WADA YA KNOW? Fake story, fake accusation as I said at the time “My default position nowadays is that it’s all lies.” NYT reports that WADA has cleared 95 of the 96 athletes they looked at. But that propaganda outlet cannot resist suggesting that that Russia may have destroyed the evidence. That’s the information war: smear the unfounded charge all over; when the story collapses and the damage done, move on to the next one. What we did learn however, is that a remarkable number of Western athletes have a doctor’s note that allows them to take banned substances. Interesting eh?

MOSCOW ELECTIONS. While the pedestal party won overall, there was some excitement because, in a very low turnout, “liberals” organised a win in some seats in Moscow. Karlin is not impressed and points out the correlation with bicycle rental stations. Shamir takes it more seriously seeing it as the latest Washington regime change effort. Perhaps he’s right: both The Guardian and Newsweek hail it (BTW: the comment by Germann Arlington absolutely nails the Big Inconsistency of Western reporting: “If the elections are rigged then the result should have been the usual 98% for Putin’s party. If the election is not rigged then why is it always presented as such?”). Russian politics are pretty frowsty: the pedestal party dominates (but the Putin Team is popular) the KPRF and LDPR were led by the same guys when the USSR was still around, even Yavlinskiy (then, now) is still out there (Crimea is part of Ukraine: not a big vote getter). One day things will start to change but I doubt this is the moment.

LISTENING IN. Wikileaks tells us about Russian scanning of electronic communications. Putin often tells us that everything is done legally. Well, it always starts that way, doesn’t it? If they can, they will.

ZAPAD-2017. Well, the exercise is over and Russia didn’t conquer/invade/attack or even threaten anybody. Next overreaction scheduled in four years. (I amuse myself laughing at the excitables.)

SAUDI-RUSSIA VISIT. My take on Salman bin Abdulaziz’ visit to Moscow. I remember that Abdulaziz switched from London to Washington in 1945 and speculate that Riyadh may again be adjusting its place in the developing new power order.

STALIN’S NOT BACK. Robinson describes a visit to a church dedicated to the New Martyrs situated on a Cheka killing ground. The truth is that Russia remembers everything.

NEW PARK. The horrible old Rossiya Hotel is gone and replaced by an interesting park (design idea).

SANCTIONS. According to the UN rapporteur, sanctions and counter-sanctions cost the EU US$3.2 billion a month; the Russian economy has lost US$55 billion in total. He calculates the total cost to both at US$155 billion. In short, he agrees that Europe has been hit much harder than Russia and certainly much more than the USA. Perhaps that was the real point: Washington’s “overriding strategic objective the prevention of a German-Russian alliance“.

RUSSIANS IN SYRIA. The author has sent me a file of photos which are of interest. What is immediately apparent (I can’t help comparing them with what I saw during Chechnya I) is the aura of tough professional competence and lots of sophisticated kit.

S-400. Turkish President Erdoğan says Ankara has already put down a deposit on the S-400 SAM system. I am still rather puzzled: this is a crown jewel weapon system and Turkey is, still, in NATO. We are assured that this is just the export model and that even taking it apart wouldn’t reveal its secrets.

TRUST. Trump announced the closure of the CIA support to Syrian rebels. Or has it ended, or was that just weasel-wording that allowed the Pentagon to continue? Who can say? Foreign Affairs magazine, no less, has just gone public with The Pentagon Is Spending $2 Billion Running Soviet-Era Guns to Syrian Rebels” and there are persistent reports (denied by Washington of course) that US helicopters lifted people out of Deir ez-Zor after the Syrians broke the siege. (Deir ez Zor was the scene of the US attack on Syrian forces a year ago.) Trump’s constant references to the Iran nuclear deal as “one of the worst” does not give anyone confidence that Washington would keep its word to Pyongyang (or anybody).

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All the reasons why the Russia-election-interference story is bunkum. Not least of which is the remarkable inactivity of the FBI: for example “The FBI has never questioned Assange [he confirms that] or Murray” and neither has it ever looked at the DNC servers. Nonetheless, every time you think the hysteria has gone as far as it can, it goes a bit farther: Morgan Freeman joins the circus. Bershidsky trashes the latest nonsense. One can hope that it’s finally jumped the shark.

NEW NWO. Beijing shows its teeth.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer