By going to war with Georgia, Russia is drawing a new Iron Curtain.
A new Iron Curtain is being drawn around Russia. It's not so impregnable or wide as the Soviet one. But Moscow's willingness to war with NATO-aspirant Georgia sends this clear message to the expanding West: Thus far, and no farther. Given Russia's strength, the West has few options.
Neither the US nor any other NATO country will fight Russia over Georgia's two tiny separatist enclaves – South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia invaded South Ossetia Aug. 8 after Georgian troops tried to reassert influence there. Meanwhile, Russia's sending reinforcements to Abkhazia. Both territories have been protected by Russian peacekeepers since the early 1990s, when they broke from Georgia in bloody rebellions.
Neither does the West have much diplomatic or economic leverage with oil- and gas-rich Russia, whose autocratic regime has broad support from a population satisfied with stability.
As Russia's swift and deadly military response in Georgia shows, the West has underestimated – indeed sometimes aggravated – Moscow's fears about growing Western influence eastward.
Over the last year, Europe and the US pushed ahead with Kosovo's independence from Russian ally Serbia. While this may have been the right thing to do, it happened over the Kremlin's vigorous objections. And the US has not relented on anti-missile installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.