What happened
The Kremlin said Sunday that Russia would withdraw its military forces from Georgia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks could begin soon on integrating Georgia, a former Soviet Republic, into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a proposal that Russia angrily opposes. (Los Angeles Times)

What the commentators said
The common assumption is that Russia would not have invaded if Georgia had belonged to NATO, said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial, and that the West should quickly bring the former Soviet republic into the fold to protect it in the future. But that would be reckless, as it could drag us into a “shooting war with Russia” with no vital U.S. interest at stake to justify the price.

Russia’s push into Georgia indeed suggests that the threat of war is greater than “at any time in the Cold War,” said the London Times in an editorial. But that only means that it’s more important than ever to encourage the former Soviet republics to consolidate democratic reforms so they will deserve a spot in NATO. Moscow “seeks nothing less than a veto on further NATO expansion,” so NATO’s principle of collective security is more important than ever.

Clearly Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin views NATO expansion “as an affront,” said Fred Hiatt in The Washington Post. He’s not afraid that Estonia, or Georgia, or even NATO will attack; it’s just that Putin sees “the world as a contest among spheres of influence,” and he doesn’t want to see anything chip away at “Russia’s drive for hegemony.”