Arts & Letters Daily has several background pieces on the conflict that are worth reading. Because they don't do permalinks, I'll list them here: one from the New York Times, one from the Washington Post, and a second from the New York Times.
Gwendolyn, in the comments below, offered this, which I see is also endorsed by Michael Totten (himself en route to the Caucasus region).
Charles King, in the Christian Science Monitor, has a perspective on the conflict that would like to offer conditional support to Russia. I pass it on out of respect for the publication and a willingness to hear everyone out.