Georgia's example in breaking with its Soviet past inspires many Ukrainians. Georgian reformers from former President Mikheil Saakashvili's Cabinet have taken high-profile posts in the Ukrainian government recently. Saakashvili himself is widely seen as a candidate for the job of chief corruption fighter in Kiev.

So perhaps the Ukrainian government and its Western allies should also consider the experience of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia in resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which is again escalating. Perhaps the most immediate lesson from Georgia's short war concerns the provision of U.S. weapons to Ukraine, which U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary recently backed. Before the 2008 war, in which Russian troops overran Georgia's territory in five days after Georgia shelled the pro-Russian breakaway territory of South Ossetia, the United States had already provided weapons and trainers for Georgian troops.

From 2002 to 2009, Georgia received $693 million in U.S. security assistance and used the money, among other things, to buy military vehicles, radios, and surveillance and detection equipment. During the George W. Bush administration, Georgia received $132.5 worth of weaponry, mostly small arms and light weapons. The U.S. refused the anti-aircraft and other high-end arms that Saakashvili pressed for, but Georgia bought drones from Israel and anti-aircraft systems from Ukraine.