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