RUSSIA AND COVID-19. I wonder whether Xi suspected at first (at first) that COVID might (might) have been a biowar attack and communicated that possibility to Putin. (There are probably people in Beijing who think the US used biowar in Korea.) I think they quickly decided that it wasn’t but the possibility was put into their minds. (Remember the so-called Thucydides Trap?) I thought this up as an explanation of why, as far as I know, only Russia and China have built new permanent isolation hospitals. Just in case. Any way, four new ones just opened in Russia with another one coming later this month. Putin announced the beginning of large-scale vaccinations yesterday, key workers have the priority. Shoygu announced a vaccination program for the military.

KARABAKH. The ceasefire is holding, refugees are returning. “It is worth noting that international actors [he means Western ones, of course] have been completely sidelined from mediation…” Well, what do they bring to the table and who would trust them? The world is changing.

PUTIN. On his last legs again. Again.

SPACE STATION. An Energia executive says that the ISS is breaking down and suggests it has only about five years left. Meanwhile Beijing says China will start to build its own orbital station in 2021. (A Chinese probe just landed on the Moon.) Do I see a joint venture coming?

NAVAL INCIDENT. Peter the Great Bay is near Vladivostok and Russia claims the straight line from cape to cape; the US does not recognise that. A US warship on a “freedom of the seas” trip entered it and was chased off. Not that the USN would ever bow to foreign intimidation; (entertaining read that: the facts are that the US ship entered, the Russian ship told it to leave, it did – but nobody made it leave!!!) The Russian and Chinese navies should do a FONOP in the Gulf of Mexico. But that would be a silly and dangerous provocation without any real point, wouldn’t it?

ARCTIC. Rosneft announces that the Zvezda shipyard in Primorskiy Region has begun constructing the first of 15 icebreaker LNG carriers of the Arc7 class for its Arctic LNG 2 project. There is already a fleet of South Korean-built icebreaker LNG ships operating in Yamal. The Arctic is a Russian lake.

SHARON TENNISON. Interview with her here: worth your time. She’s been tirelessly working to improve American-Russian relations for three decades: ordinary people, face-to-face. Probably the greatest thing she has achieved is that Putin – whom she met way back then – certainly knows what she is doing and I’m sure that he feels he has had enough of Americans, he thinks of her and tries again.

NATO is again concerned by how close to its bases Russia puts its country.

NAVALNIY. More confusion and contradictions revealed in the German story.

SKRIPALMANIA. Yulia phoned home, on a burner it seems; living apart, she’s OK, dad has a tracheostomy tube; dad never wrote to Putin asking to come back and did not give interviews to Urban.

WESTERN VALUES™. The country that judges other countries’ elections just had an election. Somebody won. One day a court will tell us who. Lots of evidence of fraud: here, here, here and here. And who would contract out their elections to machines that can be hacked by anyone? (Note the date and source of the video – three years later, in CNN-land, the machines have become 100% solid.)

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Bubbles continue to burst. Too late, of course – the damage has been done. The only way to get to the truth is to sue. Gee maybe Moscow didn’t fund the Brexit campaign as we told you. Carter Page is suing Comey and others. Now that Flynn is pardoned maybe he’ll sue too.

OPEN SKIES. The USA has formally left it. The irony is that it was Eisenhower’s idea.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. A revealing ad for a Russian correspondent for the NYT – in essence, ya gotta believe all the anti-Russian propaganda or we won’t hire you. But what I don’t get is why pay the housing and transportation costs? They can make up this stuff more easily from home. BELARUS inches towards a solution: Lukashenka just said he will not be President under the new constitution which is expected to appear in 2021.

UKRAINE. Ukrainian historians continue their work: Joe Biden is the descendent of a Ukrainian noble and “culinary deceptions” are the newest Russian “hybrid warfare”. Meanwhile, in the real world, Ukrainians are getting out when they can. The seventh anniversary of Maidan – war, poverty, industrial decline, population fleeing, birthrate collapsing, a comedian in powerless power, the oligarchs looting what little is left, nonsense enshrined. And let’s not even think about this.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer