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West mulls few options in Georgia-Russia crisis

It gingerly considers how to set consequences for Russia and maintain cooperation.

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Vice President Dick Cheney's travel next week to Georgia and other former Soviet republics has the potential for both bridge-building and bridge-burning.

Mr. Cheney, known widely for his hawkish foreign-policy views, leaves Tuesday for stops in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Georgia, which a reassertive Russia deems to be within its sphere of influence. Cheney's departure will be a day after the European Union takes up the Georgia-Russia crisis in an emergency summit.

The West is gingerly trying to decide how to calibrate consequences and maintain cooperation with Russia, which seems less prone to cooperation and more reactive to consequences. While the West might promise stronger commitments to countries in the former Soviet space, such pledges risk further complicating any Russian cooperation.

The West puts value on a Russia that is still needed in the fold of the international community – and is a source of energy.

How the West proceeds could affect the balance of power in a newly nervous Central Europe. It could also affect the course of international crises as varied as Iran's nuclear program and the Middle East conflict.


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