Curious that both Kremlin mouthpieces @RT_com (Russia Today) and @rianru (RIA Novosti) have cameras strategically placed around French capital and are only outlets shown on Twitter to be livestreaming the ‘gilets jaunes’ protests today #GiletsJaunes
A tweet on 9 December 2018.
Practically every response to this absurd example of Russophobia was contemptuous. Most of them pointing out that news agencies are supposed to report the news.
This response was a favourite
If Western media followed the events, perhaps no one would follow RT or RIA Novosti.


RUSSIA INC. This report from Awara on Russia’s economy is much better than the one I mentioned last time. The authors argue that the Putin Team saw sanctions coming and proofed the economy against them: “Russia now has the world’s most self-sufficient and diversified economy capable of producing anything possibly made in the world. Russia is now for the first time in its history food self-sufficient while simultaneously exporting more food than ever before. With this clout, Russia is prepared to withstand the economic siege, that the US regime is hatching.” And it’s armed to defend itself. The sanctioners did not, as they thought, “have good intelligence“: “The single biggest error was to believe the propaganda lie that the Russian economy was totally dependent on oil and gas. Here they foolishly confused the share of oil and gas in total exports – which was and remains at the level of 60% – with the share of these commodities of the total economy, which in 2013 was 12% (today 9%)”. In short, Russia is well-positioned to go it alone. (It doesn’t have to though, all the countries on Washington’s hitlist are potential collaborators). As I like to put it, Russia has a full-service economy, few others do. I recommend reading the report (testy in parts, but given the mountain of anti-Russia nonsense, that’s forgiveable).

TURKSTREAM. Another big step with completion of the offshore section.

WESTERN VALUES™. The next time the US State Department solemnly declares some country’s election “undemocratic”, just laugh: ballot harvesting in CA and NC.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Finally we learn what Flynn’s “crime” was. He may have corroborated Pence’s erroneous statement that there had been no contacts with Russian officials and, like so many others, he lobbied for a foreign government. (His real crime, of course, was revealing Obama’s and that is why he had to be taken out first.) I hope this begins the end of the Mueller farrago.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Guardian prints fake story, gets caught, some ex-CIA guy suggests Putindunnit. “They had 17 aircraft, we have 48 missiles – I think we’re going to win that one.” In the real world, just before they noticed anything, the first Kinzhal would have slammed in at Mach 10.

GEORGIA. Salome Zurabishvili is the new President of Georgia. She, a quondam French diplomat, was Saakashvili’s Foreign Minister (salary paid by Paris, BTW) until she had enough of him and quit. Always wondered whether Paris’ relatively rational view on the 2008 war owed something to her.

CW ATTACK? WHAT CW ATTACK? More Than 100 People Wounded In Aleppo Chemical Attack: Syrian Officials“. “The West Stays Mum About Aleppo Chemical Attack“. Not a hard deduction.

UKRAINE. No one expects that Poroshenko can be re-elected, no matter what fraud he pulls off. And nothing to suggest that his erstwhile supporters in the West want him any more. The simple truth is that post-Maidan Ukraine has been a comprehensive disaster and a new President (Tymoshenko is ahead and she’s no friend) will need someone to blame. And who better than Poroshenko? So his choice is to finagle his way out of the election or join Saakashvili in the Formerly Useful Club with an arrest warrant on his head and no money. Hence the stunts: the church robbery and now the Kerch Straits adventure. (I doubt your Local News Outlet told you that Ukrainian military vessels following the Russian rules quietly passed through in September.) He tried to get out of elections by declaring martial law but his opponents forced a limitation: only a month and only in Novorissiya and bordering Transdnestr (where he wouldn’t get any votes anyway). So that option has been blocked for the moment. (Another something your LNO outlet hasn’t told you: in early November the martial law regulations were amended to allow deportations. Almost as if it was planned, eh?) What’s left? Start an attack on the eastern rebels and claim Russia invaded? Plenty of rumours of that from both sides. (CW attack? Alleged Russian buildup.) There are always rumours of an imminent Ukrainian attack and I usually discount them; I am less willing to do so this time because of Poroshenko’s desperate situation. If Kiev does attack, it will be another defeat.

MH17. A lawsuit is possible. Not sure what to think: a real trial, with real evidence and real argument would be a good thing; another precooked show not. Are real trials still possible when it’s Russia?

TRUMP OPENS A NEW FRONT. “I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race… “. (Is his INF treaty denunciation a step to getting a US-Russia-China INF? Step one of what Scott Adams calls his persuasion technique?)

Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


(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.)

********. Aegis is a system capable of engaging multiple air and sea targets concurrently. That single destroyer would be able to eliminate the entire Russian navy. Of course there is no mention of the attack sub(s) that would have been accompanying it. As for “running away”, the POS russian navy probably couldn’t keep up with the cruising speed of the US destroyer. Ever seen that laughable carrier they sent to the med, moves at 3 knots and belches so much ****, it could be on a global warming sci-fi movie as the enemy.

It would be very stupid for Putin to do exactly what the US military is trying to get him to do. If there is any military engagement with the US at all, Russia is done and Putin ends up like Sadaam. He needs to repeat that to himself like a mantra and do a lot of blinking in the coming days.

Commenter on a web site, 6 December 2018


(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.)

I wake up this morning and find the far-right Twittersphere going nuts over my old tweets/articles praising Macron. They seem to be cheerleading for chaos in Paris to topple him. Are Russian bots behind this, @anneapplebaum? I wonder.

                                                               Max Boot Twitter, 3 December 2018


A distinction.

A neo-nazi lives in his mother’s basement with his collection of replica SS daggers and dreams his dreams.

A nazi can show a direct intellectual and, in many cases, a direct biological connection with the real, genuine, Jew-killing article.

The first is a possible danger, certainly to be watched, but probably pretty harmless.

The second is alive and well in Ukraine and has lots of guns and opportunities.

When the first meets the second we’ve all got big problems.


Maybe the Russians did fool around with NATO GPS reception in the recent exercise.

Maybe Russians do fool around with AEGIS ships and cause them to be run into by big slow commercial ships or jam their systems so they can’t see Russian planes.

(Stuck in the back of my head is a Russian guy who knew about these things telling me that, back in The Day, the Sovs had looked at their weak points and NATO’s strong points and directed their efforts accordingly. And that Russia has inherited the tendency and the results).

The Russians know that without GPS most of USA/NATO’s ground or air wouldn’t work and without AEGIS their surface navies would just be targets.

On the other hand, maybe USA/NATO forces aren’t as good as they think they are. (I well remember how bad the US Army was on NATO exercises in Germany in the 1980s).

Two thoughts to think about.

Me? I don’t know. I put all this stuff in the Maybe (awaiting further data) Basket.


VICTORY! I’ve been waiting a decade for Washington to explain that the Ossetia war was actually a triumph for it. And here it is at last. American efforts resulted in “the Russians withdrawing to their start positions.” Well, they never intended to occupy Georgia. The same official then creatively blames Assad for “producing” ISIS. A complete echo chamber of delusion.

SANCTIONS. Bloomberg calculates that the Russian economy is about 10% smaller than it forecasted it would be in 2013. It reckons that about six percentage points of the decrease are due to Western sanctions and the rest to other factors. In short, sanctions have hurt but not as much as all that. I have long believed that this is transitory pain which will pay off later. For example, the increase in Russian food production has been remarkable. It would be interesting to see Bloomberg do an estimate for the cost to the EU: plenty of estimates out there, some as high as €100 billion. The point is that Russia wasn’t such a big market for the EU, but it was one of the few that was growing.

CORRUPTION. We are told that 300 police officers have been fired this year after complaints from citizens. There were 45,000 complaints. VTsIOM reports that trust in the police has dropped ten points since last year’s all-time high of 67%. Better than the old days when trust was under 50%; so, more work to be done, but work is being done. Corruption is a tricky subject, often treated too simply, I believe.

DIPLOMACY. Russia is trying to fix Libya and Afghanistan. I think it’s time to start contemplating the thought that Moscow might have some soft power.

WAR. A recent report comes as close as we will ever see to an admission that the USA would lose a war with either Russian or China on their home turf. This comes on the heels of a report showing that a large number of key defence components manufacturers are not secure and an earlier one that said many US weapons systems are vulnerable to hacking. These are consequences of endless wars in MENA, twenty years of poking Russia and China and unilateralism. Surely the rational conclusion would be that Washington should start rethinking things from the bottom up. Nope, more of the same is the answer: “The report also called for an expansion of the current $716 billion defense budget.”

THE LATEST. “GPS glitches during NATO’s largest war games in decades blamed on (DRUM ROLL) Russia“. Maybe. Russia is preparing for a war and, without GPS, NATO ground and air forces would be pretty helpless. So maybe a teeny tiny test to see if jammers worked. On the other hand, excuses are cheap and the exercise was not a very happy experience for Norway.

