RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 AUGUST 2019

MOSCOW PROTESTS. Whatever might have been the reason for the original protests, they’ve now gone full provocation. How to make a photogenic riot: 1) ask for a demo permit 2) refuse it 3) move to the main drag 4) invite cameras. (Is there any country that allows protests anywhere, anytime? Not USA, not Canada, not UK and certainly not France.) This impresses Western pundits – Putin’s frightened! but not Muscovites, who support the authorities. Why? Because they’ve seen the movie before: the regime changers are running out of ideas. Another sign it’s a colour revolution attempt is the creation of a poster girl – just like Bana of Aleppo and I am Ukrainian. (Venezuela too). Moscow’s Ms Deeds confronts Evil; the hero facing down the tank (Click on the link: it’s not what you’re expecting). Not such striking images as these from France, or of France’s poster man, but they will have to do. And – another tired trope – Navalniy was poisoned, but not very effectively. So what’s the point? Distract attention from Gillets jaunes (Week 38); but who was covering that? Last chance to use the tattered playbook before Trump & Co crush the Russia-interference lie and bring the Deep State down? (Well, one can dream). Force of habit? Seizing an opportunity? Whatever, it’s not working very well.

NEW WEAPON. Video of a test flight of a stealth RPV named Okhotnik (hunter).

GOLD. Still buying it, now 2.3 tonnes; and the bet is paying off as gold prices rise. Meanwhile, Russia’s US treasury holdings are down to $12 billion USD from nearly $100 billion 12 years ago.

RUSSIA IS FINISHED! Again. Just as well – it doesn’t have a “better nature“. And they tell us that Russia’s the one spewing out the we-they stuff.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL. The Procurator-General named it an undesirable organisation.

FOREST FIRES. Big, but not as big as all that.

INF. INF Treaty is dead. If Trump thought he could include China, he’s wrong – Beijing is not interested. Three of the four arms-control treaties left us are gone, all killed by Washington although Russia was blamed of course. But Putin & Co saw it coming and their answers are already here: whatever Washington may think it can do, it’s been checkmated: MAD returns. As to nearby missiles, Moscow’s got that covered too: Tsirkon on a submarine off the US coast.

RUSSIA/CHINA. The NYT had an absurd editorial chiding Trump for not doing enough to split Moscow away from Beijing. Too late, that ship has sailed. I’d change the illustration – the ship is over the horizon.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. A Pew poll shows 65% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans see “Russia’s power and influence” as a “major threat”. I would say that the 30-point difference is Muellermania and the lie that Russia hacked the DNC computers. A poll by Gallup, on the other hand, shows concerns about Russia haven’t registered all year. A CNN poll (p12) likewise shows Russia’s nowhere. So it’s only a big concern to Democrats and only when they’re asked about it. Interesting. Meanwhile, Tulsi Gabbard, pretty mainstream on most issues, dares to criticise the endless wars: she’s a Putinassadbot! Full attack!

THE “FAKE NEWS” FAKE. An article describes how Finland is “winning the war on fake news” (all from Russia of course) by getting students to take their “laptops and cell phones to investigate their chosen topics“. This could easily backfire: what would a reasonably intelligent child think when presented with, say, both the BBC coverage of Skripal and Rob Slane’s? Not much to the BBC’s benefit, I suspect. They sure don’t want them to start wondering what happened to Kerry’s we saw the whole thing or any of the other tripe they’re supposed to take on faith. Best just to train them to love Big Brother and understand that what BB says is true news and be done with it.

MH17. French reporter reveals that there are still many parts aircraft parts and human remains at the site. Also shows photo of what look a lot like bullet holes. Malaysia expresses more criticism of JIT.

UKRAINE. “Ukraine is turning to the playbook that helped rebuild the continent’s ex-communist wing back in the 1990s.” Well, maybe in Poland or the Czech Republic, but in the other places it was pretty disastrous. Especially in places – like Ukraine – with deeply embedded corruption. Come to think of it, it was a disaster in Ukraine in the 1990s too. Time to re-read Collision and Collusion.

HISTORY. Only a couple of years ago I learned that Poland (1934) had signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler’s Germany. Yesterday, thanks to this, I learned that Estonia (1939) and Latvia (1939) did too. Lots of countries taken in by Hitler, eh? Some thought to buy the package, others thought to buy time. (BTW Finnish “fake news” mavens, don’t let your students discover that the USSR was not the only one; that could lead to questions and questions are always doubleplusungood.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 25 JULY 2019

STALIN. The Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights condemns efforts to erect statues to Stalin: “civil servants of all levels should be clearly aware of the inadmissibility of the use of state or municipal land and buildings for this purpose. Such actions contradict not only morality, respect for our departed, innocently injured ancestors, but also official state policy”. Ah well, mere facts should never get in the way of shrieking from the usual sources: (Guardian in July; WaPo in June).

DEMOS IN MOSCOW. There have been substantial protests in Moscow over the disqualification of opposition candidates for council elections. (Video). Candidates are required to get signatures from voters – these are easily faked and equally easily declared fake. If the establishment is trying to nobble Navalniy & Co, it’s wasting its time and doing itself a disservice: they have little support and it’s better to let them run. Moscow Times gets excited: no, it’s not a “pre-revolutionary situation”.

