From the Los Angeles Times:
A senior U.S. official involved in Russia policymaking vehemently denied that the administration had sent mixed messages, arguing that although Saakashvili had long received strong support from the most senior American officials, Georgians were warned not to engage Russia militarily.
“We have consistently, and on Thursday also, urged the Georgians not to move their forces in. We were unambiguous about it,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity when discussing private talks with the Georgians. “Saakashvili had always told us he could not stand by while Georgian villages were being shelled, and we always knew this was a point of pressure. We always told him that he should not give in to the kind of provocations we knew the Russians were capable of.”
But Phillips said he believed that even if the State Department was warning the Russians, the Georgians heard a different message.
“I think the State Department was assiduous in urging restraint, and Saakashvili’s buddies in the White House and Office of the Vice President kept egging him on,” Phillips said.