The whole Russian response — from the news reports to Peskov’s warnings to Lavrov’s comments to Putin’s ultimate announcement — looks more than a bit choreographed and calculated.
Part of this is domestic. It’s an effort to portray Putin as the kind and wise tsar who overrides the advice of his hotheaded advisers.
Part of it is an effort to make Putin look like a magnanimous winner at home and abroad.
But most of it is part of an elaborate chess match as stewardship of the U.S. relationship passes from Obama to President-Elect Donald Trump in three weeks time.
For what it’s worth: President-elect Donald Trump has tweeted his approval of Putin’s decision, suggesting the Russian president is really smart.