RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 AUGUST 2017

THE SANCTIONS. The hypocrisy is thick: NordStream 2 (257.a.9) is specifically targeted; damage to NASA (237) is carefully voided. (NASA needs the Russians to get to the ISS and to launch things but European allies can freeze in the dark. Take that, Europeans, it’s for your own good! “You can’t… ask for a bigger U.S. military commitment… while… oppose nonmilitary coercive measures“). The effect of anti-Russia sanctions since 2014 is that Europe has likely suffered more than Russia and certainly more than the USA; Russia has used the sanctions (and its counter sanctions) to increase domestic production (see below) whereas Europe has just lost markets. Well, we’ll find out whether Europe has the feet to stand on that Merkel thinks it has. Russia has many ways to respond and, as Jeffrey Carr has pointed out, Congress has shown it where to hit hardest. Another thing to find out is whether Moscow decides it’s had enough – as Medvedev suggests – and that it’s time to make its “partner” hurt. (Some responses: no more rocket engines, no overflights, no supply line to Afghanistan, no US NGOs, no Russian investments in USA, no accepting US dollars in trade. But Putin & Co will probably come up with something cleverer than anything I can think of). They will be a drag on Washington’s foreign policy for decades: “never recognize” Crimea in Russia (257.a.3)? well, they’re going to have to some time. I am collecting negative reactions on my site. They’re another step on the downward trajectory of the USA: they will drive a wedge between Europe and the USA; push Russia closer to China; may even lead to a rapprochement between Europe and Russia. But short-sighted outbursts are to be expected in the final days I suppose: Congress’ war with Trump displays a contemptuous indifference to its allies’ interests. (Mercouris argues that Trump’s signing statement hints at a Supreme Court challenge: very plausible given that there is nothing to the Russia collusion story – even the WaPo seems to be backing off – and that Trump will be able to appoint more SC judges.)

SANCTIONS EFFECT. Russian statistics tell us that the share of imports in the retail sector is 36%, the lowest since the 2008 crash. Food imports are down to 24% from 34% in 2014. The percentage of imports in various categories: cereals 0.2%; sausages 1.6%; flour 1.8%; poultry 4.1%; pork 8.3%. Gessen will be glad that cheese imports are 27.7%, but sad that they’re down from 48.4%. Sanctions work: just not the way the US Congress thinks they do. Altogether, it’s probably fair to say that Russia is now self-sufficient in food. And production is only going to become bigger: the potential of Russian agriculture has never been tapped; serfdom, the village mir and collectivisation were not very productive.

CORRUPTION. The trial of the former Minister of Economic Development has begun. He was caught red-handed taking a bribe they say. I believe he is the highest ranking official yet to be charged: some – Luzhkov and Serdyukov spring to mind – have been accused of things and been fired, but no charges laid. We are told that 45,000 people have been convicted of corruption crimes over the last three and a half years and about 350 officials have been fired this year and the same last year.

VILLAGE LIFE. Someone who often lives in the Russian countryside blasts another NYT-Russia-is-an-unchanging-nightmare piece. Agreement from an American happily living in a village.

PHOTO OP. Putin and Shoygu, alone but for photographers, go fishing in Tyva; they forget to pack shirts. Western media goes nuts. (DMail) (USA Today) (Daily B) (AP) (Fox) (Time) (Sky) (WaPo) (TorSun) (News.com.au) France 24) (Telegraph) (You look for the rest). Maybe he really is “the most powerful man in the world“. Bare-chested Trudeau and Obama are ever so dreamy, but bare-chested Putin isn’t: CrazyLand is bigger than I imagined. (Do you think Putin is messing with their minds?)

THE THREAT. Pew has an international survey out asking about leading security threats. The following NATO members name US power as a greater threat than Russian or Chinese: Canada, Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey. USA is named first by 19 countries, China by 9, Russia by 7. This is a competition that the US has won every time out of the gate. And rising. Interesting, eh? And after all that propaganda, too. NATO StratCom needs more money!

UKRAINE. The disaster continues. In 2001 its population was 48.5 million. Latest official estimate is 42.5. Examination of various consumption statistics suggest that this estimate is too high. About 2.5 million are in Russia and another 1.5 million in Poland. At some point, for a country constructed out of bits and pieces of other states, depopulation will become geopolitically significant.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Is Trump Finished?

Written for Edward Lozansky’s expert group 25 July 2017 (http://us-russia.org/5064-any-advice-to-trump.html)

Conventional opinion has been wrong about Donald Trump every chance it has had. He wasn’t seriously running; he’d never get the nomination; couldn’t possibly win the election; would be impeached, declared insane, would quit, was failing, was a Putin stooge and on and so on. Therefore absolutely nothing in the MSM or conventional thinking about him is worth a millisecond’s consideration: whatever conventional thought thinks is wrong. I know of only one person who has successfully read the Trumpian tea leaves and he is today saying that Trump is on the point of complete victory. Read Scott Adams; don’t waste your time with those who have been wrong every time before.

That having been said, I have been reading Adams on Trump for more than a year now and have seen him get it right time after time. If he says Trump is on the verge of victory, I believe him. I waste no time on the opinion of pundits who will be wrong again.

I was encouraged by Trump’s oft-stated intention of having better relations with Russia and his statement in his Inauguration Address that “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone…“. For too long Washington’s real message has been the threat, however fragrantly wrapped, “Do what we want or we’ll destroy you”. Twenty years of this has destroyed many countries: it has also (not that the destroyed are sorry about it) weakened the United States itself: Iran’s power and influence has spread, Russia and China are allied, other long-time allies are looking away, the US itself is debt-ridden, quarrelsome and stripped of the manufacturing power that made it so mighty. I believe that Trump understands this on some level.

But I am dismayed by his adulation of the winners of the “U.S. military’s marathon, 30-year, single-elimination, suck-up tournament“. I am disturbed by his evident belief that jihadist terrorism – that product of takfiris like ibn Taymiyya and al Wahhab – finds its headquarters among Twelver Shiites. Many of his personnel choices are very disturbing: people who in no way can be seen as making the change that he promised. The resistance of the Deep State to his attempts is frightening (although it may be significant that one of his latest tweets is that it is not merely a “swamp” to be drained but a “sewer”. Many people pull against him. But I haven’t given up hope yet (and, indeed, developments in Syria give hope.)

Putin had similar problems when he, an outsider, was dropped into the Moscow swamp and here the Saker advises Trump to emulate Putin.

Putin was underestimated too. Here are two opinions that look pretty silly today:

Psychiatry recognizes a condition known as ‘moral idiocy’. Every time he opens his mouth in public, Putin confirms this diagnosis for himself.

                                                                                                       (Andrey Piontkovsky, 2000.)

And

Putin, of course, is no Peter. The KGB lieutenant colonel who was abruptly bumped into the presidential throne of a nation in total disarray comes nowhere near ‘the Great’ in ambition, potential, drive or physical height.

                                                                                                          (Serge Schmemann, 2000.)