It was during the 2008 Presidential race that Russian forces invaded the Republic of Georgia, and even then-Senator Barack Obama’s advisors were shocked by how weak his reaction was. Still, five years after the Russian invasion, Obama’s drive to better relations between Washington and Moscow has shown few if any results. Obama seems unable to understand that far from seeking to reset relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin sees the world as a zero-sum game and seeks to humiliate the United States.

White House attention might be on Russia’s behavior in Syria, especially in light of the Syrian regime’s alleged chemical weapons strike, but Putin’s trip on Sunday to the Russian puppet state of Abkhazia should be seen in the same light.

In the aftermath of the war, Russia formally recognized both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, breakaway regions of Georgia, as independent states. No one but Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru have recognized the two breakaway states, and Nauru only did after Russia gave them a substantial bribe to do so. That Obama cannot even leverage his influence for a U.S. ally when the international community is so firmly on the same side says a lot about how unsuccessful Obama’s strategy has been, and why so many countries have become so reticent to stick their necks out as loyal allies for the United States.