NORDSTREAM

(Answer to question from Sputnik.)

Washington invested a lot of time and effort into blocking the pipeline and has wisely admitted defeat, even going so far as to order its Tabaqui in Kiev to stop complaining. One can wonder whether Washington was trying to “keep Russia out” or “keep Germany down” but, as in the 1980s, it failed in both. The Biden-Merkel communique papered over this reality with guff about common values and empty threats should Moscow use “the gas weapon” – something it has never done but is always accused of. Berlin promised some money to Kiev but future money is not the same as present money. Nothing substantial there.

What of the future? There are too many uncertainties to answer. Merkel is apparently going in a couple of months; will her successor agree that her subservience to Washington on all issues but this one really was the best choice for Germany? Will Biden still be in office then? Will Germans assess their US connection as worth the cost? This failure of interference in Germany’s affairs, coming after the failure in Afghanistan into which Berlin sunk so many resources, make US-German relations rather fluid in the future.

As for Kiev, it has learned that loyalty to Washington is a one-way street; it can join the Afghanistan government in lamentation.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 22 JULY 2021

UKRAINE LEGAL CASE. Maidan and post-Maidan Ukraine is a construction of half-truths, lies and atrocities; now we see why Moscow has been patiently collecting data. Today it filed a complaint with the ECHR accusing Kiev of numerous crimes. Here it is in Googlish. “The appeal is intended to draw the attention of the European Court and the entire world community to gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Ukrainian authorities, to record numerous facts of criminal acts in the international legal field, to force the Ukrainian authorities to stop committing them, conduct a proper investigation and immediately bring the perpetrators to justice, restore peace and harmony on the territory of Ukraine.” Watch the Western media ignore and twist this and the court squirm out of it. Western values in practice.

PUTIN UKRAINE SPEECH. (Eng Rus) and follow-up. Lots of people are reading all sorts of things into this. I take a minimalist approach. Putin was speaking to those Ukrainians not lost to the Galician nazi fantasy and putting down a marker for the future. It was a coup, Kiev is not independent and Russia patiently awaits the people’s decision. He knew the court case was coming: there will be a future.

JUST A GAS STATION. RosStat finds that oil and gas made up about 15% of GDP in January; down from 19% the year before. Some of this is surely a consequence of COVID lockdowns.

GUNS. Big week. 13th successful test of S-500. 19thtest of ship launched hypersonic missile: 350kms in 2.5 minutes (about 4 minutes from Crimea to the Bosphorus exit). Pentagon not happy. 20thinexpensive single-engine STOL fighter (presumably for export, rudely named “Checkmate”.)

BUTTER. Russian exports.

CAN’T MAKE IT UP. Russian security (not a CCTV!) followed and filmed an American diplomat stealing a piece of railway equipment – here’s the video. The Americans whisked him out. I invite you, Dear Reader, to figure out what that was about.

NAVALNIY. Yavlinskiy says Yabloko doesn’t want any votes from his supporters: views are “fundamentally different“. Well past his best before date – everybody got what they wanted from him.

COMPUTER HACKING. Not Russia, not China but Israel. Too big for the compliant media to ignore.

BIDEN-MERKEL. A lot of the usual guff about values and democracy to paper over Washington’s defeat on Nord Stream. (And Washington told Kiev to shut up about it too.) Germany doesn’t seem to be on net with the anti-China summons, either. Money and vague promises to Ukraine, but future money is not present money and Merkel is supposed to be gone in September and where Biden will be by then?

MH17. Good summary of all the things you have to swallow and forget to accept the standard story.

TERRORISM. The FSB says it arrested somebody planning an attack in Moscow.

CORRUPTION. The head of the Stavropol region traffic police and a lot of his senior staff were arrested for bribery and abuse of power. Russian crime detection is easy – monitor toilet sales from Gold Я Us.

TRUMPUTIN. Guardian and Harding on Putin and Trump. What more is there to say?

AFGHANISTAN. Taliban visits Moscow, RFE/RL impotently fulminates. Escobar’s thoughts: he thinks Taliban has changed, is much more representative and “wants to be embraced”.

FAKE NEWS. It’s not Russia but it sure is fake news. Whatever the agenda calls for.

TRAVEL. A piece showing that Washington is making it more difficult for Americans to visit Russia and for Russians to visit the USA. Don’t Go to Rome. Despite the Boccaccio story, Washington is not supposed to be the earthly representative of a heavenly kingdom – it’s supposed to be here and now as it is. Clearly its occupants want to hide it. On the other hand. Moscow is making it easier to visit. Another of those curious reversals that we have seen in the post Cold War period.

BELARUS POLL. Lukashenka is losing support but still has quite a bit, Russia is very popular, the majority dreams of good relations with both EU and Russia (but that’s not possible any more, is it?). A lot of the questions are designed to elicit anti-Lukashenka sentiments but what I take from this is that he is good for another year or so and that she, despite the booming in the West, hasn’t much support (calling for sanctions on her own country isn’t a great campaign platform.) I’m still betting the end state will be Lukashenka retiring and the two countries moving much closer together.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. The EU thinks Spanish border guards should patrol Gibraltar; London thinks Ukrainian border guards should patrol Crimea. But, alas, HMS Defender is far away patrolling the South China Sea.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

THE NEWS KILLED SATIRE

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

A couple of years ago a colleague suggested the idea that a group of us attempt to counter the rising passion of anti-Russia propaganda by satirising it. My reaction was that that was probably going to be a waste of effort because – this was in Trump’s time with Rachel Maddow and the rest spewing ever more preposterous conspiracy notions 24/7 – they were already well past the point of even being capable of noticing satire.

Nothing has made me change my mind since. Read this, for example, from Australia’s most-read newspaper – it’s about China but the point stands.

cuddly elephants are the latest weapon in President Xi Jinping’s propaganda offensive to present a more “lovable” global image of China.

In other words, to distract the West from noticing the millions of Uyghers shackled together in chain gangs tearing down mosques while being force-fed pork sandwiches, the communist dictators in Beijing have unleashed stories of cute cuddly animals. How could anybody satirise that? And if someone tried, would anyone notice that it was satire? How would you tell the difference between satire and earnest pronouncements from “scholars” at “think” tanks? Cuddly elephants are believable but cuddly pandas are over the top?

Or how about the BBC solemnly explaining three years ago How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon. What’s next? Putin weaponises cheese? Oops, Masha Gessen’s already done that with her unforgettable paean to

My little Gorgonzola. My little mozzarella. My little Gruyere, chevre and Brie. I held them all in my arms — I didn’t even want to share them with the shopping cart – – and headed for the cash register.

Putin weaponises your breakfast cereal! Falls rather flat after that, doesn’t it? All you’re left with is killer squids – nope, that’s been done too: Is 14-legged killer squid found TWO MILES beneath Antarctica being weaponised by Putin? (That cunning Putin has even managed to add six killer tentacles to the octopod – another breakthrough in Russian darkside science!) Beluga whales? No, too late!

In 2018 Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC, which modestly describes itself as “the premier destination for in-depth analysis of daily headlines”, spent nearly three in-depth minutes explaining in depth that Russia had a border with North Korea which, somehow, showed that Putin’s stooge Trump was doing something horrible. Watch it yourself, unless you have a root canal appointment you’d rather go to. Again, satirise that! Now it is possible that she was performing an education service for those Americans who thought North Korea was in Australia or Oman. But, on the other hand, given that a court determined that

Maddow’s show is different than a typical news segment where anchors inform viewers about the dailynews. The point of Maddow’s show is for her to provide the news but also to offer her opinions as to that news.

perhaps it already was a sort of satire.

These “news” items above are, of course, themselves deflections. The Uygher stories are mostly nonsense as this former believer explains. The torn down mosques are selectively-used satellite pictures as this explains (and here’s the ever-ready Bellingcat selectively using the very same pictures). And the witnesses are always changing their stories as documented here. So it’s not actually Beijing that’s using stories about wandering elephants to distract attention, in fact: it’s just the other way around. Putin’s “weaponised humour” was directed at the ever-changing Skripal story – here is a short list of the preposterosities the officials expect us to swallow – so the BBC’s accusation is another deflection from reality. Weaponising cheese was anti-Putin nonsense that has already blown up now that Russia is basically self-sufficient in food – just another missed prediction from her ever-expanding list. As to Maddow, well she’s still weaving a Brownian movement of dots into webs of Russian conspiracies.

In the past I’ve done my own attempts at collecting the ever-churning nonsense about Russia and Putin that we’ve been subjected to: here in 2015 (Asperger’s syndrome, gunslinger walk), in 2019 at the height of the Trumputin insanity – remember this one?: Trump wanting to buy Greenland is yet another sign of Putin’s puppetry. How do you satirise that? Or this disgusting cartoon from the source of “All the News that’s Fit to Print“; that’s already been turned up so far past eleven that no satirist could turn the volume higher.

I challenge any satirist to do a skit on how four years of shrieking about Putin’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election came to a sudden slamming stop with the most secure election in history of 2020. Did Putin & his league of spooks suddenly forget how to rig foreign elections after, we were told, many many successful attempts? Was there a change of heart in the Kremlin and they tearfully realised it was wrong to swing foreign elections? Did they decide Biden would be better than Trump in their scheme to bring down the USA? Did Putin’s stooge Trump somehow so fortify the American election system that Putin was unable to put him back in? Has Rachel Maddow ever explained what happened? Or the WaPo? Or CNN? Four years of ranting about Putin’s control of US elections disappeared in an instant. Widespread knowledge of Why US Elections Are So Vulnerable to Russian Hacking turned, overnight, into a despicable conspiracy theory – Donald Trump’s Big Lie explained. And this at a time, mind you, when Russian hackers were supposedly hacking everything in the USA except its election. Satirise that, if you dare.

Of course the real answer is obvious: this time the “right guy” won and there was no need to invent a Russian collusion story to weaken the “wrong guy”.

I am 100% going to say it, and I 100% believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out. I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that.

So, when the need disappeared, so did the story and US elections became airtight again. But how do you satirise that? They knew what they were doing and telling the truth was the least part of it.

Which brings us to the real point and the reason why satire is a waste of time: you’re not supposed to remember the details; they don’t put details into their propaganda stories so you can remember them and compare them with other details. Not at all: the point is to leave an impression behind. In the foregoing case the object was to leave a bad smell around Trump’s victory – it was somehow – the details changed but the smell remained – wrong and illegitimate. Pee tapes came and went, Mueller rose and fell, Maddow found a map; always something new when the last thing rolled away. Satire can’t touch that – by the time the satirist has got his skit together about pussies, it’s time for the “all 17 intelligence agencies”; when the Mueller prayer candles burn out, Putin’s bribing Afghans to do what they happily do for free. But always Trump is somehow – can’t quite remember exactly how – suspiciously linked to an evil – forgotten the details there too, but undeniably evil – foreign bad guy. The show rolls along always with a new squirrel to distract you.

One of the delights of the Biden/Harris Administration is the return of old favourites, Here’s John Kirby explaining in 2014 why it’s Russia’s fault that it’s at NATO’s doorstep and, returned in 2021 as Pentagon spokesman, why Russia was “typically” disinforming us about firing warning shots at HMS Defender. I defy anyone to satirise that. Masters of BS – can’t say anything more than that, can you? Psaki and Kirby, together again. And where’s Harf, no mean practitioner herself? Prove them liars, they don’t care.

It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false.

For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose. (Harry G Frankfurt: On Bullshit)

For satire to be effective, there must be some connection to reality; but these people don’t care about reality so there can’t be any satire. Putin weaponises humour, children’s cartoons, vaccines and many more – here’s a list – but, O would-be satirist, anything you can imagine is probably already been solemnly discussed by the usual consortium of ex-security organ apparatchiks posing as objective experts.

And, given what they say every day, how would you tell the difference between solemn official announcements and mischievous satire anyway?

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 JULY 2021

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

THE GOOD NAZIS AND BAD NAZIS OF WESTERN MEDIA

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

In the Western media universe there are good nazis and there are bad nazis. Good nazis look like nazis but aren’t really nazis and bad nazis don’t look like them but actually are nazis. For example, there are no nazis in Ukraine or Belarus and, if there were, they would be good nazis. The Kremlin, on the other hand, is packed full of bad nazis, even if they don’t look like nazis. Take Alexander Motyl, for example: Ukraine’s Democracy Is (Almost) All Grown Up and Is Vladimir Putin a Fascist? “Putin and his Russia fit the bill perfectly.”

Trump doesn’t have a moustache, but if he did, it would be a Hitler moustache (although, as we see here, it would probably be orange). Likewise, the unmoustached Putin would have Hitler moustache and here is the photo to prove it. Or, perhaps, he and Trump would have symbolic Hitler moustaches. Nazis often have worship rooms or relic rooms where they have banners and books and other paraphernalia: here, for example, is Trump’s. Putin’s has not yet been found. Putin/Hitler comparisons are common. Is Putin the new Hitler?; Uncomfortable Parallels: Hitler and Putin; Is Vladimir Putin Another Adolf Hitler?; Hillary Clinton’s Putin-Hitler analogy. One might observe that, as most of these talk about the “Munich precedent”, Putin/Hitler is very much behind schedule. And then there’s Trump/Hitler: Trump’s Big Lie and Hitler’s; Thirteen Similarities Between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler; Just How Similar Is Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler? and 100-year-old Holocaust survivor compares Trump to Hitler. But Trump/Hitler is out of office; he didn’t “subvert democracy to remain in power” after all. You’d think that the fact that Putin hasn’t invaded Poland or that Trump has left the White House would have calmed things down but none other than Rachel Maddow informs us that “Putin joins pro-Trump chorus in making excuses for January 6th rioters” and someone else saw the “latest evidence of the active coup efforts orchestrated by Russia’s Putin against the U.S.” just this month so the danger is clearly still there.

Or consider torchlight parades. In Kiev they are a minor event; but in Charlottesville an enormous event which gave rise to one of the anti-Trump lies Biden campaigned on. The Atlantic points to the significance of torchlight parades in nazi Germany and KKK USA but says nothing about contemporary Lviv. Some nazi-style torchlight parades really are nazi and some are not. What about marches of people wearing nazi uniforms that they themselves or their forebears wore? The Latvian SS commemoration march has not had official support for some years but the same cannot be said of the Galician SS division commemorations; frequently held in Lviv, this year for the first time there was a small march in Kiev. How about memorials to actual nazi collaborators – such as this one attended by the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine? These events receive little coverage in the West because the subject is rather embarrassing. For example, there is a monument to the Galicia Division in Canada; its recent defacement was first called a “hate crime” and then embarrassingly walked back to “vandalism”. Canada does not especially want to remember that it admitted many of these people after the war. But these were presumably good nazis.

Take for example the fearless journalist/blogger who was hijacked out of the air recently over Belarus. Here is a photo of him and fellow journalist/bloggers working with the tools of the journalist trade. To say that these are actually the tools of soldiers would be confessing to be a tool of the Kremlin: Roman Protasevich is a journalist blogger – his assistant in the centre photo is presumably carrying his laptop; on the right he’s wearing a Greek helmet and the Greeks, after all, invented democracy. And as for this picture, he’s holding what Al Capone would have called a Chicago typewriter.

And, to readers of the Western media, that’s the story: “act of piracy… political hostage“; dissident journalist”; 26 year-old journalist and activist“; “26-year-old journalist”; “main editor”; “cameraman, journalist and blogger“; “Belarusian dissident”. The fact that none of the standard Western story actually fits the facts doesn’t matter: it fits the propaganda requirements.

But it quickly became apparent, thanks to lots of pictures on his cell phone, that Protasevich had a strong connection to the Azov Battalion whose ubiquitous symbol is the wolfsangel. A old German symbol, it was adopted by the nazis and widely used in nazi heraldry, it was banned in post-war Germany. However, with a straight face, RFE/RL writes “The group claims it is an amalgam of the letters N and I for national idea.” But, in Ukrainian that would be written Національний Ідея which would be HI, not NI. Another certainly-not-a-nazi-symbol used by Azov is the Black Sun of Himmlers’ castle. To remark upon or to draw conclusions from the blogger-journalist posing with guns, uniforms, nazi symbols and Azov members would be quite wrong. We can trust these judgements because Western reporters are so acute in their perception of what is and is not a nazi symbol that they find this to be a story: 7 Days to Nomination Lock: Donald Trump Says He’ll Reconsider Raised-Arm Loyalty Pledge That’s Been Compared to Nazi Salute.

The Western media cannot always pretend not to notice that the good nazis certainly resemble real, bad, nazis: here’s a DW documentary that sees reality. Israeli publications and Jewish organisations are not quite so blind, as one might expect. Haaretz shows much of the nazi symbology that conventional media reports pretend not to see in this piece. David Pugliese in Canada appears to be permitted to write one piece a year on Ukrainian nazi collaborators: here he says, correctly, “But in this case the Russian tweets aren’t ‘fake news’ or ‘disinformation’. They are accurate“. And Poland remembers the Volyn massacre.

But these nods to historical reality are drowned out by a now-formulaic recitation; the standard two arguments that nazis in Ukraine, if indeed they exist at all, are insignificant are here given by Alexander Motyl:

  • The nazis get few votes: “Left- and right-wing extremists who reject the democratic rules of the game garner only a few percentage points of the popular vote—far fewer than their counterparts in Germany and France.”
  • The president of Ukraine is Jewish “And contrary to the Kremlin’s depictions of Ukraine as anti-Semitic and ethnically intolerant, the Jewish, Russophone Zelensky won 73 percent of the vote…”

It’s not just the admittedly one-sided organ Euromaidan Press that insists that nazis in Ukraine are an insignificant figment of Putin’s imagination – How Russia’s worst propaganda myths about Ukraine seep into media language, No, Belarusian dissident Protasevich is not a neo-Nazi. But the Kremlin sure wants you to think so – even the staid and semi-official Foreign Policy solemnly warns Russian Disinformation Distorted Reality in Ukraine. Americans Should Take Note. In it we find an exquisite ballet of balance:

On the one hand, it’s true:

The government-funded Institute of National Memory, run by the historian Volodymyr Viatrovych, produced a steady output of revisionism, obscuring the racism and anti-Semitism of Ukraine’s wartime ultranationalists and falsely recasting them as democratic partisans who rescued Jews.

On the other hand, it’s not true:

Russia initiated provocations intended to create the impression that Ukraine’s post-revolutionary leadership was continuing in the violent and racist footsteps of the Bandera movement at the very first stages of the conflict.

It’s now a meme: Behind Russia’s ‘Neo-Nazi’ Propaganda Campaign in Ukraine and Russia’s Nazi Propaganda against Ukraine’s’ Army. And we hear, over and over, Motyl’s arguments that Zelensky is Jewish and the nazis don’t do well in the polls. Well, Zelensky has had little effect (as Motyl himself admits here) and the nazis have a lot of guns. Here’s the Azov battalion’s guns today, here are its tanks, here its artillery, here its masses; not bad for

one of the many local militia units which sprung up to stop Russia’s invading forces in 2014/15. Now incorporated into the Ukraine’s National Guard

Who needs votes when you have all those guns and summer camps for kids too?

The whole “X is a nazi and Y is not” routine as practised in the Western media and academia is nothing but propaganda. In fact it’s propaganda for idiots: the most ignorant clunk knows that nazi=bad and thus Hitler’s moustache can be stuck on any face and the cheap point will be got by even the dullest: Assad, Xi Jinpeng, Merkel, Bush, Obama, Qaddafi, Kim Jong Un, It’s a quick and easy way to pretend to say something – here’s the template.

Nonetheless, it is amusing (in a contemptuous way) to watch reporters in service to the Borg twist themselves into contortions finding nazis where they aren’t (Trump’s silly pledge skit) and no nazis where they are (Hs become Ns).

PUTIN-BIDEN SUMMIT

Answer to question from Sputnik, published here.

The American side asked for the meeting after two “tough guy” failures: the coup attempt in Belarus and the “de-occupation” of Crimea farce. When war-war fails it’s time for jaw-jaw as Churchill didn’t say.

But a third “tough guy” failure may have had more to do with it. In the 1990s the Americans believed they no longer needed to pay any attention to Russia; they had won, their winning would stand forever and they let the Cold War era arms control agreements lapse. But Russia has got well out in advance of the US in strategic weaponry and sensible elements in the US security structure now want arms agreements because Russia’s power cannot be ignored.

Thus the one important purpose of the meeting was achieved with the agreement to talk about arms control: the American side needs it and Moscow prefers stability and predictability.

The return of Ambassadors is, of course, to be welcomed but for the rest it will be impossible for Biden/Harris to drop their main campaign point which was that they saved their country from the Russian-controlled Trump. And so demented is the state of mind in the USA that domestic coverage will be nothing but partisan disputes over whether he insulted Putin properly and adequately.

Washington cannot accept that Russia (and China) will go their own way; that they are rising while it is falling; that the time of lecturing is over. So I expect no change until the new reality arrives in a manner that no one in Washington can ignore.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 JUNE 2021

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

COUNTERING THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR – PROOF OF CONCEPT

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

The American Way of War is founded on three assumptions. Ever since 1945 the USA has assumed that it would have air superiority: it knew that it would have to fight for it against the Soviets but assumed that it would be able to gain it, at least in the areas where needed (local air superiority). In Korea there was some resistance but the USAF was able to bomb pretty freely. Wikipedia informs us that it dropped more bombs on Korea than it did in the entire Pacific Theatre and about half as many as it did in the European Theatre in 1941-1945. North Korea was obliterated: “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea, too.” Which, of course, is the principal reason why North Korea has nuclear weapons today.

Bombing became the American Way of War par excellence with ever greater tonnages dropped: Cambodia received about the same amount as Korea, Laos about three times as much, Vietnam about six times as much. And the bombing continues today throughout Washington’s forever wars. Officially it is precise, surgical, carefully selected: “The targets I’m assigned to destroy have been vetted through the most professional members of our armed services, and (I know) that others are taking their jobs as seriously as I am“. But US Precision Bombing is a “Persistent Myth” and the reality is quite different:

Since World War II, the U.S. Air Force has loosened its definition of “accuracy” from 25 feet to 10 meters (39 feet), but that is still less than the blast radius of even its smallest 500 lb. bombs. [Here’s one.] So the impression that these weapons can be used to surgically “zap” a single house or small building in an urban area without inflicting casualties and deaths throughout the surrounding area is certainly contrived.

In the end, there is no difference from random carpet bombing: “precision strike” after “precision strike” after “precision strike” – even assuming the intelligence that guides the “precision” is accurate, which it isn’t – leaves nothing but rubble:

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble. It’s been a painfully apt term since Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful — rubblize and rubblization.

Here are pictures from Raqqa in Iraq. Amnesty International calculates that 30,000 artillery rounds were fired and the New Yorker estimates 10,000 bombs dropped; given an assumed population of 300,000 that’s one for every seven or eight people; “precision” or not, what would your neighbourhood like like after that?

Doing war from the air is pretty cost-free especially if your targets have weak air defence. The 1998 NATO operation in Kosovo had two accidental NATO deaths and two aircraft shot down. The 2011 NATO operation in Libya cost one soldier and two aircraft from accidents and one helicopter captured. It’s engagingly technical and allows much talk of precision. To say nothing of the opportunity to smugly accuse others of just tossing bombs around: “Putin’s modern Air Force choosing devastating dumb bombs over precision strikes“. (In this puff piece the authors do not understand that the Russians actually have figured out a cheap way to make “dumb” bombs “precise”. The process is explained here. Also note the familiar American boast “We’re able to do very precise weaponeering in order to strike and then also minimize civilian casualty”.)

The second assumption of the American Way of War is a prerequisite of the first – assured communications. The American way of precision bombing requires that the bomb or missile “talk” continually to its guide, whether that be a laser designator, a signal to the target and back or GPS satellites. This “talking” must be free, unrestricted and continuous – if it is stopped, the “smart” missile or bomb immediately becomes “stupid”. (Another advantage of the Russian way, incidentally, is that the “talking” is unnecessary once the bomb is dropped.)

US warfighting doctrine depends on air power operating and communicating freely.

The countries on Washington’s target list are well aware of this and that is why they are continually improving their air defence and electronic warfare capabilities. Conversely, the reason why NATO members have feeble air defence and limited EW capability is that they’ve never thought they needed to have them. Years of beating up countries with trivial air defence and EW has left them complacent. (Even a wake-up call like the shooting down of the F-117 is soon sent down the Memory Hole.)

Great strategists have always known that victory is found in avoiding the enemy’s strength and attacking his weakness and that one should “fight the enemy with the weapons he lacks.” Russia, China and Iran cannot expect to win a naval battle in the South Pacific against the US Navy: there will be no second Battles of Leyte Gulf, Midway or Coral Sea. That would be to attack US strengths. Missiles to take out aircraft carriers are the answer: do not attack the enemy’s strength, fight him with the weapons he lacks. Neither would they attempt to invade and conquer the USA itself. Defence is what they want and these are the principles that guide them.

But there is a third assumption of the American Way of War and that is simply this:

the air raid sirens will sound somewhere else.

Everything that I have said above applies to Israel. Just like the USA, Israel has grown accustomed to using air power, “precision strikes” and all the rest of it. In 1973 it had a hard ground fight but since its 2006 repulse by Hezbollah in Lebanon it has relied ever more on air strikes. Like the US, it is confident that it has air superiority and secure communications. Being so much closer to its enemies, it is not as confident that the air raid sirens will always scream somewhere else, but confident that it can inflict, via its air power, unacceptable damage on its enemy, Israel proceeds. Hezbollah and Hamas would be fools to try – even if they could – to build an air force to fight Israel, neither can they expect to have air defence and electronic warfare assets to seriously challenge Israel’s air superiority. Because they cannot attack the two assumptions of air superiority and communications, they must therefore attack the third assumption of invulnerability. Not the enemy’s strength but his weakness.

The last big US ground operations, the Iraq wars of 1990 and 2003, were preceded by months of unimpeded transportation of immense quantities of supplies across the Atlantic. Baghdad never interfered and the complacent supposition that the air raid sirens would sound only in the enemy’s skies was further strengthened. But, should NATO be so suicidal as to provoke Russia to war, this will not be the case: the Iskanders will come calling and there will be no uninterrupted buildup. NATO bases will not be safe sanctuaries and the convoys will have to fight their way through.

We see, today, the proof of concept. In May Gaza fired hundreds of simple, cheap rockets at Israel. The Israeli air defence system, Iron Dome, was reasonably effective but it will run out of missiles long before Gaza, to say nothing of Hezbollah, will. Iron Dome suffers from the weakness that it is far more expensive than the simple rockets Hamas is using. Debris rained down on Israeli cities, the odd rocket got through (probably more than we were told). The air raid sirens were continuous and Israelis were in bomb shelters. It’s true that Israel’s air force obliterated buildings in Gaza but that’s not the point: everyone knew they could do that, it’s the continuous rockets that are new. This went on for eleven days with no diminution of fire from Gaza. A piece in the NYT, not a noticeably Israel-hostile outlet, quotes an estimate of 30,000 rockets in Gaza; only about ten percent were fired. Hezbollah has at least four times as many. The myth of Israel’s invincibility has been broken: gravely diminished in 2006 on land, its skies are no longer safe. Fight the enemy’s weakness (its home morale – how many dual citizens are already packing their suitcases?) and use weapons it does not have.

A ceasefire was announced after eleven days; we’ll see if it holds: Israeli police have again stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque which was the trigger in the first place. The Jerusalem Post attempts a summing up; and a very pro-Israeli one it is: so many commanders, headquarters, launching sites claimed destroyed. Most important though is its recognition that Hamas “increased its volume and range” of rocket launches. And “Hamas took credit for redrawing the equation of power in the region in its battle with Israel, asserting that Israel is now in a state of decline”. A claim to be sure. But one with some reality. Hamas struck with greater numbers and deeper into Israel than ever before and there were also disturbances in the Arab population in Israel proper. Hamas is claiming a victory and it is not wrong to do so.

Air superiority, assured immediate communications and security of the home front. Gaza and Hezbollah present the poor man’s solution to the problem – lots of cheap rockets to challenge the assumption of a secure home front: Israel’s “illusion of normality” is gone.

Richer and more industrially-based entities can counter the first two assumptions and challenge the third with more sophisticated answers. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the complacency that other countries will be the amphitheatres for American wars is the Russian Poseidon; this weapon, a sort of giant autonomous underwater cruise missile, is designed to create a tsunami to wipe out US ports and coastal areas. Iran, in its retaliatory attack on the US base in Iraq last year, showed that US forces were not safe in their bases. China and Russia are both creating weapons systems to attack the USA where it is weak using weapons it does not have. US aircraft carrier battle groups, rather than projections of mighty power, are mere targets to hypersonic missiles. Russian EW capability has been described by at least one US general as “eye-watering“, able to turn off US systems; and one may be sure that the Russians are saving their best for later. (Can they blind an entire warship? Not at all! Disinformation! Nonsense! Information Warfare! A little too much protesting?) Russia and China can do this because they are not lost to fantasies of “power projection” or “full spectrum superiority“; they defend themselves with weapons the aggressor does not have that are directed at his weakness. Enough and not too much is their guide.

Gaza vs Israel represents the proof of the concept.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 MAY 2021

IN A WORD. Some time ago – Munich speech? Libya? Ivanov’s re-assignment? – the Putin Team decided that NATO wanted war and Russia had better get its defensive power up. They have decided that they have done so. That’s why the rhetoric has toughened. NATO’s window of opportunity has closed but it will take a while before the dullards in Washington and NATO get this. Moscow will knock their teeth out and add their gewgaws to the world’s largest collection of nazi banners and French cannons. Only a fool thinks it’s a threat and not a promise.

MILITARY. Shoygu says combat robot mass production has started. He doesn’t say which ones but these were shown on Victory Day. Putin says tests of the S-500 are almost complete and that 85% of commanders of “of large military formations and regiments” have received combat experience in Syria.

BOMBERS. Some strategic bombers have arrived at the Russian base in Syria; for exercises, we’re told.

NUKES. According to Moscow, as of 1 March, Russia had 517 ICBMs, SLBMs and strategic bombers with a total of 1456 warheads and the USA had 651 with 1357 warheads. I seem to remember a study years ago that said that something like 400 would be more than enough for each; here’s one that says 100 is the number. Anyway, you can see that with these two having these numbers why Beijing (with a few hundred) is not interested in three-way talks until Russia and the USA come way down.

NORDSTREAM. Washington has lifted sanctions on German companies involved with the pipeline but imposed new ones on Russian entities. What are we to make of this? A realisation that Berlin is determined on completion combined with face-saving meaningless toughness. Amusingly Biden’s now being called “Putin’s $5 million man” (because of the supposed payout by the pipeline to the supposed Russian supposed hackers). Nordstream was a “key Putin goal“, giving power to Putin, what does he have on him? Hilarious, isn’t it? Biden loved it then: here he is calling Trump Putin’s puppy.

SWIFT. An official of the Central Bank of Russia says she sees no risk in using SWIFT now, but that Russia can easily switch to its own system: the Financial Messaging System of the Bank of Russia.

POLLS. In Levada’s presidential stakes Putin is well out in front as usual, most of the rest (especially Navalniy) are in the margin of error. Maybe Zhirinovskiy has edged out Zyuganov for a distant second (both of them were around in 1996!).

MINSK AND RYANAIR PLANE. The story gets fishier by the minute. First the simulated and hypocritical outrage when Minsk is accused of following the example of the keeper and guardian of the Rules-Based International Order (suspiciously rapid and uniform). Calling this coup specialist a “journalist” is pretty creative: yes he did fight with the nazis; more on Protasevich and more still. There has been a sustained – and unsuccessful – anti-Lukashenka operation for some time, is this the next try? The real key to the story is the fake bomb threat: who did it and when? If it did come, as Lukashenka says, from some source in Switzerland (don’t be fooled by the time stamp – they are in different time zones), then everything took place as it should have and the rules required the pilot to land in Minsk; and the threat did say the bomb would be set off in Vilnius. Incidentally, this is the third time (!) a Ryanair plane has been forced to land by armed fighters after a bomb hoax: 2017 and 2020. Fighter interception is normal behaviour. The people who stayed in Minsk were not sinister operatives but people headed there anyway. Did the Belarusan authorities only know he was on board because of this tweet as Petri Krohn wonders (see comment 6)? Maybe we’ll read about it years later in the WaPo – remember Ukraine’s Joan of Arc? So, the question that they should be asking is: who originated the bomb threat? Answer that and you’ll know whether it was another anti-Lukashenka provocation (vide Vovan and Lexus) or something Lukashenka did to get Protasevich. But, anyway, it’s time for Lukashenka to get closer to Moscow; maybe he will.

MACRON says sanctions against Russia aren’t working and “I think that we are at a moment of truth in our relationship with Russia, which should lead us to rethink the terms of the tension that we decide to put in place.” Every now and again he says the unsayable, but nothing happens afterwards.

FAKE NEWS. Don’t toss your NYT subscription! Eventually the news will fit. Steele dossier is junk!

RUSSIA/CHINA. It’s only an opinion, but the Global Times carries weight: “So Beijing and Moscow must keep close coordination to handle the upcoming situation, including how to establish a new order to replace the US-dominated one once the latter gets totally dysfunctional, Yang Jin said.”

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

PUTIN-BIDEN MEETING

(Answer to question from Sputnik)

I can’t see any reason for Putin bothering unless it be curiosity to see for himself Biden’s state of mind. I do not expect anything to change — the Biden/Harris Administration is packed full of the people who fully embrace the numerous Russia conspiracy theories, invented many of them and who made US-Russia relations impossible.

As to Nordstream, Washington was trying to placate Berlin; it’s still trying to stop the pipeline.

Biden wants to show himself statesmanlike, important and in charge; Putin doesn’t have to.

The only possible interest is to bet whether Putin walks out when Biden starts up with the customary accusations.