Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his decision not to expel American diplomats in response to a similar move by the US.Alexander Mercouris's comments on this episode are worth reading:
The MEP and prominent Brexit campaigner commended Putin on Twitter, describing the move as "mature."
Farage, who has cultivated a close relationship with US President-elect Donald Trump since the US election, went on to say the new administration "can't come soon enough."
This episode also shows something else about Putin, which I have often commented on, but which receives no attention in the Western media because it so completely contradicts the image the Western media has of him. This is Putin's deeply ingrained habit of courtesy. Here we have an example of Putin using it to his and Russia's advantage. That Putin's statement has successfully hit home is shown by the bewildered Western media reaction, which whilst reporting the statement is struggling to come up with a coherent response.
Putin's statement is not of course only or even principally directed at the Western public. A fact which Western commentators consistently overlook is that Putin's primary audience, and the one he always principally addresses whenever he speaks, is the Russian public.
Here again Putin's statement shows what a skilful politician he is, which in turn shows why he has dominated Russian political life for so long.
His response to Obama's boorish actions on the eve of the New Year holiday (the biggest and most important holiday in Russia) is to call them a "provocation" . He then makes Russia - and by extension himself - appear all the stronger and greater by refusing to be provoked by them. At the same time he makes Obama appear vindictive by revealing how his actions have disrupted the New Year holidays of Russian diplomats and their families. He then contrasts this by making Russia - and again by extension himself - appear open hearted and generous by not only refusing to respond in kind but by inviting the children of US diplomats to the New Year and Christmas parties in the Kremlin.
This is a very skilfully judged response, which will only only serve to confirm the already high opinion most Russians have of Putin, and which will further consolidate their support for him as their leader.
This incidentally has been the consistent pattern throughout Putin's Presidency, with Putin always turning the West's attacks on him to his domestic political advantage.
All in all, if this episode shows Obama at his most ugly and small-minded, it also shows Putin at his most skilful and most clever.
Since a consistent feature of Obama as President is that he always wants to be taken for the cleverest man around, Putin's reaction - showing Putin once again to be cleverer than he is - is all but guaranteed to enrage Obama even more.