When Russia formally recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions eight years ago this week, it was a harbinger.
Coming just weeks after Russia's August 2008 invasion of Georgia, it was an ominous signal that Moscow was intent on escalating its campaign of bullying of its neighbors.
It telegraphed the fact that the Kremlin intended to treat the sovereignty of its former Soviet vassals as conditional at best.
It was a signal to the West that Moscow was going rogue, it was breaking bad, and it wasn't going to even pretend to play by international rules anymore.
As a result of the recognitions, and subsequent militarization of the two regions, one fifth of Georgia's territory remains effectively under Russian occupation.
And despite the fact that only Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the Pacific Island of Nauru followed Russia's lead in recognizing the separatist regions, the move set a precedent for future Kremlin behavior.
You can draw a direct line connecting Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, its annexation of Crimea, and its invasion of the Donbas.
Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia eight years ago this week was the exclamation point at the end of Russia's invasion of Georgia.
And it was a clear warning -- unheeded at the time -- that more of the same was on the way.
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