Western powers, stunned by Russia's rapid overrunning of a tiny neighbor, backed Georgia. They mediated a cease-fire and negotiated a pull-back of Russian forces from Georgian territory into the two breakaway regions. But that unity has broken down over the past three years as the US has embarked on a controversial "reset" of relations with Moscow, and European countries, beset by their own troubles, have divided over how to press for a regional peace settlement.
A US Senate resolution this week reaffirmed American support for Georgian sovereignty and called on Russia to end its "occupation" of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That triggered a harsh response from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who said in an interview Friday that the US Senate was feeding what he called a growing "revanchist mood" in Georgia.
More ominously, Mr. Medvedev also revived the old Russian suspicion that the US may have encouraged Georgia to attack South Ossetia. "I don’t believe the Americans had urged Georgia’s president to invade. But I do believe that there were certain subtleties and certain hints made, which could have effectively fed Saakashvili’s hopes that the Americans would back him in any conflict," Medvedev said.
The view from Tbilisi is that, despite its swift defeat, Georgia withstood the might of giant Russia in the conflict and proved that it made the right choice by turning away from Moscow and toward the West in the 2003 "Rose Revolution," which brought Mr. Saakashvili to power.
But for Russians, who triumphed over a pesky pro-West neighbor, the attitude is that Saakashvili is an illegitimate leader, perhaps a puppet of US interests, and that no meaningful peace negotiations can occur until he has gone.