The moment is quite sensitive on both sides – threatening the cooperation with Moscow that the West has come to rely on, but potentially thwarting the global integration of Russia, isolating it, and forcing it to go alone in its search for great power status. If Moscow continues to operate in Georgia, control Georgia's oil future, seek to topple President Mikheil Saakashvili's government, and officially recognize South Ossetia and the more prized Abkhazia republic, then debates in Western capitals are likely to shift to a planning phase, say diplomats.
Already, US officials say, a much-touted civilian nuclear deal between Russia and the US is on hold in the wake of Moscow's heavy-handed attack on Georgia – coming after Tbilisi's Aug. 7-8 attempt to retake South Ossetia. Russia's bid for membership in the World Trade Organization seems dead for now. On Sept. 1 the European Union will hold a summit to deal with humanitarian aid to Georgia, but more crucially, ties with Russia.
Russia fears isolation
Not even China has openly supported Russia's action in Georgia. Isolation may not resonate with Americans and Europeans, who – even if left in the cold by the rest of the world – would enjoy the company of 49 other US states and the 26 other EU members. But it does in Russia – a country whose resurgence, however fitful, is tied to an enormous desire for status, and the creation of wealth via international dealmaking.