UKRAINE ATTACK? The team that gave us the Ukraine catastrophe is back in Washington, a US general is in Ukraine and heavy equipment is moving. A resumption of fighting would suit many in Kiev, Washington and NATO. But Moscow is not asleep and the Donbass defenders are prepared. I would expect, along with supplies, Moscow to make discreet but observable preparations. If that doesn’t stop an attack, Moscow has the long-range weapons to interdict assembly areas and routes and pretend deniability. If that doesn’t work, I would expect a reprise of 2008, only faster. What’s the West going to do in the face of a fait accompli? Shout more? Sanctions? A crushing defeat will produce reverberations in Kiev: very few of the Ukrainian forces in Crimea stayed loyal to Kiev and Zelensky was elected on a promise of making things better, not worse. A week should tell us which it is.
SANCTIONS. More of them thanks to the latest fact-free accusation. But, as an analogy, think of sanctions on Russia as similar to the over-use of antibiotics – Russia is becoming immune.
RUSSIA INC. It looks as if Russia will come out of COVID-19 in better (less bad) shape than most. Its GDP drop is estimated to be 3.1% which is better than the world average of 3.5%. In comparison, the drop in 2015 was 2.0% and in 2009 7.8%. Likewise, its national debt remains lower than most.
HISTORY. Ever since Iron Felik’s statue was torn down, Lubyanka Square has lacked a statue. So they decided to have a vote: Dzerzhinskiy or Aleksandr Nevskiy? 45% for the first 55% for the second, and Mayor Sobyanin scrapped the plan as too divisive because there wasn’t a strong majority either way.
FAKE NEWS. The most dangerous Russian disinformation is true information. “In each case, the Russian outlets were repeating actual news reports“; “certain Kremlin-backed narratives are factually true…”. In a piece about trying to extradite an American fighting for “right-wing militias” in Ukraine, the NYT has to add: “Any suggestion that these groups are extremist risks playing into the hands of Russian propagandists“. Well then, why the fuss? Those pesky Russians; they use facts to confuse us. (Speaking of nazis, I find the timing of this, on CNN, intriguing: “The Ukrainian collaborator Yaroslav Stetsko didn’t have an aptitude for astrophysics; what he did have was a knack for organizing the butchers of Jews”. Sounds a bit like “playing into the hands of Russian propagandists” doesn’t it?)
WAR. We’re supposed to believe – assertions are the new evidence – that Russia hacked nothing but the US election in 2016 and everything but the election in 2020. Washington is planning “clandestine” retaliatory cyberattacks. I’m sure Russia has powerful counter moves. ??????
CHINA-RUSSIA. The Chinese Foreign Minister said China and Russia “will build a model of strategic mutual trust, firmly supporting each other in upholding our fundamental interests, joining forces against ‘colour revolutions’ and fighting all types of false information, and maintaining our sovereignty and political security.” Step by step. Meanwhile the Atlantic Council fantasises about splitting them up.
SPACE. China and Russia have signed an MoU on creating an international lunar research station.
CRIMEA. Washington “does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula“. One day it will.
SPUTNIK. An agreement to produce the Russian vaccine in Italy. Probably not the last EU country to do so, given the bureaucracy’s pathetic performance.
DEFEAT. As expected, Washington is throwing its weight around – “America is back”. Maybe it will try to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan past the implied deadlines: “all options are on the table“. All the escalation options are on the other side – B52s can fly around but the truth is that US troops are hostages and targets. It’s already happening and, if Washington misses the deadlines, there will be more and more until it’s helicopters off the Embassy roof. The clock is ticking on the JCPOA and Tehran is not in the mind to make concessions when it’s Washington that walked out of the agreement.
MESSAGE RECEIVED. But – see above – maybe the Pentagon did get the message Tehran sent them.
SYRIA. Was it the Russians? They’re not saying.
WESTERN VALUES™. Perfectly timed for my essay, a ridiculous NATO woke ad.
BOMBS. In its ads NATO says it “is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes“. In reality it is committed to bombing: over twenty years it has averaged 46 bombs per day in the MENA region.
THE DEATH OF IRONY. The WaPo tells its readers it thinks they’re idiots: “Libyans ousted a dictator, but an ensuing civil war has drawn in Russia, Turkey and others with a thirst for control.”
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer