It is impossible to understand the creation and continued survival of de facto states without reference to external actors. External patrons provide vital support and the international system constrains and shapes these aspiring states. The relationship is, however, not one-sided, and these entities are not merely puppets. In fact external dependence creates significant dilemmas for de facto states: it undercuts their de facto independence and contradicts their strategy for gaining international recognition, thereby undermining their long-term sustainability. The dilemmas facing de facto states have been accentuated by the recent recognition of Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.