One of the intentions behind Russias ongoing revisionist aggression in Georgia was to send a message to its former republics and vassals in what it considers to be its historical sphere of influence; particularly those gravitating towards a Western orientation and flirting with NATO. Having sent a message, one might naturally expect it to elicit a response. While they have succeeded in spades, it is hardly the response Prime Minister Putin and the Kremlin had sought or imagined. Instead of cowering in fear - with only the sound of chattering teeth to protest as Russian tanks mangled the meager Georgian defenses - those targeted for intimidation have instead stood defiantly against the belligerent Bear. Moreover, not satisfied to settle for mere words to register their defiance, their actions have left no doubt about their resolve and intentions. Following the announcement on Friday of Polands agreement to host 10 American missile interceptors at a base on the Baltic coast, Ukraine offered a series of former Soviet missile early warning radar installations and space control systems for integration into Western missile defenses on Saturday. Putting aside any possible misinterpretations of the Ukrainian offer, President Victor Yushchenko stated, Only a collective security system will provide the highest international guarantees... that could prevent any actions like those which occurred in... South Ossetia. This followed reports that Kiev last week limited the freedom of movement of Russias Black Sea Fleet after ships based at Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula were deployed in conjunction with the Russian overland offensive against Georgia. While the American-Polish interceptor agreement had been in the works for some time, the timing of the announcement in the midst of the ongoing Georgian crisis would appear to clearly signal on which side of the geopolitical fault line Poland sits. As part of the agreement, Poland will receive 96 Patriot missiles to augment its air defense needs. Responding in classic Brezhnev era crypto-Kremlin fashion, Russia's deputy chief of general staff, Gen Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said the US move "cannot go unpunished". Nogovitsyn then went on to say that Russia's military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons "against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them." Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike 100 percent," the General concluded. Moving beyond the West, the response of some of Russias former republics and traditional allies is telling. Normally verbose and unflinching in their support of Mother Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have been uncharacteristically low-key in their response to the crisis in Georgia. Supporting international calls for a cease-fire, the two former Russian republics have been careful not to offend the Bear lest they incur its wraith. At the same time, they and other former republics fear Russia will use the rationale of defending ethnic Russians within their borders as a pretext for action similar to its ongoing occupation and infrastructure-dismantling operations in Georgia. In addition to openly questioning whether it should respect Ukraines territorial integrity along with ominous statements calling for the return of the Crimea back under Russian control, the Kremlin has been issuing passports to ethnic Russians in many of its former republics in the near abroad; thereby granting them citizenship. With growing numbers of its citizens living in its diminutive neighbors, Russia then declares it has a moral responsibility to oversee their interests and insure their protection; much the same rationale Nazi Germany used as the basis for its expansion into Czechoslovakia as well as its annexation of Austria. This seeding-of-sovereignty-via-passport is similar to action taken in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia that exacerbated rising tensions prior to the current Georgian crisis earlier in the year. Taken in conjunction with the cancelation of Russian Foreign Minister Segey Lavrovs previously scheduled trip to Poland in response to the American-Polish missile interceptor agreement, it appears as if the Kremlin has waxed nostalgic for the bygone days of heavy-handed, reactionary Cold War diplomacy. A cold front has roared out of the Russian heartland into Georgia and threatens to seize its neighbors in its icy grip. As the resulting unforeseen and ominous August chill descends on the international tableau, one wonders if this is merely a freak cold snap or the first signs of a long cold winter to come. Bundle up, faithful readers; lest you fall frostbit in the midst of summers glory. Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and temperatures drop precipitously.