RUSSIA INC. Summarising three recent authorities, Wikipedia says Canada’s GDP is greater than Russia’s and Germany’s is about two and a half times greater. There’s something deeply misleading and, in fact, quite worthless about these GDP comparisons. Russia has a full-service space industry including the only other operating global satellite navigation system. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has an across the board sophisticated military industry which may be the world leader in electronic warfare, air defence systems, silent submarines and armoured vehicles. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has a developed nuclear power industry with a wide range of products. Ditto. It builds and maintains a fleet of SSBNs – some of the most complicated machinery that exists. Ditto. Its aviation industry makes everything from competitive fighter planes through innovative helicopters to passenger aircraft. Ditto. It has a full automotive industry ranging from some of the world’s most powerful heavy trucks to ordinary passenger cars. It has all the engineering and technical capacity necessary to build complex bridges, dams, roads, railways, subway stations, power stations, hospitals and everything else. It is a major and growing food producer and is probably self-sufficient in food today. Its food export capacity is growing and it has for several years been the leading wheat exporter. It has enormous energy reserves and is a leading exporter of oil and gas. Its pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly. It is intellectually highly competitive in STEM disciplines – a world leader in some cases. Its computer programmers are widely respected. (Yes, there is a Russian cell phone.) It’s true that many projects involve Western partners – the Sukhoy Superjet for example – but it’s nonetheless the case that the manufacturing and know-how is now in Russia. Germany or Canada has some of these capabilities but few – very few – countries have all of them. In fact, counting the EU as one, Russia is one of only four. Therefore in Russia’s case, GDP rankings are not only meaningless, but laughably so. While Russians individually are not as wealthy as Canadians or Germans, the foundations of wealth are being laid and deepened every day in Russia. What of the future? Well there’s a simple answer to that question – compare Russia in 2000 with Russia in 2017: all curves are up. Of course Russians support their government – why wouldn’t they? It’s doing what they hired it to do; we others can only dream of such governments. For what it’s worth, PwC predicts Russia will be first in Europe in 2050, but, even so, I think it misses the real point: Indonesia and Brazil ahead of Russia? No way: it’s not GDP/PPP that matters, it’s full service. Russia is a full-service power and it won’t become any less so in the next 30 years. Autarky. Very few aren’t there? And… in that little group of four autarkies on the planet, who’s going up and who’s going down? A big – fatal even – mistake to count Russia out.

TREASON. A couple of weeks ago it was revealed that a computer security specialist and an FSB officer had been arrested under treason charges. Another arrest followed. Theory 1. Connected with a group of hackers known as Шалтай-Болтай (Humpty-Dumpty) for whom the FSB has been looking for some time. Theory 2. Connected with the “golden showers” dossier. If so, this is evidence that the dossier is fake – the FSB would not publicise arrests if it really had kompromat on Trump. But passing even fake information to Western intelligence could be treasonous. Theory 3. Something else. But the treason aspect does suggest information passed to foreign intelligence operatives.

FAMILY LAW. Decriminalisation of domestic violence brings out the usual stuff from the usual sources. The reality is much more complicated and John Helmer explains the background: “An amendment adopted last year by the Duma decriminalized a first battery offence between strangers but left battery between kin or spouses as it was. The practical effect was anomalous — strangers beating children could be treated with more leniency than parents.” The new law equalises things. But the proof will be in the results and there’s no guarantee the law won’t be changed again.

FREE LAND. Last year a program offering free land in the Far East was begun. According to the website, there have been 55,000 applications and about 5000 plots handed out.

UKRAINE. US Senators McCain and Graham visit Poroshenko and urge him to attack: “Your fight is our fight. 2017 will be the year of offence.” Even RFE/RL admits Kiev re-started the war. Is there a US law against Americans doing this? Maybe, under the new management, we will find out.

NEW NWO. Another wheel comes off the juggernaut.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer