The Georgian border guard confirmed that Russian border was closed to westerners, but said that we could go and try if we wanted. When we got to the Russian side, no one spoke English and the mood was pretty tense. Another traveler came up and introduced himself in excellent English, and I explained to him about the rally and how we were trying to donate the car to a charity in Mongolia. He spoke to the guards for a few minutes, and after that the mood completely changed. I filled out the paperwork as Ed was plied with coffee and pastries, and offered a shot of vodka. We made it through!