As Vladimir Putin heads off to the Olympics as he did in 2014 and his stand-in Dmitry Medvedev did in 2008. Can anyone spot a pattern?

The end result of a month of Russian Foreign Ministry officials scurrying around Europe: all of Russia’s concerns are rebuffed as non-negotiable “non-starters,” Russia is ordered to vacate Abkhazia, Crimea, South Ossetia and Transnistria. Yet today Foreign Minister Lavrov said that while NATO’s recent response was “so ideological, reeking so much of the ‘exclusivity’ of the North Atlantic Alliance, ‘its special mission, its special purpose,'” yet the U.S. response, see below, contains “rational elements”/”a thread of reason.”

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US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs says the US response to Russia reflects Washington’s concern over Russia’s violation of its neighbors’ sovereignty.

“I’m not going to get into what’s the precise language either in our document or in the NATO document. Suffice to say that our document was extremely clear about our concerns about Russia’s own posture, including its violations of sovereignty with regard to its neighbors”, – said Victoria Nuland.