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

Something for them to talk about

US President Trump and Russian President Putin are due to have their first face-to-face meeting in Hamburg in a few days. This meeting should have taken place in April or May and, had that happened, by now the two would be well into substantive issues. But thanks to the devotion of the lügenpresse to the anti-Russia tarradiddle, Trump was unable to move. And, exploded as a “nothingburger” it may be, and devoid of evidence as we are continually told it is, people are still banging away at it: “You must state bluntly to Putin that Russia can never again violate our sovereignty by stealing and publishing our data, and must stop cyber probes of our electoral machinery.”

So Trump may be wary that anything he does or says to Putin, short of outright rudeness or a punch in the face, will be spun as further “proof” that he is Putin’s puppy. Although – one can hope – Trump, empowered by his contempt for the fake news media and emboldened by CNN’s troubles, may ignore the yapping.

From Russia’s perspective the meeting is easy enough. Putin is self-controlled, intelligent and disciplined: he’s ready and capable of talking about anything; he knows what Russia’s interests are; he has an open mind; I believe he is hopeful but not deluded. He knows that the WaPo and NYT think Trump is an idiot but I doubt he looks to these propaganda rags for guidance. He is smart enough to know that a man who became POTUS against all opposition could not possibly be an idiot but, at the same time he is experienced enough not to hope for too much (as he told Oliver Stone: presidents come and go but US policy doesn’t change).

The commonly suggested subjects for discussion present some difficulties. In Syria Washington is simply too involved with fantasies of “moderate rebels”, confusion from moment to moment and speaker to speaker about what Assad’s future should be. Added to which, there is more than a little evidence that, whatever official Washington may say, the generals on the ground will attack Syrian units or aircraft ad libitum. Therefore it is too complicated a subject for a first discussion. Countering terrorism is another suggestion but, for a serious discussion to be possible, Washington must first decide what side it is really on: it has too long a history of supporting jihadists here but fighting them there to be believed (and especially not by Putin who told Stone that he had proof that Washington had supported jihadists in Chechnya). So, neither of these subjects makes for a good first discussion.

But there is one serious subject that would work and that is North Korea and its nuclear and missile programs. It drew attention to itself in the most dramatic way by launching a rocket that could reach Alaska on the most sacred holiday of the American mythos. There is no reason to think that either Beijing or Moscow are much pleased with this development either. Chinese President Xi was just in Moscow with Putin and the two discussed North Korea and a joint statement was issued. They call for the cessation of missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang and cessation of US-South Korean military exercises near the border; Beijing calls this the “double suspension”. If a solution is found, it will have to be that; threats from Washington do nothing to solve anything. Pyongyang isn’t scared and it has every reason to hate and distrust Washington: US aircraft dropped 25% more bombs on North Korea than it did on Japan, killing, one US general estimated, 20% of the population. Americans may have forgotten that, but North Koreans have not.

This, therefore, is a subject that is topical; it is a problem that all three capitals recognise; there is a solution. While the solution will necessitate some climbdown by Washington, it can be accomplished in the spirit of Catch-22’s Colonel Scheisskopf by the announcement, every year, that this year’s exercise has been cancelled.

North Korea’s missile launch will certainly be on the G20 agenda. Trump has met with Xi, Xi has met with Putin; Xi and Putin have the solution, they’re all going to be in the same place at the same time. So I would suggest that a meeting of the three of them to discuss the “Korean peninsula” issue would make for some fruitful results. Xi could, as it were, make the introduction.

I don’t suppose that any of the three has people devoted to reading my website so I don’t expect one of them to pick up the suggestion.

But I think that it is something to watch for and there isn’t any reason not to think that bilateral discussions in North Korea couldn’t segue into a three-sided conversation.

Democracy or Regime Change?

Asked by Sputnik about DIA report mentioned here. Probably won’t bother to read it — got some paint I want to watch dry and there’s always grass growing out there — because I’m sure all it will say is It’s All Russia’s Fault.

Perhaps I was a little hasty: Paul Robinson has read it and is interested “that at least somebody in the American security establishment is willing to admit that people elsewhere in the world don’t all appreciate what the United States is doing.”

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201706301055103084-russia-reasons-usa-wants-topple-government/

In the simplest possible terms: Washington has been trying to bring “democracy USA-style” to Russia. Russians, observing the consequences of “democracy USA-style” in Iraq, Libya and especially in Ukraine, regard this as regime change. So they’re both right.

Thus far, the most effective “weakeners of US influence on the world stage” have been the neocons and humanitarian bombers that have driven Washington’s policy this century. Failed interventions and losing wars are doing a far more effective job of destroying the USA than anything Moscow or Beijing could do. Osama bin Laden ought to be quite happy about what 911 began because the formerly “strong horse” looks more and more like a “weak horse”: immensely brutal and destructive, but nothing else.

Whether Trump can overcome the “deep state’s” sabotage remains to be seen. He promised a policy of non interference but his first five months have been burned up by the Russian interference “nothing burger”.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 JUNE 2017

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. English, Russian. Mostly domestic nuts and bolts, a lot of “Batyushka, my roof is leaking” and the usual declaration that Russia is open to cooperation with its “partners”. Memorable lines: “the history of Russia shows that we have usually lived under sanctions whenever Russia started to become independent and feel strong” and “‘What do you do in your spare time?’ I work.” The customary mastery of detail and directness; I doubt any Western leader could match it. Pre-cooked or not.

RUSSIAGATE. This crazy clown show has just taken some big hits. After four losses in a row, many Democrats want their leadership to find some slogan other than “Trump is a crazy racist and Putin’s pet”. A majority of voters agrees. CNN, one of the pack leaders, had to retract another bogus story, the CNN brass then decreed that all Russia-Trump stories must be run by them first and three reporters “resigned”. (Lawsuit, they say, no sudden rush of “journalistic ethics”). Then it was hit by a Veritas report in which a producer admitted the story is just for ratings, is probably BS and, however “adorable” they may be, “journalist ethics” have nothing to do with reality. A big “nothing burger” says another CNN personality. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee is closing in on Fusion GPS which is probably the origin of the whole thing. One can hope that the story is on its last legs and the lügenpresse will take a fatal hit. I’ve said all along there was no Russian attempt to interfere with the election and no collusion with Trump: the story began as deflection from the DNC’s rigging of the primaries and was seized upon by the opponents of rapprochement with Russia. The logical fallacy at the heart of the story is that if the DNC hadn’t rigged the process Moscow would have had no handle with which to affect the outcome. Deflection, projection and manipulation. (And ratings!) It has done great damage.

THOSE CUNNING RUSSIANS. Later, the Russian government repeatedly introduced resolutions calling for cyberspace disarmament treaties before the United Nations. The United States consistently opposed the idea.” Published eight years ago Tuesday.

RUSSIA’S AGGRESSIVE BORDERS. The Armed Forces newspaper says 14 reconnaissance aircraft were intercepted near Russia’s borders in the last week. Here is a video of a NATO F-16 getting close to the Russian Defence Minister’s aircraft in the Baltic: the escort fighter chases it off.

WASHINGTON’S LATEST INCOHERENCE. First Washington warns that “potential preparations” for a CW attack have been detected in Syria and then it takes credit for stopping it. What on earth are “potential preparations”? One theory I’ve heard is that the White House got wind of a false flag and made this statement to show it was on to it. Another is that Kushner was suckered by a false flag, thought it was real but was corrected by the adults. But who knows? Is there any connection with Macron’s recent statement that Assad can stay? Or with Hersh’s piece showing that US intelligence knew there was no CW attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Of course Hersh is correct that the Khan Sheikhoun “attack” was theatre but I suspect that Trump’s attack was too. I speculate here that the ludicrous “intelligence assessments” that are produced to justify these actions are faked up. As for the “deep state” conspiring against Trump with the partial objective of wrecking rapprochement with Moscow, I simply observe that the FBI Director admitted to leaking in order to weaken him; that moves the notion out of the sphere of dank imagination, doesn’t it? There is more swamp to be drained.

SYRIA. When the Americans shot down a Syrian aircraft in Syria (it took two missiles and the pilot was rescued) Moscow responded. It cancelled the flight coordination agreement. But, more to the point, it declared that in the areas in which it was operating, all aircraft of the US coalition west of the Euphrates “will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets”. The Saker explains in greater detail here, but what this means is that any coalition aircraft will detect a tracking radar signal; that will set off a cockpit alarm and there would be no way for the pilot to know whether he was just being “pinged” by a radar or if a missile was coming at him. And, given the speed of the missile, he’d better decide quickly. The alarm is designed to attract attention (go to 0:57). So, something to spoil your day of otherwise low-risk bombing. It may be that a Russian S-300 shot down an American drone over the Mediterranean last Thursday. If so, that would a suitable response. Meanwhile, the Syrian Army continues its advances and whatever it was that the part of the Washington Incoherency that makes these decisions was trying to do in south-east Syria seems to have been checkmated. Here, by the way, is President Assad moving around Hama – somewhat staged no doubt, but a far cry from what we are told about him.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer