Since the early 1990's Georgia has attempted to regain control on its separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia while Russia adopted the divide et impera policy. The content of armistice agreements (1992, 1994) reflects Georgia's military defeats.On former Soviet Union territory, peacekeeping forces are tolerated by Moscow only when composed of Russian troops or of parties involved in the conflict. As neutral representatives, Moscow accepts but (few) observers.Even though status quo could have been prolonged, one ought to doubt whether the conflict around Georgia could have been resolved peacefully. Both sides considered the military option. Moscow was waiting for an occasion to lure Georgia into a trap.If South Ossetia was recognized as a de facto regime it could claim its right to self-defense and call upon Russia for help. Russia invoked this claim only incidentally. If, however, South Ossetia was not a de facto regime Georgia's use of force against irregular groups cannot be considered as aggression and does not fall under the self-defense concept of Article 51 of the UN Charter.The Russian operation had no legal grounds in the UN Security Council decision and did not meet the conditions for humanitarian intervention, nor those for a preemptive operation. Russia's only plea was the defense of its armed forces attacked in South Ossetia (self-defense, Art. 51 UN Charter) but the scale and the territorial reach of Moscow's reaction was excessive. And meaningful is the fact that Russian troops also entered Abkhazia.Russia called upon the protection of its citizens abroad and invoked its Constitution as well as the concept of 'responsibility to protect'. This last argument cannot be accepted because it refers to the state's obligation to protect its citizens within its territory.Recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia by other states will be hard given the universal disapproval of Moscow's decision. Contemporary international practice is reluctant to recognize a seceding entity against the wishes of the state from which it has purported to secede.The presence of Russian troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the basis of agreements made by Russia with these entities (September 17th 2008) contravene earlier armistice agreements (August 12th and September 8th 2008).