RF Sitrep 20151231


TRUMPUTIN MANIA! Putin said some nice things about Donald Trump; not an “endorsement”: he said that was none of his business. The WMSM went nuts – two obsessions at once! (My favourite: (“Putin supports Donald Trump because of the threat that Trump poses to the U.S.” But, in fairness, the author still resents Putin’s attempt to steal her laundry.) But he kills journalists! Trump sticks to his guns and faces down the anti-Putinists. In the process, WMSM consumers hear something other than the usual innuendo; a perfect example here on “killing journalists”: “not been proven” but still… “creating an environment“. Trump continues the attack: why do we need problems with Russia?

CORRUPTION. A criminal case has been launched against officials in the Defence Ministry involved in taking bribes on contracts. On the other hand, Serdyukov has a new job. I must say again that getting the little guys is good, but getting the big guys is better.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Anatoly Karlin has produced a map of the world-wide distribution of this condition. I note – he’s too polite to – that it’s strongest in areas blessed with Independent© Media.

MORE SANCTIONS. Anybody know why? Minsk, they say. But there is nothing in the agreement that obliges Russia to do anything and, even if you think Russia controls the Donbass, it’s Kiev that’s lagging on fulfilment. But, never mind, Europe extends them and the US adds some more. Note, of course, that while a Southstream is a terrible thing and sanctions are necessary, another Nordstream is a good idea. Speaking of Germany, an interest group reports German exports to Russia were down 6.5 billion in 2014 and would drop another 8.5 billion in 2015. Russians are also voting with their feet: it’s estimated Germany has lost about 275 million in tourism. But, still, they continue and Russia’s counter-sanctions will stay as long as they do. I agree that sanctions, on balance, are good for Russia Inc.

SYRIA. Russian MoD summary of activities here.

UNGOVERNED CONFUSION. Who is in charge in Washington? Just after Kerry says Washington is not seeking regime change in Syria, Obama says “Assad must go” and Kerry then dutifully echoes him. On the other hand, the UN agreements (Washington takes the credit here!) say nothing about his going. Meanwhile, Seymour Hersh says the Pentagon ignored Obama. Getting to be as chaotic as a failed state, don’t you think? Hard to negotiate with such an unreliable partner.

OIL WARS. Oil prices are low, seem to be set to stay that way and everyone is pumping as much as possible. Here’s my theory (not that I know what’s really going on either). Knowing that Washington is 1) exceptionally ignorant about Russia and 2) hostile to it, my theory is that the White House incompetents (see above – or indeed anywhere else on the planet) thought it would be clever to persuade Saudi Arabia to pump so much oil that the price fell and Russia, that “gas station masquerading as a country“, collapsed. Riyadh signed on thinking that, at the same time, low prices could hurt Iran and kill off US shale oil and fracking and, at the end, it would be the last man standing. But it’s not working out; Russia keeps pumping: even a new record this last week. What these geniuses missed was that Russia produces its oil in rubles but sells it in dollars; today its production costs are among the lowest in the world. Meanwhile the US shale and fracking business is failing and Saudi Arabia is hurting; to say nothing of its catastrophic war in Yemen. So, my guess is that, while it would prefer higher prices, Moscow calculates it can tough it out and, in the end, might even be the last man standing.

HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS? Stephen Cohen tells us: NATO expansion; missile defence; “democracy promotion”; ignoring multilateral reality. Moscow is not responsible for any. How do we get out?

RUMOURS. Don’t believe them but they are things to keep an eye on. Chinese troops in Syria and aircraft carrier at Tartus are fakes, but Beijing has authorised the use of troops externally. Likewise the story that Erdoğan has been overthrown (off the Web now I see). But perhaps, one day.

UKRAINE. Torch-light parade in Mariupol, parliamentarian toasts Hitler, neo-nazi mayor. Life in Kiev. Gallup poll shows extreme disillusionment with everything. Summary of the disaster. How much longer?

INDIA. PM Modi visited and had the usual warm reception and a couple of meetings with Putin. Many deals were signed.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada Websites: ROPV, US-Russia, Russia Insider

A Brief Compendium of Nonsense About Putin


JRL 2015/248/26



Brief? I had to force myself to stop at vampire rumours.

I mean, what’s next? Darth Vader (AARGHH! He is).

If there is an upper limit to Putin Derangement Syndrome, no one has found it yet.

Health and psychology

Putin spends a lot of time…

Finally, after work…

And then to bed

Where does he find the time to do all this?

RF Sitrep 20151217


DEFENCE COUNCIL MEETING. Putin’s and Shoygu’s statements. Putin: Russia in Syria for self defence; some “Free Syrian Army” fighters cooperating; Russian forces instructed to cooperate with the US coalition and with Israel; any threats to Russian operations to be “destroyed immediately”. Shoygu describes improvements, changes and equipping of the Armed Forces. The take-away point: Russia is preparing for war either nuclear or conventional. Not that it wants war: 17 years later, we come to what George Kennan warned us about: “The Russians will gradually react quite adversely… I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else“. We’ve made them our enemy and a far more capable one than was assumed when NATO was so casually expanded.

MUST READ. Results of many meetings and discussions with Russians. Long but informative on many levels. Unfortunately consumers of the WMSM’s trash will never hear of it.

THE “CASPIAN SEA MONSTER”. One of my favourite Soviet technologies is being revived: RT documentary. Google maps shows one still exists.

HAVE A LAUGH. RT amuses itself with a witty video exposing how it really works (if you believe Western officials, that is). Also laughs at the latest manifestation of Putin Derangement Syndrome.

ASSAD. Kerry has just said that Washington doesn’t seek regime change; so is that the end of “Assad must go” and victory for Moscow? Or will it dissolve away in the ungoverned confusion of Washington?

UNGOVERNED CONFUSION? Consider what US officials say about oil smuggling. Some smuggling, but government not involved, “can’t speak to credibility of Russian satellite images”. Yes into Turkey, but not much. Well maybe the Russian photos are accurate, but haven’t seen the Russian videos of trucks actually crossing the border. Assad buys the oil. Are they just making it up as they go?

“FREE SYRIAN ARMY”. Is collapsing, reports the US Army paper. Read the comments: not many of them, but all see the FSA for the fake it was. The official story, endless blatted forth is not believed any more.

ATTACK ON SYRIAN BASE. Damascus says 4 aircraft from the US coalition attacked an army base in Deir ez-Zor province. The US spokesman denies. Russia did it says Mr Unnamed Official. Russians and Syrians stick to the assertion. Not necessarily US aircraft – see this from a rather excitable source. Anyone who believes US statements these days, hasn’t been paying attention: vide the ever-changing accounts of the Kunduz hospital strike. (And changed again since that account). Stay tuned.

MH17. I told you the DSB report was a “limited hangout”. As always, the hangout is falling apart. John Helmer reports: “The Australian Federal Police and Dutch police and prosecutors investigating the cause of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 believe the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has failed to provide ‘conclusive evidence’ of what type of munition destroyed the aircraft“. (Note, by the way, the evidence of tampering shown in the two photos). As always, they try to keep the deception going. Personally, I’m coming around to the idea it was shot down by an air-to-air missile – there simply aren’t enough lethal fragments in the wreckage or bodies to be from any type of Buk warhead; they all have about 6000.

LIFE IN UKRAINE. The latest fights. (Saakashvili, by the way, has had his Georgian citizenship taken away from him). An account of the quotidian weirdness of Lviv. Stolen artwork for sale.

SOMEONE THE WMSM DOESN’T MENTION MUCH. General Michael Flynn, former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Interview here. More here: he leads a revolt in the US intelligence structure.

TURKEY. Early this month a Turkish battle group moved into Iraq. Baghdad protested; Erdoğan pretended it had been invited; Ayatollah Sistani instructed Baghdad to get them out; Baghdad went to the UNSC; UNSC (USA is the current president) in no hurry. But, it is reported that some or all have left. Meanwhile, the US F-15s are leaving. A Turkish MP says ISIS received Sarin (GB) from Turkey (remember Ghouta? Almost went to war on that one.)

QUESTION. The Varshavyanka class submarine, Rostov-on-Don, fired cruise missiles from the Med. It is now (back?) in the Black Sea. Do the Turks know it (twice?) passed through? As far as I can discover, it could get through the shallowest part of the Straits and the sub is famously silent. One may be certain that Russia has the subsurface route thoroughly mapped and rehearsed.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada Websites: ROPV, US-Russia, Russia Insider

RF Sitrep 20151203


HOW WILL YOUR LOCAL MSM OUTLET AVOID REPORTING THIS? Russian Defence Ministry briefing: ISIS is largely funded by oil smuggling, the oil goes into Turkey, Erdoğan and his family are involved (no evidence given but coming?). Thousands of trucks in and out of Turkey. The Russians claim to have cut the business in half. Watch itthe lines of tanker truckshundreds and hundreds – have to be seen to be believed. And we’re supposed to believe that the all-seeing US satellite system missed them? Actually, here are the US excuses for not hitting them. As a reminder that the WMSM doesn’t tell you very much, here’s the former head of the US DIA saying that the White House made a “wilful decision” to ignore warnings about ISIS. Of course, given the Paris wakeup call, the WMSM just might report this. Watch and see. BUT – and a big but: see below.

ON THE OTHER HAND. The Russian videos purport to show hits on oil storage tanks. But look at this screenshot from the briefing: the upper left and upper right look like grain silos or something while the lower left looks like a water purification plant. This, on the other hand, does look like an oil refinery: note the flames and black smoke you’d expect from a petroleum fire. (Thanks to Petri Krohn for noticing what I did not). Blowing up anything that’s round and claiming it’s oil storage somewhat weakens the Russian case. To put it mildly. The lines of trucks are compelling, though. Note Turkish flag at 0:28.

PUTIN SPEECH. Annual address to the Federal Assembly. Haven’t gone through it in detail; much on terrorism of course but also the usual emphasis on domestic matters – especially food production. The words “Ukraine”, “Kiev” and “Donbass” do not appear in it. Which is rather interesting, isn’t it?

CRIMEA. Finding their food blockade ineffective at persuading Crimeans to return to the embrace of Kiev, Right Sector and “Tatar nationalists” blew up power lines into Crimea and drove off repair crews. Fortunately there was no catastrophic aftereffect on nuclear power plants in Ukraine. However, Moscow foresaw this and has been building electricity connections. The first bit is up and running and 80-90% of the demand should be covered by the end of the month. The full provision is scheduled for May. Meanwhile, here is a video showing the progress of the bridge.

SOROS. The Prosecutor General’s Office put George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation on the list of undesirable NGOs. This observer argues that Moscow lacks self confidence. I disagree: he and others managed to blow up Ukraine which was pretty placid in the 1990s; all societies have fissures which can be pried open with enough money and effort.

HOLLANDE. He met Putin and here are the joint press statements. Seems to me that he’s pretty close to Putin’s strategy: “France is ready and willing to work with Russia… common objective, which is to fight terrorist groups, above all ISIS… agreed… step up the exchange of intelligence… intensify strikes against ISIS and coordinate them… make sure that our air strikes concentrate on the Islamic State and terrorist groups.” On the other hand: “it goes without saying that Assad does not have any role to play in the future of his country.” But, step by step: politicians seem to be unable to openly change their minds.

SYRIA. Several sources claim that Russia is preparing another airfield for use. More S-400s?

TULSI GABBARD. Check her out: a refreshing change in the war-crazed wasteland of US politics. She’s co-sponsoring a bill to stop the “illegal” war on Assad.

DIA SCANDAL. To summarise: the former head is criticising the US Administration’s policy; 50 analysts have complained their reports on ISIS were modified to look more optimistic; even the NYT notices.

TURKEY. Moscow’s response will cost Turkey billions. Putin’s executive order: tourism, trade and employment greatly cut. Turk Stream has just been suspended. S-400 SAMs are now in place in Syria (and Armenia?) and Russian fighters will carry AAMs and probably soon have fighter cover. What Ankara had better not hope is that Moscow “sells” some S-400s to Damascus, “trains” some operators who shoot down the Turkish aircraft that routinely fly into Syria. I do not believe that Washington put Ankara up to shooting it down. First the luke-warm response from NATO and second the absence of monovoiced WMSM coverage. Kerry has told Ankara to seal the border to stop the oil smuggling and Carter said the majority of Turkish strikes in Syria hit Kurds. Not, I think, full-throated support.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada Websites: ROPV, US-Russia, Russia Insider