The shock across the world is palpable.
The actions of the Putin regime are simply outrageous.
No state that defies Russia, even within its own borders, can now be considered beyond Russian interference, up to and including acts of war against civilians.
The Bear believes itself invulnerable and will maintain violent pressure, legal, or illegal in any way it sees fit.
This is an unquestioned return to the evil ways of Stalinism, and can only be resisted by any freedom loving people.
In my view Russia has already put itself outside the civilised world. Unless and until the Russian Federation withdraws its troops to the status quo ante and agrees to enter substantive talks. then NATO should make quite clear that it will not recognise any puppet regime put in place by Russian bayonets in Tbilisi. It should also impose blanket sanctions are all levels, including those I suggested previously.
I notice that the meetings today were explicitly G-7- so I guess Russia is already expelled from the former G-8. Exit from the Council of Europe, and breaking off of all EU-Russia military co-operation talks, must of course follow. Unilateral American withdrawal from Cold-War era agreements, such as START may also bring home to the Kremlin the seriousness with which the West views this.
If Georgia can continue to resist, then it should be made clear that all material humanitarian assistance will be granted, including equipment requested by Tbilisi. If Georgia falls, then Moscow should face a diplomatic freeze out- entry to the WTO will be suspended indefinitely, membership of all European financial and diplomatic bodies, including the OSCE, suspended. Financial sanctions should follow: for example, suspension from the BIS.
Since it is clear that Russian holdings of US securities constitute a potential threat to US financial stability, I believe it is actually imperative that Russia derives no benefit- Lawyers tell me that there are appropriate measures under various acts that could be invoked. I agree that this is difficult- but it is not insurmountable and must be addressed.
Russia is clearly an aggressive enemy- Perhaps the one, single, positive feature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that NATO troops are well prepared- Russia may have taken advantage of the distraction of the West to conclude a deal with China and unleash bloody war on Georgia, but they have now played their hand. The West must now consider its own cards.
No one can now doubt that Putin and his regime are a threat to global peace. Now we are warned, we can begin the fightback against this outrage.
To end Russian hegemony to Georgia is now the first battle against the expansionist thugs whose KGB and GRU days were not so far in the past as we had hoped.
We did not permit the Gestapo to take power in Germany after the fall of Hitler, it now seems crazy that we even hesitated when the Siloviki returned to power in Post-Soviet Russia. We will need to deal with the consequences of such folly until Russia either comes to its senses or is brought under control.
Until then, a Second Cold War is inevitable.