Stalin (a Georgian) in his awfully twisted wisdom redrew the map of the Soviet Union when he was in charge, and gave the Georgians some of Ossetian and Abhasian land (called South Ossetia and Abhasia). After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ossetians and Abhasians who technically lived in Georgia because of Stalin's map wanted to break away from Georgia just like the Georgians broke away from Russia. For some reason, Georgians felt like attacking the Osetians and Abhasians for it in 1991, but these break away regions put up such a resistance that Georgia began actually losing its land to these different ethnic groups. The Russians stepped in as the peace keepers and maintained more or less a peaceful truce untill now. On August 7th Georgia, emboldened by U.S. military and political support and training (did you know your tax money was paying for it?) launched a surprise all out attack (Blitzkrieg style) on South Ossetia, completely obliterating its capital and killing by some estimates about 1600 civilian Ossetians. Russians are now simply retaliating against the Georgians, and since Saakashvilli is losing militarily, he is portrayed by the American media as champian of democracy being crushed by Russia's invasion. Somehow i am not surprised about this propaganda. I lost all faith in the U.S. media and government after Bush came to power and invaded Iraq on false pretenses.Pavel also sends this link from the Guardian and this blog post.
Addendum: Bob Lawson, Economist at Auburn University, offers what he thinks is probably something akin to the Georgian point of view in response to Pavel's comments.