To no one’s great surprise, in his first extended remarks on the subject today, President Obama treated the MH17 disaster as another reason for a “deescalation” of the regional conflict with Russia taking the lead. Since that’s been the object of the enhanced sanctions on Russia that he discussed directly with Vladimir Putin yesterday just as news of the crash broke, it’s natural that Obama is more focused on that “silver lining” of the incident than on affixing blame. And it offers Putin a face-saving exercise after a very bad moment when all the recent talk of his brilliance and competence as compared to Obama seems hollow.
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