RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 JANUARY 2022

MY LATEST WRITINGS: RUSSIA, UKRAINE ET AL: WHAT NEXT?

ULTIMATUM. The EU is not in the picture – too weak and the US won’t fight for it; NATO ditto. Do Berlin and Paris start to see reality? London has invited Shoygu but is shipping PAWs to Ukraine. Russia keeps up the pressure – a not-very-reliable source says a nuke boat surfaced off the US coast. Lots of exercises – Guards Tank Army, social media videos of military equipment moving around. Live firing of the formidable Iskanders. Lost submarines in the Med. A representative tough-guy piece from a couch warrior (she of we have good int on Russia fame). It is now clear the US/EU/NATO are not going to fight for Ukraine – empty threats and futile sanctions are all Kiev can expect. But the SWIFT threat would be a big shot to the foot. Somebody notices that Russia is pretty sanction proof (Googlish from INOSMI). In short, Russia pretty much has the hammer. We see the fruits of Putin & Co’s long game.

DONBASS. It should be understood that the official position in Moscow at present is that the rebel areas are part of Ukraine and the Minsk Agreement provides a method for resolving grievances. (Note, BTW, given the constant refrain that Moscow must “comply”, that it has no obligation). But this position could suddenly change given that Kiev has never fulfilled any part (especially No 4) and that Kiev’s “allies” haven’t tried to make it. One of the many possible “Or Elses“.

GUNS. Improved Pantsir AD system coming. Completely modernised White Swan makes maiden flight. Three new subs this year. China-Russia-Iran naval drills start tomorrow.

TALK SHOWS. Russian TV loves long talk shows – Doctorow has an interesting piece on one of the most important. “Russian elites talk WAR: ‘Evening with Vladimir Solovyov,'”

PEDOPHILES. The Duma has passed a bill providing for life imprisonment for serial pedophiles.

HACKERS. Russian security is arresting members of the REvil hacking group at Washington’s request. They are thought to be behind the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline last year.

COVID. The Duma has postponed a bill requiring QR code proof of vaccination. There is a good deal of resistance to this in Russia.

NAVALIY. Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov, close allies of Navalniy, have been added to the state register of extremists. Neither is in Russia.

RUSSIAN DOLPHINS OFF US COAST. For your amusement.

CIA TRAINING. We learn that the CIA has been running training programs in Ukraine since 2014. Moscow has a good deal of experience of dealing with Washington-supported nazi resistance in Ukraine.

GALICIA. Anybody know why Ioseb Bissarionis-dze decided to put it in the Ukrainian SSR rather than giving it back to Poland in 1945? An important decision as it’s turned out.

KAZAKHSTAN. That didn’t take long, did it? All the CSTO troops are back home. They say at least 225 (including 19 police and soldiers) died, about 4500 injured. A lot of people in the security organs have been arrested, starting with Masimov, the head of the National Security Committee, some defenestrated; so the plot ran deep. (Here’s a photo of Masimov with – of all people – Hunter and Joe). If this were an attempt by some part of the US deep state to answer Moscow, it only shows how profoundly out of touch they are. Nazarbayev appears, everything’s calm. Interesting take on what it was all about here.

LESSONS LEARNED. Little countries often try to play off the big guys against each other. But Kazakhstan and Belarus have just learned that this isn’t possible today because Washington wants total control. Others will learn from these examples.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. I don’t remember Soviet propagandists assuming their consumers to be as stupid as the creators of this do. Ummm – you told us that Putin tried to kill him, he’s completely in his power now: shouldn’t you at least spend a little effort coming up with some explanation for why he’s still alive to give interviews to you?

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. ICAO supports Minsk on the Ryanair grounding last year – a few inconsistencies but no “air piracy“. And “Havana syndrome” bites the dust. Ah well, on to the next…

RUSSIA-IRAN. The two Presidents are meeting. The beginning of something big. Very Mackinderish.

SWEDEN. This week drones, last week the Russians were going to snatch Gotland. Years ago somebody in the Swedish security apparatus told me that these stories – “submarine sightings” in those days – were faked up by the people in the Swedish security organs who want it to join NATO.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIA, UKRAINE ET AL: WHAT NEXT?

First published Turcopolier, picked up by Unz Review, JRL 2022/15/11, Sitrepworld,

To Moscow, Ukraine is not the problem, Washington is. Or, as Putin might put it: Tabaqui does what Shere Khan tells him to and there is no point in dealing with him, go straight to Shere Khan. That is what Moscow is trying to do with its treaty proposals.

For the same reason, Moscow is not much concerned with what the EU or NATO says; it assesses that they are Tabaquis too.

The current propaganda meme in Washington is that Russia is going to “invade Ukraine” and absorb it. It will not: Ukraine is a decaying, impoverished, de-industrialised, divided, corrupt and decaying mess; Moscow does not want to take responsibility for the package. Moscow is fully aware that while its troops will be welcomed in many parts of Ukraine they will not be in others. Indeed, in Moscow, they must be wishing that Stalin had returned Galicia to Poland rather than giving it to the Ukrainian SSR after the War and stuck Warsaw with the problem. This does not, however, rule out the eventual absorption of most of Novorossiya in ultimo.

The second delusion in Washington is that if Moscow did “invade Ukraine” it would start as far away from Kiev as possible and send tank after tank down a road so that the US-supplied PAWs could exact a heavy cost. That is absolutely not what Moscow would do as Scott Ritter explains. Moscow would use standoff weapons to obliterate Ukrainian troop positions, C3I assets, assembly areas, artillery positions, ammunition dumps, airfields, ports and the like. At its choice. It would all be over quite quickly and the Javelins would never be taken out of their boxes. But that is the extreme option as Ritter explains.

Unfortunately the Blinkens, Sullivans, Farkas’, Nulands and others who seem to be driving USA policy don’t understand any of this. They remain convinced that the US is a mighty power, that Russia is feeble and fading, that Putin’s position is shaky, that sanctions are biting, that Russia’s economy is weak and so on. And that they understand modern warfare. Everything in the past twenty years contradicts their view but they hold to it nonetheless.

Take, for example, Wendy Sherman who was the principal American negotiator in Geneva this month. Look at her biography on Wikipedia. Social worker, money raiser for Democratic Party candidates, political campaign manager, Fanny Mae, Clinton appointee to the State Department, negotiator with Iran and North Korea. Is there anything in that record to indicate any knowledge or understanding of Russia or modern war? (Or skill at negotiations for that matter?) And yet she’s the one on point. Jake Sullivan: lawyer, debate preparer, political advisor, ditto.

Perhaps there’s an American general officer who sees reality – certainly there are those who have spoken of Russia’s formidable air defence or EW capabilities; others understand how weak NATO would be in a war on Russia’s home field. But, as Colonel Lang points out, maybe not.

Overconfidence rooted on nothing is the problem. Moscow has made a proposal that is based on the undeniably true position that security is mutual. If one side threatens the other, then the threatened one will take steps to shore up its position and the threat level will rise and rise. During the Cold War both sides understood that there were limits, that threats were hazardous and that negotiating prevented worse things from happening. But Washington is lost in its delusion of everlasting superiority.

The so-called “Thucydides trap” is the name given to a condition when one power (Sparta then, USA now) fears the rising power of (Athens then, China and Russia today) and starts a war because it fears its position can only weaken. The brutal truth is that that point has already been passed: Russia+China are more powerful than the USA and its allies in every measurable matter – more steel, more food, more guns, more STEM, more bridges, more money – more everything. NATO/US would lose a conventional war – American military wargamers know this to be true.

In short, how can Moscow compel these people to see reality? This, in a word, is the problem: if they can see it, then something better is possible; if they can’t, then it’s the worse. For everybody’s sake – Washington’s too – Washington has to pay attention to Moscow’s security concerns and dial down its aggressions. Moscow has asked – demanded really – and it’s not yet clear that the attempt has failed. The negative reaction of the Tabaquis doesn’t matter – Moscow only talked to them as a matter of form – it’s Shere Khan’s answer that matters. And we haven’t had it yet.

Perhaps the aborted colour revolution in Kazakhstan was an answer from some portion of the US deep state/Borg but, if so, it was a swift and powerful demonstration of how poor an understanding of the true correlation of forces the US deep state has.

We await Washington’s final answer but the prospects are not very encouraging at the moment: the cheap threats and bragging op-eds pour out. So what is Moscow’s Plan B?

I have elsewhere listed some responses that I can imagine and others have done so too. I am thinking that Moscow has to do something pretty dramatic to shatter the complacency. I see three principal fronts.

  • The United States has not been threatened with a conventional attack on its home territory since 1814; Russia has several ways that it can do so. The problem will be to reveal the threat in a way that cannot be denied or hidden. A demonstration of Poseidon’s capabilities on some island somewhere followed by the announcement that a significant number are already deployed near US coastal cities?
  • Washington must be presented with a demonstration of Russia’s immense destructive military power that it cannot pretend away. Ukraine is the obvious field for such a demonstration. (See Ritter).
  • A world-changing diplomatic move like a formal military alliance with China with a provision that an attack on one is an attack on both. This would be a demonstration of the correlation of forces that not even the most deluded could miss. Mackinder’s Heartland plus population, plus manufacturing, plus STEM, plus resources, plus military and naval might joined in a military pact.

We shall see. The negotiations are not over and something better may come from them. Doctorow, a capable observer, gives some hope. But to get to a better result would require a pretty major change in attitude in Washington.

We can hope. The stakes are high.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 JANUARY 2022

MY LATEST WRITINGS. SOMETHING HOPEFUL FOR THE NEW YEAR – SORT OF

KAZAKHSTAN. Major trouble. Started, they say, with the doubling of the price of LPG but now clearly another “colour revolution”, complete with a “leader” who is out of the country. (Page 121 in RAND report). Korybko, Escobar and Bernhard worth reading. President Tokayev promises to be “as tough as possible“. CSTO troops already on the ground and very strong counter-actions underway. We’ll soon see if I was correct in what I wrote. But the authorities’ reaction is promising: lay down your weapons or be destroyed. Who wants to live in Ukraine. Libya, Afghanistan or other recipients of NATO’s democracy promotion? (Interesting speculation: “The best way to root out such problems is to let them unfold first as it reveals the actors.”) My guess is that the authorities will regain control pretty quickly.

TWO DIFFERENT LEAGUES. NATO likes to gas on about its quick reaction forces. Russian spetsnaz were in Kazakhstan 13 hours after Tokayev asked for CSTO help (agreed). More are coming.

PRESS CONFERENCE. (Rus) (Eng) Very much internally-focussed, not so much about garbage disposal as in the last couple of years (I guess it’s getting better) and markedly less of “Batyushka, can you fix my roof?”. Foreigners given less opportunity to pose, hector and interrogate. But those who did gave Putin a chance to put the Russian POV: “And you are demanding guarantees from me. It is you who must give us guarantees, and you must do it immediately, right now..”

A THOUGHT. I have long been puzzled why Putin has evidently fallen for the COVID hoax (yes, Virginia, there’s a disease there but it’s not very deadly and mostly kills people with one foot in the grave. I’m just a simpleton who looks at the data: check out Canada’s official data on ages of deceased.) I think that Waggaman is on to something here: Putin may be, as Atlas might put it, being “Trumped”.

GUNS. New things keep coming. The S-500 SAM tested in Arctic (I wonder how many of NATO;s weaponry has been). The S-550 is already in service. Volley-firing of Tsirkons. An American study finds that one little Russian ship has the same hitting power as two of the USN’s main destroyers. Palate-cleansers, so to speak, before the security talks.

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. Another monster icebreaker: four-metre ice.

RUSSIA DOESN’T FORGET. Two suspects in the Khattab/Basayev 1999 invasion of Dagestan arrested.

BRITISH INTERFERENCE IN RUSSIA. Hackers – Underside – have released documents showing London’s investment in “democracy” “civil society” and so on in Russia. (Docs) (Docs) (Docs). All sounds very nice but it’s aimed at subversion. Imagine the reaction in the West if it had actual documents from Russian sources rather than invented nonsense like Putin weaponising humour.

MEMORIAL. Memorial International and Memorial Human Rights Centre have been shut down. Whatever Memorial was when it started (and I remember it from then) getting money from the UK for LGBT matters is some distance from its beginnings in the 1970s.

NOT JUST FOR KILLING PEOPLE. Tank art and – look down the comments – tank bartending.

WHAT RUSSIA WILL DO IN UKRAINE. My bet anyway. “Товарищи, отойдите подальше!” But only if it has to. And maybe Kiev is seeing reality: sees no troop buildup at the border now. But Kiev doesn’t control the Ukronazis. Lieven suggests “Finlandisation” for Ukraine: it’s a solution, but I don’t see it as likely these days. But Ukraine did start out with neutrality hard-wired into its Constitution…

A GOOD THING TOO: the P5 have just declared “We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Now if US/NATO would only understand that they can’t win a conventional war against Russia, maybe we could all calm down.

THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS. “Putin outsmarts EU as new China gas deal to pump ‘same amount’ as banned German pipeline“. The commenters are pretty scornful of the absurd headline.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. Make up stuff, get caught, whine.

TABAQUI REPORT. Just after saying only “winners” can demand, Borrell demands.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Poland next? Now, if only Warsaw could realise that, in terms of values, it and Moscow are singing from the same songsheet…

NEW NWO. China’s Excellent, Very Good Year.

UKRAINE NPP. I very much hope this report is not true.

THERE ARE NO NAZIS IN UKRAINE. The New Year’s march is becoming a Kiev fixture too.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

SOMETHING HOPEFUL FOR THE NEW YEAR – SORT OF

The wise men of that Academy of Wisdom (aka The Atlantic Council) tell us “How to deal with the Kremlin-created crisis in Europe“. The piece is mostly codswallop, boasting, cheap threats and hot air but there is one good thing about it:

It doesn’t threaten war.

Never mind that Russia won’t “invade Ukraine” for a host of reasons which I (for one – I certainly don’t pretend to be the only person who can see the obvious) laid out in 2014: Why Russia Hasn’t and Won’t Invade Ukraine. These reasons are only stronger now because Ukraine has become more decayed, more poor, more nazi, more corrupt, more divided and more hopeless. It is a huge hostile expensive liability that Moscow doesn’t want to pay for and police. Let those who broke it, pay for it.

But these guys think “Moscow appears to be setting the stage for launching a major conventional assault on Ukraine”. The signers are the usual “Putin whisperers“; none very tightly connected to reality: the lead signer suggested that “Ukraine should invite the United States and NATO to send a fleet of armed ships to visit Mariupol.“. They’d better be pretty small ships – the Sea is very shallow. Especially near Mariupol. Another signer is the author of the ridiculous “Dragoon Ride”. Another is the expert in wrongness.

However pitiful their suggestions, one may take comfort from the fact that they do not suggest that the USA/NATO go to war with Russia if it “invades Ukraine”. The truth, of which one signer has a some dim awareness, is simple:

if USA/NATO get into a conventional war with Russia, they will lose;

if USA/NATO get into a nuclear war with Russia, everybody will lose;

therefore, there is no war solution for USA/NATO

What do they suggest? What are the “immediate steps to affect the Kremlin’s cost-benefit calculations”; “raising the costs”? Only worn-out repetition of past failures. One may be encouraged because it shows the paucity of thought among the warmongers but, at the same time, discouraged because it shows their paucity of thought. Stasis. Decay. Petrifaction. But never a reflective silence.

Here they are:

  1. “a package of major and painful sanctions”;
  2. “enhance the deterrent strength of Ukraine’s armed forces”;
  3. “NATO should act now to begin bolstering its military presence on its eastern flank”;
  4. USA/NATO should utter statements and hold consultations “to highlight the unacceptability…”;
  5. “the United States and its allies should continue to make clear their readiness for dialogue with Russia, to include concerns of NATO and other parties about Russian military and other aggressive activities”.

All that need be said about still more sanctions on Russia is that the EU is complaining to the WTO right now about the effectiveness of Russian counters to the sanctions Europe imposed on it because of past alleged sins. In a word, sanctions have made Russia stronger. Food is the most obvious example but there are plenty of others: the latest being forcing the Russian aircraft industry to home produce wings and engines for the MC-21. Past sanctions have given Russia a degree of immunity against future sanctions.

Of course these strategists of Laputa don’t miss this one: “prevent Nord Stream 2 from going into operation in the event of a Russian attack.” What they haven’t the wit to understand is that stopping Nord Stream will only cost Moscow money of which it has plenty but it will cost Germany much more. It’s a curious state of mind that threatens enemies by damaging allies. (Although George Friedman would suggest that that is precisely the point.)

The weapons they suggest are “Javelin anti-armor missiles and Q36 counter-battery radar systems as well as Stinger and other anti-aircraft missiles.” There won’t be a chance to use them – if the Ukronazis provoke a Russian reaction, it will resemble this story: “Товарищи, отойдите от своей базы подальше. У вас 10 минут“.

As to the threat of NATO bolstering its deployments to “its eastern flank”, taking the British Army as an example, cuts, not increases are the reality; as it is now, it has one fully-staffed infantry battalion. The US Army isn’t much better. Once a paper tiger, NATO is now merely a paper pussycat.

Nobody in Moscow cares any more about statements and consultations. And neither do they in Tehran and Beijing.

The withered carrot that makes up the final suggestion amounts to talk to Russia if it admits its sins. Too late: Moscow’s not in the mood.

Altogether the work of epigones.

But at least it’s not a call for war.