Last month, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, and most of the NATO countries recognized it. Russia condemned this as an illegal and dangerous precedent and hinted that it might recognize other breakaway states like Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But early next month, Russian president Vladimir Putin will show up at the NATO summit in Bucharest in one of his last official acts before passing power to the president-elect, Dmitri Medvedev. He will not have recognized Abkhazia or South Ossetia. He was only bluffing.
It sounded serious at first. Early this month, Russia ended the trade restrictions it placed on Abkhazia and South Ossetia when they declared their independence from Georgia in the early 1990s. Moscow is very angry about the way that NATO and the European Union have dismantled Serbia without permission from the United Nations, and it wanted to make a point.