The first or second file on Dimitry Medvedev’s desk when he becomes Russia’s president on Wednesday will be the increasing likelihood of a border war with Georgia. A week in Tbilisi last December didn’t qualify me to decipher the competing claims of aggression and provocation now poisoning the relationship between the two countries, but for what it’s worth, Russia’s skittishness is greater than it would already have been because (a) its ally, Serbia, lost Kosovo through a UDI that Canada (eventually) supported; (b) Georgia is a candidate for NATO membership, extending the alliance right to Russia’s border. Its candidacy is supported by Canada.
For what it’s worth, I supported recognizing Kosovo’s independence and I think Georgia may, eventually, be a valuable NATO member. But the stakes are non-trivial: the whole point of NATO is that if one member is attacked all must respond, a doctrine whose potential cost the Kremlin is eager to demonstrate.