MY VERY OWN WEBSITE. I hereby announce Russia Observer. I’m gradually back-filling it with stuff I’ve written since I retired in May 2008. Also putting up selections from my extensive list of quotations by and about Putin. He was treated as a monstrum horrendum right from the start. Pity that lazy Western reporters didn’t bother to go to St Petersburg to see what people thought of their Deputy Mayor; we might be in a more rational place today if they had.

LITVINENKO. My thoughts in 2007. Thoughts in 2016: 1) to say “probably” is to admit you haven’t proven your case and 2) a twelve-year old could figure out Putin didn’t do it.

SOMETHING HAPPENING? The Litvinenko nonsense and the Putin-Richest-Man-In-The-World nonsense (where does he find the time to spend it? he’s always working) make me wonder if there is something to the rumour that the US and Russia are trying to do a deal on Ukraine and/or Syria. Given that neither deal would be what Washington originally wanted, maybe it’s time for a little feel-good vilification to distract from two more foreign policy catastrophes.

GOLD. The Central Bank of Russia says it now has 1415 tonnes, up 208.4 last year.

FOOD. More points on the curve: over-supply of potatoes and turkey production up about a third. Even the one-dollar newsmagazine notices: “One of the unintended consequences of Russia’s self-imposed food sanctions has been a strange and wonderful renaissance in its cuisine… that has transformed Moscow into one of the most interesting culinary capitals of Europe.Ditto.

CORRUPTION. Putin chaired a meeting of the Presidential Council for Countering Corruption and gave some numbers: “In the first 9 months of 2015 alone more than 8,800 people were convicted on criminal charges of corruption. Disciplinary action was taken against almost 11,000 officials for violations of the anti-corruption standards.” Is that a lot or a little? I must say I’m tired of seeing “corruption” used in a simple-minded way as a stick to beat Russia with. Certainly there is a great deal of small corruption there but I suspect that our side has more big corruption. It’s rather simple-minded to explain away Clinton’s enormous speaking fees from interested parties as being due to their understandable curiosity to hear her insights.

SYRIA. A Russian MoD spokesman gives the numbers: since September 5,662 sorties (145 from the big guys) and 97 cruise missiles. Intelligent and well-informed discussion of the state of play here at SST. Some new Russian videos here. Also humanitarian aid.

ENGAGEMENT. Japan’s PM and Canada’s Foreign Minister making noises about engagement with Russia. Hollande also. One can hope, but people are soon jerked back into line, aren’t they?

RUBLE. With Iran back in business as an oil exporter – the first ships are on their way to Japan and China now – the price of oil is likely to drop some more and the ruble to take another hit. Which it has. A good thing says this man, given the decline in energy prices because Russia produces oil in rubles which it sells for dollars.

MEDIA. Ever since a German reporter revealed the extent of CIA control and the lies against Russia went over the top, Germans have been abandoning their media outlets. And a new revelation shows the extent of government censorship. Don’t see the same in the Anglosphere although perusal of comments and all the scare-mongering about “Putin trolls” shows the spinmeisters know their line isn’t selling.

IRAN. UN sanctions lifted and so Iran returns. A victory for Tehran and now we face a world in which the endless US warring in the Middle East has made it more powerful than it would have been. Another unintended result.

TODAY’S ENTERTAINMENT. The Negativists are Wrong on Ukraine“. “Europe is in crisis. Once more, America will have to step in to save us“. “Poland’s government rails against foreign oppression. But its vision for the country was born in Moscow“. Strong evidence of the existence of a parallel universe. I’d say.

MINSK. Kiev’s envoy at the Trilateral Contact Group says it’s impossible to talk about elections or constitutional changes in Eastern Ukraine without resuming control over the Ukraine-Russia border. Well, the Minsk Agreement pretty clearly says different. So who’s holding up implementation?

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