Experts told the McClatchy Newspapers group that the invasion seriously harmed relations between the United States and Russia and raised concerns that Moscow could try to re-exert influence over other parts of the former Soviet empire.
"Everyone is just shocked that Russia invaded another country," said Michael McFaul of Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "We're already on a slippery slope."
McFaul told McClatchy Russian leaders are "demonstrating that when push comes to shove, they can push and shove and we can't," he said. "They believe they can dominate this region."
Moreover, the United States needs Russia's help on several issues, including strengthening U.N. sanctions against Iran for its refusal to back away from its uranium enrichment work and ensuring North Korea abides by its denuclearization agreement.
"There is no question that the Bush administration will want to ... express its disapproval and to downgrade the relationship," Charles Kupchan, an ex-White House adviser now with the Council on Foreign Relations, told McClatchy. "But at the same time, the United States doesn't want to shoot itself in the foot."