This paper assesses state recognition, the practice historically employed to regulate membership in international society, since the United States–led recognition of Kosovo and the Russian-led recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Its main goal is to succinctly examine the question of whether these two controversial episodes have signaled change in the existing norms of recognition of new states. The paper argues that there is not enough evidence for the claims of some observers and governments that unilateral secession is, as such, becoming legitimate internationally. The leading recognizing powers took great care in all three cases to reject the applicability of their decision to other situations of unilateral secession, and they have since approached those other situations as if no acknowledgment of the three territories had taken place. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that the deeply contested nature of these cases has introduced confusion and uncertainty into the practice and that this has had, and will have, important implications elsewhere in the world, in terms of both re-invigorated claims of statehood and the potential for unilateral recognition decisions by powerful outsiders. In fact, it is extremely unlikely that Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008 would have ever occurred without the prior US-led recognition of Kosovo in February 2008.