In a clear response to Vladamir Putin's thrust against Georgia, the US and Poland reached quick agreement on a long stalled deal to place a missile defense base on Polish territory.
Funny how a little aggression from Moscow works wonders on concentrating the minds of those Polish negotiators:
Putin will now reap what he has sown. There has been talk of offering NATO membership to both Georgia and the Ukraine although it is not likely that Georgia will be accepted until the final status of its breakaway provinces is settled formally. NATO does not want a war waiting to happen from one of its new members, hence the status agreement regarding South Ossetia and Abkhazia has to be completed before the west would place its umbrella over Georgian sovereignty.
Russia reacted angrily, saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States that have already been strained severely in the week since Russian troops entered separatist enclaves in Georgia, a close American ally.
But the deal reflected growing alarm in countries like Poland, once a conquered Soviet client state, about a newly rich and powerful Russia's intentions in its former cold war sphere of power. In fact, negotiations dragged on for 18 months - but were completed only as old memories and new fears surfaced in recent days.
Those fears were codified to some degree in what Polish and American officials characterized as unusual aspects of the final deal: that at least temporarily American soldiers would staff air defense sites in Poland oriented toward Russia, and that the United States would be obliged to defend Poland in case of an attack with greater speed than required under NATO, of which Poland is a member.
This is an extremely modest step - only 10 missiles will be deployed. But the symbolic significance cannot be lost on Putin who must now think twice before launching any more aggression.