There will surely be lots of interesting commentary on Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia, but in the meantime I found this story in Saturday's New York Times fascinating. As the Times' brilliant Russia correspondent, C.J. Chivers, reports:

Russia held a high-level meeting with the leaders of two breakaway republics in Georgia on Friday, and vowed to increase its support for the separatists if Kosovo declared its independence and was recognized by the West.

The meeting, coupled with vocal warnings in Russia’s Parliament that it would react strongly to a declaration of independence by Kosovo, threatened to push the Kremlin and the West into a fresh and potentially volatile standoff over the status of separatist territories in Georgia.

Nothing too surprising here, but I had not seen this reported before:

The military, diplomatic and public relations campaigns in the region have all the while been layered with intrigue.

One of the most prominent fighters in the Abkhaz war against Georgia, for example, was Shamil Basayev, the Chechen separatist and terrorist who became Russia’s most wanted man.

Georgian officials have said that Mr. Basayev’s career as a terrorist began as a proxy in Abkhazia for Russia’s secret services, and that his presence in the war was a mark of Kremlin sponsorship and duplicity.

Basayev was one of the principals behind the attack on a Russian school in Beslan four years ago, which killed almost 400 people (Chivers' Esquire article on the subject remains one of the best pieces of journalism of the last several years). And yet now the Russian government is supporting an insurgency Basayev once helped lead (he was killed two years ago).

--Isaac Chotiner