From the Wall Street Journal:
There is of course a long line of goons happy to take military, energy or economic handouts from the Kremlin, though the dramatic drop in oil prices and Russian stocks will limit its ability to buy people off. Mr. Lukashenko could well be holding out his support for cheaper natural gas. But Russia’s erratic and aggressive behavior in the Caucasus has apparently given even him pause about its possible intentions against Belarus. In addition to Mr. Ortega, Russia did manage recognition by Hamas, Hezbollah and the Moldovan regions of Gaugazia and Trans-Dniester. But that is little solace for a Kremlin whose bigger goal in the war was to declare a Monroe-ski Doctrine for its “near abroad” and lead a new anti-American block. Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, summed up the strategy: “Our long effort to become part of the West is over. The aim now is to be an independent power in a multipolar world in which Russia is a major player.” It’s hard to be a major player when all you have is very minor friends.