PUTIN VALDAI SPEECH. Eng, Rus. I would say that the principal theme – but read it yourself, it’s an important speech (I’m almost tempted to say valedictory) – is that the West is going down. Russia, thanks to its historical experience, has lived the experience from start to finish – twice. As Putin pointed out there was plenty of “human engineering” in the early Soviet days; the USSR failed at imposing its system. Russians know that exceptionalism doesn’t work; not because they’re wiser but because they’ve lived the failure. “These examples from our history allow us to say that revolutions are not a way to settle a crisis but a way to aggravate it. No revolution was worth the damage it did to the human potential.” Russia, says he, has an advantage in these times when the geopolitical tectonic plates are shaking: “our society has developed what they now refer to as herd immunity to extremism that paves the way to upheavals and socioeconomic cataclysms”.
CONSERVATISM. “This conservative approach is not about an ignorant traditionalism, a fear of change or a restraining game, much less about withdrawing into our own shell. It is primarily about reliance on a time-tested tradition, the preservation and growth of the population, a realistic assessment of oneself and others, a precise alignment of priorities, a correlation of necessity and possibility, a prudent formulation of goals, and a fundamental rejection of extremism as a method.” He mentions Berdyaev several times. Paul Robinson, who knows a lot about Russian conservatism, takes this further: the conservatism that Putin is talking about is derived from a realisation that Western “liberalism” is no longer liberal; it has become a species of totalitarianism.
ARMAGEDDON. Big but: “Arguably, political history has no examples of a stable world order being established without a big war.” If it should happen, Russia is well-positioned: lots of land, lots of water, lots of energy, self-sufficient in food, a conventional military strong enough to defeat any invader and a continually-tested nuclear arsenal for deterrence. Putin said that reducing poverty was his greatest achievement but I think that that is.
FOOD. Doctorow on the revolution in food production. Little covered in the West but very important.
GAS. Putin has instructed Gazprom to start filling storage facilities in Germany and Austria when Russian ones are full (in about a week). Europeans ought to reflect on the fact that Russia has better markets to the east where the customer doesn’t whine and sanction. Meanwhile, in a Ukrainian MP has suggested that Ukrainians start saving manure. He had earlier said Moscow was waging hybrid war on Ukraine by selling cheap electricity.
THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS. “Russian ‘blackmail’ of causing high energy prices across Europe“; “Russia Wants Gas Price 60% Lower to Keep Energy Grip on Europe“. They gotcha coming and going.
THE DEATH OF IRONY. US official urges Russia to supply more gas to Europe; “should do it quickly“. We’re supposed to forget Washington’s years of blocking Nordstream.
TURKISH DRONES. Turkey sold some of its Bayraktar RPVs to Ukraine which promptly used them to attack the Donbass (and not very competently). (Or maybe not.) This won’t last long: Moscow will put its thumb on the scale and either supply AD or EW to stop them.
GOLD HEIST. Amsterdam court rules Scythian gold should go to Kiev. Where it will, no doubt, mysteriously disappear.
AFGHANISTAN. Another “Moscow Format” discussion about Afghanistan attended by Taliban.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer