RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 22 OCTOBER 2020

(This, BTW, is the 802nd Sitrep – forgot to count. The first was in March 1997)

WAAAY HARSH! Putin is only worried about catching a cold at the West’s funeral.

SOMETHING ELSE from the country that doesn’t make anything. First of the new project 22220 class on its way to Murmansk: most powerful icebreaker ever made.

COVECONOMICS. IMF predictions are out. I am fascinated to see that it predicts Russia will do better (less badly) than anyone in the G7 or Euroland. China is set to grow a bit.

CLUELESS. Paul Robinson reminds us that so many Western “experts” haven’t a clue: Putin is popular because Russians think he’s doing a good job, not because “state TV” tells them he is.

RUSSIA-EU. I’ve long wondered when or whether Moscow will decide it isn’t worth wasting its time talking to the West. Maybe it’s about to start with the EU. A cheap and easy case to make its first step.

ENEMIES. A recent Levada poll shows 82% of respondents think Russia has enemies: 70% name USA, 14% Ukraine, 10% UK, 7% EU, 7% Poland. Only half as many thought it had enemies in 1994.

KARABAKH. A Russian-brokered ceasefire failed immediately. But I get the impression that the fighting has stalemated and sooner or later Moscow will be required. It’s one of Stalin’s little cartographic jokes that has come back to make trouble. One should be aware that there are three pieces of territory. Armenia proper; the former Nagorniy-Karabakh AO – largely ethnic Armenian; the Azerbaijan territories conquered by NK two decades ago. Moscow is obliged to protect the first if attacked – which it has not been and for that reason likely won’t be; the second needs some creative diplomacy to make the inhabitants feel secure (and the involvement of Ankara takes them straight back to the massacres a century ago and reinforces their conviction that their forever enemy are the Turks), the third is unquestionably Azerbaijan territory. (Moscow taught Erdoğan a very sharp lesson in 2015; love to know what discussions are going on in the background.)

START. Obama prolonged it as a sort of gentleman’s agreement; but I don’t think it’s going to survive. For one thing, the US negotiator lives in cloud cuckoo land. But – maybe – a development.

CORRUPTION. I’ve long thought that corruption is a much more complicated subject than it’s usually presented as and that we, on our side, might well have more invisible corruption than Russia. Read this and see what you think. And the Pelosis bought a piece of Crowdstrike – well, just… gosh! Of course, if it’s not reported by the NYT it didn’t happen, did it?

THE WISDOM OF RETIREES. MI6 head told us Russia was a “standing threat” “fundamental threat“. Retired, he tells us not to exaggerate. I attempt to explain the appearance of reality upon retirement here.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “Scrambling their brains“, Well…. I guess it does recognise the phenomenon of scrambled brains even if the explanation is a bit of a re-run. Heres’ the story from one of the usual sources. Remember the crickets? Of course it’s primarily anti-Trump agitprop: “the victims are left wondering why so little is being done by the Trump administration”. It’s all so idiotically transparent. (And anything you hear about H— B— is Russian disinformation and not really a story).

USA. Sure are a lot of pieces like this: America on cusp of a Civil War. Or this; this; this; and, especially, this. “For those who have followed events outside the United States during the past few decades, much of this sounds familiar. We’ve seen it before – inflicted on other countries“. If the US itself is suffering a colour revolution, what happens to the colour revolutions in other places? If the USA is tied up in severe civil strife, secession movements, accusations of election fraud, lawfare and the like, in the background of a faltering economy, COVID and forever wars, it will take a lot of pressure off Russia. (Starting to sound a bit like the USSR in the 1990s, isn’t it?)

RUSSOPHRENIA or or How a Collapsing Country Runs the World. I attempt to catalogue the craziness.

UKRAINE. Letter from three EU parliamentarians – strong supporters and believers – complain: “We cannot but see that the corruption perception in Ukraine in 2020 fell back to the 2017 mark, the praised reforms are backsliding…”. What happens when these people finally realise they’ve been lied to and played for suckers from the start? Will they do anything or go away and just be replaced by new suckers?

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS TO YOU. Fighting the Russians with slingshots. No, Rudi, complete nonsense: Ukraine started out with a big slice of the USSR’s heaps of weapons. Like 1000+ tanks, 1000+ AIFVs and so on: Wikipedia list here. A better question is what happened to them?

TODAY’S QUOTATION ABOUT PUTIN

The unique achievements of Russian spin doctors in the 1999-2000 electoral campaigns will go into all the PR and image-making textbooks of the world – virtual Lt. Col. Kije was proclaimed not only president of All the Russias, but also the national hero who could raise the Third Rome from its knees.

– Andrey Piontkovskiy “Short, happy life of Russian ‘elite’” The Russia Journal, February 10-16, 2001

A Lieutenant Kije who today runs the world. (Reference for Kije)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 OCTOBER 2020

THE STRUGGLE INTENSIFIES. Stalin: “because they are becoming weaker, they feel that their last days are approaching and are compelled to resist with all the forces and all the means in their power“. Navalniy, Belarus, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia-Azerbaijan and another treason arrest. Connected?

SYRIA. Fifth anniversary of Russia’s intervention. And successful it has been: a brilliant combination of judiciously applied force, good intelligence, diplomacy and cooperation. And a reminder that, historically, Russians have been pretty good at war. Shoygu sums it up. (Russians like numbers as much as McNamara did – 133K jihadists killed? Let’s just say lots.)

SUGGESTION. Putin suggested how to improve Russia-US relations including a formal undertaking not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. VOA coverage sums up the Western (non) reaction. I assume Putin does these things, not because he expects an answer, but for the record and the outside audience.

CHEESE. Among the silliest things ever said about Russia was this by Masha Gessen (one of the silliest purveyor of silliness about Russia): What the Russians Crave: Cheese. Moscow countered the EU sanctions with a food ban; together with a well-planned program of subsidies and grants, it has effected a huge turnaround in Russia’s food production. In the 90s it was commonly thought that Russia imported half its food, today it is probably self-sufficient. And so with Gessen’s cheese: “it is the third largest producer of cheese after the European Union and the US.” Fancy cheeses too. Probably the ur-mistake of the so-called Western experts on Russia is their baked-in conviction that Russia is as they think it is and cannot, ever, change. This despite all the changes in the Putin Team era. But they’re paid to believe what they believe to be paid.

MEDIA. Speaking of “Russian experts”, RFE/RL six and a half years ago: “The 20 Russian News Outlets You Need To Read Before They Get The Ax“. All still there except for No 7. Ah well, change the date and put it out again; no one will notice. Meanwhile, Twitter removes RIA Novosti. A Levada poll shows that, as elsewhere, Russians get less news from TV, newspapers and radio and more from the Net.

WEAPONS. Zircon test. More interesting to see the hit than just the launch, though. New AAMs?

PEOPLE POWER. The protests in Khabarovsk continue. But very weird now: USSR flag, “Sacred War” and current address of the Antichrist. Pretty hard to fit all those into a coherent narrative.

WESTERN VALUES™. “If the necessary information is not provided, then targeted and proportionate sanctions against those responsible on the Russian side will be unavoidable.” So much for that sacred Western principle, Russia: if you don’t prove you didn’t do it, you’re guilty. “Freedom, democracy and the rule of law. These values are what define us.” Yeah, right.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. Trump says he has declassified everything. OK, let’s get on with it. But one has to ask if a tree falls in the forest and the NYT doesn’t report it, does it make a sound? Or are those who hear the sound debunked conspiracy theorists? And it’s probably too late anyway.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Forget actual evidence: the less there is the more proof there is. “Especially clever is planting tales of supposedly far-reaching influence operations that either don’t actually exist or are having little impact.” WaPo of course.

US ELECTION. Putin says he can work with either. Translation: “президенты приходят и уходят, а политика не меняется” (Presidents come and go, but the policies don’t change).

OOPS! A Ukrainian TV poll on whether Putin should get the Nobel Peace prize: 76% said yes.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Some more steps along an uncertain path. It is principally the relationship with Russia that is the driver (although China and the Muslim lands are factors too). Whatever may have been the case on the past, I don’t see that Europe gets much out of its subservience to Washington these days. But the separation will be slow and painful. I suspect Trump may be pushing it. (Gordian Knot 3).

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. In the early cargo-cult phase of EU/NATO aspirations, no one considered the full package. To a large extent the promised riches have been elusive but the globalist “human rights” package has not. I am amused to see that Budapest and Warsaw, targets both, have decided to fight back. What does this have to do with Russia? Well, Russia is the poster-child of a Westphalian world of independent sovereign states while Brussels is the poster-child of the globalist, one-size-fits-all world. Another tiny step.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer