DUMA ELECTION. As expected: the pedestal party improved its standing. United Russia 343 (+105), Communists 42 (-50), Zhirinovskiy 39 (-17), Just Russia 23 (-41) and Motherland and Civic Platform 1 each. “Liberals” wiped out. Nothing surprising about this: Russians know they are under attack and, as they have for centuries, they rally round the leadership. But a very low turnout: my guess is that everyone was confident the government would win. Added to which, United Russia is not a very inspiring bunch. Karlin discusses fraud. Some no doubt, but not enough to affect it.
DIVERSIFICATION. Remember all that stuff about how Russia’s economy wasn’t diversifying? Der Spiegel says it now earns more from agricultural exports than from arms sales. A Russian economist hopes the sanctions last another five years. More non-petroleum exports. Time for a cliché reboot.
GDP. IMF says Russia’s GDP is less than Spain’s. Should change its methodology, don’t you think?
TRUMPUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Convergence! A whole website! “The stakes are enormous. Voting Trump / Pence in 2016 could lead to a Putin / Trump world in 2017.“
MH17. The new report is out and says the rebels did it. I’m not going to waste time reading it: more blurry photos, data supplied by Ukraine, social media and none of Kerry’s “imagery“. It still ignores the damage to the port engine. Why is that important? Because in order to damage it, a Buk (given the warhead blast pattern) would have had to be coming from Kiev-held territory in a more southerly direction. The first report ignored the damage so it could claim the missile came from rebel-held territory to the east. QED.
WADAYOUKNOW? More athletes with prescriptions. A lot of unhealthy athletes out there, aren’t there?
TRANSPONDERS. Remember when Russian military planes flying with their transponders off was “reckless” or, as NATO itself complained, “a potential risk to civil aviation“? NATO doesn’t remember either: it turned down a Russian-Finnish idea that all military aircraft in the Baltic area should have them on all the time. “Do little to improve air safety” says NATO. Draw your conclusions, Dear Reader.
RUSSIANS BOMB AID CONVOY! Bellingcat unwittingly proves it didn’t.
SYRIA. Immediately after Kerry negotiated a cessation of hostilities, the US military attacked the Syrian Army. (Another “regretful” error from “the greatest military in the history of the world“.) I think Moscow has given up negotiating with a “partner” that cannot (or will not) deliver and decided for a military solution. Then, when the “facts on the ground” have been changed, diplomacy can resume.
RUMOUR. “U.S. Coalition Intelligence ‘Operations Room’ Inside Syria, Destroyed by Russian Missile Attack: Thirty Israeli, American, British, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari Intelligence Officials Killed, Report“. I’m not convinced, but it’s something to put in the “maybe file”
NEW NWO. A poll shows the US military overwhelmingly support Trump or Johnson, the two non-interventionist candidates. The same poll shows that they are tired of “nation building”. Perhaps years of random destruction and defeat inform their views. Leaks from Special Forces trainers of “moderate” rebels show that they know full well “they are just training the next generation of jihadis” The Saker explains why Moscow sees Washington as недоговороспособны – incapable of making agreements. The Russian and Turkish military chiefs met in Ankara. Russia and Pakistan have their first joint exercise. Duterte contemplates switching sides. The world is changing and people want to join the winners.
UKRAINE. Today’s reading. “The west looks on as corruption and bigotry rule in the ‘new Ukraine’“. “Bad decisions: how to build the poorest country in Europe” And no blaming Russia, Putin, Donbass rebels or any of that for a change. Look at these cartoons enumerating the many improvements EU association would bring to Ukraine: today’s dismal reality (but, even so, it’s better than tomorrow’s will be) is very far indeed from what they were promised. I wonder if any people have ever been so deluded.
THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. “The report states that the Libyan intervention was ‘not formed by accurate intelligence’ and that the Cameron government failed to see that ‘the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element.'” So another regime change war based on falsehoods. And don’t forget the cackle. I still think this was what convinced Putin to return.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer