Several prominent commentators, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, argue that Russia's invasion of Georgia had been planned for some time. Steven Blank of the Army War College noted last year that Russia's 2007 withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe put Georgia directly at risk. The Treaty had constrained troop movements in the region; Russian analyst Pavel Felgenhauer notes that last July the division which invaded Georgia carried out similar exercises just to the north.
Last spring NATO denied immediate membership to Ukraine and Georgia, but held out the possibility of future accession. This decision, which was designed to placate the Russians, may instead have emboldened them, notes Steve Pifer, former US ambassador to Ukraine.