The Northern part of Ossetia is in Russia, the south in Georgia. Tensions there have been simmering ever since Georgia seceded in the 1990s. Russia gives financial and military support to an active independence movement in South Ossetia and has handed out Russian passports to people living there. but Georgia sees South Ossetia as an integral part of Georgia. And the Georgian President has staked his political life on it. it's not clear who started the fighting in South Ossetiaï¿½the Georgians say it was the separatist forces and their Russian backers. Georgia says it has shot down two Russian fighters and Georgia has acted in self-defense. The Georgian President compared the situation to some of the Soviet-era conflicts of the past. The Georgian President says he wants peace and development and not trouble, especially with Georgia's powerful neighbor. Moscow says the Georgian military is the aggressor and says they're sending in troops simply to protect their civilians in Ossetia and south Russia. Russia's President accused Georgia of embarking on a dirty venture. Russia is not happy that Georgia wants to join NATO, and the expansion of the US-led military alliance is viewed with unease in Moscow. The US and EU are calling on all sides to step back. Georgia is strategically important to the US for a number of reasonsï¿½geographic, transportation, and political. Still the US needs to be careful according to this analyst, and Russia and Georgia needs to compromise to find a resolution. She says Georgia's military would lose big in an all out conflict against Russia and if the conflict in South Ossetia continues to escalate, it could encourage other independence outbreaks in the Caucuses.