WESTERN VALUES™. Over the years I have grown drearily accustomed to human rights organisations being co-opted – weaponised is the fashionable word – by the Western war party (MSF, Pussy Riot and the rest) and have pretty well given up on them. But, a ray of light appears. Amnesty International is active in reporting the destruction of Raqqa by the US coalition. It is starting a project to record the destruction: what they have collected so far on “the most destroyed city in modern times” is at strike-tracker. So the next time the White Helmets or Bellingcat tells you of some Russian atrocity, remember that it would be impossible to be more indiscriminately destructive than US/NATO “targeted actions“.

US ELECTIONS. Did Putin fix them? If so how? Why did he want Trump’s party to lose the House? If he didn’t, why didn’t he? I look forward to the NYT explaining how this fits into Operation Infektion.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Masha and the Bear. “Putin’s tanks are hidden in Masha’s backpack“. DM readers treat this with the scorn it deserves. A friend suggested setting up a mock conference to make deadpan over-the-top claims to ridicule Russophobia. I don’t think you can ridicule people who believe in Masha’s armoured backpack and Medvedev’s pillow carrier.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Some more straws in the wind. Madrid has allowed 3 Russian warships to resupply at Cueta, the first time in 3 years. A minister says Paris will lead EU efforts to create a payment mechanism to keep trade with Iran. And TurkStream marks another milestone.

UKRAINE. Remember when Ukrainian nazis were just Putin propaganda? US News, Daily Beast, AIM, Fox, and plenty more assured us (BBC here) that reports of nazis in Ukraine were only troll factory output. Now, for some reason, the Western media is noticing: New Republic, CBS, AP, Max Blumenthal. Even the US propaganda outlet RFE/RL tells us: “Azov, Ukraine’s Most Prominent Ultranationalist Group, Sets Its Sights On U.S., Europe.” And chickens are arriving home as this Criminal Complaint shows. Why they notice today what was perfectly obvious then, I cannot tell you.

NOTE. Alexander Mercouris has referred me to his discussion of the Bloomberg report. He argues, very convincingly, that the report doesn’t actually make sense when you look at it carefully, that Russia has very effectively responded to Western sanctions and that it is a very strong position to withstand further sanctions. He sees the report as part of a propaganda effort to gather support for more sanctions on the grounds that sanctions are working and that another push will gain the desired result. It’s reinforcing failure along the lines of Einstein’s alleged definition of insanity.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


For example, in Georgia in 2008, without using American military forces on the ground, we used a whole set of – a whole smorgasbord of tools, international tools with Sarkozy, the president of France at the time, leading the international diplomatic effort, sanctions and other actions that eventually saw the Russians withdrawing to their start positions at the beginning of that conflict in Georgia. So that’s an example of how you can do it.

Briefing by James F. Jeffrey, (US) Special Representative for Syria Engagement, 14 November 2018

I’ve been waiting for Washington to claim it pushed Russia out of Georgia and now here it is. The Russians never had any intention of staying and that’s a big difference between the Russia way of war and the American: the Russians know that there are only certain things you can do with violence; the Americans still haven’t figured that out.


(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation)

(Earlier parts of this intermittent series discussed NATO’s projection and gaslighting.)

Psychology Today defines confirmation bias as:

Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices. Thus, we may become prisoners of our assumptions.

Or, closer to the topic of this essay:

Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.

This quotation is from an interview of George Kennan by Thomas Friedman published in the New York Times twenty years ago. He was speaking about what was then called “NATO expansion” (later changed to the more anodyne – and deceptive – phrase “NATO enlargement”. (I as a civil servant in the Canadian Department of National Defence used to amuse myself by seeing if I could sneak the forbidden “expansion” – an altogether more honest word – into briefing notes for the Higher Ups. As I recall, I got away with it about half the time. A trivial pleasure in the evolving disaster.)

But back to Kennan, Mr X, the author of the Long Telegram, the founder of “containment“, the man who actually lived long enough to see his recommendations, not only followed, but successful. He was right: in the long term, the Soviet system was not sustainable; it was, as Russian President Putin said: “a road to a blind alley“.

I think [NATO expansion] is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else…. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. It was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs… Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

The man who got it right in 1947 also got it right in 1998.

a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you

Could there be a better illustration of the truth of Kennan’s percipience than this headline from the New York Times in July 2017: “Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression“? The chutzpah of the headline is hard to swallow: Russia hasn’t moved anywhere. “The troops are conducting military maneuvers known as Zapad, Russian for ‘west,’ in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.” Belarus is an ally of Russia, Russia has a Baltic coastline of more than 400 kilometres, Kaliningrad is part of Russia. So what exactly is the reason what Russia can’t do whatever military things it wants to at home? Imagine the reaction if Moscow dared question an American military exercise in the USA. But this reversal of truth is now the propagandistic norm: New photos show Russia’s building up its military on NATO’s doorstep, but the alliance says it won’t be intimidated” and “Russia Building Up Military on NATO’s Borders” in October 2018 (just before a large NATO exercise that actually is on Russia’s border). NATO idiotically assures us that Russian notions that NATO is encircling Russia “ignores geography” because of Russia’s 20 thousand kilometre border NATO touches only a teeny weeny bit. Well, if it can add Finland, Ukraine and Georgia, it will be a bit more. But I doubt any Russian has said “encircling”. Russians know there’s no NATO in Asia but they do see NATO moving its doorstep towards it. These are perfect examples of the confirmation bias that Kennan predicted: the NATO expanders are telling us that Russia’s actions inside its unchanged borders are exactly why we had to expand NATO’s borders. Russia’s reaction to NATO’s expansion enlargement justifies NATO’s enlargement expansion.

Here’s NATO patting itself on the back: NATO enlargement has contributed to spreading democracy, security and stability further across Europe.” NATO’s official enumeration of its sad relations with Russia and Moscow’s many unfounded accusations and inexplicable failure to accept the simple declaration that this military alliance advancing every closer to Russiadoes not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia” may be found here. Parenthetically it is interesting that the specific accusations made against Russia in this apologia, which we are to believe sadly made NATO take other steps, are Crimea and Ukraine which greatly postdate NATO expansion. How clever of the expanders in the 1990s to foresee Russia’s actions in Ukraine nearly two decades later! Another clear case of confirmation bias.

This sort of thing goes on all the time. From the Washington Post in November 2016, a reliable mouthpiece of the US war party, “Russian warplanes keep buzzing the Baltics. Here’s how NATO scrambles.

A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday in the latest military provocation by Moscow over the Baltic Sea, the U.S. European Command said Saturday.

Russian War Planes Threaten a US Navy Ship in International Waters” (Note the video reconstruction and see if you think it’s an accurate representation of what the actual video shows.) “Russia defends sending warships through English Channel”. Russia’s Existential Threat to NATO in the Baltics is a perfect fulfilment of Kennan’s observation “We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way”. And because we can’t defend them, the very existence of NATO is threatened.

I will agree that there are a few cooler heads around:

Gen. Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told reporters he and his NATO counterparts have not seen obvious offensive acts from Russian aircraft or troops.

but they seem to be without much effect in the prevailing weather of Russia Threatens Massive Military Buildup to Counter US, NATO, Vladimir Putin’s nuclear warships pictured steaming towards the English Channel as Royal Navy prepares to scramble fleet, Latvia faces hybrid threat as EU, NATO boost defenses and many more.

The same confirmation bias can be found on the other side of the world in which we are ceaselessly told that China provokes US Navy ships peacefully exercising their free passage in international waters. This can stand for the numerous examples:

At approximately 0830 local time on September 30, a PRC LUYANG destroyer approached USS DECATUR in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea.

Imagine the reaction in Washington if Chinese warships patrolled the Gulf of Mexico “to ensure freedom of navigation“! The USN patrols to ensure the safe passage of goods to and from China in the South China Sea; Beijing reacts; proof that more patrols are necessary and justified.

So, after two decades of NATO’s expanding its doorstep to the edge of Russia, after years of the USN doorstep moving closer to China, where are we in terms of the stability that NATO expansion is supposed to have brought us? At least two wars – in Ossetia in 2008 and eastern Ukraine starting in 2014 – are consequences of NATO expansion. But, more to the point, we have two announcements, not, I suspect, by coincidence made a few hours apart.

25 October 2018, China

The Southern Theatre Command has had to bear a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, state broadcaster CCTV quoted him as saying during an inspection tour made on Thursday as part of his visit to Guangdong province. “It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly. “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.”

26 October 2018, Russia

Speaking at the UN on Friday, Andrey Belousov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Nonproliferation and Arms Control, echoed Putin’s comments from last week that Russia is indeed readying itself for war, but only so it can defend its people against American aggression. “At a recent meeting, the US stated that Russia is preparing for war. Yes, Russia is preparing for war, I can confirm it”, Belousov said adding that “We are preparing to defend our homeland, our territorial integrity, our principles, our values, our people.”

No stability, no security. And still the expanders blame Russia and China for responding to what they gratuitously began.

The last words go to George Kennan

There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else… This has been my life, and it pains me to see it so screwed up in the end.


US ELECTION. The chance of war has gone up a bit: the House investigation into the conspiracy will stop (unless Nunes can do anything in the next two months) and go into reverse. Any move Trump makes towards improving relations with Russia will be met by the House shrieking he’s a Putin puppet: the new people in charge there are too heavily invested in the Russia story to stop now. The US political system will be seized up – lots and lots of investigations. Threats and counter threats. Not such a bad thing for the rest of us if the US system turns into a cannibal banquet but further ratcheting up the anti-Russia hysteria is not so good (top priority says Schiff). (A Chinese view of increased danger).

COINCIDENCE? 25 October 2018, China: “concentrate preparations for fighting a war”. 26 October 2018, Russia: “Yes, Russia is preparing for war”. They hear what’s said; they see what’s happening in their neighbourhoods. They draw conclusions and take steps.

TODAY’S THOUGHT. “In light of this very low level of military competence, maybe wars are not our best choice of hobby.

THE MOTHERLAND CALLS. A Russian diplomat says Russian exiles are returning. I can believe it: they moved West for security or better money; as Russophobia intensifies (see below) it’s not safer and maybe the money’s not so good after all. I expect to see a steady trickle of returnees.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “Half of the Russians in London are spies, claims new report“. (But why not all of them? They’re Russians, after all, and should shut up and go away.) That’s 75 thousand Russian spies. Wow! And the report says there are only 200 case officers to handle them. But that’s nothing for Putin’s superhuman minions: they threw the US election with 80K FB posts buried among 33 trillion posts (that’s about half a billion others to every “Russian” post). They control time: they arrived in Gatwick at 1500 on a flight scheduled to arrive at 1545 that actually arrived at 1558. (Gotta be pretty stupid or inattentive to swallow this nonsense.)

SWIFT. Is a network linking banks around the world enabling transactions to move around easily and securely. US-dominated, it was used because it worked. But once Washington turned it into a weapon against Iran in 2012 (and again just now), it stopped being so convenient. It’s not fantastically complicated to replicate, SWIFT was used because it was expedient. But, if you’re on Washington’s hitlist, or fear you may be, it’s not so attractive. So Moscow, which is on the hitlist, has developed its own system and is linking other countries to it. It’s the same thing with the “petrodollar“: useful until Washington weaponised it; then time to find an alternative. And, when you must, you will: Delhi will pay for its S400s in rubles; Iran has turned off transponders on its tankers; Hungary upped its gold reserves (and so did Russia – now 17% of FOREX). The SWIFT story is an interesting demonstration of the fact that, sometimes, using it can mean losing it.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Macron calls for real European armed forces and Europe continues to be rebellious about Washington’s stance on Iran (new sanctions imposed – but with waivers to its oil customers. But not for the EU). Ah well, talk is cheap – especially in the EU – and there are formidable problems creating a European army – a new report shows the stunning incapacity of the German forces. They would have to completely rethink the Russia relationship then find the mountains of money to build up their forces, support elements and supply chains. Today Europe relies on the US to provide all these things. The US military, in its turn, as a new report shows, depends on foreign suppliers or a single struggling domestic manufacturer for several hundred key inputs… (NATO should meditate on being a little less demanding, don’t you think?) But the Istanbul meeting did show a refreshing independence from Paris and Berlin. It’s rather like the SWIFT story: they went along with the USA because it was easy and it worked well enough. But it’s no longer easy and it doesn’t work so well.

SYRIA. While the Russia-Turkey-France-Germany meeting on Syria in Istanbul did not settle all issues, or maybe even any issue, it was momentous because of no USA and the end of the “Assad must go” magical spell. Moscow continues to give us lessons on how to blend military power with diplomatic skill. Meanwhile, in Syria, demonstrating the opposite, we see US-backed forces fighting Turkey. As I wrote three years ago, it’s not hard to see why Moscow runs rings around Washington here and elsewhere. The midterms will probably put Washington back to недоговороспособность: no agreement possible either because it can’t make one or won’t keep it.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer