This article examines whether several statelets created in the wake of the dissolution of the USSR ― namely, Abkhazia, south Ossetia, and Upper Qarabagh ― do exist as functioning state entities. The authors have tried in particular to see, beyond their capability to survive, to which extent these quasi-states command the allegiance of their population, and they also discuss their claim to embody real nationhood. They notably assess the impacts of wars for independence, through the infliction of massive material damage and the criminalisation of the economy. The ‘economic cost of non-recognition’ is measured through the imposition of embargos by mother states, and through the lack of effective monitoring by international organisations, resulting in absence of transparency in these states. Different attempts of classification according to diverse criteria of statehood provide contrasted results. If from the viewpoint of capacity for defence Upper Qarabagh arrives on top, Abkhazia in the middle and South Ossetia at the bottom, the Abkhaz are also those most determined to establish an independent state. With regards to ethnic and civil nation building, the ethnic discrimination experienced in Georgia and Azerbaijan is commonly evoked as the moral and legal basis for secession, however in none of the three quasi-states is there today a perfect match between the civic and the ethnic nation. Last, if Abkhazia exhibits the highest degree of expressed political diversity, however the Abkhaz democratic institutions lack the economic dynamism and ethnically based unity shown by Upper Qarabagh. Among lateral factors the authors have also retained the stance adopted by the challenger state ― a strong and uncompromising challenger state paradoxically facilitating independent state-building. A second important lateral factor is the role of the patron state: From this viewpoint the Armenian backing of the Upper Qarabagh ― including the support of a prosperous and generous overseas community ― appears far more single-minded and consistent than the support provided by the Federation of Russia to Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia.