EXERCISE. The Armed Forces hold big exercises every year, working their way around the compass. This year was West – Zapad. Back in the Day, every September saw big exercises in West Germany – REFORGER – in which formations drove around the countryside (I was on a couple myself and we just drove tanks anywhere we wanted to). The Russian ones, however, are generally restricted to exercise areas and, while they are said to involve, in this case, 200,000 troops, they count everyone involved in any way. But the alarmists make a big deal out of it – here’s can’t-find-Putin’s-speech Applebaum, for example. But they’re impressive nonetheless; two highlights this year: the night drop of a parachute battalion plus armoured vehicles and the appearance of some combat robots.
THEN AND NOW. There is a series of videos using Google Street view of Russian towns in 2010 and 2020. I mentioned Gelendzhik last time but here’s Perm, Sochi (booming, by the way), Arkhangelsk, Petrozavodsk. If you still believe the Western media’s rubbish about decaying Russia, give them a look: it’s not China, but it’s a lot of improvement.
HISTORY. Putin unveils a monument to Aleksandr Nevskiy. In the meeting room in the MoD in Moscow (where I’ve been a couple of times – maybe they meet somewhere else now) there are three decorative bas reliefs – 1941-45, 1812 and Nevskiy. The existential threat to Russia has always come from the West. Highly recommend Paul Robinson’s essay on the background and meaning of this.
NORD STREAM. The last pipe was welded on the 6th; apparently there are some legal details to be completed before the gas comes through. Kiev fulminates, Washington threatens. Meanwhile gas prices in Europe hit a record high.
ELECTION INTERFERENCE. The US Ambassador was challenged to explain “irrefutable evidence” of interference in next Sunday’s election. (Video purporting to show observers coached to claim fraud.) As typical, the West will instantly condemn them; the object, as Korybko argues, being to block any attempts to better relations. This example shows how savagely such suggestions are beaten down and one can be sure that “yet-another-rigged-election” will be used to smear the next modest suggstion to improve American relations with a country that has 1) a close relationship with the number-one economic power, 2) the capability of obliterating the USA and destroying NATO’s military.
THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. CNN then “Authorities in Belarus have announced the arrest of 33 Russian mercenaries on suspicion of terrorism“. CNN now: “Ukraine spies tried to ensnare alleged Russian war criminals with a fake website, promises of riches and an international sting.” I didn’t cover the story at the time, correctly assessing it to be part of the colour revolution attempt against Lukashenka. (Why would CNN, not known for admitting to its propagandising, put this out? is Ukraine being “Afghanised”?).
LEARNING. General Hyten described a recent US exercise as a miserable failure – see my piece here. In a talk at Brookings he said “our goal is to never go to war with China and Russia.” He also said that the US military was moving too slowly and suggested that the USA wasn’t getting its money’s worth in defence. Very interesting, especially when said in such a citadel of the neocon world. On the other hand, he’s apparently retiring soon and will probably be replaced by a rah-rah type.
UKRAINE. Zelensky complains that Washington is still vague on NATO; possibility of war with Russia; has “no time to think about [Putin]” but wants a meeting. Ukraine is not Afghanistan; army “one of the most powerful“. Meanwhile Edward Lucas gushes about Ukraine’s success which is somehow a challenge to Putin. Stunning levels of delusion; second-poorest in Europe they say.
AFGHANISTAN. I’m amused by all the statements that Taliban must do this or that. No. USA/NATO were defeated. That means Taliban doesn’t care what they have to say and isn’t frightened by their threats.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer