Though South Ossetia is only recognized by Russia and Nicaragua, it has still allowed Russia to extend its influence by attacking neighboring states. South Ossetia, along with Abkhazia and Transnistria, are puppet entities supported by Russia.
The next puppet state may well be Crimea, which is part of Ukraine:
World Briefing – Europe – Ukraine – Concern About Russia – NYTimes.com
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Tuesday that Moscow had been issuing Russian passports in Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine where Russiaâ€™s Black Sea fleet is based. â€œWe all know that they are handing out Russian passports over there,â€ Mr. Kouchner said in an interview with Kommersant, a Russian online newspaper. The government of Ukraine has said it wants the fleet to leave the Crimean base in Sevastopol when its lease runs out in 2017. But the Russian naval authorities have indicated that they want to retain the base. Mr. Kouchner said Russia might try to make advances in Crimea after the success of its military operations in Georgia in August.
Gap regimes such as Russia rise and fall with hydrocarbon prices. The lower we can keep the price of oil, the less Russia will be able to create this kind of trouble.