Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Since the Cold War ended, Russian leaders have built a shadow empire on the territories of Russia’s sovereign neighbors, extending Russian power where it is unwarranted and unwelcome by sponsoring “frozen conflicts” in southeastern Europe and the South Caucasus. This behavior, designed to maintain political and economic influence beyond Russia’s borders, impedes democratic development in states that aspire to join the West. It exports instability, criminality and insecurity into Europe. It threatens regional military conflict that could draw in the United States and other powers. It also bolsters anti-democratic forces within Russia who believe Russia’s traditional approach of subverting its neighbors’ independence is a surer path to security than the democratic peace enjoyed by the nations of Europe.

Ana Palacio and Daniel Twining (Palacio is the former Foreign minister of Spain. Twining is an Oxford-based consultant to the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Washington Post, 11 March 2006.


SYRIA. Moscow and Damascus have evidently had enough after the US attack on Syrian soldiers. A Russian military spokesman warned that Russian forces in Syria have capable air defences, are spread around the country and will shoot first. The Syrians said, on their part, that they had upgraded systems and would also shoot first. The Americans, for once (no we’ll beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before bluster), are not so cocky: “We’re not sure if any of our aircraft can defeat the S-300.The Russians are increasing their forces: new SAMs specialised to deal with cruise missiles are now there and a naval flotilla (including their aircraft carrier) is on the way. A lot of air defence will be there. So, probably no “no fly zone” now. Russia and Syria stop airstrikes on the jihadist-held part of Aleppo for a humanitarian pause; today extended as residents try to get out. No more talks says Washington on the 3rd, phonecall on the 6th, face-to-face on the 15th. Anybody in charge in Washington? My take on what Moscow has done in a year.

CIVIL DEFENCE. A big civil defence drill at the beginning of the month. As I’ve said before, Russia is preparing for a big war. Others agree. It doesn’t want one but it fears one may come anyway.

RUSSIA INC. The IMF’s Deputy Director of Research said the economy was headed in the right direction and the government had done the right things. Fitch agrees and improved its risk rating. “Tatters” 21 months ago; “free fall” 17 months ago; “collapse” 10 months ago. Nope.

OIL. A few weeks ago OPEC announced that it would restrain production. Putin, Russia having pumped its record since the USSR days, said Moscow was ready to freeze production too. We will see.

CORRUPTION. The FSB amused itself by revealing it had gathered evidence against a bribetaker by means of a bugged samovar they had presented him. “A present from your friends at the FSB” indeed!

WESTERN VALUES™. From the NYT: “At the meeting last week, Mr. Kerry was trying to explain that the United States has no legal justification for attacking Mr. Assad’s government, whereas Russia was invited in by the government. ‘The problem is the Russians don’t care about international law, and we do.'” No comment.

WADAYATHINK? 583 therapeutic use exemptions for US athletes in 2015.Their athletes cheat and get banned from sporting events. Whereas ours take performance-enhancing drugs solely to combat their crippling asthma attacks which might otherwise prevent them from winning the Tour de France.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Always possible to say something stupider, isn’t it? “If the past 15 years show anything, it is that Putin, like a marauding Red Army tank, has no reverse gear.”.

TURKEY. Turkstream is back on. December 2019 is the new completion date. I wonder how the EU is doing in building the pipelines to Turkey to pick up the gas. Because it won’t be coming through Ukraine.

NEW NWO. Serious subject, fatuous title: Bromance Between Xi and Putin Grows as U.S. Spats Escalate.” I’ll say it again: arguably the most important result of the US’s “era of global dominance” will be the Moscow-Beijing alliance.

US ELECTION. The Obama administration has “officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations” and counter attacks are promised. No evidence and “inflammatory and irresponsible” says one who knows about these things. But now that Trump is talking about the election being rigged, and lots of people agree, they’re trying to walk the story back. The NYT neatly squares the circle by saying it won’t be “rigged” but it could be “hacked”. And Putin was mentioned more than anything else in the four US debates. How remarkable that nobody is talking about Seth Rich.

GEORGIA. Georgian Dream won the parliamentary election; presumably normal relations with Russia.

UKRAINE. Pretty scathing attack on Poroshenko in Kyiv Post. I have no idea what this means but am not inclined to think either coincidence or “speaking truth to power”.

POLAND-UKRAINE. Movie about massacres of Poles by Ukrainian nazis in the war. Kiev not happy: “an element of the anti-Ukrainian propaganda conducted by Russia.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS TO YOU. “The Pentagon paid a UK PR firm half a billion dollars to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq.Of course, you may all rest assured that they don’t do that anymore and certainly not in Syria.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

The Greatest Kremlinological Theory Ever: Bald and Hairy

Note: a version of this appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail in 1996 and I am amazed to see it preserved on the Web. I think I originally wrote it for the now-defunct Moscow Tribune about that time.

It was delightful to read Jennifer Rossa’s piece in the Moscow Tribune on 29 February 1996 resurrecting the greatest of all Kremlinological theories. What is known among the professionals as the Hirsute Analytical Tool – the alternation of bald and hairy Soviet leaders – was greatly relied on after its discovery in 1955. A theory of great predictive power, it was the crown jewel of the science of Kremlinology.

However, the HAT has greater power yet: as it survived the communist period so it pre-dated it. Alexander I (1801-1825) was balding; Nicholas I (1825-1855) was also balding. But then the cycle settled down: Alexander II (1855-1881) had a full head of hair, Alexander III (1881-1894) was balding and Nicholas II (1894-1917) had hair. Note, however, the Imperial Corollary: emperors are balding, communists are fully bald.

Unnoticed by other researchers, and here presented for the first time, is the Facial Fur Addendum. Facial fur started gently in the 19th century, rose to a crescendo, died away among the communists and bald faces have been the rule ever since. Alexander I was clean shaven, Nicholas I had a moustache, Alexander II had mutton chops, Alexander III and Nicholas II had full beards. Lenin had a beard, but only a goatee, and Stalin, the last in the series, had a moustache.

The HAT refers only to male rulers of course and Russia had several female rulers in the eighteenth century but not since. Tentative analysis suggests the existence of a long term cycle – possibly involving Big Hair (which Catherine certainly had). The return of women rulers is indicated for the next century.

The HAT is worthless at predicting length of term. For example, Stalin, a Hairy Guy, was in power for nearly 30 years while Chernenko, another Hairy Guy, was in power for only eighteen months. Therefore, it is quite wrong to suggest that the HAT predicts that President Yeltsin will lose the June election. The Hat was discovered in an imperial period when rulers tended to hold office for life. It may not apply to a republican, democratic Russia. If it is still valid, all it predicts is that President Yeltsin’s eventual successor will be a Bald Guy, possibly with a neat moustache.

Note: I was greatly amused to see, when Putin re-appeared as President, that the HAT has lost none of its power. And here is the latest version:

bald and hairy

Who’s in Charge in Washington?

(Question from Sputnik. Something or other is happening somewhere or other in the interstices of the American political machine regarding Syria. But something else is happening somewhere else. What do I think?)

The problem with the question as posed is that it assumes that there is somewhere one can find, if only one can dig deep enough, can detect the last vital piece of information, can parse a Delphic utterance, A Plan in Washington about Syria.

Well, I no longer believe it: I don’t believe that anyone is in charge in Washington. The Saker introduced me to a new Russian word the other day: недоговороспособны – incapable of making agreements. He suggest that the US Administration is paralysed by the election and the possibility of a President Trump. Perhaps he’s right as to the reason, I don’t know, but I agree with the diagnosis: I can’t see any sign that anyone is in charge in the “exceptional nation”.

Consider that US Secretary of State John Kerry, after lengthy and tedious negotiations, signed on to a cessation of fire agreement in Syria. In a properly-run country that would be a done deal. A week later, a Syrian Army position is attacked by the US military (with a highly improbable involvement of allies. Several of whom do not even operate the A-10s and F-16s used). By accident of course: another “regretful” error from “the greatest military in the history of the world“. These “errors” all go the same way, don’t they? real errors, one would think, would be more evenly distributed, wouldn’t they? Just before that news had stopped reverberating, an aid convoy was attacked. On cue, NATO’s go-to “independent” fact checker produces a photo that, he says, proves Russia did it. In fact, to anyone who can think for a moment, the photo is obviously faked and actually proves that neither Russia (nor Syria) attacked the convoy. The carelessness of the faked-up accusation is another indication of the incapacity to either make or deliver on an agreement by Washington.

The US foreign minister signs an agreement that the US military blows up and a (clumsy) fake atrocity is produced to divert attention from that. Then US Secretary of State John Kerry says he’ll never speak to the Russians again, but soon does so.

So what are we to conclude?

This does not sound like a country with an orderly and effective chain of command.

Недоговороспособны – incapable of making agreements.


Putin Derangement Syndrome September 2016

In which I collect all the examples of this strange mental defect that have caught my attention in the month of September in the seventeenth year of The New American Century.



(Not a very original idea, actually)


“The official cautioned that the intelligence community is not saying it has ‘definitive proof’ of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so.” But mere lack of evidence shouldn’t stop endless headlines and all-round panic, should it?

Never fear, the US Congress may investigate. Or at least Warn Putin’s Hackers To Stop Meddling. (Of course, if they were really afraid, they might introduce paper ballots or voter identification or some other means of making the flimsy US voting system a little harder to game.)

Applebaum explains that, either way, Putin has it covered: “4. The Russians attempt to throw the election. They might try to get Trump elected. Alternatively — and this would, of course, be even more devastating — they might try to rig the election for Clinton, perhaps leaving a trail of evidence designed to connect the rigging operation to Clinton’s campaign.” She’s not alone: “If Mr. Trump wins, Russia wins. But if Mr. Trump loses and people doubt the outcome, Russia also wins.”

Assuming, of course, Putin hasn’t poisoned Clinton first. No evidence, just speculation, but it can’t possibly do any harm to get the story out there. (And don’t forget the added verisimilitude that Will Smith played him in the movie.) Is Trump in on the plot too? Could be.

While Clinton isn’t prepared to agree that the New York City bombs were an “attempt by ISIS or ISIS sympathizers, or really any other group, maybe the Russians, to influence the presidential race in some way and presumably try to drive votes to Donald Trump”, she did helpfully point out that “a lot of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS.” And of course, more than once she’s suggested Trump is channelling Putin.

But cheer up, Putin’s DNC Hack Will Backfire because the Kremlin isn’t very good at meddling in other countries’ elections. (So why all the headlines and passionate calls for investigation then?)


Trump will bring fascism which is somehow related to “Putinism” says the husband of Clinton’s possible foreign minister. Savage bear illustration warning!: Timothy Snyder agrees that Putin, or somebody he’s strongly influenced by, is a “fascist”.

Clinton’s running mate tells us that this is just one of a number of very, very troubling instances where Trump’s coziness with Putin… blah blah, very very blah blah.

This month saw the opening of a whole website melding Putin Derangement Syndrome with Trump Derangement Syndrome: “The stakes are enormous. Voting Trump / Pence in 2016 could lead to a Putin / Trump world in 2017.” The Dangers of the Putin-Trump Relationship “In this current cycle, Glaser is funding a new kind of political effort: a website——intended to highlight the connections between the Republican presidential nominee and Russia’s authoritarian president.” The founder of the site is a big donor to the Democratic Party. (The Clinton campaign is, after all, the fons et origo of the Russia hack story. And for pretty obvious reasons too: to divert attention from the real scandal. And maybe worse.)

But, there is some hope: Julia Ioffe believes that somehow, Russia’s ban of Pornhub reflects badly on Trump.


Maybe Putin & Co aren’t fascists at all: someone at MSNBC thinks it’s “authoritarian, communist Russia”. And note the cute hammers and sickles at Does that make Trump a secret commie?

Krauthammer is distressed by people who think Putin plays by the rules: “It makes you want to weep. This KGB thug adhering to norms? He invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, bombs hospitals in Aleppo — and we expect him to observe cyber-code etiquette? Of course, like most of his columns, he’s really bashing Obama: Putin and Xi are just convenient sticks to hit him with.

Obama solemnly informs us that Putin is no more genuinely popular than Saddam Hussein was. Another example of many that show the stunning ignorance in his Administration about Russia. A long and, if you think about it, frightening list of delusions.

The reluctance of some Balkan countries to jump on board the NATO bandwagon is due to Russia’s years-long plot to influence Balkan politics and nothing to do with memories of NATO’s wars there.

But I think this month’s outstanding example of sheer silliness is this one. “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”.

I’ll be away a lot of October and November so you’ll have to wait a while for the next one. By then we’ll know if Putin gamed the US election so that either Trump or Clinton won. But you know… either way… Putin wins!