It is responsible for economically troubled South Ossetia and may have spurred the European Union to seek alternative sources of energy.
Although both countries claim the military exercises are simply for practice, some wonder if the old dispute is again flaring.
The war with Georgia has many calling for North and South Ossetia to unite.
As EU monitors arrive, new details contradict Russia's assertion that Georgia invaded South Ossetia first.
Moscow is offering Abkhazia a set of economic benefits, on top of a security guarantee.
Georgian President Saakashvili called for international mediation over the breakaway region in a conflict some see as East vs. West.