First test:

Russia is playing a game of cat-and-mouse with Georgia that could quickly turn deadly. The Kremlin has never been happy with Georgia’s pro-Western preferences and was infuriated by its push for membership in NATO. Because of Moscow’s fierce objections, the Atlantic alliance decided last month to postpone membership talks with Georgia. Moscow saw that as confirmation that its bullying and threats work — and decided to bully and threaten even more. First, Russia announced plans to strengthen ties with two pro-Russian breakaway regions in Georgia — Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Last week, it sent hundreds of extra “peacekeepers” to Abkhazia.

Russia’s new president, Dmitri Medvedev, who was sworn in on Wednesday, needs to move quickly to calm things down. There are questions about whether Medvedev will be his own man or just a creature of President Vladimir Putin, and this would be a way to prove his independence. NATO needs to work with both sides. France and Germany, which argued for putting off Georgia’s membership, have a special responsibility. They can start by sending envoys to meet with Medvedev and make clear that they, and the NATO, are committed to Georgia’s security — and will bewatching how he handles this first crisis. — International Herald Tribune