The message sent by Putin to the young independent states of Eastern Europe is clear: enter into alliances with the United States at your own peril. NATO membership? Basing US anti-missile defense systems on your soil? If you think that's the direction you want to go, well, how would you like to go without natural gas and crude oil from Russia then? Or, how would you like your country bisected and your puny military destroyed? Still think the West has your back?
Is The Ukraine next on the hit list? Vlad and his puppet are watching closely at the reaction of the West. They must be pleased with what they see so far. When the United States and the other democracies encourage countries to hold elections and join the democratic republics of the world they are playing a dangerous game if, when the hammer falls on those young states, they do nothing but offer hot rhetoric. The UN? Seriously, Russia has a Security Council veto. Even if the UN was capable of doing anything good in the world they couldn't in this case.
I think the idea that this is a return to the Cold War or that the USSR is returning is a bit off base. Putin is jumping back further in time to the world of the Czars and the Russian Empire, he isn't returning to Soviet-style communism. Is the United States OK with Russia expanding her influence? Maybe. What if it comes at the expense of these young countries who alligned themselves with the West? Is presumptive President Obama cool with Imperial Russia on the march? I would guess that people in the Baltic States and The Ukraine and elsewhere want to be able to remain autonomous. Will the West do anything to help them or will we propose meetings and conferences and resolutions and white paper studies as Russia causes them to submit to her will? Many people are watching. Some are making calculations.
(Pictured: Viktor Yushchenko of The Ukraine- poisoned but not dead.)