Okay, let's recap this:
In 1999, a province of a Russian ally, Serbia, decided to declare independence. In response, Serbia sent their troops into that province to reassert control. When bombing of Serbian troops by U.S. bombers did not result in Serbian troops leaving a Serbian province, the United States started attacking civilian targets within Serbia itself -- bridges, water treatment plants, and the occasional Chinese embassy. This forced Serbia to withdraw their troops from their province of Kosovo, and U.S. troops poured in as "peacekeepers" to take their place. During all of this, Russia was fussing big-time about Western meddling in the former Yugoslavia, saying that Kosovo was a Serbian internal matter and the West should just butt out. The United States ignored Russian objections. Kosovo recently declared independence and its independence is now recognized by the United States and most Western nations, but not by Serbia or Russia.
Okay, let's fast forward to 2008. In 2008, a province of a U.S. ally, the Republic of Georgia, had declared its independence some time back. Georgia sent its troops into the breakaway province of South Ossetia to reassert control over the breakaway province. Russia responded by sending its own troops into South Ossetia just as the U.S. sent its troops into Kosovo, and by bombing Georgia just as the U.S. bombed Serbia. And, just as Serbia had to do in Kosovo, Georgia apparently has now been forced to withdraw its troops from the breakaway province of South Ossetia. And just as the U.S. ignored Russian objections to the U.S. breaking away part of a Russian ally to turn it into an independent nation, Russia is ignoring U.S. objections to Russia breaking away part of a U.S. ally to make it into an independent nation.
It's payback time for Russia. They've played the Kosovo playbook, except in reverse. And it's unclear that there's anything to be done about it. The U.S. cannot seize the moral high ground here -- the Russians did not do anything in South Ossetia that the U.S. did not do in Kosovo. And just as Kosovo wasn't worth starting WWIII for Russia, South Ossetia is not worth starting WWIII for the United States. If this were a chess game, both sides just pushed their king's pawn forward by two spaces in reciprocal moves. Now we get to wait and see the next move in this geopolitical chess game... and oh, too bad about all those dead bodies, huh?
-- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin