We have already forgotten our righteous anger over the intriguing of outside forces in Ukraine. And it didn't stop us from thinking that our own actions were only for the sake of greater stability in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and everywhere else.
We [Russia] know best, of course, what the former Soviet republics and their citizens really need. They couldn't cope without us. We are a great power and they are our buffer zone and underbelly.
Ukrainian President Yushchenko and his Georgian counterpart Saakashvili
The present Russian-Georgian collision has dispelled any doubts. The linchpin of Moscow's position among the former Soviet countries will be Abkhazia, South Ossetia and, unseen, Transdniestr, Eastern Ukraine and area in similar circumstances. It sounds scary, but it seems to be what's happening.
We don't have any other ways of keeping the West away yet. At least in those places we still pull some weight. We have our own people. We lost Aslan Abashidze in Ajaria, but there's still Kokoity and Bagapsh/Khadzjimba and Igor Smirnov in Transdniestr. We can give Arkady Gukasyan in Karabakh a go if need be to.
And there's still Viktor Yanukovich [who rigged the November 2004 run-off election in Ukraine, which led to the Orange Revolution]. He's not finished yet and is putting out signals that he could use a hand – a sure sign of life.
It would seem that it is a no-lose, irrefutable position. But we have to be morally prepared for to pay the high price of having our own weapons used against us. They'll use our experience and know-how. There are lots more places to do it in. Just the North Caucasus, with its eternal reputation as a tinderbox, is enough. Then we'll remember the old truth that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.