If Russia does move ground troops into non-breakaway parts of Georgia, then we are looking at instability and potentially the opening of a new 4GW theater of conflict (note, the link is one of the first about Georgia we did here at FutureJacked, but I believe the implications still obtain).
UPDATE: from Stratfor, Red Alert Intelligence Guidance: The Conflict in South Ossetia. Excerpt - "...The Russians hold a trump card with the Americans: Iran. They can flood Iran with weapons at will. The main U.S. counter is in Ukraine and Central Asia, but is not nearly as painful.Tactically, there is only one issue: Will the Russians attack Georgia on the ground? If they are going to, the Russians have likely made that decision days ago.Focus on whether Russia invades Georgia proper. Then watch the former Soviet states. The United States and Germany are of secondary interest at this point."
UPDATE: from Stratfor, South Ossetia: Moving Russian Forces In. Summary - Russian armor has reportedly made it through the Roki Tunnel into South Ossetia, a critical move to secure the south end and protect the key logistical route into the breakaway territory. And Russia has still other options for moving its forces in.
UPDATE: Stratfor has a page dedicated to the Crisis in South Ossetia
UPDATE: from Stratfor, Georgia: Russia Bombs Vaziani Base
UPDATE: from Stratfor, South Ossetia: Chechens Ready for Deployment
We've discussed the Russia-Georgia-Ossetia-Abkhazia situation for over a year. It's gone back and forth, but always rhetorical vollies and threats. The bullets are now flying.
It's on:Georgia begins offensive in South Ossetia
from the AP
TBILISI, Georgia: Georgian troops began a major military offensive Friday to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia, and the president accused Russia, which has close ties to the separatists, of bombing Georgian territory.
The fighting was the worst outbreak of hostilities since the province won de-facto independence in a war that ended in 1992, raising fears that war could once again erupt and draw in Russia, which has peacekeepers in the region.
A Russian official denied bombing Georgia. But the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, said the Georgian attack would draw retaliation, and the Defense Ministry pledged to protect South Ossetians, most of whom have Russian citizenship...
Keep your eyes on the BTC Pipeline. It will be interesting to see how the Georgian troops hold up.
I'll post snippets from Stratfor as this develops. They seem to have good intel in the region.