PUTIN DIRECT LINE. Annual marathon Q&A Rus, Eng. A sort of durbar; you can’t imagine any Western leader daring to or capable of doing it. Much on COVID: it’s clear he believes it’s real and he encourages people to get vaccinated. Most of it was minutiae: the price of things, infrastructure, garbage collection and disposal again and so on. “Naturally, the time will come when I hope I will be able to say that a certain person deserves to lead such a wonderful country as our Motherland – Russia”. Ukraine-Russia: Ukrainians and Russians are one people; the Kiev government is hostile but its decisions are mostly made in Washington. (In short, Moscow will patiently wait.) Foreign social media must follow Russian law. US-Russia relations: “I really hope that an awareness that the world is changing and a rethinking of their own interests and priorities in this changing world will lead to a more attractive world order, and our relations with the United States will get back on track.”
PUTIN AMUSES HIMSELF. What you think you learned was what we wanted you to think you learned.
PROBLEMS OF THE NEW RUSSIA. Having been in the business so long, I can’t resist mentioning this new Russian problem: “Mr President, please tell me why is it more expensive to spend a vacation at a Russian resort than abroad?”. Infrastructure, Putin replied and they’re working on it.
FAVOURITE FAIRYTALE. Kolobok: “I want all my colleagues in high offices to pay attention to this story. Why? Because as soon as you, my dear colleagues, begin to take flattery for the truth and sink into this atmosphere under the influence of what they are telling you, you risk being eaten”.
DOOMED RUSSIA. Still doomed.
COVID. I was certainly wrong last Sitrep. But, they say, people are rushing to be vaccinated.
UNDESIRABLE ORGANISATIONS. Moscow has been steadily clamping down on these colour-revolution “NG”Os; Here is a list from RFE/RL: USA 19, UK 8, others (all NATO) 12.
AFGHANISTAN. USA/NATO, defeated, is getting out and Taliban, victorious, is taking over. I think we can assume that a majority of Afghans are willing to give Taliban their support as the only force capable of uniting – as far as it is possible – the country and that much quiet negotiating has happened. Washington has dreams of leaving something; if it does it will be helicopters off the Embassy roof. Taliban will likely be in control everywhere soon, probably without much fighting. Then what? Will Ankara’s ambitions allow Afghanistan to add the neo-Ottomans to its collection of scalps? What about northern neighbours? Tajikistan is concerned and Moscow has promised to help. What about the Belt and Road Initiative? I don’t know and neither does anyone else – my bet is that Taliban will meet general acceptance, China will do business and the area will be reasonably quiet. We’ll see. It’s not the end of two decades of US involvement, it’s the end of four. Another Brzezinski/neocon/PNAC disaster. For amusement, here’s NATO’s spin: “We have denied terrorists a safe haven… We will now open a new chapter… hard-won gains of the last 20 years… training and financial support…”.
BELARUS/RUSSIA. Newton’s Third Law of Geopolitics holds: Minsk suspended its membership in the EU Eastern Partnership initiative and announced closer links with Russia.
RUSSIA/CHINA. The two presidents spoke and renewed the treaty.
FAKE NEWS. Something to watch – will anti-China propaganda become more idiotic than anti-Russia propaganda? China weaponises elephants while Russia weaponises humour. The race is on!
MH17. The Dutch trial hops along: no you can’t ask any questions.
TABAQUIS WIN ANOTHER. Berlin, Paris and Vienna think an EU-Russia summit is a good idea, Balts and Warsaw say no. The problem with consensus organisations is that otherwise insignificant players get their way on Their One Big Obsession. And so we move a little closer to the end of the EU.
NATO EXERCISE. So far so good, nothing foolish. Of course, the lack of foolishness might have something to do with Moscow’s statements (I do think Moscow will do something next time – black holes? EW? Cripple the ship?). And there are two MiG-31Ks in Syria.
WESTERN VALUES™. Tired of Western moral sanctimony, Beijing and Moscow call for an “impartial investigation” into Canadian aboriginal residential schools; the truth is terrible: “TB incubators and superspreaders.” Trudeau tries to deflect. (Speaking of Uyghers – read this or this.)
NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. Julian Assange Case: Key Witness Admits He Lied.
CYBERATTACKS. Highly reliable experts (in an opposite sense) say Putindunnit, “reportedly” “believed” is good enough for the WaPo, but at least Biden holds back.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer