As I was away while Georgia and Russia were having a "warlet" I've had a little time to think about the two sides and their various claims.
The first thought that struck me when I it all kicked off was to wonder what the Georgian president's motivation was. I don't know that much about the region or it's history, but I know that South Ossetia is a chunk of territory that projects into Georgia itself - but that alone doesn't automatically mean it is Georgian. The people of South Ossetia seem determined not to be part of Georgia. They appear to enjoy a degree of autonomy at the moment although they are clearly under the umbrella of Russia which seems to have been doing all it can - prior to this war - to promote themselves as protectors to the South Ossetians.
Since the war began the media coverage seems to have focused on how horrible Russia has punished poor little Georgia "disproportionately". Considering the lengths the media go to to appear "balanced" in their reporting of our armed forces actions in Iraq and Afghanistan they have presented a peculiarly one sided view of this dispute - but the fact is that Georgia started it by launching an all out assault on South Ossetia. Just because they got their sorry arses severely kicked by an obviously superior Russian army isn't reason to side with Georgia - Georgia were the aggressors.
Yes, Russian jets and tanks have killed civilians, but there is no suggestion that they deliberately set out to do so and Georgia were equally guilty of indiscriminately lobbing artillery shells into civilian areas.
The way I see it, South Ossetia is a little like Northern Ireland. A chunk of territory that should - if geography was the only measure - be part of Ireland (to argue that this is sufficient is like saying that Scotland or Wales should be part of England). The ROI sees NI as its own, but the people of NI prefer to remain British. Like South Ossetia they enjoy a degree of autonomy and the protection of a powerful military. Like South Ossetia, NI has "peacekeepers" from that powerful benefactor based on its territory.
To me, the Russo-Georgian war is a little like Ireland launching an assault on Belfast - artillery barrages, tank assaults and motorized infantry - which kill British subjects and British soldiers. If that were to happen, what would be the British response? Should we just allow it to happen or should we defend ourselves and our citizens? Although I doubt the capability of our armed forces to respond and succeed to the degree Russia has against Georgia, I would expect - should they actually win - to see those forces advance into Ireland to establish a buffer zone clear of Irish forces to ensure that they can not launch a counter offensive. That makes perfect military sense.
The South Ossetians don't want to be Georgian. I don't care what the UN or international law says about the borders, if those people prefer to be Russian rather than Georgian then that is their decision. If the UN declared that NI should be part of Ireland I would hope we would have the self-respect to tell them where to go.
Russia is not a nice neighbour to have, but I can't blame them for doing what they did. I still wonder what the Georgian motivation was - they must have known they'd be crushed in any military encounter so why did they do it? I can't help feeling that this was a deliberate ploy by the Georgian president (who I find incredibly sinister) to provoke anti-Russian feeling in the west and start a new Cold War and I can't help thinking he has succeeded.