It's tempting to look at the bombastic Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky as nothing more than a clown and a buffoon.
But he's not. He's more of a court jester and a messenger.
He says the things the regime is thinking -- but can't always say out loud.
And this is the context we should view his outrageous -- and outrageously insensitive -- comments last night in response to the terrorist attacks in Brussels.
Speaking on Russian state television, Zhirinovsky said -- and I am quoting here: "Now there will be attacks across Europe -- and this benefits us. Let them die and die."
Zhirinovsky's comments were merely the most blatant and over-the-top telegraphing of how Moscow plans to play yesterday's attacks in Brussels.
In a tweet earlier in the day, Aleksei Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, accused NATO of fighting an imaginary Russian threat while terrorists are killing people in Brussels.
And with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arriving in Moscow today for talks with Russian officials, we should expect this message to be delivered again -- albeit much more diplomatically.
And that message will be: Forget about Ukraine, forget about Nadia Savchenko, forget about Crimea. We have a common enemy, so let's fight them together.
And if that doesn't work, well then there's always the message that respectable and diplomatic people won't say out loud.
You can always count on Moscow to try to spin a horrible tragedy to its advantage.
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