Today’s Quotation About Putin

When he was elected, President Putin set out to build a strong state in Russia. This document shows what kind of state the president considers strong. Prosperous families, and society in general, don’t matter in Putin’s strong state. A strong state is one which is armed to the teeth, and fenced in by numerous self-imposed restrictions and limitations. According to the president, economic security takes precedence over all other economic ideas.

Alexander Nadzharov “Backing up? President Putin prepares a turnaround of the Russian economy. The Security Council’s plans for national economic security” Novye Izvestia August 9, 2001


RUSSIA MAKES NOTHING. In the last month, its Superjet 100 has been delivered to the first Western customer; its battle robots have been displayed; its new nuclear-powered icebreaker, the largest ever built, has been launched; it has exported more grain than anyone else; its anti-Ebola vaccine has passed the first round of trials; its space capsule returned three astronauts from the ISS. And, for the future: five of the top-ten spots in the ACM-International Collegiate Programming Competition were Russian.

SPIEF. Mercouris contrasts it with 2014: “In summary, the mood this year at SPIEF was of a country emerging from a period when it had been forced onto the defensive and which is now preparing itself for fresh advances both in its foreign policy and in its economic life.” Many more European attendees too.

SANCTIONS. Time to stop them and change policy say French Senate, writers in a British paper and a German paper, former German Chancellor, former German cabinet minister, former OSCE vice-president, former French President. Why? Because they’re costing: drop in EU food exports, Finnish factory shuts down, Le Monde sums it up. Russian agriculture, on the other hand is booming: even Bloomberg agrees, Russia is self-sufficient in chickens, nearly so in pork and moving fast in beef. And is the biggest exporter of grain. Sergey Ivanov rather hopes sanctions continue. His wish will be granted.

NONSENSE. It’s always a difficult choice, but I nominate “Putin’s Russia is a poor, drunk soccer hooligan” as the stupidest thing on Russia published lately. Out-of-date statistics and simple-minded direct USD-RUB comparisons.

MORE NONSENSE. A NATO general says “any attempted aggression by Russia using methods like it did in Crimea would not be allowed to go as far as it did there… ” Perhaps he can name a NATO country in which up to 25 thousand Russian troops, supported by 90% of the population, are legally stationed.

PROPAGANDA IS… “British navy intercepts Russian submarine on way to Channel. More truthful is “UK Illegally Harasses Russian Submarine Engaged in Lawful Passage of English Channel“. No wonder the British press is dying.

…NOT WORKING. I take what comfort I can from polls like this one. It shows Europeans aren’t all that scared of Russia and that they don’t approve of the way relations with Russia are conducted. This after years and years of anti-Russia and anti-Putin propaganda.

RUSSIAN HACKERS… DNC. More unsourced accusations.

BROWDER. Nekrasov’s documentary “The Magnitsky Act—Behind the Scenes” has finally been shown and in Washington, despite attempts by Browder to shut it down. Doctorow reviews it.

IT’S A MYSTERY. Turkey’s President Erdoğan bemoans poor relations with both Obama and Putin and sent a letter to Putin hoping for better relations.

MIRROR IMAGE. I’ve been doing this since Chernyenko and am ever bemused by the reversal of positions. Then Moscow banned our broadcasts, now we want to ban its. Some want to restrict Russian Open Skies flights because Russia is using them to “expand its espionage capabilities“. When Eisenhower proposed the idea the Soviets rejected it for much the same reason. That’s what it’s for: open skies for transparency and confidence-building.

NATO AND STABILITY. Global Peace Index rates Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine and Libya as among the ten most dangerous countries; all have seen NATO’s “stability generation“. The German Foreign Minister says “Anyone who thinks you can increase security in the alliance with symbolic parades of tanks near the eastern borders, is mistaken.Another German Foreign Ministry person agrees. Der Spiegel intimates some allies are disturbed by Poland’s anti-Russia stance.

UKRAINE MISCELLANY. The Azov founder threatens to overthrow the government if it agrees to Minsk-style elections in Donbass. Sikorski (a cheerleader for Maidan) says Kiev should forget about Donbass and Crimea because it can’t afford to re-integrate them. Kiev had better get used to the end of Russian-subsidised gas. (Didn’t that used to be Russia’s “gas weapon“?) Hungary notices Transcarpathia and Kiev notices too. Poll shows Ukrainians still loath their politicians and are just as split on everything else. About five million citizens are now out of the country: that’s over ten percent.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Still, a big worry is that, even under Mr Primakov’s relatively sophisticated tutelage, Russia seems unable to break free of its view of the world as a sort of zero sum game in which countries become strong only by making other countries weak. In the near abroad, where it counts for something, Russia pursues that logic with hard cynicism. Presumably, it would do the same in the more distant abroad if it only had the chance. Mr Primakov is calm, he is calculating, he can be amusing. But there is something chilling in his Lubyanka tinted eyes.

The Economist 23 Nov 1996

Questions NATO Still Hasn’t Answered

A couple of years ago NATO held one of its self-congratulatory summits in Wales. I suggested some agenda subjects to discuss. Time moves on, dates change, but these subjects didn’t make it to the agenda then and won’t next month either. Instead we’ll hear how NATO’s an all-round Good Thing.

NATO Gives Away the Secret

On the NATO home page we find “Admiral Howard takes the helm at JFC Naples

In it is this

As Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Howard will be responsible for leading full spectrum maritime operations in concert with allied, coalition, joint, interagency and other partners to advance U.S. interests while enhancing maritime security and stability in Europe and Africa. [My emphasis]

Now I thought, in my simple-minded way, that NATO’s “essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means” and not just to be a beard for Washington’s aims and purposes.

I guess I was wrong.

Check it out before some NATO flunkey “corrects” it.

(Thanks to Tina Jennings for catching this)

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Headline from the Daily Stupidity Mail

NATO shows Putin who’s boss: 31,000 troops, tanks and jets from 24 countries begin the largest war game exercise in eastern Europe since the Cold War in response to Russian aggression

Well, apart from the fact that 80-some-odd percent of these 31K troops are from the USA and Poland, and the others are from here and there (in short, another typical NATO – some-NATO – others-NATO – whoever-shows-up NATO, all-NATO-all-the-time, operation) we can compare this with the somewhat larger FTXs Russia does (as, for example VOSTOK-2014 155K troops) and be properly gobsmacked.
But I prefer to look at the comments on the Daily Idiocy Mail website; regarding them as giving us, as Agent K might say, a better bead on reality.
Highest rated (467 upvotes):
So we organize a huge premeditated military show of Force with thousands of troops on Russias doorstep because of what???
Second highest rated (403 upvotes):
These fools are barking up the wrong tree! They should worry about ISIS and migrants crisis NOT Vlad.
Third highest rated (371 upvotes):
So this is what NATO is doing when they are not too busy training ISIS troops in Turkey?
I say it ain’t selling, Daily Dorkface Mail. Better go back to Hot-Babe-of-the-Moment’s-Beach-Body.\
Top comment: “Hunga Munga!!!!!” (92 billion upvotes)
 That gets upvotes.

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Russia wants everything: special recognition as a great power; aid from the West; free access to the world’s markets; a veto over the expansion of NATO; and the right to do what it pleases in its own backyard. Eventually the West will have to tell Russia, forcibly, that it cannot have everything. The tantrum that will follow will be much worse than the one over Bosnia.

The Economist, 16 April 1994

Hybrid War for Dummies

Hybrid war” is an expression that is much used of late. It has two opposing meanings which must carefully be distinguished.

The first is the way the term is commonly used; that use is imaginary;

the second is the way it is not used; that use is factual.

To take the first use: “hybrid war”, they tell us, is what Russia is doing and NATO has to create a response. And here’s a whole paper about it. (Although I must confess I can’t figure out whether the author thinks that asserting that Russia is cunningly practising “hybrid warfare” is true or or whether he thinks saying so is just plain nonsense.) In the paper we find this:

In sum, Russian hybrid warfare as widely understood in the West represents a method of operating that relies on proxies and surrogates to prevent attribution and intent, and to maximize confusion and uncertainty.

The author also tells us it is sometimes called the “Gerasimov doctrine” after an article written in 2013 by the Chief of the Russian General Staff.

According to Gerasimov, the lessons of the Arab Spring are that if the ‘rules of war’ have changed, the consequences have not – the results of the ‘colored revolutions’ are that a ‘thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe and civil war.’

In short, the theoretical foundation of this supposedly amazing, tricky, sinister and almost invisible Russian way of waging war originates in a paper written about Western-inspired “colour revolutions”. But I’ll return to that point later.

We started to hear a lot about “hybrid war” after the referendum in Crimea. And still more after the fighting started in eastern Ukraine. And this is where we see the term used in an imaginary sense. “Russia invaded Crimea“. Well, it didn’t: it already had 20-25 thousand troops in Crimea (by treaty – the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been based at Sevastopol since before the US Constitution was drafted) and those were the troops used. What were they used for? To make sure that a referendum was peaceful. Which it was and the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants voted to re-join Russia. No evidence of invasion? all the more proof that it’s… “hybrid war“!

Then Russia “invaded” Ukraine. Again, no serious evidence was presented – I covered the laughable “evidence” that NATO was handing out at the time and there is no need to go over it again: blurry satellite photos of something or other, “social media and common sense”, reporters who saw but – !! – forgot the means to record it. But, the lack of evidence makes us all the more certain that it must have been… “hybrid war”!

Then they read comments on their flacks’ articles that show their audience doesn’t believe it any more. Trust in the MSM continues to drop. RT appears on TV screens and attracts an audience. People catching on to the lying? No way, it must be… “hybrid war”!

Disagreement… “hybrid war”! Vote against it… “hybrid war”! Doubt it… “hybrid war”! Criticise it… “hybrid war”! Question it… “hybrid war”!

So, if you want to assert something, but you don’t have any evidence, call it “hybrid war”! If somebody catches you in a whopper, it must be “hybrid war”! No US Navy base in Sevastopol, it must be “hybrid war“!

“Hybrid” is used here in the sense of “invisible”.

And you hope that no one noticed that when Moscow actually did intervene with military force – as in Syria – reporters remembered their cameras, satellite photos became so sharp you could almost read the serial numbers and there was evidence of Russian military activity all over the place. Nothing “hybrid” about that.

So, that is the term “hybrid war” in its common, but imaginary, sense.

We now turn to the rarely used, but non-imaginary sense of the term. Remember that Gerasimov wrote his piece while discussing “colour revolutions”. A colour revolution is the nickname given to a regime change operation. As, for example, the Rose Revolution in Georgia that overthrew Shevardnadze and brought in Saakashvili. Or the Orange Revolution in Ukraine that overthrew Yanukovych (the first time) and brought in Yushchenko. Or the Libyan Arab Spring that killed Qaddafia and blew up the country. Or the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan that everyone has forgotten. Or the abortive White Ribbon Revolution in Russia. Or the abortive Umbrella (a colour is a giveaway these days, but there has to be a catchy slogan) Revolution in Hong Kong. Now that’s real “hybrid war”. And, as we have seen in course of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, sometimes it becomes a real shooting war, with real dead bodies and entrails. Used to be that to get rid of a ruler you didn’t like, you invaded and eventually fished him out of a hidey hole and hanged him. Now, you invest the money ($5 billion in Ukraine we are told) to organise protests against corruption and overthrow him. But, different methods in different places: sometimes the one thing, sometimes the other; but it’s all war, and it’s all “hybrid”.

It’s “hybrid” because it uses many methods to bring about the desired regime change: propaganda, manipulation, protest and, occasionally, a little judicious bombing. So how ironic – how “hybrid”, in fact – that Gerasimov’s so-called textbook of Russian “hybrid war” should actually be written about the real “hybrid war” that Washington practises. A neat illustration that the common use of the term “hybrid war” is imaginary and that the hidden use is real.

For any objective observer, the evidence of who actually practises “hybrid war” is all around. Look at what we have learned just in the last month or so. The Guardian informs us that “The British government is waging information warfare in Syria by funding media operations for some rebel fighting groups…“. In the USA “15 years ago, there were two PR people for every reporter in the country. Now there are 4.8 PR people for every reporter.” “One of President Obama’s top national security advisers led journalists to believe a misleading timeline of U.S. negotiations with Iran over a nuclear agreement and relied on inexperienced reporters to create an ‘echo chamber’…”. Even respected organisations like MSF are suspect: “It seems that current MSF actions and statements on Syria are biased and effectively serving the coalition of governments waging war on Syria in violation of international law.The US funds “White Helmets” – an allegedly independent neutral organisation in Syria – but won’t allow its leader into the USA.Millions of pounds of British humanitarian aid sent to Syria may have fallen into the hands of jihadists, it has been claimed“. “The problems of the Middle East and North Africa are being compounded by a lack of ‘Western involvement,’ former Tory Foreign Secretary William Hague has claimed.” “Referenda are becoming a huge problem for the EU. The latest result in the Netherlands on the Association Agreement with Ukraine is probably the worst possible outcome.” “Croats, Bosnians, Serbs, you have been manipulated, war was staged – Former CIA officer.” “And as life has shown during these two years, Ukraine today is not a successful project. That is, America has not coped with this task.

A recent sample; and none of it from Russia or from any Putin “hybrid war” troll. What have we learned? Let us translate:

  1. Most of what you hear about Syria actually comes from London;

  2. Most reporters these days are full time PR flacks;

  3. Your government manipulates what you think you know;

  4. NGOs – well forget the NG part, only the O part is true;

  5. Different “NG”O, same story;

  6. Either we’re not as smart as we told you we were or we always intended to give the so-called enemy all that stuff. You’ll never know;

  7. More wars and more wars after that; eventually we’ll get to the Last War of All;

  8. Democracy is for losers; which is what Dutch voters are;

  9. Manipulation, ditto;

  10. Oops! Ukraine is a disaster, but the next intervention is guaranteed to be a winner. Trust us.

Definitely warfare – if you’re in Syria, Iran, Middle East, North Africa, Netherlands, former Yugoslavia, Ukraine. Warfare and pretty “hybrid” too. “Hybrid” here means sometimes bombs, sometimes “democracy promotion”, but always lies and manipulation.

By the way, this sort of thing began some time ago – “It’s recently [ February 2011] been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion.”

Which makes it all the more “hybrid” to assert that Gerasimov dreamed it all up three years ago.