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Russia's gains in Georgia may leave it more isolated

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Capital flight from Moscow between Aug. 8 and Aug. 15 – estimated as high as $17 billion – may have caught the Kremlin by surprise, created worry among new millionaires in Russia, and given Mr. Putin pause. "To investors the message is clear," says Pierre Briancon of French daily Le Monde. "Russia has become a major risk."

But for Moscow, isolation is the most unwanted outcome. "We know that isolation is significant because the Russians have complained about it for over a decade," says Charles Kupchan of the New York-based Council of Foreign Relations. "The West has treated Russia like an object and not a player. Russia has sought to be at the table. So now the West faces a catch-22: We can threaten Russia's exclusion from the international community, but that threat is one of the main causes of Russia's anger."

Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the Moscow-based journal Russia in Global Affairs, affirms that the Georgia conflict has isolated Russia. "The big minus is something we previously suspected, but now know for sure: that Russia is completely alone. The notion of 'strategic solitude' has been discussed in our academic journals for some time, but now it's clear that Russia finds itself without any sympathy in the world."

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