RUSSIA AND COVID. Today’s numbers: total cases: 106K; total deaths: 1073; tests per 1 million: 24K. Why so few deaths per cases? One theory is that Russia has done more tests than most large countries so the denominator is larger; another is the the idea that the BCG vaccine has some effect; Russophobes (of course) say that Russia is lying (as if it could cover up lots of deaths given today’s social media). Moscow, where half the cases are, is now, after a very unsteady start, tracking people electronically. Putin has extended the lockdown (with full pay) until 11 May. The PM has it.
POST COVID. Russians turn out to have quite a bit saved: 16% say they have enough for a year or more; 25% for 3-6 months; 29% for 1-2 months; 30% report none. The quoted piece sees this as a disaster but, when you add in the support measures the state has provided during the shutdown, low health, education and housing costs, Russians will come out of this better off than many other countries. (Thanks to Jon Hellevig).
OIL WARS. The bottom has dropped out of the business. Full tankers lined up; negative futures prices; current price about $17. Lots more Saudi oil on its way to the USA. The agreement to cut production doesn’t seem to have had any effect. Did MBS launch it in a fit of pique? As China’s economy powers up again, it will need oil but apparently it’s buying it mostly from Russia.
BLAME. The egregious failure of the USA and its minions is going to lead to a lot of accusations: we already see Chinadunnit in full cry in the two supposedly best prepared countries. China, Russia and Iran are all busy spreading disinformation says Pompeo and “disparaging” US efforts. If the story that Fauci gave money to the Wuhan lab to research bat coronaviruses is true, there will be an embarrassing back blast.
THE GREAT PUTIN DISAPPEARANCE II. “Putin Has Vanished, but Rumors Are Popping Up Everywhere” says the NYT. Memory lane trip time. For a modest retainer I will provide the West’s intelligence agencies and media access to the top-secret, well-hidden and known-to-only-a-few-of-the-initiated information on his activities. (BTW, we need a new word in English to cover the concept of “stupid”.)
HISTORY. A large church to “unite all Orthodox Christians serving in the Armed Forces” is nearly finished outside Moscow. (I do wish they’d stop translating “храм” as “cathedral”). RFE sneers; Moscow Times melts down. Four halls will commemorate three warrior saints and a famous icon from the 1812 war. As I’ve said before, unlike some countries that prefer to airbrush their history or turn it upside down (as did the USSR, of course) modern Russia attempts to face it all: Stalin plus the Smolensk Icon; it all happened, why pretend that half of it didn’t?
MILITARY STUFF. It was revealed that the T-14 Armata MBT had been tested in Syria. Of course they never tell us if it just drove around in the dust and heat or actually shot at things. Syria is a big test-bed for Russian weapons. Paratroopers made a 10,000 metre jump in the Arctic. (Video) The Soviets practically pioneered large-scale parachute operations and today the Russian Airborne are still the only one that routinely drops AFVs and is not, therefore, merely light infantry when it hits the ground.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Looks like Flynn was set up by the FBI.
GOOD QUESTION. Why does the US have so many biolabs close to Russia? Georgia. Ukraine. Armenia. It’s not as if the safety record for the ones in the US is so good.
UKRAINE. For your amusement: “The Peril of Polling in Crimea: Is It Possible to Measure Public Opinion in an Occupied Territory?” Unsurprisingly Ukraine’s Foreign Minister concludes it isn’t. Meanwhile Saakashvili’s back. And land sales are on.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer