The current war between Russia and Georgia is over South Ossetia, an autonomous region of Georgia that won de facto independence on the ground back in 1993, with some assistance from the Russians, who have had peacekeeper troops there since. There are some odd ironies to this war, including that one of the places most ferociously bombed in Georgia in the current campaign has been Gori, birthplace of Josef Dzhugashvilii, better known to the world as "Stalin." While he is usually thought of as being Georgian, and certainly mostly was, there has long been a rumor that he had Ossetian ancestry, even though during his rule, Osip Mandelstam was accused of "anti-Soviet slander" for mentioning this rumor (apparently initially spread by anti-Stalin Georgian nationalist emigres). The basis of it is that a paternal great grandfather apparently did come originally from a thoroughly Ossetian village, Geri. Of course it was Stalin who initially split Ossetia into two halves, making the northern part an autonomous region in the Republic of Russia and the southern one an autonomous region in the Republic of Georgia, within the broader Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Another matter of some controversy involves the origin and identify of the Ossetians, who would like to have their own country (and while Russia helps them in the south, there is now way that help will extend to the north). Their language is clearly of the Iranian branch of Indo-European, related to Farsi/Persian, as well as such languages as Kurdish, Peshto, and Tajik, among others. They are also clearly descended from the Alans, who ran a medieval kingdom in the region for several centuries, only coming to an end with the Mongol invasions of Chingiz Khan. The bigger controversy has to do with the origins of the Alans, with the official Soviet view being (and the most widely held one now) that they were either descended from or closely related to the ancient Scythians of the golden grave mounds. While this view became widely accepted after the beginning of the 19th century, it overturned a competing view that has had some recent advocates pushing for it that the Scythians were of Turkish origin. That view was originally expressed by Herodotus.