Then, he sent troops into the ex-Soviet state in violation of the constitution after Tbilisi launched a military assault on the pro-Moscow rebel enclave of South Ossetia.Apparently, the law promulgated after that which increased the number of allowed uses of troops...
Russian law at the time specified that the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, had the exclusive right to send troops overseas. The Federation Council did not meet until after the 5-day war was over.
Under existing law, Russia can only send troops abroad to defend its citizens and allies, to fight piracy, and to protect international shipping routes....but still required prior approval from the Federation Council just wasn't good enough.
So, if one doesn't like the rules, and one has the power to make the rules, it would be pretty silly not to change the rules.
Yes, it is a formality. No, it didn't stop them before and it wouldn't next time.
It is still a step backward for Russian foreign relations if they adopt this "request". The Europeans (in general) have come to consider specific authorization of military force normal.
Sadly, it isn't surprising.