If conditions continue, Georgia will be strangled and President Mikheil Saakashvili will fall, to be replaced by a docile client whom Russia will offer to deal with magnanimously. Moscow will have demonstrated its capacity to destroy a neighboring pro-Western regime without full-scale invasion or occupation and with zero resistance from NATO. Eastern European leaders will observe this outcome with shock, rethink their reflexive move toward the West and, in time, begin to accommodate themselves to Russian ambitions. Every Russian objective will have been achieved.

That is why so much hinges on the next few weeks, a time of maximum pressure on the Saakashvili government. The goal of this war is to demoralize and dominate Eastern Europe. Its outcome depends entirely on one development: whether Russia succeeds in bringing down what it contemptuously calls “the Tbilisi regime.” The fate of far more than Georgia is at stake.