Invasion Shows Putin's Clout

Ex-president retains control
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2008 5:49 PM CDT
Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting in Vladikavkaz, the provincial capital of the region of North Ossetia that neighbors Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia, on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
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(Newser) – Russia’s military campaign in Georgia is a clear signal that Vladimir Putin is neither gone nor forgotten, reports the Wall Street Journal . Domination of the Caucasus region has long been a central tenet of Putin’s foreign policy, and the PM was especially visible this week, supporting the invasion and berating the US. The invasion—both sides have agreed to a cease-fire for the time being—proves Putin will draw a hard, bloody line against NATO expansion.

Russia sees its support of South Ossetia as justified because the West backed independence for Kosovo over strenuous Russian objections. Moscow now calls for like independence for pro-Russian breakaways, but Putin has clear ulterior motives, and the region is worried. “That's why we wanted to be in NATO,” said Estonia’s president. “That's why Georgia wanted to be in NATO. And still does.”