PUTIN-BIDEN. I can’t think why Putin wants to waste his time unless it’s to assess Biden’s mental capacity – imagine this guy going up against someone who can hold four-hour press conferences without dropping a thought. Doctorow has a theory that makes sense for both sides: “the summit has one driver behind it, namely to put a cap on an arms race that the United States is losing” but he wonders if the Americans do actually get it. I half expect Washington to cancel it on some pretext and there are plenty of indications – see below – that Biden will try and talk tough.
QUOTE OF THE “NEW AMERICAN CENTURY”. “Biden has told his aides he believes Putin responds to signs of strength, something he feels is better conveyed in person rather than over the phone.“
WESTERN VALUES™. Good start to Biden lecturing Putin on interfering, isn’t it? And after Obama promised her too.
COVID AND RUSSIA. Essentially over. Meanwhile, in a 1984 moment, in the West, the crackpot lunatic fringe conspiracy of yesterday has suddenly became today’s rational conventional thinking.
USD. The Finance Minister says that the National Wealth Fund will get rid of its USD holdings “quite quickly”: afterwards EUR 40%, RMB 30%, GBP 5%, JPY 5% and Gold 20%. “Gradually, the dollar is becoming toxic.” Convenient once, when a weapon not convenient. Another unintended consequence of PNAC arrogance.
AMAZON AND RUSSIA. Interesting piece on why Amazon hasn’t cracked the Russian market. Short answer: Russia has its own. In fact, Russia is rather independent of the mostly-US-based social media empires. Yandex, VK and Telegram are home-grown, strong there and spreading (In my experience VK, because it doesn’t censor, is gaining on Facebook). Ozon, Lamoda and Wildberries handle e-commerce.
MORE EVIDENCE that Moscow has had enough and believes it has enough: Patrushev says it will use force when it believes it has to.
WESTERN FRONT. Minister of Defence Shoygu has announced further build-up of forces in the west. No details yet. As Kennan foresaw: the fruits of NATO expansion. The NATO GenSek wants to talk.
TOLD YOU (2121) (2020) (2015) (2014). The US military is finally noticing its shortcomings in the event of a war with a real opponent. To wit: hypersonic weapons, electronic warfare, defence against anti-ship missiles, air defence. Too late I think: can the US MIC make anything these days other than cost over-runs? Vide F-35, littoral ships, Zumwalt, railgun.
GOOD QUESTION. If we’re declining so rapidly, what’s all the fuss about?
THE DEATH OF IRONY. “Russians will never be free unless the West takes decisive action” this from the guy videoed trying to sell Russia.
LIVING THE DREAM. Latest survey of EU inmates shows rather tepid enthusiasm for the project. I mention this because we’re always hearing dread things about Russia and we’re never given any context. The percentage of Russians who think Russia’s heading in the right direction has never, in a decade, been as low as the EU percentage is now. Or today’s US number. Think about that the next time you read some rubbish about how unhappy Russians are.
IFOs. Well, probably not aliens but they could be from Russia or China. Could be, might be, may be; but one thing’s for sure: US Space Command is dangerously short of money.
PROTASEVICH, RYANAIR AND MINSK. The now-established Western narrative is almost entirely false. He’s singing: he believes he was shopped by one of his “friends”.
THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS got Brit soldiers drunk and kicked off a train in Estonia. But, see below.
ENCOURAGING. Occasionally we learn the relentless anti-Russian propaganda isn’t working so well.
COLONIAL PIPELINE. But weren’t the supposed Russian hackers supposed to be incredibly clever? And yet they were incredibly stupid? Somebody’s stupid here, but I don’t think it’s anybody Russian.
UKRAINE-USA. Zelensky learns that the only thing worse than being Washington’s enemy is being its “strategic partner”: “I truly thought that when it came to Nord Stream 2, the United States remained the last standing outpost, so to say…we were very unpleasantly surprised.” And they didn’t even bother to call him first: “I learned about it through the press.” And, no the NATO carrot is still dangling way out there. You were useful for a while, that’s all; now you’re just a cost. Meanwhile: “donors were all young people from Ukraine and Moldova“. Country 404.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer