the geopolitical layout would have been different; a range of countries which the North Atlantic [Treaty Organization] tries to artificially ‘protect’ would have been within it,” Medvedev said at a meeting with military officers in Vladikavkaz in southern Russia. The former Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s. Georgian forces attempted to bring South Ossetia back under central control in August 2008, but were repelled by the Russian military. Russia has since recognized the independence of both republics.