A major issue used by Russia to justify its response to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was the need to protect people from being killed by invading forces. Human Rights Watch just issued a report which claims South Ossetian militias are “running wild” in the Georgian occupied part of their land. They are doing to Georgians what South Ossetians claimed was done to them by the Georgian army. According to Human Rights Watch, “South Ossetian militias are running wild, attacking ethnic Georgians” and “it is high time for Russia to step up to its responsibilities as an occupying power in South Ossetia and rein them in.”
Russia has an opportunity to prove that it was correct in meeting the Georgian invasion, but allowing South Ossetia to act in brutal ways, in effect, destroys the Russian argument that it was functioning in a responsible manner in the region.