The explosion of violence in South Ossetia took the world by surprise, but Russia and Georgia had been gearing up for war for months, reports the Wall Street Journal. Both sides had been steadily boosting their military presence around South Ossetia, waiting for the trigger that came with Ossetian shelling of Georgian positions.
Each side blames the other for the build-up of forces in the already tense region, with Georgian officials saying their troops were there only as a deterrent. Georgia's President Saakashvili says he did not order troops to take the South Ossetian capital until he heard reports of a convoy of Russian military tanks moving in. Russian officials say Saakashvili's account is "nonsense," and he had been waiting for any pretext to strike.