RUSSIA/CHINA. Joint Russia-China air patrol. The first of many, no doubt. The NYT (yesterday’s news today) clutches its pearls. “That means President Trump is correct to try to establish a sounder relationship with Russia and peel it away from China. But his approach has been ham-handed and at times even counter to American interests and values.” Now that’s chutzpah!

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. We’re not saying that they started the Great Hawaiian Pizza War, but them pesky Rooskies sure would like to. Satire is impossible.

NEW NWO. JP Morgan asks: “Is the dollar’s ‘exorbitant privilege’ coming to an end?

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Ankara defied Washington, the S-400s arrived, Washington cancelled its participation in the F-35 program. Why did Ankara insist? I believe the principal reason is insurance against becoming Washington’s former friend: much more dangerous than being its enemy.

MH17. I have always thought the JIT “investigation” was rotten – see this (port engine intake – BIG clue as to direction of missile). We now have a documentary that reiterates Malaysia was excluded, a secret mission to get the black box first, the intercepts are fakes, more people report seeing fighter planes, the radars were not down for repair. But including Ukraine in the JIT and excluding Malaysia were enough clues that the investigation would be a fix. I’m sceptical that it was a BUK (too few fragments); I think the fighter plane sighting reports should be looked at. I think the Ukrainian side shot it down but I don’t know whether by accident (wouldn’t be the first time) or whether there was government involvement (but those faked up intercepts were out pretty quickly, weren’t they?) Helmer discusses; the documentary.

UKRAINE 1. Not only was Poroshenko beaten by Anybody at All but the latter’s instant support party won a majority on Sunday. In second place an eastern party; the Galicians, nazis and former Big Wheels were left in the dust. The only conclusion is that the voters of Ukraine are sick and tired of the last five years; the West’s project in Ukraine has failed. And for the second time: Yushchenko was also scornfully rejected. Now what? The so-called NGOs (Washington puppets all) have given President Zelensky “red lines” – an obvious threat that there will be another “spontaneous” revolt if he tries to make peace and have a normal relationship with Russia. He is in office, without a tail and with only the support of the population and how many guns do they have? Three reasons for cautious optimism 1) Washington allowed the elections to happen without interfering 2) Trump shows little interest in Ukraine 3) the EU has its own problems. So maybe… if Zelensky does want to change course, if he moves quickly and decisively, if he can get backing from some power agency, if the West keeps out, if the rebels in the east want to be in some new Ukraine, if the nazis hold off… Probably too many ifs; Ukraine’s nightmare is not over. I still think the end state will be a rump Ukraine with the other bits eaten by its neighbours. Post 1991 Ukraine has been pretty miserable for its unfortunate inhabitants; who really wants a re-do?

UKRAINE 2. A couple of weeks ago Zelensky proposed a bill to remove high-ranking officials who held their posts during the Poroshenko period – Poroshenko having lustrated the Yanukovych period. In short, he’s proposing that nobody who’s held high office in Ukraine before can hold it again. Which is a very interesting proposal indeed; even a reasonable one given their dismal performance. He now has the parliamentary majority to make it law. But again, there are questions: nobody knows who the newly elected members of his party really are and there are the suspicions that he’s just Kolomoisky’s creature and all that has happened is that a new batch of robbers has arrived in Kiev to steal what’s left. I hate to fall back on the feeble analyst’s conclusion but time will tell.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 11 JULY 2019

THE HEARTLAND. The problem with Mackinder’s “heartland” is that moving around in it is so difficult: there are too many mountains, too many deserts and too much distance. Consequently, for 500 years sea travel has been both easier and, most of the time, faster; this reality has been a decisive power advantage for Mackinder’s “islands”. But China’s working hard at overcoming that. Another link in the OBOR is starting – Russia has begun work on a highway on its section of the Shanghai-Hamburg route. High-speed rail in China is about a decade old: 29 thousand kms now. (California has several dozen kms. Remember when the West, especially the USA, did everything first?) The sea will probably maintain its advantage for high-volume items but OBOR will change everything else.

LIBERALISM. Putin’s interview has stimulated some (more) silliness among people who probably haven’t read it. “What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the United States? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people… Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable… [the liberal idea] has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” Well, what’s incorrect? Putin has a better understanding than all the op-eds about populism. Western elites respond with a barrage of clichés.

CORRUPTION. “Nearly one in six Russian mayors have faced criminal prosecution over the past decade“. Is that a lot of corruption or a lot of corruption detection and punishment?

SUBMARINE FIRE. A fire in, we are told, the battery compartment killed a number of rather high-ranking sailors. Speculation that it was a very deep diving submarine. Back to the cutting cables scare.

RUSSIA INC. Only last month the NYT told us that Russia’s “economy suffers from flat growth and shrinking incomes“, now Russia has “The World’s Top Stock Market“. Hard to keep up, it is.

NEW NWO. The head of Rosobornexport says that Moscow has stopped using SWIFT or USD in arms transactions. So that’s the number three export taken out of Washington’s control, I don’t know about the other two but I would be surprised in Russia weren’t moving away from those as much as possible. India and Russia are talking about moving their trade to their own currencies.

DOUMA. How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. The Myth of Russian Media Influence by Larry C Johnson. More below.

AMERICA-HYSTERIA II. To Mueller’s surprise, the IRA actually showed up in court. A judge has just ruled that Mueller’s indictment “does not link the defendants to the Russian government“. Once again, Moon of Alabama was far ahead of the mighty MSM: eighteen months ago, he said it was a click-bait operation; nothing to do with the Russian government or election interference.

S500. Being manufactured – adds an outer space defence capability to the family.

WESTERN VALUES. British media freedom conference bans RT and Sputnik but is held conveniently near Assange’s prison. So he could attend. If he could.

PESKY RUSSIANS. Another whiny official document about how those nasty Russians are dissing the USA’s impeccable position of respect in the world. (Usual pseudo-psychiatry: “Russia exhibits a deep-seated sense of geopolitical insecurity” and a whole new meme to accompany the “hybrid war” projectionism: “gray zone”.) Here’s the paper itself. I guess it must be that malign Russian influence that makes a fifth of the world regard the USA as a force for bad in the world.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. The EU mechanism for trade with Iran (INSTEX) is now declared operational. Too little, too late? We’ll see. Berlin and Amsterdam reject Washington’s request to send ground troops to Syria but London and Paris do not.

UKRAINE. Definitely some rumblings in Year Six of the Revolution of Dignity. First we have money movement revelations: Kolomoisky and IMF money; the Bidens, father and son. A documentary including Katchanovski’s findings that the “heavenly hundred” were murdered by their own side wins a prize, but will it be quietly disappeared and never be seen? More Israelis notice: Israelis protesting arms sales to the nazi groups. Helmer discusses two interesting polls that show that Zelensky’s party is way in front, and the Galicians way behind, in the parliamentary elections ten days away and that the population is sick of the civil war and wants settlement. US poll in May, Dutch poll in June.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 JUNE 2019

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. (Eng) (Rus) Deep in the weeds, this one: trash (apparently piling up since Soviet times), healthcare, maternity and child care issues, farming, corruption (declining said Putin, it’s the inevitability of punishment that matters), over-zealous inspectors, protecting Russia’s electronic/internet/cyberspace against attacks (several mentions of Washington’s attacks on Huawei), air routes, water supply. “Russia’s greatest problem” was to secure “higher labour efficiency”. Little on foreign issues other than that Putin & Co stand ready to talk (but I get the impression that they don’t expect they’ll get much chance to). Sanctions had led to substitution: “Look, if ten years ago I… had been told that we would be exporting agricultural products worth $25.7 billion, like we did last year, I would have laughed… ” Suppose Russia gives in? he doubted sanctions would ever stop – Huawei again. Why is he polite to those “slinging mud at us”? he was brought up that way and rudeness isn’t useful in negotiations. And we learned a reason why he does these things; “a direct line that is intended to bring the bottlenecks into focus and to find solutions to these problems”. A theme this year was how orders from the centre often aren’t fulfilled on the ground. He and the producers observed that “Problems end as soon as Direct Line starts”. I re-read one of his earlier ones (from 2002) and I would say that today’s concerns are smaller, they’re more about the uneven implementation of strategic plans or fine tuning some strategy than the need for big solutions for big problems. Which is a sign, of course, of how far things have improved since then. (In those days, Russia was finished.) See below.

STATISTICS. I saw these numbers the other day. Life expectancy steadily climbing. Meat consumption up. Murders down. All reasons why Russians generally believe that Putin & Co are getting the job done. (And, it should always be remembered, half of those who don’t like him, don’t because he hasn’t occupied Ukraine or bombed Tbilisi into obedience. Russian exceptionalists, so to speak.)

PEOPLE POWER. The Boss’ advice was taken: referendum, strong opposition discovered, church cancelled. But the Boss’ opinion should not have been sought. And, as we see every year in Direct Line, there are still too many people asking Batyushka to fix their roof.

FLOATING NPP. Approved for operation. It is to be towed to isolated places in the Russian north to provide power. Causing, no doubt, more blather like this or this about Russia taking over the Arctic.

FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION. Russia does its bit to ensure ships carrying goods through the Panama Canal can do so; it’s the principle of the thing. (Russian ship transits Panama Canal. Now in Cuba.).

MH17. More unsupported allegations from JIT (note that Bellingcat seems to be the source.) Malaysia PM Mahathir (correctly) remains sceptical: “Even before they examined the case, they have already claimed it was done by Russia“. As do I (the port air engine intake is an important clue). BTW, what happened to the last “conclusive proof” out of JIT… attentive people remember.

TRUE? FALSE? Who knows? it’s the NYT after all. “U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid“. Does that sound like a good idea to you? Anyway, it shows that pieces like this from 2017 were projection. All this provocation, baiting and risk because of… see below.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Not only did the FBI never examine the DNC’s servers but it never saw an un-redacted final copy of the Crowdstrike report accusing Russia of hacking them. It’s all assertion by interested parties. The interference meme is nonsense too – read this.

IRAN. I believe them when they say they will shut it down: they fought Iraq for eight years until they prevailed. Very dangerous indeed.

GEORGIA. The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy meets in Tbilisi; the President, a Russian, gives a speech in Russian. This leads to riots. At the same time Washington and its minions are pushing for a Gay Pride march in a country where there isn’t much support for such things. Washington is apparently deeply concerned about this in Georgia but not elsewhere. I agree with Jatras that it sounds like an attempt at a coloured revolution: protesters with signs in foreign languages are hardly grassroots (Russian in Latin script!!??). Moscow has banned flights to Georgia and blocked Georgian airlines: this will hurt their tourism revenue. Remittances are a significant part of Georgia‘s economy and Russia is the largest source so blocking those may be next on the list. (Worked with Turkey, didn’t it?)

UKRAINE. Poroshenko’s new church is de-laminating in fights over money.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 JUNE 2019

CORRUPTION. I haven’t written much on the subject lately not because corruption in Russia has stopped, but because I haven’t seen much to comment on. But there are some things this week that are worth reporting. An official has been charged with fraud: in essence taking money for something that wasn’t done. Another more complex case combines organised crime, officials, embezzlement on state projects and incomplete plea bargains made earlier by a defendant. The third case involves a traffic accident and the collusion of a forensic expert to get the guilty party off. Further investigation revealed the fake forensic report but the punishment of the expert appears to be trivial. Details are at Southfront. Probably the most interesting case is that of Ivan Golunov. a reporter specialising in corruption stories. He was arrested on drug charges on Friday; immediately his lawyer said the drugs were planted. On Saturday a court released him into house arrest. On Monday three newspapers came out in his support and the Interior Ministry said several different DNA signatures were on the drugs. On Tuesday the prosecution dropped the case, he was freed, the police who arrested him were suspended and an investigation into their conduct opened. Two senior police generals were fired today. Two things strike me: how quickly it happened, and the fact that the Interior Ministry swiftly produced evidence suggesting the drugs were planted. (RFE/RL amusingly spins it as if Putin had personally been behind every step until forced off by public pressure.) My conclusion from all this: plenty of fraud, embezzlement and police misbehaviour but also a system that is, at the very least, making it more difficult for the bad guys.

PUTIN POPULARITY. Also from RFE/RL is this: “Russians’ Trust In Putin Sinks To New Low“. The reference is to a May VtsIOM poll. But there were two questions: in the question of approval of institutions, “President of Russia” scored 65.8%; in the open question of which politician do you trust, “V.V. Putin” scored 31.7%. The Kremlin asked VtsIOM to explain how twice as many people could “approve” as “trust” and the answer was the difference between closed and open questions. I’m a bit confused myself (can there be anybody in Russia who doesn’t know that Putin is President?) but I don’t think that Putin & Co have much to worry about. (And the poll showed that his pedestal party was still well in front. Contrary to what you’d think if you believed the Western media, as customary, the KPRF is second and Zhirinovskiy third; Navalniy is lumped in with the pack sharing 10% support).

SPIEF. Just wrapped up; each year’s bigger than the last. 19 thousand participants from 145 countries, 650 agreements worth 3.1 trillion rubles ($48 billion).

RUSSIA/CHINA. Putin and Xi spent quite a lot of time together: Putin: “truly comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction”; Xi: “high level of bilateral relations and close strategic cooperation”. Putin’s spokesman says it would be wrong to think they were “coordinating efforts” against Washington. Well… not perhaps in exactly those words: maybe they’re just making plans, or taking action.

DOLLAR. “International financial organisations need to adapt and reconsider the role of the dollar, which, as a global reserve currency, has now become an instrument of pressure exerted by the issuing country on the rest of the world.” Said Putin at SPIEF, after much talk with Xi Jinpeng. Neither engages in empty talk or boasting: I think they’re ready to roll. Once Washington started using SWIFT as a weapon it stopped being convenient.

D DAY. Rather curious guest list but this is the rationale. Russia (and other former USSRs) not invited; sets off usual fuss. But two balanced Western takes: AFP and New Statesman. This interesting set of polls show that the Russians do have some reason to feel neuralgic. I will have something soon on SCF arguing that many Russians underestimate the importance of D Day even if Westerners over-hype it. It was an essential part of the 20%.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “How British spies smuggled secrets about Putin’s new supersonic bomber out of country…” Yeah, sure; then they boasted to the DM. Sounds like the sort of story the Integrity-Challenged Initiative would invent thinking it was a wizard jape.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. According to a Spanish newspaper, Washington is demanding closer integration in weapons manufacturing between the USA and Europe. American LNG is now “freedom gas“, almost twice the price of Russian gas (but, as we all know “freedom isn’t free”:) And Ankara has until 31 Jul to drop the S400 purchase or no F35s (a threat or a promise? Latest F35 catastrophe). Erdoğan remains defiant. Trump mulls sanctions over NordStream 2. “From now on, the US will put might over market” and Europe may have to choose between the two.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 MAY 2019

THE LIE. The Mueller report kills half of the lie (Trump colluded) but the other half (Russia interfered) is still alive. But things are happening. One well-informed reporter says Trump told AG Barr to “find out what happened”; Barr ran into resistance; went back to Trump who gave him the authority to declassify everything. The Trump conspiracy began with several entrapment efforts (mostly done in the UK so as to create a bogus “intelligence trail”); one of the innocents is suing. She was supposed to be “Putin’s honeytrap” for Flynn: details here. Flynn was an important target because, as former head of US military intelligence (DIA), he knew where many bodies were buried. George Papadopoulos, victim of another entrapment attempt, has been speaking out. Details occasionally make it into the corporate media.

VICTORY DAY. Immortal Regiment. Moscow parade. I say Western media hacks should lose the snark.

CHURCH. There’s a kerfuffle about re-building a church in Yekaterinburg. Some want The Boss to decide; the Boss wisely said it’s a local issue and perhaps a poll should be taken.

BUTINA. Her show trial is over: “jailed for the crime of being Russian“.

PATIENCE AND THE LONG GAME. Russia’s voting rights have been restored in the Council of Europe. I don’t know how significant that is, but it’s a change from the pattern. After all, Moscow’s not going anywhere but Washington might be.

AVIATION. The Prosecutor-General says the recent jet crash exposed the serious lack of proper standards and enforcement in the Russian aviation industry.

RAND. Has published a study on how to defeat Russia. And it’s…. drumroll… more sanctions! More pressure on allies not to buy Russian gas! Usual rubbish about Russia being a weak state, over-dependent on oil and gas, tiny economy, with many fault lines. Russia should be encouraged to over-extend itself militarily. (That’s projection; but whatever, the authors were paid.) A more intelligent consideration would look at 1) how and where the sanctions have strengthened Russia’s economy 2) how Russia has managed to checkmate US military superiority by focussing on its weak points and 3) how it is that Russia constantly surprises people like the authors of pieces like this one. Leading to an understanding that the the “US government has a very shallow bench on Russia“.

BAD DAYS FOR THE FABRICATORS. In a puff piece about how difficult it is for the CIA Director to deliver “facts and assessments” to her attention-deficit (blah blah blah, etc etc), boss, the NYT made a major slip-up: she only got Trump to go along with the story when she showed him photos of dead ducks and sick children. But there were no such things. Her lies or British lies, but lies they were. And then somebody leaked the suppressed engineer report: no, not through the roof, placed there. A corporate media outlet finally mentions it. OPCW squirms unconvincingly.

WESTERN VALUES™ I guess the famous “Rules-Based International Order” doesn’t include the Vienna Convention any more. (Second time, BTW.) Wait until somebody does it to a US embassy.

NEOCONFUSION. Justin Raimondo suggests Trump may appointed Bolton and Pompeo to humiliate the neocons. If so, it’s working. After Washington sanctioned Venezuelan oil, imports of sanctioned Russian oil imports rose dramatically. Flop after flop in the Venezuelan regime change operation. The Pentagon boasts it deterred Iran from doing something it hadn’t done and wasn’t about to. Charging Assange may be backfiring. Now Bolton boasts that the US will have a year-round presence in the Arctic; “soon“. In the real world, the US Coast Guard dares not go there and Russia just launched its third monster icebreaker.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists.”

SATIRE IS IMPOSSIBLE. I publish this, this appears: eyes down, trust BB, Putinbots everywhere!

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. A Beluga whale that hangs around people; exactly the behaviour you’d expect from one of Putin’s spy whales! The NYT, welded to the lie, opines that Barr’s inquiry might expose a “person close to Mr. Putin”. Oops! NYT, you just did (shows that they don’t even read the handouts they re-type). English needs a new vocabulary for the concept of “stupid”.

UKRAINE ELECTION. He was invited everywhere, pressed the flesh with everyone, has a whole wall of ego pictures; in the end he was defeated by Anybody-At-All. I have no idea what Zelensky will turn out to be and I doubt anyone else does either. But the conclusion is that the entire “revolution of dignity” fiasco has been rejected: whatever Ukraine the voters want, it’s not the one Nuland & Co gave them.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 11 APRIL 2019

IRONY. Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Moscow Region. In his Russian-built Aurus. His previous ride was a Mercedes. I suppose he would eventually have wanted a Russian-made limo, but I can’t help thinking this is another consequence of sanctions.

GPS. If (if) Russian technology really can spoof GPS signals, (if)… then… well… practically everything NATO does or has depends on GPS signals… Without Aegis and GPS, all NATO has left are bayonets, submarines and an expensive building.

RUSSIA/CHINA. It’s clear that a very consequential result of two decades of (stupid and obvious) PNAC machinations is that Moscow and Beijing, not sitting around waiting to be targetted, are drawing ever closer. I’ve been waiting for Beijing to become more active in the front line – so far it’s been letting Moscow take the heat – and it seems that it has. The reports of Chinese soldiers in Venezuela appears to be false, but Chinese aid is certainly arriving and Beijing has pointedly said that Washington does not own Venezuela. Protecting investments certainly, but the larger geopolitical purpose that both know they’re on Washington’s hitlist and are defending themselves cannot be ignored. And, a number of Russian banks have linked to the Chinese alternative to SWIFTCIPS. Beijing and Moscow have a multi-faceted strategy; more below.

PETRODOLLAR. Saudi Arabia is reported to have threatened to drop the “Petrodollar” if Washington goes ahead with certain legislation. It then denied it had done so: well, either way, the point is made, isn’t it? Meanwhile the Central Bank of Russia continues to buy gold, reserves are now reported to be 2,149 tonnes. China, usually silent, has announced its holdings: up 60% since the last announcement.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. In an interesting finding, given the non-stop Trumputin obsession of the corporate media, Rasmussen finds that slightly more respondents are suspicious of Clinton’s collusion with foreign entities than Trump’s. And, just on cue (or maybe it’s something we can expect in the post-Mueller world) the MSM notices Biden’s involvement and interference in Ukrainian corruption (Hill, Times) and a Ukrainian official wondering why Washington isn’t interested in their evidence of money and influence going to the Clinton campaign. Well, maybe Washington will be interested now.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Is the dam finally about to break? Barr Forms Team To Investigate FBI Malfeasance; criminal referrals from Nunes; Ukrainian involvement; FISA warrants; lawsuits; spying on Trump campaign; this. Stay tuned.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. I speculate on PDS post-Mueller.

WESTERN VALUES. Canada’s Democratic Institutions Minister (apt title eh?) says the Internet should be regulated to protect against election meddling. Who knew Our Democracies were so delicate? I will have a piece coming out in Strategic Culture Foundation to explain how to protect our precious bodily fluids democracies against Putin.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. The US violates Swedish airspace more often than Russia.

TURKEY. When the coup failed two and a half years ago, I predicted that sooner or later, Turkey would leave NATO. Erdoğan blamed Washington for the attempt and there is the persistent story that Moscow saved his life. We move closer. More threats from Washington with Pence telling Ankara to choose between NATO or the S-400 (“done deal” says Foreign Minister); some US senators threaten too. Ankara threatens back and points out that there are other makers of fighter aircraft: Russia, for example. A book published by the US Naval Institute is said by a Turkish newspaper to include a scenario of a conflict with Turkey. Erdoğan was just in Moscow for talks with Putin: here’s the news conference: trade, investment, NPP, TurkStream, tourism, Syria. And weapons. None these subjects will make Washington happy. Why, BTW, would Turkey want Russian air defence missiles? Simple: in case it should become a former friend of Washington: a very dangerous thing to be.

UKRAINE ELECTION. A poll suggests that the losers’ votes are most likely to go to Zelensky in the runoff on the 21st. Putin is apparently a candidate, or is Poroshenko saying Zelensky is Putin’s puppet? More questions than answers: will Poroshenko contrive to cancel the election? Is Zelensky a beard for Kolomoisky? How’s Tymoshenko going to take being knocked out? Has she cut a deal with Zelensky? How much cheating? (And sotto voce: does anybody care any more?) Speculations.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 28 MARCH 2019

MUELLER. One half of the lie has been exploded with the finding that no one connected with Trump colluded with any Russians. The other half of the lie – created by the same people for the same reasons – lives on. Again I tell you: Russia did not/not interfere in the US election, Mueller’s indictment of a Russian clickbait farm notwithstanding. (Again: read MoA and learn today what the NYT will discover (admit to) tomorrow.) Neither official Russia nor unofficial Russia. Why not? Simple deduction: if Moscow had wanted to damage Clinton, it would have used its most powerful weapon; it didn’t; QED.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Will continue – somewhat diminished by the hard kick of reality to be sure – but they’ve too much invested in it and some will double down while others try to slither away. We see the goalposts being moved. The winner so far: Mueller Report Has Moscow in Ecstasy, Opening the Way for More Putin Plots… expect Vladimir Putin to be more aggressive than ever. Schiff (Mr Pillow Man) digs his hole deeper; Swalwell and Peters dive into it.

MEDIA. “[Did you] receive bad information throughout this process like so many of us did?” asks whathishair – remember that moment: a “Big Journalist” admits that they’re just typists. Followed by the admission from the boss of CNN that they’re not investigators. NYT blubbers not just we, but you too. Taibbi is correct: “death-blow for the reputation of the American news media.” Last week I wrote “A poll shows that “hardly any confidence at all in the press” is the winning answer.” What’s next week’s answer going to be? A free, sceptical and challenging media is important; what happens when it’s just a big typing pool waiting for Big Brother’s Dictaphone? Time to learn from the Soviets.

SCHADENFREUDE COMPENDIUM. Here. And there’ll be more: make your choice for the biggest liar. Schadenfreude is enjoyable (I do enjoy it – earliest I could find, but I always knew it was BS). Hannity rant. Carlson ditto.

RUSSIA RELATIONS. Immense damage has been done. Will it be repaired? Can it be repaired? Russia is not a joke country in Disneyland and we’re not characters in a Marvel comic. How idiotic it would be if the Earth were destroyed because Hillary Clinton lost, couldn’t accept it and invented a story for lying liars to lie about. Much will depend on whether Trump starts a real investigation so that the falsity is exposed. (Conrad Black has the best exposition of the conspiracy for people who are just tuning in.)

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CALVEY ARREST. I have no worthwhile opinion and I defer to John Helmer who is sceptical.

CRIMEA. Five years ago. What’s been done. A lot.

SANCTIONS. A sentence from Awara’s latest struck me: “Russia’s imports from China (26% of total) are now three times bigger than those from Germany (7.8%). Total imports from the EU now make up only 30% of all Russia’s imports.” I don’t think the EU is going to get much of that market back, do you?

GOLAN HEIGHTS. Bingo! There goes the Western case on South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Karabakh, Transdnestr and, of course, Crimea. (One yuuuge difference being, of course, that in the other cases the locals were consulted.) But maybe Trump knows that: “Crimea is part of Russia because everyone there speaks Russian“; which, if you’ve taken the trouble to learn Trumpian, is quite a profound statement.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Italy joins BRI; wavers on the obligatory F-35 buy. (They’re still duds, BTW.) Germany won’t spend the money and won’t block Huawei.

KAZAKHSTAN. Nazarbayev has constructed a smooth changing of the guard.

VENEZUELA. Moscow warns, Washington warns, Beijing clears its throat. Russian troops and aid appear, S-300s deployed. I keep thinking about this video – Kalibres lurking in commonplace containers.

NEW NWO. Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian Chiefs of Staff meet in Damascus. Don’t remember seeing this in the PNAC manifesto. But it’s a result, all the same.

CHICKENS. HOME. ROOST. “[T]he G7 group is concerned by extreme political movements in Ukraine…“. Whoa! Weren’t these people just Putin’s “fabricated claim“, “revanchist policy“, “lying“? FBI: Neo-Nazi Militia Trained by US Military in Ukraine Now Training US White Supremacists. Azov-Christchurch?

UKRAINE. Lowest confidence in their government in the world. Comedian still in front: someone hopes that things will get better. Sorry: Kiev has to burn the last bit of the Galician fantasy to ashes and understand that the right people won the Second World War. Then, maybe, some hope.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 MARCH 2019

TIME AND PREDICTIONS. Gorbachev became GenSek 34 years ago on Monday. I remember Dr Leonid Abalkin saying first stage six months, second stage three years, third stage 30 years. And I’ve kept that in the back of my mind ever since. Well, here we are, plus or minus: 1985.25+33.5=2018.75 years. (Remember that he said this back when people were babbling about how you can’t cross a chasm in two steps, shock therapy, 500 days and similar feel-good bromides. Read Janine Wedel’s book and go back to the day when some American operator knocked on a door in St Petersburg, recognised his doppelganger, and they realised how much they could steal. Now Russian luxury cars in Swiss car shows which is a sign of something.) I met him again when I was a dip on Moscow: I think he didn’t become world-famous because he didn’t speak English but, truth to tell, English fluency probably wouldn’t have helped because what he was saying didn’t Fit The Story. But the people who were proved wrong well before he was proved right are still out there gilding turds; for example.

ARMS CONTROL. Of the four important arms control treaties left to us, only one remains and it probably won’t survive. Washington has killed them (although, typically, blaming Moscow as it did).

TAXI! Is Russia going to lose its monopoly as the Only Taxi Service to the ISS?

SANCTIONS. RUSAL profits up and Russia’s European gas market share up. Not working. Three reasons: the West’s so-called world community isn’t that large; Russia is not just a “gas station” – it’s a full-service economy; Russians don’t give in. (And a fourth – Washington’s “shallow bench” on Russia.)

GUNS. Shoygu addressed a Duma committee: 316 weapons tested in Syria. In six years 217 new nuclear missiles; 3 SSBNs; 57 spacecraft; 7 submarines; 3,712 new and upgraded tanks; more than 1,000 planes and helicopters; 161 surface ships. See below and below.

YET ANOTHER NEW WEAPON. A large version of these. UK media gets another fit of the vapours.

WAR GAMES. Some attention has been given to the findings of RAND that the US has “its ass handed to it” in war games with Russia and China. (In their home ground, of course: the USA remains almost 100% safe from foreign attack.) No news to some of us (I here and here) but somewhat of a shock at home. But, you’ll be happy to hear, the problem can be fixed with a few billion dollars. (The US already outspends the next eight countries but just a few more bucks and it’ll be done.) What is striking about this sort of thing is that there is never any consideration of what diplomacy could do or that the US should stay out of Russia and China’s home ground. Reminds one of Einstein’s supposed remark about insanity, doesn’t it?

HOW WE LOST RUSSIA. US Ambassador explains. Haven’t read it but a colleague has so I don’t have to: “our junior partner” “post-traumatic stress disorder” “little inclination to concede much to a declining power.” “Putin has a remarkable capacity for storing up slights and grievances, and assembling them to fit his narrative of the West trying to keep Russia down.” Poor Americans! What can you do with such an sulky neighbour?

LEXUS AND VOVAN DO VENEZUELA. They catch both the puppeteer and the puppet. These two produce more truthful revelations than a year’s subscription to the NYT.

TRUMP AND THE GORDIAN KNOT. Washington is said to be considering charging hosts for US bases (at 150%); threatens Turkey; threatens Germany; threatens Italy. I still like my theory that Trump’s doing it on purpose to make them cut the knot.

US MEDIA. A poll shows that “hardly any confidence at all in the press” is the winning answer.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The bottom is still far away: Dostoevskiy and measles.

NATO. Creating new enemies wherever it goes. “They’re terrorists because their orange groves have been destroyed and they’ve got nothing to do.”

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. The OPCW report of the alleged CW attack in Douma (used as the excuse for an attack by FUKUS – love that acronym!) says no nerve agent. MSM does its best (there are many traces of chlorine in your house) and the US State Department sticks to its line. Its new line that is: yesterday’s line was “Douma symptoms consistent with nerve agent: U.S. State Department“.

UKRAINE. We’re now told that Ukrainian troops in Crimea were ordered to shoot and refused orders. As few in the West remember, most of them either joined the Russian Armed Forces or quit.

UKRAINE ELECTION. The actor is presently leading; nazi groups are taking sides. 17 days to go.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 28 FEBRUARY 2019

PUTIN SPEECH. (Eng) (Rus) As I concluded from reading his 1999 essay, Putin at the beginning had four broad intentions: to reverse economic decline, to re-establish central authority, to create a rule of law (or at least a rule of rules) and to make Russia count for something in the world. In 1999 I think he expected goodwill or at least benign indifference from the West. But, as time passed, he came to realise that that was not going to happen because the background rulers of Washington (pick a name: deep state/borg/blob/neocons/exceptionalists/war party) would never permit Russia to rise. The destruction of Libya was the event, I believe, that finally convinced him that the West could not be trusted, that no lasting agreements could be made with it and that its present power must be endured. But, I believe he also understood that hubris would bring its downfall; Russia had to survive through the dangerous times until the inevitable nemesis. (Beijing ditto in its own way, in its own time). Painful, frightening, difficult, dangerous but, with the right preparations, survivable. This necessitated a change of emphasis: as he said at the beginning of the foreign policy/defence part of his speech “Russia has been and always will be a sovereign and independent state. This is a given. It will either be that, or will simply cease to exist”. In short, he (and his team – it’s not a one-man band: note Ivanov’s reappearance) concluded that Russia was in danger. For Russians, defence always comes first – Anglo-Americans have no comprehension of the Russian experience of war. Last year he described some Russian super-weapons – obviously in development for some time – that checkmated Washington. He mentioned another one this time and a subordinate explained how it will nullify whatever Washington comes up with to replace the INF Treaty it destroyed. Whatever Washington can dream up tomorrow Moscow has already blocked: “The U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Race Is Over, and Russia Has Won” (in Newsweek of all places). Now that security has been ensured (and better, I think, than at any time in Russia’s thousand-year history), the original program can be resumed. Therefore, most of his speech (83% by word count) was about the program: birth rate, poverty, infrastructure, administrative simplification, rule of law/rules and modernising. Few in the West get this. RFE has an amusing annotated version of the speech. Roman historical parallels are always fun and fashionable – these guys are like the Optimates: the Republic/world order they think they’re restoring no longer exists.

DEMOGRAPHICS. Karlin’s latest assessment. Summary: fertility boom over, now at EU averages. Life expectancy rising and infant mortality dropping. Read it all, many charts and facts.

INTERNAL POLITICAL CRISIS? From Southfront. Thesis is that sluggish living standards, stagnant political culture, increased taxes and the unpopular pension reform are seriously hurting the popularity of the government. My assessment is that, while there is something to it, the authors overstate the case. Hahn discusses some possible cracks in the inner circle. Certainly things to keep in mind and, if Putin does go at the end of his term (which I expect him to), there will some jostling, but Putin has many times shown that he sees far ahead and I anticipate a smooth transition to a carefully chosen successor. But I mainly make my case on the simple observation that if we compare Russia 2000-2019 with any Western country, the contrast jumps out at you: successful effective government in one and… well… not so much.

INFRASTRUCTURE. Awara report on airports. And, again, roads and bridges. Just talked to a friend back from a long river cruise, who has been there many times since the 1970s – everywhere new construction and restored old. Meanwhile from the Western media, same old, same old.

SKRIPALMANIA. The best theory I’ve seen so far. Of course, you’re free to stay with the official story which now requires you to contemplate why super-deadly “novichok” requires removing the roof of the house while Zizzi’s, old roof and all, is open for business.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Maybe Russia is “aggressive” because “it feels threatened by the quality of Western institutions and Western alliances“. Then again, maybe not.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Warsaw and Munich. Two cases of the Europeans being rudely ordered to get on board. Last year I suggested Trump was being insulting on purpose in order to cut American foreign entanglements. He certainly has a gift for picking offensive spokesmen.

NEW NWO. A Gallup poll asked respondents in 133 countries to rate four countries’ leadership: Germany 39% approval. China 34%, USA 31% and Russia 30%. The fall of the US is Trumpism (real and imagined) but the rise of Russia and China – especially given the hostility of the MSM – is striking.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer