ELECTION. The Duma election is on Sunday. I haven’t paid much attention to it because I don’t expect anything exciting or different. A poll gives United Russia 41%, Zhirinovskiy’s party 13%, Communists 7%, Just Russia 6% and ten others (there are 75 (!) parties registered) in the weeds. This is believable (the Communists and Zhirinovskiy share a part of the electorate, it goes back and forth and both leaders have been around since 1993). Putin continues wildly popular, his government is pretty effective, the opposition is tired or tainted, so why shouldn’t his – admittedly boring – pedestal party do well? I doubt we’ll see protests – the NGO law has greatly reduced the power of the regime changers. (Yes there is some real opposition to Putin & Co but it’s so contaminated by Western interference it’s impossible to know what’s real. In any case, it’s likely that most opponents think he’s too soft.) I very much look forward to statements from the US, especially Hillary Clinton, that they weren’t “democratic” or “fair”.

CORRUPTION. A fairly big fish caught: an official, with a responsibility for combatting corruption, was arrested when a search found a lot of cash.

MILITARY. A big exercise wraps up in southern Russia. Video: note thermobaric bombs at 1:50. The “‘unsafe’ intercept of US aircraft” doing “routine operations in international airspace” happened during it. The limit is 12 nautical miles or 22.2 kms. The US plane was 40 miles from the coast and its transponder was off. What does Washington say about Russians when they leave Russia? “Highly irregular” and “aggressive, dangerous“, that’s what. And even more outrage when they turn their transponders off.

WADA WARS. “Fancy Bear” hacked WADA and discovered that some athletes have been given a pass on certain proscribed drugs. WADA doesn’t deny but says it was OK because they had prescriptions. Does drug X cease to enhance performance if doctor prescribes it? I think some explanations are needed.

NEW NWO PART 1. This year’s G20 in China was a triumph for Putin but not so much for Obama. Interesting isn’t it? All the nonsense three years ago in Australia, Obama coming up unscheduled to talk to Putin last year and now this. Zbigniew Brzezinski tells us today that the US’s “era of global dominance” is ending. Only two decades ago – a rather short “era” – he assured us the US was supreme in all categories. Said he then: “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran… Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill…”. China-Russia-Iran…. It’s all happening quickly, isn’t it? Newton’s Third Law of Motion in geopolitics.

NEW NWO PART 2. China and Russia have begun a large and rather all-inclusive military exercise in the South China Sea. This (“routine” and “not aimed at anyone” of course) exercise was preceded by Moscow stating its support for Beijing in the Sea.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. A new victim is admitted to the ward. “What is behind Vladimir Putin’s curious interest in Mount Athos?“. Not much of a mystery: there has been a Russian monastery there for 800 years, Russian governments traditionally supported it, Putin is a believer. But no: must be a “listening post or centre for intelligence gathering” or some other “secret agenda”. But seriously, PDS is neither a joke nor accidental as Robert Parry explains.

SYRIA. After long negotiations and much back and forth, Kerry and Lavrov agreed on a cessation of hostilities and a program. Much is still secret (Lavrov wants it all out there but not Washington) but we are told that Damascus and Ankara are in on it too. Russian troops have positions on the Castello Road. So, some hope, I suppose, but I have noticed before that Kerry will agree to things when he is in the same room as Lavrov but, when in another room with other people, he seems to drift away from the agreement. Washington has to give up its imaginary “moderate rebels” and the “Assad must go” mantra. Does it want to? Can it? I honestly don’t know: who’s running the place anyway?

UKRAINE’S NIGHTMARE. Today’s reading list: Origins of the war in Donbass; Ukraine’s Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace; Why American Right-Wingers Are Going to War in Ukraine (note the drunken shootings into Donbass and the tacit support from the regular army). The hearing of Moscow’s case against Kiev for the US$3 billion loan will be in January. Kiev is not expected to win. The Maidan spirals down some more. But, “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation” and we’re not there yet. And, has Paris had enough of Kiev ignoring the Minsk agreement? Or is this another contumacity to be reined in?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer