COLUMBIA - The immediate cause of the Russia-Georgia conflict is that certain Georgian provinces, such as South Ossetia, are trying to become independent territories. Georgia is trying to prevent this, while Russia is defending the provinces' right to become independent.
The larger issue involved is that Russia is attempting to maintain its influence over the former Soviet Union. It wants other sovereignties, such as these territories in Georgia, to recognize Russian dominance in the region.
Russia has long been unhappy with Georgia's willingness to embrace the West; the country has expressed interest in joining NATO, an effort that has offended and insulted Russia. This is contributing to Russia's unwillingness to support Georgia in the conflict in South Ossetia.
Source: Dr. Susan Sample, professor at the University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif.