RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 SEPTEMBER 2017

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack” finally got the VIPS analysis into the mainstream. (Briefly: Guccifer 2.0 documents were locally downloaded and doctored to give a Russian flavour). Has this killed the story? Maybe: the MSM has been shrieking about other things since. (And the interminable US investigations inch closer to the truth.) Normal hysteria returns: “Putin’s Hand Can Clearly Be Seen In the Chaos of a Destabilized West“. Amazing how powerful these people think he is, isn’t it? Nothing is beyond his reach (except Kiev and Vilnius.)

DIPLOMATIC PROPERTY. A complete violation of the Vienna Convention: “Article 22. The premises of a diplomatic mission… are inviolable… The host country must never search the premises…”. Washington has set a precedent that will come back to bite it: what’s to stop any country that thinks it’s on Washington’s target list from doing the same? Incredible. Who’s in charge?

BRIDGE. The Kerch Strait bridge rolls along. Here’s the railway arch being moved into position and the first ship passing under it. Here’s an amusingly one-sided account of things from the Daily Signal.

ZAPAD 2017. NATO is giving itself a major case of the fantods over this exercise “close to its borders”. The website so you can follow yourself: 14-20 September in Russia and Belarus, 13K troops, 70 aircraft, 250 tanks, 200 guns and 10 warships. “Anti-terrorist” of course – aren’t they all these days? – “The exercise stipulates that some extremist groups have penetrated… “. They have them every four years.

QUAGMIRES. Shortly after Moscow began its intervention in Syria, Obama opined “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work“. Well, yesterday Damascus broke the seige of Deir ez-Zor which probably marks the beginning of the mopping up phase. In short it’s not a quagmire and it did work. The US involvement in Afghanistan, on the other hand, is about to enter year 17, getting on for twice as long as the Soviets were there. That is a quagmire and that hasn‘t worked; the Pentagon isn’t even sure how many soldiers it has there: 8.4K, 11K or more? Russia has had three military actions this century – Chechnya II, Ossetia and Syria – all victories; all US military interventions have been failures. What’s the difference? I would suggest that Russia initiates military violence with a clear plan 1) to do only what violence can do 2) that is integrated with a diplomatic and civil program for the things it can’t and 3) coordinated with reliable allies on the ground. When it has done what it set out to do, it stops. Washington, on the other hand, 1) expands its aims after the initial success far past those that violence can achieve 2) has a negligible diplomatic effort and 3) its allies on the ground turn out to be phantasms of the Washington echo chamber. Added to which, I do not believe that the US military is nearly as competent as its cheerleaders think it is; I suspect it resembles the post-Vietnam mess I saw on exercises in Germany in the 1980s. Maybe even “hardwired for failure“.

ISRAEL. Jerusalem seems to have understood its defeat sooner than Washington. Iran has a much stronger presence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq thanks to two decades of calamitous interventions. It is argued here and here that a nervous Netanyahu received a dusty answer from Putin in Sochi: Iran is Russia’s “strategic ally in the Middle East”.

BRICS. The summit communiqué is rather blah except for 10 and 11 which deal with finance and currencies. There’s a story that China “is preparing to launch a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan and convertible into gold“. This would be a strong blow to the power of the US dollar and, by extension, of Washington itself. When Kennan warned against the “superficial and ill informed” decision to expand NATO I don’t think he foresaw all the downstream consequences. Beijing, famous for long-term thinking, took a warning from it too. Newton’s Third Law of geopolitics.

OOPS! It will be at least 2024 before the US can replace the Russian rocket motors. Carefully excluded from Congress’ sanctions bill of course.

KOREA. Has there been much mention in your local news outlet of the US-South Korea exercises of 21-31 August which, they say, sometimes include practising “decapitation strikes”? (The media often leaves out important synchronicities.) I’ve heard that North and South will meet in St Petersburg. We shall see; there is a solution to the problem: what Beijing calls “double suspension“. And it probably doesn’t require Washington: Seoul could agree to stop the exercises and tell some of the 35K+ US troops to leave. Putin has strongly condemned Pyongyang’s tests: “a flagrant violation“.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 AUGUST 2017

THE NEW NWO AND RUSSIA. This is very much worth reading. The authors argue that in the coming (well, already here) rivalry between the American maritime power and the Chinese land power, Russia is the swing player that can hand victory to one or the other: “So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance”. Well, logic’s voice isn’t loud enough for the US Congress to hear. Also interesting is their discussion of Germany’s choices and the important role Saudi Arabia could play if it changes protectors again. (I too wondered this two years ago.)

PUTIN’S POPULARITY. Some Western academics asked “But is his popularity real, or are respondents lying to pollsters?” and concluded “Putin’s approval ratings largely reflect the attitudes of Russian citizens.” I didn’t bother to read their paper because I know – as does any serious observer – the answer already. Of course he’s popular: he is the leader of a team which has achieved a tremendous turnaround in Russia’s situation. Since 2000 all indicators are up. I wish we could say the same in our part of the world.

RUSSIA INC. GDP grew 2.5% year-on-year in the second quarter; this is the highest growth since 2013. PMI is up to 52.7. Inflation is the lowest in five years.

USSR DEBT. With a payment to Bosnia, Moscow has paid off the last of the debt it inherited from the USSR. When an earlier agreement that the 15 would divide the debt fell apart, Moscow took responsibility for all of it in return for USSR assets abroad. It did this despite the fact that its creditors insisted on repayment while many of its debtors could not pay. The total was about USD80 billion and many debts to it were forgiven. I well remember how glad we all were that it took responsibility for the debts as well as the other leftovers: weaponry outside, nuclear weapons and its guarantee of Russian citizenship to any Soviet citizen who wasn’t automatically given citizenship where he lived. It was only later that the last three were rebranded as evidence of imperialistic intentions.

DEMOGRAPHICS. There has been a small net decline in Russia’s population this year after several years of growth. We will see if this is a bump or a trend. (Although Karlin, who is much more knowledgeable than I, predicted a return to “normal” rates two and a half years ago.)

AGRICULTURE. The Agriculture Minister estimates the grain harvest will be 110 million tonnes which would leave as much as 40 million for export. So Russia will presumably keep the title of number one.

VISA RETALIATION. My take: I believe Moscow is ready to follow Washington right down to zero representation is that’s where it goes. But, if the Russiagate bubble bursts (probably the most severe blow is the exposure of the Guccifer 2.0 fake by VIPS) then the original pretext will burst too and things can get back to normal.

MAKING WATER RUN UP HILL. Lithuania is getting LNG from the USA and Ukraine coal from the USA. More expensive but supposedly for security. Well, whatever: if they want to pay more, let them. Of course in all likelihood they will “pay” with IMF or EU loans. Payback’s a problem for later.

CHANGE OR BLIP? The Prime Minister says Riga is interested in better relations with Moscow and a Polish poll shows number who regard Russia as a threat down about 50% in 3 years. After all, despite years of “Europe faces a ‘real threat’ from Russia” Russia still hasn’t conquered anybody. But that just makes some people shout louder: “The growing Russian military threat in Europe“.

TRUMP KEEPS AFGHANISTAN GOING. Reinforcing failure. Trump Vows To Leave A Better Afghanistan For Nation’s Grandchildren To Fight In. The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama. And if it really was short skirts, then there’s a lot more to that story than he, or McMaster, probably know. Today the Americans get their supplies in via Pakistan or the Central Asian countries (through Russia). Washington has made threatening noises at Pakistan and Russia. How then?

CHICKENS, HOME, ROOST. Torchlight parades in Kiev, Riga, Tallinn. And now Charlottesville. “Nationalists” there, but “Nazis” here. Some historical background for the Ukraine case; Baltics.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Newsweek discovers a new bottom level. “Charlottesville’s Alt-right Leaders Have a Passion for Vladimir Russian Federation President Putin“.

UKAINE. More signposts of disaster. Ukrainians now spend 50% of their income on food; not poverty says the Minister of Social Policy fatuously but because they like to eat well. The Economist rates Kiev among the ten least liveable cities. Did Ukraine supply the rocket motors to North Korea? And, I’ve mentioned this before, but the longest-lasting effect of the Kiev coup may be a nuclear disaster.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

DIPLOMATIC RECIPROCITIES

(Question from Sputnik about my thoughts on Moscow’s reaction to the US visa slowdown.)

The cynic would say that, after the reduction, the US has too few staff to spare from plotting Putin’s overthrow to do normal diplomatic duties. Or maybe it’s some half-witted notion that, deprived of a chance to go to Disney World, the Russian population will rise up and overthrow Putin and let the US Navy into Sevastopol at last. It is however somewhat ironic, given the American confidence in the superiority of their own system, that they would want to make it harder for Russians to experience such a superior exemplar of freedom and democracy.

As to Russia’s retaliation, the diplomatic business is based on reciprocity or so, in my experience, is the Russian practice. So there will be some retaliation and one that will likely astonish Foggy Bottom

My belief is that Russia has realised that, as Putin told Stone, individuals may change but the US system does not. Given Washington’s support for opposition figures, its predilection for interference, its funding of GONGOs hostile to the Russian government, military actions in the neighbourhood, oft-stated declarations of enmity culminating in the latest sanctions, I would expect that Moscow is ready to follow Washington all the way down to zero representation if that’s where it goes. Moscow has less to lose than Washington.

One can always hope that a more sensible approach will win out but that hope is ebbing away as Trump makes more and more concessions to the War Party and his “why not make friends with Russia” thoughts are washing away.

If — one never wants to completely give up hope — the Russiangate nonsense is blown up thereby destroying the pretext for the original US actions, then maybe we can get back to something normal.

(But I would still advise Russia — as I would other countries — to insist on exact reciprocity of numbers and to expel all American GONGOs so as to reduce the capacity for mischief.)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 AUGUST 2017

THE SANCTIONS. The hypocrisy is thick: NordStream 2 (257.a.9) is specifically targeted; damage to NASA (237) is carefully voided. (NASA needs the Russians to get to the ISS and to launch things but European allies can freeze in the dark. Take that, Europeans, it’s for your own good! “You can’t… ask for a bigger U.S. military commitment… while… oppose nonmilitary coercive measures“). The effect of anti-Russia sanctions since 2014 is that Europe has likely suffered more than Russia and certainly more than the USA; Russia has used the sanctions (and its counter sanctions) to increase domestic production (see below) whereas Europe has just lost markets. Well, we’ll find out whether Europe has the feet to stand on that Merkel thinks it has. Russia has many ways to respond and, as Jeffrey Carr has pointed out, Congress has shown it where to hit hardest. Another thing to find out is whether Moscow decides it’s had enough – as Medvedev suggests – and that it’s time to make its “partner” hurt. (Some responses: no more rocket engines, no overflights, no supply line to Afghanistan, no US NGOs, no Russian investments in USA, no accepting US dollars in trade. But Putin & Co will probably come up with something cleverer than anything I can think of). They will be a drag on Washington’s foreign policy for decades: “never recognize” Crimea in Russia (257.a.3)? well, they’re going to have to some time. I am collecting negative reactions on my site. They’re another step on the downward trajectory of the USA: they will drive a wedge between Europe and the USA; push Russia closer to China; may even lead to a rapprochement between Europe and Russia. But short-sighted outbursts are to be expected in the final days I suppose: Congress’ war with Trump displays a contemptuous indifference to its allies’ interests. (Mercouris argues that Trump’s signing statement hints at a Supreme Court challenge: very plausible given that there is nothing to the Russia collusion story – even the WaPo seems to be backing off – and that Trump will be able to appoint more SC judges.)

SANCTIONS EFFECT. Russian statistics tell us that the share of imports in the retail sector is 36%, the lowest since the 2008 crash. Food imports are down to 24% from 34% in 2014. The percentage of imports in various categories: cereals 0.2%; sausages 1.6%; flour 1.8%; poultry 4.1%; pork 8.3%. Gessen will be glad that cheese imports are 27.7%, but sad that they’re down from 48.4%. Sanctions work: just not the way the US Congress thinks they do. Altogether, it’s probably fair to say that Russia is now self-sufficient in food. And production is only going to become bigger: the potential of Russian agriculture has never been tapped; serfdom, the village mir and collectivisation were not very productive.

CORRUPTION. The trial of the former Minister of Economic Development has begun. He was caught red-handed taking a bribe they say. I believe he is the highest ranking official yet to be charged: some – Luzhkov and Serdyukov spring to mind – have been accused of things and been fired, but no charges laid. We are told that 45,000 people have been convicted of corruption crimes over the last three and a half years and about 350 officials have been fired this year and the same last year.

VILLAGE LIFE. Someone who often lives in the Russian countryside blasts another NYT-Russia-is-an-unchanging-nightmare piece. Agreement from an American happily living in a village.

PHOTO OP. Putin and Shoygu, alone but for photographers, go fishing in Tyva; they forget to pack shirts. Western media goes nuts. (DMail) (USA Today) (Daily B) (AP) (Fox) (Time) (Sky) (WaPo) (TorSun) (News.com.au) France 24) (Telegraph) (You look for the rest). Maybe he really is “the most powerful man in the world“. Bare-chested Trudeau and Obama are ever so dreamy, but bare-chested Putin isn’t: CrazyLand is bigger than I imagined. (Do you think Putin is messing with their minds?)

THE THREAT. Pew has an international survey out asking about leading security threats. The following NATO members name US power as a greater threat than Russian or Chinese: Canada, Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey. USA is named first by 19 countries, China by 9, Russia by 7. This is a competition that the US has won every time out of the gate. And rising. Interesting, eh? And after all that propaganda, too. NATO StratCom needs more money!

UKRAINE. The disaster continues. In 2001 its population was 48.5 million. Latest official estimate is 42.5. Examination of various consumption statistics suggest that this estimate is too high. About 2.5 million are in Russia and another 1.5 million in Poland. At some point, for a country constructed out of bits and pieces of other states, depopulation will become geopolitically significant.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Is Trump Finished?

Written for Edward Lozansky’s expert group 25 July 2017 (http://us-russia.org/5064-any-advice-to-trump.html)

Conventional opinion has been wrong about Donald Trump every chance it has had. He wasn’t seriously running; he’d never get the nomination; couldn’t possibly win the election; would be impeached, declared insane, would quit, was failing, was a Putin stooge and on and so on. Therefore absolutely nothing in the MSM or conventional thinking about him is worth a millisecond’s consideration: whatever conventional thought thinks is wrong. I know of only one person who has successfully read the Trumpian tea leaves and he is today saying that Trump is on the point of complete victory. Read Scott Adams; don’t waste your time with those who have been wrong every time before.

That having been said, I have been reading Adams on Trump for more than a year now and have seen him get it right time after time. If he says Trump is on the verge of victory, I believe him. I waste no time on the opinion of pundits who will be wrong again.

I was encouraged by Trump’s oft-stated intention of having better relations with Russia and his statement in his Inauguration Address that “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone…“. For too long Washington’s real message has been the threat, however fragrantly wrapped, “Do what we want or we’ll destroy you”. Twenty years of this has destroyed many countries: it has also (not that the destroyed are sorry about it) weakened the United States itself: Iran’s power and influence has spread, Russia and China are allied, other long-time allies are looking away, the US itself is debt-ridden, quarrelsome and stripped of the manufacturing power that made it so mighty. I believe that Trump understands this on some level.

But I am dismayed by his adulation of the winners of the “U.S. military’s marathon, 30-year, single-elimination, suck-up tournament“. I am disturbed by his evident belief that jihadist terrorism – that product of takfiris like ibn Taymiyya and al Wahhab – finds its headquarters among Twelver Shiites. Many of his personnel choices are very disturbing: people who in no way can be seen as making the change that he promised. The resistance of the Deep State to his attempts is frightening (although it may be significant that one of his latest tweets is that it is not merely a “swamp” to be drained but a “sewer”. Many people pull against him. But I haven’t given up hope yet (and, indeed, developments in Syria give hope.)

Putin had similar problems when he, an outsider, was dropped into the Moscow swamp and here the Saker advises Trump to emulate Putin.

Putin was underestimated too. Here are two opinions that look pretty silly today:

Psychiatry recognizes a condition known as ‘moral idiocy’. Every time he opens his mouth in public, Putin confirms this diagnosis for himself.

                                                                                                       (Andrey Piontkovsky, 2000.)

And

Putin, of course, is no Peter. The KGB lieutenant colonel who was abruptly bumped into the presidential throne of a nation in total disarray comes nowhere near ‘the Great’ in ambition, potential, drive or physical height.

                                                                                                          (Serge Schmemann, 2000.)

Getting to the end of the book

In the as yet un-written “History of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire”, the recent sanctions (if enacted) will come as the conclusion of the third-last chapter. The chapter after that will be entitled “The Fall” and the final “The Aftermath”.

One hopes the book will be written by humans and not by aliens studying our radioactive remains.

“Anti-Russian Sanctions Bill ‘Will Result in a Tectonic Break Between US, Europe'” (Sputnik)

“Europe is a scapegoat in the US sanctions war against Russia” (Oriental Review

“Trump’s ‘America First’ vs. McCain’s ‘America Last’” (David Goldman)

“Imperial Folly Brings Russia and Germany Together” (Escobar)

“The U.S. Sanctions Bill Is a Win for Russia” (National Interest)

Les sanctions américaines poussent la Russie à abandonner le dollar – Le vice-ministre des Affaires Etrangères Sergei Ryabkov(REF)

“Let’s Cut Them Off From Space’: How Russia Could Strike Back at US Sanctions” (REF)

“Collateral Damage: U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Strike Western European Allies” (REF)

“The New Russian Sanctions Bill Is Washington’s Monument To Its Criminality” (PCR)

“The U.S. Empire Continues to Stumble Towards Ruin” (REF)

“US new anti-Russian sanctions point a dagger at the heart of Europe” (REF)

“Time for Europe to Stand up to US Hawks on Russia” (Neil Clark)

“Why US Sanctions Bill is the Last Straw for Russia, Iran, North Korea” (Gilbert Mercier)

“Sanctions, Smoke and Mirrors from a Kindergarten on LSD” (Saker)

“Is Trump Set to Sanction Our Dreams of Peace?” (Phil Butler)

“New Russian Sanctions Show Putin Exactly Where To Retaliate” (Jeffrey Carr)

“Milk-Bar Clausewitzes, Bean Curd Napoleons: In the Reign of Kaiser Don” (Fred)

“House Passes New Russia Sanctions, Pumps Adrenaline Into Cold War 2.0” (Ron Paul Inst)

“On Russia sanctions, Trump has a point” (Ignatius WaPo)

“How the World May End” (John Pilger)

“Isolated Trump Flails Helplessly as He Bows to Irrational Policies on Russia and Europe Imposed by Congress” (Jatras)

“US Sanctions — a Looney Tunes Bad Remake”(Wm Engdahl)

“How Russia Could Strike Back Against US Sanctions In 4 Simple Maps” (REF)

“Between Cersei and Daenerys” (Israel Shamir)

New Sanctions Against Russia – A Failure Of U.S. Strategy” (MoA)

“KUNSTLER: ‘Russia Sanctions Will Blow up in America’s Face'” (REF)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 JULY 2017

WESTERN VALUES™. I am weary of supposedly independent international surveys in which Russia is always near the bottom. At last Denis Churilov has taken the trouble and effort to consider the methodology and “independence” of one of them. Specifically the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. RWB turns out – amazingly enough – to get money from the usual American GONGOs: USAID, NED and, of course, Soros. In short, what they used to call a “front” in the Cold War. Churilov looks at the methodology of the rating – selected people, subjective impressions – practically guaranteed to produce the “correct answer”. Then he looks at the answer in which – of course! – Ukraine scores much better than Russia. Churilov then itemises how preposterous this ranking is. These things are part of the propaganda war and should be seen as such.

MAKS. The military airshow is over. Video. The PAK FA showed off. First deliveries next year.

SPENDING THE MONEY. Some spiffy urban projects in Moscow.

HISTORY. This year’s pilgrimage to the site of the Romanovs’ murder in Yekaterinburg.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Newsweek has had to retract two false articles after a lawsuit. A Clinton advisor doesn’t blame Russia. Neither does the US Senate Minority Leader. The intensity of the insanity is shown by a poll that finds only 6% of US population is concerned about Russia while 75% of media coverage is about it. Only Democrats believe it, and not that many of them. Maybe the end is coming.

NEW NWO. As a quondam historian I know that empires take a long time to build up and a long time to decline. That having been said, I remain stunned by the speed of the US decline. It has only been a couple of decades since the neocons triumphantly proclaimed a New American Century and Brzezinski drew the map of how to get there. “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran… Averting this contingency… will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill” said he. Well, that skill wasn’t displayed, was it? But why would he think it was skill? The very program of American domination everywhere could only result in the formation of a resistance alliance. It is precisely the actions – arrogant, ignorant, one-sided, short-sighted, over-reaching and… failed – of the neocons and their humanitarian bomber allies that brought this about. The tectonic plates shift; here’s this fortnight’s collection.

CHINA The standout was Chinese warships in the Baltic. After passing through the Med (Chinese and Russian ships “prowling” the Med is old hat now.) And, For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything‘” And, China will be involved in rebuilding Syria. And will be creating a base in Djibouti. A Chinese military thinker brightly explains this as the “fanbian” strategy of approaching your enemy from a different direction. Or, bluntly, do things in the South China Sea and we’ll do things close to you. (When will we see a Russian-Chinese “freedom of navigation” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico?)

TURKEY. Germany is leaving İncirlik. Reports say Ankara wants to buy S-400s and that negotiations proceed. (I cannot believe Russia would sell even an export version of a crown jewel weapons system to a NATO member so I don’t know what to make of the story. Of course they will take some time to arrive…) A Turkish news agency leaked details and locations of secret US bases inside Syria. The coup attempt was a year ago; many in Ankara blame Washington; the aftershocks continue.

MENA. Iraq and Iran signed a defence cooperation agreement. Iraq will be buying Russian tanks. The Iraqi VP in Moscow said a Russian presence in Iraq would bring balance to the whole region, He thanked Russia: “if it were not for the Russian stance, the region would be fully destroyed… and in the end it would lead to the fall of Baghdad.” Looks as if another American ally is tiptoeing out of the room.

SYRIA. Russia entered the war nearly two years ago. There is no doubt that that changed everything. Washington has ended the CIA funding for rebels in Syria (it says, has it really?). And pretty extensive it was too, if this report be true. Most of these weapons eventually got to – if they weren’t directly delivered to – Daesh. Which is one of the reasons the Iraqi VP is saying what he is saying. The Putin-Trump ceasefire seems to be holding and I suppose Netanyahu’s dislike of it is evidence that it is. The Russian navy will be conducting exercises all month off the Syrian coast; in short, lots of air defence and strike missiles available.

SAAKASHVILI. Has been stripped of Ukrainian citizenship; he’s lost Georgian already so he’s a refugee I suppose. Ah, how thankless to be yesterday’s regime change hero!

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Syria: a crack in the Western facade?

[Response to a question from Sputnik on what I think of the reports out of the Élysée. Published https://sputniknews.com/politics/201707181055633335-macron-russia-china-syria/]

If these reports are accurate, I think that we are possibly (possibly) in the early days of important changes regarding the West and Syria. But inertia is a powerful force.

Hitherto Paris was one of the main centres of the “Assad must go” cry. But Macron seems to have dropped the condition. The Western consensus used to be that the Syria question must be settled from outside. Settled by the Western powers, that is: not with Russian involvement, let alone Chinese and certainly never with the involvement of the Syrian government. Macron’s remarks about involving the P5 as well as Damascus changes this position too. Moscow and Beijing will have their say (even if the latter is a silent partner).

Moscow has insisted, over and over again, that important issues can be only settled with the involvement of all parties and, in particular, the UN. And, however short the UN may have fallen from its lofty intentions, it cannot be denied that there isn’t anything any better. Two decades of the hyperpower and its minions making up the rules have, to put it mildly, had little success. The stupidity and incompetence of the West’s elites, their indifference to their own true interests, has been astonishing.

Therefore, there is a shred of hope that at last some movement away from further disaster may be possible. Clearly, the only possible settlement for Syria has to involve all the players, not just Washington and its flunkies’ notions of who they should be.

But there is a huge amount of opposition to this suggestion – see, for example, the apoplectic reaction of “Making Peace With Assad’s State of Barbarism” or from these War Party spokesmen to suggestion of cooperation with Moscow or Damascus.

But Trump was elected partly on a promise to stop the wars and Macron appears to have a similar thought. The West’s wars of the Twenty-First century have been failures. Maybe something else will be tried.

(Who, in 2000, that year of triumphalism, would have expected that Syria, a country, one would have thought, quite peripheral to the interests of Europe and North America, would become a world-historical pivot? But so it is becoming: the Thermopylae of the new world?)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 JULY 2017

WHICH G2? Another G20. People met inside, ate, said things and outside Sorosian rioters rioted – watch the video! – (but not spun as a Maidan-like celebration of Europeanness, just car burnings). But the important part was the G2 when Trump and Putin finally met. As everyone knows, the meeting seems to have gone well and went well over time. Some level of agreement on Syria, Ukraine and cyberstuff. But we’ll see whether Washington keeps the agreement: with its inconsistent messaging and Deep State sabotage against Trump (did Comey cook the latest nothingburger?), it is unclear whether Trump can deliver. Or maybe the really important meeting was the other G2 with Putin and Xi in Moscow. Both of them can deliver on their promises. The “Chinese-Russian comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation” grows deeper and stronger. Europe sings “Freude, schöner Götterfunken” to the thump of Molotov cocktails and the pop of car windows blowing out. The world is changing.

CORRUPTION. Putin has signed a law creating an online register of former officials dismissed because of corruption. From which I deduce that there are a lot of them. By the way there is a Presidential Council for Countering Corruption which meets periodically.

WHERE IS PUTIN? It’s time for another where is Putin panic. He just visited the monastery at Valaam where he often goes on retreat.

RUSSIA INC. “The Russian economy is increasingly becoming self-sufficient and less oil-price dependent.” Sanctions do work! (Not necessarily as intended, however.)

FREE LAND. The program of free land in the Far East is about a year old and has been reasonably successful. A problem is that a hectare is either too big or too small. At any event, about 20,000 plots have been registered and nearly 100,000 people have applied.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. More blows. Craig Murray, who claims inside knowledge, reminds us of Seth Rich’s murder. Another lawsuit simmers away. An analysis shows the Guccifer 2.0 data had to be a local leak. The latest NYT nonsense is collapsing fast (and may boomerang). Carr remains unconvinced: “The public evidence isn’t enough to identify Russian government involvement, or even identify the nationality of the hackers involved.” Oh, and “The FBI requested direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) hacked computer servers but was denied“, “it was CrowdStrike that told the FBI that it was the Russians.A reminder on how unreliable Crowdstrike is. And how selective the “analysis” was; violating all of the post-Iraq-fiasco procedures, in fact. And, finally, the NYT admits not “all 17” (just a few “hand-picked” analysts, but that’s next month’s correction). The question remains: what are the Russians supposed to have done?

NONSENSE. Even Newsweek gets it: the US State Department, in its latest Russia-is-the-worst-place-in-the-world report, refers to a lonely bright spot – the city of Kitezh. Which is a mythical Russian city saved from the Mongols by miraculously sinking into a lake.

SYRIA. The ceasefire agreed to by Trump and Putin started on Sunday. Will it last? One must remember that the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire collapsed when the US attacked Syrian soldiers and, ominously, the US military claims ignorance. This one will be monitored by Russians; Chechen MPs actually. Who would dare meddle with Chechens? And, just out, Macron calls for a “new approach“.

WHO YA GONNA BELIEVE? “[T]he Russians are there, they say to fight ISIS. They haven’t fought them much and mostly they just support Assad” says Secdef Mattis. Russians just killed our leader says Daesh. (By the way, you should read the interview – “Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East”. Really!!!! isn’t he supposed to be such a student of history? And I guess his reputedly huge library doesn’t include Mahan: “We fought on this planet mostly with ground armies until navies became something one hundred years ago.” Sheesh!)

THE BUBBLE. Robinson reveals the “Overton Bubble” (read it) that our masters live in. The same people are asked to repeat the same things that they said before; nothing else is acceptable or imaginable.

UKRAINE. A recent Ukrainian poll shows positive views of Russia (44%) outweigh negative (37%) and the regional divide remains. If we add in Donbass, Crimea and the refugees in Russia, it’s probably a positive majority. All that suffering, poverty and destruction and nothing’s changed. How much longer until Rump Ukraine breaks into its immiscible parts?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer