RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 AUGUST 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 870K; total deaths 14,606; tests per 1 million 203K. Russia has done 29.7 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. The Health Minister says mass vaccinations will begin by October. Has Russia really won the vaccine race? this researcher believes so and gives his explanation.

KHABAROVSK. Protests continue (video of Sunday’s). A lot of things going on: Furgal was popular, his replacement, while from the LDPR, is unknown in the area, Khabarovsk feels ignored (Moscow is only 700kms closer than Vancouver), outside activists coming in, corruption. Moscow has handled it badly.

RUSSIA INC. Despite the usual predictions from the usual sources, Russia Inc is healthy: big FOREX kitty; low debts. And, furthermore, it’s about the closest thing to an autarky that exists today. Entertaining argument that it can only get better in the rest of the year. It’s just been suggested that there may be even more money available in a couple of oil and gas companies.

PUTINOLOGY. Sarkozy and Bill Clinton agree: he always keeps his word. I agree after years of observation: he says what he means and means what he says.

CHURCH. Some of the Church’s officials live very well indeed. An Abbess was requested to sell her Mercedes. This is drawing some attention. The Patriarch says such speculations “are designed to prevent the spread of God’s word”. Which is not an entirely satisfactory response. In the Yeltsin days the ROC was given a piece of the action of certain imports (tobacco for one) so as to fund itself. That seems to have stopped and revenue today comes from the state, sale of articles for church use and some business entities. Scandals come up from time to time and are forgotten as this one probably will be too. The wealth of religious organisations is not, of course, just an issue with the ROC.

FOREIGN CONNECTIONS. A Constitutional amendment prohibits certain officials from having foreign citizenship or residency permits. A KPRF Deputy says 39 Deputies from the pedestal party have; the Speaker has promised to look into it. Some one else has published a list of officials with a second passport. Quite a few; something to watch: presumably they formally renounce these things or are fired.

MOON. The Roscosmos head says that Russia and China are likely to build a Moon research base. Another sign neither sees Washington as reliable. I note Beijing is becoming blunter: a “bully” “undermining international law and order” “reckless provocation” “conspiracy theories“.

MILITARY. Airborne exercise video and a reminder that they’re the only one that routinely drops AFVs. Eastern Military District. Mediterranean. Sea of Japan. Black Sea. Baltic. Practice and messages.

BEIRUT DISASTER. First Russian aid arrived yesterday, more coming today.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Source of The Dossier finally revealed – unimpressive, to put it mildly. Interesting link with Fiona Hill and Brookings. Even the CIA thought it was junk but the FBI insisted. Comey “went rogue”. (Are we ever going to get to the arrest and handcuff phase of this so that even WaPo and NYT readers can learn what happened?)

DOUMA. The Douma fake CW attack, the FUKUS attack, leaks from the OPCW and its cover-up finally hit the MSM thanks to Aaron Maté and The Nation. Neither fake attack nor coverup news to my readers.

BELARUS. Pretty mystifying. The Russians-sent-to-destabilise story is absurd (vide.) I know that Lukashenka has been playing Russia and the West, I see signs of a “colour revolution” (colours. Slogans). I’ve heard that the arrested Russians were on their way to be security guards for a facility in Libya. Now Lukashenka says US citizens have been arrested and that Putin’s his “elder brother“. It’s smelling to me like a Western regime change operation that hasn’t been very well prepared. I would expect Lukashenka to prevail and suggest he check his immediate entourage.

GERMANY-USA. Little by little the split grows. Some recent German polls show good support for American troop reduction. And good support for reducing dependence on the USA and improving relations with Russia.

FREUDIAN SLIP. “So we can all deter Russia and avoid peace in Europe“.

NORDSTREAM. Washington huffs and puffs, last opposition from Copenhagen over.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Sloppy, sloppy: the latest UK Russian hacker story debunks itself: documents reported in UK media two days before “Russian hackers” “hacked” them!

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

THE REAL “RUSSIAN PLAYBOOK” IS WRITTEN IN ENGLISH

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

I hadn’t given The Russian Playbook much attention until Susan Rice, Obama’s quondam security advisor, opined a month ago on CNN that “I’m not reading the intelligence today, or these days — but based on my experience, this is right out of the Russian playbook“. She was referring to the latest US riots.

Once I’d seen this mention of The Russian Playbook (aka KGB, Kremlin or Putin’s Playbook), I saw the expression all over the place. Here’s an early – perhaps the earliest – use of the term. In October 2016, the Center for Strategic and International studies (“Ranked #1“) informed us of the “Kremlin Playbook” with this ominous beginning

There was a deeply held assumption that, when the countries of Central and Eastern Europe joined NATO and the European Union in 2004, these countries would continue their positive democratic and economic transformation. Yet more than a decade later, the region has experienced a steady decline in democratic standards and governance practices at the same time that Russia’s economic engagement with the region expanded significantly.

And asks

Are these developments coincidental, or has the Kremlin sought deliberately to erode the region’s democratic institutions through its influence to ‘break the internal coherence of the enemy system’?

Well, to these people, to ask the question is to answer it: can’t possibly be disappointment at the gap between 2004’s expectations and 2020’s reality, can’t be that they don’t like the total Western values package that they have to accept, it must be those crafty Russians deceiving them. This was the earliest reference to The Playbook that I found, but it certainly wasn’t the last.

Russia has a century-old playbook for ‘disinformation’… ‘I believe in Russia they do have their own manual that essentially prescribes what to do,’ said Clint Watts, a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former FBI agent. (Nov 2018)

The Russian playbook for spreading fake news and conspiracy theories is the subject of a new three-part video series on The New York Times website titled ‘Operation Infektion: Russian Disinformation: From The Cold War To Kanye.’ (Nov 2018)

I found headlines such as these: Former CIA Director Outlines Russian Playbook for Influencing Unsuspecting Targets (May 2017); Fmr. CIA op.: Don Jr. meeting part of Russian playbook (Jul 2017); Americans Use Russian Playbook to Spread Disinformation (Oct 2018); Factory of Lies: The Russian Playbook (Nov 2018); Shredding the Putin Playbook: Six crucial steps we must take on cyber-security—before it’s too late. (Winter 2018); Trump’s spin is ‘all out of the KGB playbook’: Counterintelligence expert Malcolm Nance (May 2019).

Of course all these people are convinced Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Somehow. To some effect. Never really specified but the latest outburst of insanity is this video from the Lincoln Project. As Anatoly Karlin observes: “I think it’s really cool how we Russians took over America just by shitposting online. How does it feel to be subhuman?” He has a point: the Lincoln Project, and the others shrieking about Russian interference, take it for granted that American democracy is so flimsy and Americans so gullible that a few Facebook ads can bring the whole facade down. A curious mental state indeed.

So let us consider The Russian Playbook. It stands at the very heart of Russian power. It is old: at least a century old. Why, did not Tolstoy’s 1908 Letter to a Hindu inspire Gandhi to bring down the British Indian Empire and win the Great Game for Moscow? The Tolstoy-Putin link is undeniable as we are told in A Post-Soviet ‘War and Peace’: What Tolstoy’s Masterwork Explains About Putin’s Foreign Policy: “In the early decades of the nineteenth century, Napoleon (like Putin after him) wanted to construct his own international order…”. Russian novelists: adepts of The Playbook every one. So there is much to consider about this remarkable Book which has had such an enormous – hidden to most – role in world history. Its instructions on how to swing Western elections are especially important: the 2016 US election; Brexit; “100 years of Russian electoral interference“; Canada; France; the European Union; Germany and many more. The awed reader must ask whether any Western election since Tolstoy’s day can be trusted. Not to forget the Great Hawaiian Pizza Debate the Russians could start at any moment.

What can we know about The Playbook? For a start it must be written in Russian, a language that those crafty Russians insist on speaking among themselves. Secondly such an important document would be protected the way that highly classified material is protected. There would be a very restricted need to know; underlings participating in one of the many plays would not know how their part fitted into The Playbook; few would ever see The Playbook itself. The Playbook would be brought to the desk of the few authorised to see it by a courier, signed for, the courier would watch the reader and take away the copy afterwards. The very few copies in existence would be securely locked away; each numbered and differing subtly from the others so that, should a leak occur, the authorities would know which copy read by whom had been leaked. Printed on paper that could not be photographed or duplicated. As much protection as human cunning could devise; right up there with the nuclear codes.

So, The Russian Playbook would be extraordinarily difficult to get hold of. And yet… every talking head on US TV has a copy at his elbow! English copies, one assumes. Rachel Maddow has comprehended the complicated chapter on how to control the US power system. Others have read the impenetrably complex section on how to control US voting machines or change vote counts. Many are familiar with the lists of divisions in American society and directions for exploiting them. Adam Schiff has mastered the section on how to get Trump to give Alaska back. Susan Rice well knows the chapter “How to create riots in peaceful communities”.

And so on. It’s all quite ridiculous: we’re supposed to believe that Moscow easily controls far-away countries but can’t keep its neighbours under control.

There is no Russian Playbook, that’s just projection. But there is a “playbook” and it’s written in English, it’s freely available and it’s inexpensive enough that every pundit can have a personal copy: it’s named “From Dictatorship To Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation” and it’s written by Gene Sharp (1928-2018). Whatever Sharp may have thought he was doing, whatever good cause he thought he was assisting, his book has been used as a guide to create regime changes around the world. Billed as “democracy” and “freedom”, their results are not so benign. Witness Ukraine today. Or Libya. Or Kosovo whose long-time leader has just been indicted for numerous crimes. Curiously enough, these efforts always take place in countries that resist Washington’s line but never in countries that don’t. Here we do see training, financing, propaganda, discord being sown, divisions exploited to effect regime change – all the things in the imaginary “Russian Playbook”. So, whatever he may have thought he was helping, Sharp’s advice has been used to produce what only the propagandists could call “model interventions“; to the “liberated” themselves, the reality is poverty, destruction, war and refugees.

The Albert Einstein Institution, which Sharp created in 1983, strongly denies collusion with Washington-sponsored overthrows but people from it have organised seminars or workshops in many targets of US overthrows. The most recent annual report of 2014, while rather opaque, shows 45% of its income from “grants” (as opposed to “individuals”) and has logos of Euromaidan, SOSVenezuela, Umbrellamovement, Lwili, Sunflowersquare and others. In short, the logos of regime change operations in Ukraine, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Burkino Faso and Taiwan. (And, ironically for today’s USA, Black Lives Matter). So, clearly, there is some connection between the AEI and Washington-sponsored regime change operations.

So there is a “handbook” but it’s not Russian.

Reading Sharp’s book, however, makes one wonder if he was just fooling himself. Has there ever been a “dictatorship” overthrown by “non-violent” resistance along the lines of what he is suggesting? He mentions Norwegians who resisted Hitler; but Norway was liberated, along with the rest of Occupied Europe, by extremely violent warfare. While some Jews escaped, most didn’t and it was the conquest of Berlin that saved the rest: the nazi state was killed. The USSR went away, together with its satellite governments in Europe but that was a top-down event. He likes Gandhi but Gandhi wouldn’t have lasted a minute under Stalin. Otpor was greatly aided by NATO’s war on Serbia. And, they’re only “non-violent” because the Western media doesn’t talk much about the violence; “non-violent” is not the first word that comes to mind in this video of Kiev 2014. “Colour revolutions” are manufactured from existing grievances, to be sure, but with a great deal of outside assistance, direction and funding; upon inspection, there’s much design behind their “spontaneity”. And, not infrequently, with mysterious sniping at a expedient moment – see Katchanovski’s research on the “Heavenly Hundred” of the Maidan showing pretty convincingly that the shootings were “a false flag operation” involving “an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland”. There is little in Sharp’s book to suggest that non-violent resistance would have had much effect on a really brutal and determined government. He also has the naïve habit of using “democrat” and “dictator” as if these words were as precisely defined as coconuts and codfish. But any “dictatorship” – for example Stalin’s is a very complex affair with many shades of opinion in it. So, in terms of what he was apparently trying to do, one can see it only succeeding against rather mild “dictators” presiding over extremely unpopular polities. With a great deal of outside effort and resources.

His “playbook” is useful to outside powers that want to overthrow governments they don’t like. Especially those run by “dictators” not brutal enough to shoot the protesters down. It’s not Russian diplomats that are caught choosing the leaders of ostensibly independent countries. It’s not Russians who boast of spending money in poor countries to change their governments. It’s not Russian diplomats who meet with foreign opposition leaders. Russia doesn’t fabricate a leader of a foreign country. It’s not Russia that invents a humanitarian crisis, bombs the country to bits, laughs at its leader’s brutal death and walks away. It’s not Russia that sanctions numerous countries. It’s not Russia that gives fellowships to foreign oppositionists. Even the Washington Post (one of the principals in sustaining Putindunnit hysteria) covered “The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere“; but piously insisted “the days of its worst behavior are long behind it”. Whatever the pundits may claim about Russia, the USA actually has an organisation devoted to interfering in other countries’ business; one of whose leading lights proudly boasted: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.

The famous “Russian Playbook” is nothing but projection onto Moscow of what Washington actually does: projection is so common a feature of American propaganda that one may certain that when Washington accuses somebody else of doing something, it’s a guarantee that Washington is doing it.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 23 JULY 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 795K; total deaths 12,892; tests per 1 million 178K. Russia has done 26 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. Russia claims to have a working vaccine that is safe and reliable and that produced antibodies in all who were tested. Mishustin expressed confidence to the Duma. In an amazing development Newsweek actually published this “What Russia Got Right About the Coronavirus—and What It Can Share With The World“.

KHABAROVSK. Two weeks ago the FSB arrested Sergey Furgal, governor of Khabarovsk Region, on suspicion of organizing murders in 2004 and 2005. He was one of the few governors not from the pedestal party but from the LDPR. Furgal was quite popular and there have been significant protests. Doctorow discusses the background: one of his conclusions is that there are misgivings in the Russian Far East about Moscow’s closeness with Beijing. Protest numbers have probably been exaggerated, but are still significant. Perhaps the appointment of another LDPR member as acting governor will calm things down. We will see. A terrorist plot in Khabarovsk was just prevented: would it be too cynical to wonder whether Moscow is telling the good citizens of Khabarovsk how valuable it is to them?

RUSSIA INC. Despite everything, Russia’s FOREX and gold kitty keeps growing – now worth 569 billion USD. Of course, quite a bit is the increase in the price of its gold holdings (about 2300 tonnes).

RUSSIA-EXERCISE. Snap combat readiness test of Southern Military District. Kinzhal launch. Video. Not aimed at anybody or anything, just routine, blah blah blah, but, should anyone be watching…

CHINA. Another conversation between the two presidents about their “comprehensive strategic partnership”. China FM Wang told Lavrov the USA had “lost its mind, morals and credibility”.

NYT BIAS. Historian David Foglesong has written a piece about the long-time Russophobia of the NYT: “propaganda…is not necessarily untrue.… It is a method of emphasis calling attention to that which it is desired to have known”. It is desired to have known. Free media indeed.

WESTERN VALUES™. Today’s bloviation: “America is fundamentally good… America, uniquely among nations, has the capacity to champion human rights and the dignity of every human being made in the image of God, no matter their nation… And to the world, America is the star that shines brightest when the night is the darkest…”. And so on. Does any other country say this sort of thing routinely?

MEDDLING. The CIA has been authorised to make cyberattacks on other countries including Russia. You only do this if you think you’re better at it than your targets; otherwise you’ve just stuck a kick me sign on your back. Are the Americans better at this? Doubt it.

NORDSTREAM 2. Washington is going all out in sanctions; Berlin is determined to finish it. Well, Washington is going to lose this one; then what?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All lies. “The statements by Mr. Strzok question the entire premise of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign and make it even more outrageous that the Mueller team continued this investigation for almost two and a half years. Moreover, the statements by Strzok raise troubling questions as to whether the FBI was impermissibly unmasking and analyzing intelligence gathered on U.S. persons.”

STEELE. Troubles are catching up to him. He just lost a court case in the UK against two Russian bankers over claims he made in the infamous Dossier. The fines plus court costs may bankrupt his company. And more revelations about the worthlessness of the sources of the junk in the famous Dossier. Bit late for this to come out – anybody with a bit of nous knew it was garbage from the start.

BUT THEY’RE STILL AT IT. The UK report is the same old crap from the same old sources (Steele too!) – don’t pay it any attention. GIGO. Flying vampire bats with smart phones. (And Soviet stars – natch.)

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Today’s story is that Russian big wheels were getting the vaccine months ago, I guess we’re supposed to forget last week’s story that Russia was trying to steal our vaccine.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Why do Russia’s enemies fall from balconies? Oops! Can we re-write that?

HISTORY. “Canada’s Nazi Monuments“. And don’t think there aren’t policy implications today.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIANS DON’T WANT TO BE EUROPEANS

Pravda lied to us about the USSR, but it told the truth about the West.

– Contemporary Russian joke

For fifty years, secretly and openly, we wanted to live like you, but not any longer.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

In a previous essay I argued that Russia was not a European country. It was its own thing – a civilisation-state. I used a Toynbeean argument that the history of Europe could be written without ever using the word “Russia” up until the time of Peter the Great. I expected to cause some angst given the associations that the word “European” has accumulated over the five centuries of world rule. Promotion to European status was attractive: vide Mohandas Gandhi looking quite unusual in a stiff collar and tie. Russians felt this appeal especially in the late 1800s when so many rich cultured Russians were to be found in the fashionable watering-holes of Europe that it was worth building churches for their use. The height of sophisticated table service was à la Russe. A Russian was one of Freud’s most famous patients. Russians were especially welcome in France as an ally against Germany.

The Bolshevik coup rather spoiled this trend – even if Soviet Russia became a new sort of ideal for world communists. But with the end of the USSR, the idea re-surfaced. The height of the notion that Russia had “joined” or even “re-joined” Europe was in the Gorbachev years of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, or even from Vancouver to Vladivostok. “A new era of Democracy, Peace and Unity” “a time for fulfilling the hopes and expectations our peoples have cherished for decades”. Attractive, appealing; many welcomed it. But not all: for them Russia, with or without communists, was The Enemy. Whatever Moscow was actually doing – breakup of the Warsaw Pact, collapse of the USSR, taking on the USSR’s debts, moving tanks and guns out of Europe, signing on to every declaration the West asked it to, filling its government with Western advisors – it was just biding its time and plotting revenge.

NATO has proved itself to be peaceful and the West’s CFE commitments add to that assurance. But as Russia recovers and rearms, as history suggests it will, Moscow’s imperialist urge might well rise again. Then it will be too late and ‘provocative’ to redraw the defence line. (William Safire, International Herald Tribune, 3 Oct 1995.)

Russians have no one to blame but themselves for the brutal dictatorship they built in their own country and imposed on their neighbours. (Chrystia Freeland, Financial Times, 29 May 1996.)

Caspar Weinberger issued a powerful warning that American policy makers, in their preoccupation with NATO’s expansion, may be missing the fact that Russia has a truly ominous enlargement initiative of its own – ‘dominance of the energy resources in the Caspian Sea region.’ As he observes in the attached op.ed. article which appeared on 9 May in the New York Times… ‘If Moscow succeeds, its victory could prove much more significant than the West’s success in enlarging NATO.’ (Center for Security Policy, Washington, 12 May 1997.)

As is generally known, Russia has had great difficulty adjusting to the fact that its empire, built by conquest over centuries, disappeared in 1991, depriving it of rich borderlands and nearly half its population. (Richard Pipes: “Russia’s Designs on Georgia”; http:/www.intellectualcapital.com 14 May 1998.)

There is an expansionist mentality among Russia’s ruling elite, deeply rooted in the country’s past, which makes it difficult for them to consider forming a partnership with the West. This almost permanent urge for territorial expansion has at the same time become a scourge for the Russian people, who continue to live in appalling poverty in a country rich in resources. (Jan Nowak “What NATO can do for Russia” Washington Times, 19 Apr 2000.)

Note that the quotations above date from the Yeltsin period. When he left, the whole period was re-marketed, re-polished and re-truthed into a potential golden age:

The U.S. will remember Boris Yeltsin as someone who, despite his limitations, meant well and worked to bring his country back to the family of nations, to freedom and humanity, which have been so often lacking in Russia’s tortured history.

These people won the opinion battle: rather than comity, unity, hopes and expectations, reality recorded NATO expansion, the NATO/US war in Kosova, NATO/US interventions everywhere, NATO/US colour revolutions, NATO/US meddling in Russia’s neighbours, NATO/US wars in the Middle East – the never-ending “serious security challenges” of Russia, Russia, Russia.

Russians today must wonder whether all the welcoming words and happy thoughts were just a fraud to get the tanks out of Eastern Europe. To older Russians, NATO expansion was a military alliance ever closer; to young Russians, a slamming of a door in their faces. To George Kennan, “a tragic mistake“. There’s little point in going through the three decades since the Charter of Paris: none of it happened. I’m not here interested in attempting to ascribe blame – although the importance of NATO expansion cannot be glossed over with piffle like “Just as the origins of NATO expansion were benign, so too has been its impact on Russian security” – but many Russians agree with the bittersweet joke quoted above: Pravda was lying when it said the USSR was wonderful but telling the truth when it said the West was bad.

Years of accusations that Putin kills reporters, shoots down airliners, poisons people, steals money, invades his neighbours, has too many watches, sics his dog on Merkel, gunslinger walk and so on and on: no accusation too stupid to gain eyeballs. Conclusions presented before evidence, evidence too secret to be shown, trials in camera, verdicts pre-written. 2012 “The Dictator” 2016 “Vladimir Putin will always be America’s enemy” 2017 “Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy U.S. Democracy” 2020 “Putin, a criminal and incompetent president, is an enemy of his own people“. The people who called Russia the once and future enemy were on the margins in the Yeltsin period, now they set the tone. You can even get Pulitzer Prizes for making up anti-Russia stories.

One accusation fades, another one appears. Rachel Maddow doesn’t apologise to her audience for all their time she wasted, nor does Hillary Clinton admit she lost the election fair and square. Nor will either apologise to Putin. Silence about the last Putindunnit fraud as we invent the new one: the riots in the USA are out of the “Russian play book“. And, when Russians aren’t met with hostility, it’s the most absurd condescension: Mercouris gives a perfect illustration of Macron trying to treat Putin like a colonial subject come to learn manners.

Well, Russians have figured it out: they weren’t welcome, they aren’t welcome and they never will be welcome. They are forever aliens. A 2014 poll shows it:

Russians’ attitudes toward the United States and President Barack Obama are extremely unfavorable and have grown sharply more negative in the last couple of years. While opinions toward the European Union also worsened, Russians increasingly view China favorably. Russians see China as an ally and the United States and the European Union as adversaries

It is unlikely, to put it mildly, that another 6 years of hysterical Russophobia will have convinced the Russian public that the West is more welcoming.

At the same time Russians – who it should be understood are well exposed to happenings in the West: lots of them travel, lots of them have Internet and can read and see what’s out there – are deciding that the West is not as attractive as they thought it was. Westerners obsess on LBGT issues but it’s far deeper than that. Russia is, by current Western standards, pretty conservative on social issues. Which is to say that it is much as the West was in the 1950s. They aren’t impressed by what they see. In 2004 only 29% thought the West was a “good model” and four years later that had dropped four points. Ten more years of riots, unemployment, police violence, wars and opioids will not have added any points.

So, as far as Russians are concerned, the West has lost most of the attractiveness that, in the USSR days, they thought it had. Rejection, blame, accusations, condescension, insult, propaganda – a fast tarnishing model.

Gordon Hahn, an astute observer, saw this a year ago. For three centuries Russia has been “on its Western journey”. Which, Hahn argues, by entangling Russia in Europe’s ever-shifting alliance patterns and wars, was not much to Russia’s advantage: “a weighty downside”. He concludes that, after the Western rejection of all Moscow’s overtures and after observing the West’s actual practice of its lofty “values”,

Putin’s Russia now rejects the post-modernist West and its neo-imperial civilizational, indeed, ‘civilizationalist’ ambitions in Russia’s neighborhood and beyond. Instead of seeking to be part of the West or defeat the Western geopolitical paradigm, it seeks along with China and, in some respects, India and several more regional powers in building an alternative global civilization to that in the post-modern West, with which Russia, China and others will merely seek to coexist.

Perhaps, one day, he concludes, Russia will turn West again but it won’t be soon. Vladislav Surkov, a man who has been in and around power in Russia for some time, thinks the same: Russia tried the East, tried the West, nowhere has it been welcome.

Russia is a west-eastern half-breed country. (Россия это западно-восточная страна-полукровка.)

We have just had Putin himself call Russia a “separate civilisation“.

I agree, it’s over. The romance has been burned out, trampled on, spat on. We return to Simonyan’s essay. She spent a year in the USA so she’s hardly ignorant of the actuality. The title says it: “Why we don’t respect the West anymore” – it should be read. I think she speaks for a lot of Russians (and many, many others in the world as well).

with all your injustice and cruelty, inquisitorial hypocrisy and lies you forced us to stop respecting you. You and your so called ‘values.’

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 JULY 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 707K; total deaths 10843; tests per 1 million 151K. Russia has done 22 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. RT reports a survey finding that most Russian physicians are sceptical of the official numbers. Its counting rule is strict; a looser rule would create bigger numbers: I don’t take any numbers very seriously. (Vide chaotic UK counting.)

CONSTITUTION. Passed comfortably. The ads I saw varied between happy families and – the one projected on the US Embassy facade – in 1993 we were yours and now we’re ours. Sums up the main changes. As to the term reset many argue that it is designed to kill any succession in-fighting (or foreign fiddling): even if Putin quits after this term, he can still come back. I still see it as a cheap trick.

ESPIONAGE. Ivan Safronov was arrested on Tuesday and charged with espionage. The claim is that he passed information on weapons sales to the Middle East and Africa to Czech intelligence which then passed it the the USA. He denies the charges. He had worked for several newspapers covering space and defence and had been hired by RosKosmos in May. The authorities say they had been watching him for several years (from which we can deduce that the information passed on was probably false – the Russians are very very good at this). Meanwhile it has been officially denied that an exchange is been considered for Whelan (which, I guess, means that it either is or isn’t).

MH17 TRIAL. Hops along to its pre-ordained conclusion: “‘The relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987,’ the judge claimed. ‘In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Konashenkov] can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located‘”. So we’re not going to look at the provenance of the conveniently discovered missile bits; wouldn’t suit the guilty verdict. A farce.

DEJA POO. Let’s make up a story that 1) keeps the Russia enemy theme going 2) can be used to harm Trump 3) will stymie negotiations to get out of Afghanistan and 4) fool the simple-minded. Should run for a week or two and then we’ll come up with something else. Meanwhile, in the real world, survivors or families are suing US companies that paid protection money to Taliban.

ICEBREAKERS. Russia starts an even bigger one. Russia dominates the icebreaker business.

WADA YA KNOW. Der Spiegel dares to question the US/Canadian Russia mass doping story.

MORE SANCTIONS. The UK has just revealed new sanctions against Russians (and others). Moscow says it will retaliate.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Shrinks or slammer. Once the West’s darling. Do you think HRW will get excited about this “sinister reminder of the Soviet legacy of punitive psychiatry“?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Every time I think the insanity has reached the top, somebody shoves it up another notch, the “Lincoln Project” with this absurdity. But then that is surpassed by some Democrat politician: “Wakes up every morning, goes to be every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.” And these people are spectacularly ignorant: Russia is bulging with new infrastructure; even the Moscow Times reports it. Americans get in a tizzy over their enemy du jour but when they kill him (Qaddafi, Hussein) or jail him (Milosevic) they calm down. How much more frenzied can they get?

NEW NWO. Interesting poll about COVID: about half the Europeans polled thought the EU had been irrelevant; 60% said they thought less of the US than before. The pollster concluded that “Europeans have lost faith in the United States in its power and competence to lead the world”.

BIO-LABORATORY. In Tbilisi. What’s the story? Russian Foreign Ministry expresses concern. Russian disinformation. Perfectly OK says Washington. Sinister purposes say other Americans. Even creepier says investigative reporter. I don’t know, but if the purposes are benign, why can’t they be done at home? Fauci-funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan?? USAF admits to collecting Russian genetic material?? Some serious questions here, I think. Certainly one could understand Moscow and Beijing taking a mistrustful view.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Nordstream advances. Washington contemplates sanctions, Berlin, committed to it, bites back. Merkel says Europe has to prepare for a future in which USA not a world power. Schroeder says the sanctions would mark the “definite termination of the Transatlantic partnership“. Copenhagen gives approval for the final bits. An important defiance of Washington’s diktat.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms. They are chosen to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

Every time you think you’ve found bottom, some crazy American digs out another sub-basement. Putin doesn’t care about anything except wrecking the USA. Watch it. And marvel at his ignorance – Russia’s infrastructure is growing fast. When I was a kid in Canada, we all knew they were crazy down there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wreu1QG32k

And then I discover that this guy was saying this during the impeachment thing (anybody remember that?) so he actually precedes my other examples. So I admit — American craziness has actually slipped a bit. But still… I wonder. First thing in the morning, last thing at night. But what does Putin do at lunch? Ah…. got it. think about undermine American allies.

But seriously folks, where and how does this insane, demented, obsessional, failure-driven American anti-Russia hysteria, invention, hyperbole end?

Nuclear war?

 

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms. They are chosen to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, this comes along. From the Lincoln Project (“Dedicated Americans protecting democracy”).

Clinton loses an election, blames Putin, deep state and garbage media chime in, more and more, finally we’re all nuked to ashes.

Martian historians can’t figure out what happened.

Watch the video. (We DEFINITELY need a whole new set of words in English for “crazy”)

As Anatoly Karlin tweeted “I think it’s really cool how we Russians took over America just by shitposting online. How does it feel to be subhuman?”

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms. They are chosen to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

As I’ve said before, in the McCarthy days, there was a bit of reality to the craziness

Trumputin

Daily Kos, 28 Jun 2020

RUSSIA HATERS THEN AND NOW

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Max Planck

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

I’ve been at the Russia business for a while – since the days of Konstantin Chernenko in fact. As I’ve related elsewhere it was the summer of 1987 when I began to realise that things were really changing. Sometime around then I was invited to Massey College to debate with a Soviet diplomat the proposition that perestroyka meant the end of Marxism-Leninism; which, of course, it did. While I saw changes coming and was listened to seriously by my superiors in the Department of National Defence (DND) there were plenty of people who said that change was impossible. One senior guy from Foreign Affairs said his experience in Algeria showed him these regimes could never change and soon after he caused a paper to be produced that argued that the threat of nuclear war over Africa was very high. (!) The last words a local professor said to me was that change was impossible. I used to, when I gave presentations, ask the audience when they thought things were really changing in the USSR. Most of them would say when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Well, I would say, I realized it back then; just think how much farther along I am on the curve.

One of the half-witted theories floating around at the time was the recoil theory. The Soviets were pulling out of Eastern Europe so as to better bounce back and grab it later. Or something; never fully articulated – how could such a daft notion be? – yes, one can’t deny that they were pulling their tanks out but those cunning commies must be up to something. The idea was supported by a KGB defector who said that it was all a huge deception. There was a real outburst of excitement when a lot of tanks were moved out of the CFE area – see! They are cheating! the bounce back is beginning. This faded away when the satellite photos showed the tanks just pushed off the flatcars into the fields. The CFE Treaty requirements for cutting up a tank were very expensive; Moscow had no money so the tanks were sent out there to decay in the rain. (Which they did – one of my colleagues was an inspector and years later saw the sad rusted things). The necessity of pulling a lot of personnel out quickly meant that they were dumped wherever they could be – Norwegians, on one of our visits, worried that there were too many in the Kola Peninsula. And dumped they were – there were reports of officers and their families living in railway cars or even helicopters. Moscow wasn’t trying anything funny: the sudden withdrawals were just very difficult, especially with an economy that was collapsing. But it did what it promised it would do.

Change was happening and senior leadership at DND was open to it: I was given the chance to address the most senior group to make my pitch (1988?); I said that everything I saw indicated that Gorbachev would make a big arms reduction announcement soon. Which he did but, alas, one day too soon for publication of the paper the military intelligence people had written saying I was wrong. (Shortly before the Pentagon had put out a list of Soviet tank holdings which included a thousand or so useful T-10s; the naysayers scoffed at Gorbachev’s promise because, among other cuts, he was eliminating the now useless T-10s – an early case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t). With some opposition from Foreign Affairs, military to military talks were held (the first ever I believe) in 1989. As usual, being in the same business, the military got on well and the sole civilian lay low lest they turn on him. The talks continued and there were port visits as well.

But, there were still plenty of naysayers. For example a man who is today a player in the ludicrously titled Integrity Initiative informed us that all Russians were natural liars. In the Soviet days he’d tried to buy some scarce item, was told there was none and seen it sold to another. Liars every one! No, not liars, a shortage economy: you don’t sell a rare item to some foreigner who can’t do anything for you in return. I’ll bet he’s still telling people they’re all liars. Another now-II guy revealed to me what a complete uncoordinated balls-up NATO’s Kosovo war was; he now sings war songs on behalf of NATO. Another, quite reasonable then, turned ferocious when he lost an argument with me on JRL. Another young guy who’s part of the II slate started out balanced but is now writing Russian horror comics. Now I have some sympathy with young people starting out – I very much doubt anyone today could have the career I had either in government or academia; Russia is the enemy and if you don’t sing that tune, or pretend to, the doors will probably close in your face. But that doesn’t mean that you have to mention the “Gerasimov Doctrine” as if it were anything but obvious projection onto Russia of what NATO actually does. But it’s true: I had a career in which nobody ever told me what the “correct answer” was – other than the good advice I got in August 1991 – and I don’t think you could today. Which is just another sign of the general loss of freedom and deterioration of the intellectual climate of the West.

The August Coup attempt gave many of these a (brief) second wind – I was one of the very few in the government who said it would be a failure; over at Foreign Affairs they were all ready to recognise the junta – almost with, I think, a sense of relief that things were returning to the tried and true.

When I came back from Moscow in 1996 I was invited to one of the regular meetings our intelligence people had with our southern neighbours. One of them said that, he knew he’d been saying this for years, but finally the signs were all there of… a military coup. (In fairness, the others didn’t think much of that. By the way, has there ever been a military coup in Russia? palace coups, certainly, but no military ones). It was at that meeting when I realised that my three years there had given me a lot of on the ground experience – I’d been in grocery stores, watched the evolution of kiosks, seen the decaying Soviet Navy in Murmansk, talked to senior clergy, watched Mayor Luzhkov’s clean-up of the city, stayed in gigantic Intourist hotels in the provinces, flown, travelled by train and so on. Even met a shaman in Buryatia. A huge country and just a tiny bit seen by me but way more than most of the others. I had noticed this before on a visit to Stockholm to give a lecture. The USSR/Russia had been a far-off galaxy and, as the all-Russians-are-liars-guy showed, even some of those who’d actually visited hadn’t been very astute observers.

So the Russia-haters (Russia-fearers?) were active then too. The difference being that they didn’t have the complete influence that they now seem to have. They have persevered, over the years, shouting “Russia is the enemy!” and today they dominate. Maybe, as Planck suggests, we will just have to wait for time; they certainly can’t be argued with as this official statement shows:

Russia has generally followed international law and procedure in establishing the limits of its extended continental shelf. Russia could choose to unilaterally establish those limits if the procedures prove unfavorable and could utilize its military capabilities in an effort to deny access to disputed Arctic waters or resources. (My italics)

If forced to admit that Moscow is playing by the rules, they retort that it’s only to better break them tomorrow. They would pride themselves on having expanded NATO so as to be ready. They are the ones today who say – with no consciousness of irony – that “Russia maintains military presence close to NATO borders“.

Up to, say, 2005 nobody gave them much space because Russia was so obviously finished and dead but when Putin began to bring it back they got more attention. They joined forces with the America-first people: Russia’s contumacy could not be permitted in the post Cold War triumphalism of the New American Century. But what really put these people in the driver’s seat was the Clinton campaign’s excusing its failure by blaming Russia, the compliant corporate media’s amplification of the story and the bogus collusion story from “all 17 intelligence agencies”. You’d think that, with COVID-19 and all the dud “bombshells“, they’d be quietly dropping it, but no: they’re still trying to find that bombshell.

And it’s so easy to be one of them. Just start with the latest unproven charge – Skripal and MH17 are back in the news – then accuse them of being behind something current – BLM, gillet jaunes – throw in a selection of other unproven accusations, election interference, don’t forget a piety about the “Rules-Based International Order”; and presto! another op-ed or output from a NATO churn outfit. You could probably program a computer to do it: an anti-Russian version of the PoMo Generator. Maybe like the people at II you can strike it rich by getting the government to top up your pension in return for a little easy fantasising. The danger is that they’re training up a new generation on this easy and remunerative behaviour and Planck’s change will be postponed another generation.

But Putin turned out to be a Russia-first man, a Russian patriot, determined not to bend the knee. Not the least of the fascinations, by the way, is that the Yeltsin years are now regarded by the Russia-haters as a time when Russia was “on the right path”. Not what they were saying at the time, of course: Russia was menacing its neighbours, throwing away democracy and just generally all-round bad during the Yeltsin years too. Putin has grown and grown to monstrous proportions in these people’s minds as this selection of magazine covers shows. His “playbook” is the One Ring To Rule Them All. He controls the world with his 25¢ Facebook warriors, sowing division in a division-free paradise. Even crazier than the recoil theory!

As for my former employer, we’ve stopped talking to the Russians; we’re maintaining “security and stability” by keeping Putin out of Latvia and honouring nazis in Ukraine. The naysayers won that one too.

Ten years ago I wrote a piece arguing that, after periods of Russia being the West’s little brother and then the assertive enemy, we were coming to a time when Russia would be seen as another country with which to have normal relations. Well, that didn’t happen, The Russia-haters won the debate.

To sum up, a former head of GCHQ said at one of my presentations in the Putin era, “they just don’t share our values”. Russians would probably agree, but not in the way he meant.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 25 JUNE 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 613K; total deaths 8605; tests per 1 million 124K. Russia has done 18 million tests (second after USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. Scientists claim to have a vaccine; tests should be complete by end of July. Putin address: improving but still some bad regions; description of what government did; extension of some special payments. GDP fell 12% in April when “holiday” was begun.

OIL WARS. Seem to be pretty much over. But futures are still low for Saudi Arabia and US fracking.

TAX. For two decades Russia has had a flat income tax of 13% . A brilliant move when introduced, it ended widespread tax evasion almost instantly. But in the speech above, Putin said it will be bumped to 15% for people with incomes over 5 million RUR (US$71K). But still simple and pretty flat.

VICTORY PARADE. Held on the 75th anniversary of the first one. Video. Can’t get these numbers out of my head: Germany invades June 1941; three years later Operation Bagration annihilates Army Group Centre; a year later Soviet soldiers sight-see in Berlin. Has there ever been so quick a turnaround? (Well… Napoleon invaded Russia June 1812, the Russian Army entered Paris March 1814 and invented the bistro. Seems to be a historical lesson there…)

VICTORY. A VTsIOM poll shows 95% think that it was the most significant event for Russia of the 20th Century and 69% think the most significant event in Russian history.

SANCTIONS. “We are not asking for sanctions to be lifted. We are simply improving our resilience and self-reliance.” And so they have; and the newest US sanctions on Syria will be a gift to Iran.

VISAS. It is reported that the simple e-visas for visitors will be extended to all Russia starting next year. ABCA probably excluded.

A WIN. Two years ago the Russian authorities ordered the social app Telegram to give up its secrets; it refused; the authorities ordered it shut down; people kept using it; the authorities have given up after a sort of compromise.What’s the difference? Well, in our part of the world the social media doesn’t resist. Yet another of the many reversals of behaviour I’ve seen since I started in the business in 1984.

INFRASTRUCTURE. Moscow Metro has got quite a bit bigger in ten years.

VIDEO. Short video of Russian scenes and scenery.

PAUL WHELAN. Sentenced to 16 years for espionage; reports that an exchange is being worked out.

WEAPONS. A new Borey-A SSBN Knyaz Vladimir accepted into the Navy. Several new Army weapons shown at the parade. A Ukrainian looked at the equipment on parade and and asked his countrymen how they can believe they’re facing that army in the Donbass; sure would notice one of these things.

GAPS. MacDonald uses a car crash to show the attitude gap between Russian elites and the “little people”. But he has been arrested and could face 12 years. We’ll see.

SKRIPALMANIA. “5 Facts BBC’s ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ Forgot to Mention“, “the only word for that is a miracle“. Propaganda for stupid people with short attention spans.

LESSONS OF THE WAR. Putin’s piece published in National Interest. Official text English, Russian. Apart from an unwillingness to acknowledge that territorial acquisitions in 1939 and 1940 were made to gain strategic space, I see nothing wrong with it. All of it was mentioned by AJP Taylor years ago.

HACKING. Don’t need cunning Russian hackers when incompetence gets the job done.

START. Talks began in Vienna with a childish stunt by the American side. I wouldn’t expect any results: the Americans are fatally deluded. As for the Russians: “We don’t believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever“.Russian has a word for that: недоговороспособны and it’s characterised US behaviour since at least this event (in Obama’s time). Can’t make an agreement with them and, even if you do, they won’t keep it.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. From Canada. Short version: everything we say or do is true; Putin the opposite. (“Mueller indicted Mr. Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency for ‘waging information warfare against the United States of America'”. Oopsies! ) From the Baker of the Maidan Don’t waste your time on the original, Mark Chapman has done the work for you.

BELARUS. Colour revolution in progress? For what it’s worth Lukashenko was in Moscow for the parade and is confident it has been thwarted.

WESTERN VALUES. Hashim Thaci indicted for war crimes. NATO gave him a country.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer