RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 NOVEMBER 2017

WESTERN VALUES™. So now RT America is a “foreign agent“. (Remember all the faux outrage about Russia’s FARA imitation law? No? But it was only a year ago: “Russia: Four years of Putin’s ‘Foreign Agents’ law to shackle and silence NGOs“. Hard to keep up, isn’t it?) In case you think this reflects poorly on the “champion for free speech and free press”, John McCain, channelling Brezhnev, explains why it doesn’t. In the Cold War they blocked us but we didn’t bother to block them. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out: the side that mostly lies wants to stop its population hearing the side that mostly tells the truth. One reason is that telling (mostly) the truth is just easier. For example, Russian propaganda for the home audience lets the Western side say whatever it wants as long as it wants. Why? “the Russians have no need to lie, their propaganda is fundamentally truthful, fact based and logical…. unlike their American counterparts, the Russians are not engaging in policies which they cannot justify before their own public opinion or before the public opinion of the rest of the planet”. In Syria the Russians are doing what they say they are doing; no need to explain why Russian troops supposedly in Ukraine can’t be seen; there are no Pokemon stories in Russia. In short, Russian propaganda is all made in the West and every idiotic story is re-played. “So yes, the Russians are using the immense arrogance and poorly-concealed hatred for Russia of some of the more pompous and least intelligent representatives of the West to paint an absolutely fair and accurate representation of the western ruling elites”.

SPEAKING OF THINGS HARD TO JUSTIFY before the Western public. “Raqqa’s dirty secret…. a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters…. escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition…“. “Some of the U.S.-made weapons available on these markets likely first entered Syria as part of an ill-fated Pentagon program to train and equip fighters in northern Syria to take on the Islamic State.” Are these bugs or features? Either way, the West isn’t doing what it says it is doing.

RELIGION. I found this video interesting: Putin and most of the Russian religious establishment (named here, but not the RC Ordinary for some reason) honour Minim and Pozharsky. That’s diversity.

RUSSIA INC. Inflation fell to 2.7% in October; this is a post USSR record low. Slowly but surely.

BOMB SCARES. There have been a series of hoax bomb scares across Russia lately. Phoned in from abroad we are told. Wondered that myself: I’m not suggesting it was governments but the panic is constantly pumped higher and there are a lot of excitable people out there.

REMITTANCES. A study shows that all FUSSR states except Russia and Kazakhstan are “intensely dependent” on remittances. Author’s summary: “a new system of transnational, cross-border dependency, unprecedented in its intensity”. The two “magnets” are the EU and Russia. An interesting take on the post-Soviet reality; at the end of the day, you’re either a dependent of one or of the other.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Best summary of the story so far: “The two sources that originated the allegations claiming that Russia meddled in the 2016 election… were both paid for by the Democratic National Committee…“. Even the MSM is starting to notice (WSJ): “The Clinton campaign commissioned a foreign ex-spy to gin up rumors, which made it to U.S. intelligence agencies, and then got reporters to cite it as government-sourced.” Crowdstrike and Fusion GPS are the ur-sources. We get closer: a Fusion GPS exec spent seven hours with the House Committee on Tuesday. Bershidsky, no friend to Putin & Co, points out how ludicrous the theories have become. This was never expected to become public; it was supposed to stay in the background of her march to the White House.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Spreading fast. “How the Russian meddling machine won the online battle of the illegal referendum” (El Pais). “Putin’s lying machine: Revealed, how Russia’s spewing out ruthless propaganda… “. Enjoy the map which shows how the Kremlin is “stoking discord” around the world. Again we see that lying takes more effort. And a constant effort too: always plugging holes in the narrative which gets ever more preposterous. (But read the comments: the story isn’t selling well).

MAYBE FILE. “American” LNG delivered to Europe is actually purchased in Russia. Same source said “American” coal for Ukraine also came from Russia. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I await confirmation.

SYRIA. The Syrians have liberated Abu Kamal, the last urban hold of Daesh in Syria; 25 months after Russia intervened. Some American talking heads are still in denial (more convolution).

UKRAINE. Maidan II continues but the WMSM doesn’t see it. On Sunday Saakashvili led a march demanding Poroshenko’s impeachment. Couldn’t make this stuff up.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 2 NOVEMBER 2017

BOOK PLUG. Phil Butler’s “Putin’s Praetorians”. A number of us explain how we came to our present views on Putin and Russia. Many simply couldn’t believe the absurdly one-sided accounts of, especially, the Sochi Olympics and Ukraine. A little digging uncovered the lies and they’ve never gone back.

REMINDER. A big nuclear forces exercise last week with an ICBM and 3 SLBMs fired. Dramatic night sky effects in Siberia: they saw their tax rubles at work.

GOLD. The Central Bank of Russia holds 1800 tonnes of gold. China (the world’s largest gold producer – Russia is number three) holds a similar amount. Many connect this with the coming “petroyuan“.

RUSSIA INC. Russia continues its climb up the World Bank’s rankings for ease of doing business.

ELECTION. There’s no real opposition to Putin. And why would there be? Sneering as much as it can, even the Guardian gets it.

PROPAGANDA. Putin attends the opening of a prominently-placed monument to the victims of the Soviet repressions. The monument. Paul Robinson catalogues how the lügenpresse spun this into an attack on Putin for supporting Stalin or being repressive or something. I read the Soviet media back then and it was non-stop lies, belittling, twisting of everything in the West: a complete reversal today.

SYRIA REVELATIONS. Perhaps not coincidentally with revelations on “Russiagate” and Hollywood, come revelations about Syria. First, Washington admits (quietly) that the Syrian “rebels” have used chemical weapons. Second, a senior Qatari official reveals that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA began shipping weapons to jihadists in Syria in 2011. The Syrian army has found stocks of Western and Israeli weaponry in captured Daesh areas. Everything, Dear Readers, your governments and media have told you about Syria has been a lie. (BTW, how many US troops in Syria? Anybody know?).

WHAT NOW? Washington wants genetic material from Russians? Bio war? No, no, only a paranoid Russian would suggest that: for benign, even laudable, reasons. Of the US Air Force. More.

WESTERN VALUES™. RT says Twitter approached it with a scheme to sell ads during the election but RT turned it down. Twitter has banned ads from RT because of “election interference”. We learn today that Twitter actually interfered by burying things harmful to Clinton.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. It’s rare that the alternative media and the MSM report the same thing on the same date, but it just happened. Philip Giraldi notes that, now that we know that the Clinton campaign paid for most of the Steele dossier, “Russiagate began within the Clinton Campaign headquarters”. The WSJ says the same but still thinks that it was “Russia” that dunnit; but it dunnit to the other side. Jatras marvels that, despite the collapse of Version A, they still blame Russia. But not so fast, we’re not there yet: the Steele dossier is 99% fake – enough money was spend to manufacture the wanted stories – “Russia”, as in the government, had nothing to do with it even if individual Russians did. (But why bother to get actual Russians when you’re making it up? We only have Steele’s word for it that he did). One hopes we are only a few weeks away from the contrived mess exploding. Meanwhile, in what may be the very last idiocy, we are informed that Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is US President US President Trump“. The suicide of American soft power, Andrew Korybko perceptively calls it.

HUNGARY CLEARS ITS THROAT. Ukraine’s neighbours remember the OUN and its deeds. Poland put out the movie Volyn, for example. Now it’s Hungary’s turn. Kiev just passed a law insisting on Ukrainian instruction, there are a lot of Hungarian speakers (many of whom have Hungarian passports), Budapest has just announced it will block Kiev’s efforts to gain greater connection to NATO. (More) The most likely future of Ukraine is that parts break off the edges.

A NEW CHERNOBYL? Not at all, merely the utterance of “information terrorists working in the interests of Russian propaganda.” All will be well; better than well, even. (Read November 1, 2017 Update.) (Information terrorists – that’s a good one, eh?)

UKRAINE. Another tent city in Kiev. Saakashvili has a plan. Crooks, clowns and nazis. Ten thousand casualties from non-military causes – morale is terrible. Life in Kherson. Ukraine continues to test the limits of Adam Smith’s apophthegm that there is much ruin in a nation.

NEW NWO. Russia and the Philippines take another step in their courtship.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 19 OCTOBER 2017

SAUDI ARABIA. The visit of Salman bin Abdulaziz was pretty significant I think. The deal on the petrodollar was that Riyadh would insist on USD for payment in return for protection. Because Washington’s wars in the MENA have only made Iran stronger, Riyadh cannot think the deal is working out and it may be looking for a new sponsor: it happened before when Abdulaziz switched from London to Washington. My thoughts here. I believe that the sale of S-400 air defence systems could be a geopolitical gamechanger. Another of Moscow’s strengths is that it talks to everybody: and so it has offered to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran. Because Washington takes sides, it is useless should Riyadh want to negotiate its way out of messes with its neighbours. “The success of the Euro-Asian triptych is based on the essential principle of transforming enemies into neutral players, neutral players into allies, and further improving relations with allied nations.” Slowly, patiently, bit by bit the long game is played.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The world has entered an era of rapid change. Things that were only recently referred to as fantastic or unattainable have become a reality and have become part of our daily lives.” I don’t think Putin’s referring to the latest computer game, do you? History didn’t end, after all.

RUSSIA INC. I expand on something I wrote some time ago. Russia is a “full-service” economy. One of four on the planet. It and China are going up; the USA and the EU are going down.

CW. It was announced that the last of Russia’s chemical weapons inherited from the USSR have been destroyed. The USA, not completed its own program, is now aiming for 2023. Neither country hit the first deadline of 2007, nor the second of 2012. The NYT does its best to blame Russia for finishing early.

PUTINVILLE. Moscow has been named the fourth safest megacity for women and St Petersburg the best tourist destination in Europe. I don’t put a lot of stock in these ratings but they are useful counters to the Russia as hellhole nonsense that clogs the Western MSM.

WESTERN VALUES™. This should be good for a laugh: Petr Pavlenskiy has been arrested for setting a fire at the Bank of France. Paris granted him asylum after he was fined for setting a fire at the FSB headquarters in Moscow. Does “protest art” in Russia become arson in France?

GETTING SCARED. Russia used to be feeble and falling apart and the danger was that some crazy general would get hold of “loose nukes” and do something bad. Now the Russia-as-enemy campaign is starting to frighten the people who created it. Some of the alarm is feigned as part of the campaign for more money but I think they’re really starting to understand that they have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with resolve (as Admiral Yamamoto is said to have said). And they fear that the US military, after a couple of decades of fighting people who can only fight back with car bombs and suicide belts, isn’t ready for Prime Time. Some US military connected outfit has put out a how to fight Russia manual (rather amusingly based on the assumption that Kiev forces were fighting the Russian Armed Forces in Donbass – won’t they be surprised if they were to meet the real thing!). Meanwhile the Heritage Foundation laments that “Our military has undoubtedly grown weaker“. This shouldn’t be unexpected, Washington assumed too much and pushed too much. But, still, nothing much has been learned: Kiev wasn’t fighting the Russian Armed Forces and Heritage’s idea that Congress should “pass a budget that will truly provide for the common defense” is laughable. The problem isn’t money. But here we are: another step towards the new new world order.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Latest top hits from the three principal fake news outlets: “Catalonia held a referendum. Russia won” from the WaPo; Pokemon from CNN; cute puppies from the NYT. Meanwhile Senator Burr admits that, after months of hearings, “I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any” and the real Russian scandal emerges from the shadows. (But, Dear Readers, before the usual drivel about corrupt and corrupting Russians starts up, if your government is for sale, can you blame people for buying it?)

UKRAINE. Another coup in the making? Demonstrations kicked off by a torchlight parade. Demands (at the moment) are a new election law for parliamentarians, an anti-corruption court, ending parliamentary immunity. Signed by Tymoshenko and Saakashvili among many others including some of the nazi battalions. Perhaps not coincidentally, an investigation into fraud committed by President Poroshenko has been opened. Did the coal from Pennsylvania actually come from Russia? Nuclear fears. Another huge ammunition dump fire. The collapse continues.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 21 SEPTEMBER 2017

WADA YA KNOW? Fake story, fake accusation as I said at the time “My default position nowadays is that it’s all lies.” NYT reports that WADA has cleared 95 of the 96 athletes they looked at. But that propaganda outlet cannot resist suggesting that that Russia may have destroyed the evidence. That’s the information war: smear the unfounded charge all over; when the story collapses and the damage done, move on to the next one. What we did learn however, is that a remarkable number of Western athletes have a doctor’s note that allows them to take banned substances. Interesting eh?

MOSCOW ELECTIONS. While the pedestal party won overall, there was some excitement because, in a very low turnout, “liberals” organised a win in some seats in Moscow. Karlin is not impressed and points out the correlation with bicycle rental stations. Shamir takes it more seriously seeing it as the latest Washington regime change effort. Perhaps he’s right: both The Guardian and Newsweek hail it (BTW: the comment by Germann Arlington absolutely nails the Big Inconsistency of Western reporting: “If the elections are rigged then the result should have been the usual 98% for Putin’s party. If the election is not rigged then why is it always presented as such?”). Russian politics are pretty frowsty: the pedestal party dominates (but the Putin Team is popular) the KPRF and LDPR were led by the same guys when the USSR was still around, even Yavlinskiy (then, now) is still out there (Crimea is part of Ukraine: not a big vote getter). One day things will start to change but I doubt this is the moment.

LISTENING IN. Wikileaks tells us about Russian scanning of electronic communications. Putin often tells us that everything is done legally. Well, it always starts that way, doesn’t it? If they can, they will.

ZAPAD-2017. Well, the exercise is over and Russia didn’t conquer/invade/attack or even threaten anybody. Next overreaction scheduled in four years. (I amuse myself laughing at the excitables.)

SAUDI-RUSSIA VISIT. My take on Salman bin Abdulaziz’ visit to Moscow. I remember that Abdulaziz switched from London to Washington in 1945 and speculate that Riyadh may again be adjusting its place in the developing new power order.

STALIN’S NOT BACK. Robinson describes a visit to a church dedicated to the New Martyrs situated on a Cheka killing ground. The truth is that Russia remembers everything.

NEW PARK. The horrible old Rossiya Hotel is gone and replaced by an interesting park (design idea).

SANCTIONS. According to the UN rapporteur, sanctions and counter-sanctions cost the EU US$3.2 billion a month; the Russian economy has lost US$55 billion in total. He calculates the total cost to both at US$155 billion. In short, he agrees that Europe has been hit much harder than Russia and certainly much more than the USA. Perhaps that was the real point: Washington’s “overriding strategic objective the prevention of a German-Russian alliance“.

RUSSIANS IN SYRIA. The author has sent me a file of photos which are of interest. What is immediately apparent (I can’t help comparing them with what I saw during Chechnya I) is the aura of tough professional competence and lots of sophisticated kit.

S-400. Turkish President Erdoğan says Ankara has already put down a deposit on the S-400 SAM system. I am still rather puzzled: this is a crown jewel weapon system and Turkey is, still, in NATO. We are assured that this is just the export model and that even taking it apart wouldn’t reveal its secrets.

TRUST. Trump announced the closure of the CIA support to Syrian rebels. Or has it ended, or was that just weasel-wording that allowed the Pentagon to continue? Who can say? Foreign Affairs magazine, no less, has just gone public with The Pentagon Is Spending $2 Billion Running Soviet-Era Guns to Syrian Rebels” and there are persistent reports (denied by Washington of course) that US helicopters lifted people out of Deir ez-Zor after the Syrians broke the siege. (Deir ez Zor was the scene of the US attack on Syrian forces a year ago.) Trump’s constant references to the Iran nuclear deal as “one of the worst” does not give anyone confidence that Washington would keep its word to Pyongyang (or anybody).

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All the reasons why the Russia-election-interference story is bunkum. Not least of which is the remarkable inactivity of the FBI: for example “The FBI has never questioned Assange [he confirms that] or Murray” and neither has it ever looked at the DNC servers. Nonetheless, every time you think the hysteria has gone as far as it can, it goes a bit farther: Morgan Freeman joins the circus. Bershidsky trashes the latest nonsense. One can hope that it’s finally jumped the shark.

NEW NWO. Beijing shows its teeth.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 SEPTEMBER 2017

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack” finally got the VIPS analysis into the mainstream. (Briefly: Guccifer 2.0 documents were locally downloaded and doctored to give a Russian flavour). Has this killed the story? Maybe: the MSM has been shrieking about other things since. (And the interminable US investigations inch closer to the truth.) Normal hysteria returns: “Putin’s Hand Can Clearly Be Seen In the Chaos of a Destabilized West“. Amazing how powerful these people think he is, isn’t it? Nothing is beyond his reach (except Kiev and Vilnius.)

DIPLOMATIC PROPERTY. A complete violation of the Vienna Convention: “Article 22. The premises of a diplomatic mission… are inviolable… The host country must never search the premises…”. Washington has set a precedent that will come back to bite it: what’s to stop any country that thinks it’s on Washington’s target list from doing the same? Incredible. Who’s in charge?

BRIDGE. The Kerch Strait bridge rolls along. Here’s the railway arch being moved into position and the first ship passing under it. Here’s an amusingly one-sided account of things from the Daily Signal.

ZAPAD 2017. NATO is giving itself a major case of the fantods over this exercise “close to its borders”. The website so you can follow yourself: 14-20 September in Russia and Belarus, 13K troops, 70 aircraft, 250 tanks, 200 guns and 10 warships. “Anti-terrorist” of course – aren’t they all these days? – “The exercise stipulates that some extremist groups have penetrated… “. They have them every four years.

QUAGMIRES. Shortly after Moscow began its intervention in Syria, Obama opined “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work“. Well, yesterday Damascus broke the seige of Deir ez-Zor which probably marks the beginning of the mopping up phase. In short it’s not a quagmire and it did work. The US involvement in Afghanistan, on the other hand, is about to enter year 17, getting on for twice as long as the Soviets were there. That is a quagmire and that hasn‘t worked; the Pentagon isn’t even sure how many soldiers it has there: 8.4K, 11K or more? Russia has had three military actions this century – Chechnya II, Ossetia and Syria – all victories; all US military interventions have been failures. What’s the difference? I would suggest that Russia initiates military violence with a clear plan 1) to do only what violence can do 2) that is integrated with a diplomatic and civil program for the things it can’t and 3) coordinated with reliable allies on the ground. When it has done what it set out to do, it stops. Washington, on the other hand, 1) expands its aims after the initial success far past those that violence can achieve 2) has a negligible diplomatic effort and 3) its allies on the ground turn out to be phantasms of the Washington echo chamber. Added to which, I do not believe that the US military is nearly as competent as its cheerleaders think it is; I suspect it resembles the post-Vietnam mess I saw on exercises in Germany in the 1980s. Maybe even “hardwired for failure“.

ISRAEL. Jerusalem seems to have understood its defeat sooner than Washington. Iran has a much stronger presence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq thanks to two decades of calamitous interventions. It is argued here and here that a nervous Netanyahu received a dusty answer from Putin in Sochi: Iran is Russia’s “strategic ally in the Middle East”.

BRICS. The summit communiqué is rather blah except for 10 and 11 which deal with finance and currencies. There’s a story that China “is preparing to launch a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan and convertible into gold“. This would be a strong blow to the power of the US dollar and, by extension, of Washington itself. When Kennan warned against the “superficial and ill informed” decision to expand NATO I don’t think he foresaw all the downstream consequences. Beijing, famous for long-term thinking, took a warning from it too. Newton’s Third Law of geopolitics.

OOPS! It will be at least 2024 before the US can replace the Russian rocket motors. Carefully excluded from Congress’ sanctions bill of course.

KOREA. Has there been much mention in your local news outlet of the US-South Korea exercises of 21-31 August which, they say, sometimes include practising “decapitation strikes”? (The media often leaves out important synchronicities.) I’ve heard that North and South will meet in St Petersburg. We shall see; there is a solution to the problem: what Beijing calls “double suspension“. And it probably doesn’t require Washington: Seoul could agree to stop the exercises and tell some of the 35K+ US troops to leave. Putin has strongly condemned Pyongyang’s tests: “a flagrant violation“.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 AUGUST 2017

THE NEW NWO AND RUSSIA. This is very much worth reading. The authors argue that in the coming (well, already here) rivalry between the American maritime power and the Chinese land power, Russia is the swing player that can hand victory to one or the other: “So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance”. Well, logic’s voice isn’t loud enough for the US Congress to hear. Also interesting is their discussion of Germany’s choices and the important role Saudi Arabia could play if it changes protectors again. (I too wondered this two years ago.)

PUTIN’S POPULARITY. Some Western academics asked “But is his popularity real, or are respondents lying to pollsters?” and concluded “Putin’s approval ratings largely reflect the attitudes of Russian citizens.” I didn’t bother to read their paper because I know – as does any serious observer – the answer already. Of course he’s popular: he is the leader of a team which has achieved a tremendous turnaround in Russia’s situation. Since 2000 all indicators are up. I wish we could say the same in our part of the world.

RUSSIA INC. GDP grew 2.5% year-on-year in the second quarter; this is the highest growth since 2013. PMI is up to 52.7. Inflation is the lowest in five years.

USSR DEBT. With a payment to Bosnia, Moscow has paid off the last of the debt it inherited from the USSR. When an earlier agreement that the 15 would divide the debt fell apart, Moscow took responsibility for all of it in return for USSR assets abroad. It did this despite the fact that its creditors insisted on repayment while many of its debtors could not pay. The total was about USD80 billion and many debts to it were forgiven. I well remember how glad we all were that it took responsibility for the debts as well as the other leftovers: weaponry outside, nuclear weapons and its guarantee of Russian citizenship to any Soviet citizen who wasn’t automatically given citizenship where he lived. It was only later that the last three were rebranded as evidence of imperialistic intentions.

DEMOGRAPHICS. There has been a small net decline in Russia’s population this year after several years of growth. We will see if this is a bump or a trend. (Although Karlin, who is much more knowledgeable than I, predicted a return to “normal” rates two and a half years ago.)

AGRICULTURE. The Agriculture Minister estimates the grain harvest will be 110 million tonnes which would leave as much as 40 million for export. So Russia will presumably keep the title of number one.

VISA RETALIATION. My take: I believe Moscow is ready to follow Washington right down to zero representation is that’s where it goes. But, if the Russiagate bubble bursts (probably the most severe blow is the exposure of the Guccifer 2.0 fake by VIPS) then the original pretext will burst too and things can get back to normal.

MAKING WATER RUN UP HILL. Lithuania is getting LNG from the USA and Ukraine coal from the USA. More expensive but supposedly for security. Well, whatever: if they want to pay more, let them. Of course in all likelihood they will “pay” with IMF or EU loans. Payback’s a problem for later.

CHANGE OR BLIP? The Prime Minister says Riga is interested in better relations with Moscow and a Polish poll shows number who regard Russia as a threat down about 50% in 3 years. After all, despite years of “Europe faces a ‘real threat’ from Russia” Russia still hasn’t conquered anybody. But that just makes some people shout louder: “The growing Russian military threat in Europe“.

TRUMP KEEPS AFGHANISTAN GOING. Reinforcing failure. Trump Vows To Leave A Better Afghanistan For Nation’s Grandchildren To Fight In. The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama. And if it really was short skirts, then there’s a lot more to that story than he, or McMaster, probably know. Today the Americans get their supplies in via Pakistan or the Central Asian countries (through Russia). Washington has made threatening noises at Pakistan and Russia. How then?

CHICKENS, HOME, ROOST. Torchlight parades in Kiev, Riga, Tallinn. And now Charlottesville. “Nationalists” there, but “Nazis” here. Some historical background for the Ukraine case; Baltics.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Newsweek discovers a new bottom level. “Charlottesville’s Alt-right Leaders Have a Passion for Vladimir Russian Federation President Putin“.

UKAINE. More signposts of disaster. Ukrainians now spend 50% of their income on food; not poverty says the Minister of Social Policy fatuously but because they like to eat well. The Economist rates Kiev among the ten least liveable cities. Did Ukraine supply the rocket motors to North Korea? And, I’ve mentioned this before, but the longest-lasting effect of the Kiev coup may be a nuclear disaster.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 AUGUST 2017

THE SANCTIONS. The hypocrisy is thick: NordStream 2 (257.a.9) is specifically targeted; damage to NASA (237) is carefully voided. (NASA needs the Russians to get to the ISS and to launch things but European allies can freeze in the dark. Take that, Europeans, it’s for your own good! “You can’t… ask for a bigger U.S. military commitment… while… oppose nonmilitary coercive measures“). The effect of anti-Russia sanctions since 2014 is that Europe has likely suffered more than Russia and certainly more than the USA; Russia has used the sanctions (and its counter sanctions) to increase domestic production (see below) whereas Europe has just lost markets. Well, we’ll find out whether Europe has the feet to stand on that Merkel thinks it has. Russia has many ways to respond and, as Jeffrey Carr has pointed out, Congress has shown it where to hit hardest. Another thing to find out is whether Moscow decides it’s had enough – as Medvedev suggests – and that it’s time to make its “partner” hurt. (Some responses: no more rocket engines, no overflights, no supply line to Afghanistan, no US NGOs, no Russian investments in USA, no accepting US dollars in trade. But Putin & Co will probably come up with something cleverer than anything I can think of). They will be a drag on Washington’s foreign policy for decades: “never recognize” Crimea in Russia (257.a.3)? well, they’re going to have to some time. I am collecting negative reactions on my site. They’re another step on the downward trajectory of the USA: they will drive a wedge between Europe and the USA; push Russia closer to China; may even lead to a rapprochement between Europe and Russia. But short-sighted outbursts are to be expected in the final days I suppose: Congress’ war with Trump displays a contemptuous indifference to its allies’ interests. (Mercouris argues that Trump’s signing statement hints at a Supreme Court challenge: very plausible given that there is nothing to the Russia collusion story – even the WaPo seems to be backing off – and that Trump will be able to appoint more SC judges.)

SANCTIONS EFFECT. Russian statistics tell us that the share of imports in the retail sector is 36%, the lowest since the 2008 crash. Food imports are down to 24% from 34% in 2014. The percentage of imports in various categories: cereals 0.2%; sausages 1.6%; flour 1.8%; poultry 4.1%; pork 8.3%. Gessen will be glad that cheese imports are 27.7%, but sad that they’re down from 48.4%. Sanctions work: just not the way the US Congress thinks they do. Altogether, it’s probably fair to say that Russia is now self-sufficient in food. And production is only going to become bigger: the potential of Russian agriculture has never been tapped; serfdom, the village mir and collectivisation were not very productive.

CORRUPTION. The trial of the former Minister of Economic Development has begun. He was caught red-handed taking a bribe they say. I believe he is the highest ranking official yet to be charged: some – Luzhkov and Serdyukov spring to mind – have been accused of things and been fired, but no charges laid. We are told that 45,000 people have been convicted of corruption crimes over the last three and a half years and about 350 officials have been fired this year and the same last year.

VILLAGE LIFE. Someone who often lives in the Russian countryside blasts another NYT-Russia-is-an-unchanging-nightmare piece. Agreement from an American happily living in a village.

PHOTO OP. Putin and Shoygu, alone but for photographers, go fishing in Tyva; they forget to pack shirts. Western media goes nuts. (DMail) (USA Today) (Daily B) (AP) (Fox) (Time) (Sky) (WaPo) (TorSun) (News.com.au) France 24) (Telegraph) (You look for the rest). Maybe he really is “the most powerful man in the world“. Bare-chested Trudeau and Obama are ever so dreamy, but bare-chested Putin isn’t: CrazyLand is bigger than I imagined. (Do you think Putin is messing with their minds?)

THE THREAT. Pew has an international survey out asking about leading security threats. The following NATO members name US power as a greater threat than Russian or Chinese: Canada, Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey. USA is named first by 19 countries, China by 9, Russia by 7. This is a competition that the US has won every time out of the gate. And rising. Interesting, eh? And after all that propaganda, too. NATO StratCom needs more money!

UKRAINE. The disaster continues. In 2001 its population was 48.5 million. Latest official estimate is 42.5. Examination of various consumption statistics suggest that this estimate is too high. About 2.5 million are in Russia and another 1.5 million in Poland. At some point, for a country constructed out of bits and pieces of other states, depopulation will become geopolitically significant.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 JULY 2017

WESTERN VALUES™. I am weary of supposedly independent international surveys in which Russia is always near the bottom. At last Denis Churilov has taken the trouble and effort to consider the methodology and “independence” of one of them. Specifically the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. RWB turns out – amazingly enough – to get money from the usual American GONGOs: USAID, NED and, of course, Soros. In short, what they used to call a “front” in the Cold War. Churilov looks at the methodology of the rating – selected people, subjective impressions – practically guaranteed to produce the “correct answer”. Then he looks at the answer in which – of course! – Ukraine scores much better than Russia. Churilov then itemises how preposterous this ranking is. These things are part of the propaganda war and should be seen as such.

MAKS. The military airshow is over. Video. The PAK FA showed off. First deliveries next year.

SPENDING THE MONEY. Some spiffy urban projects in Moscow.

HISTORY. This year’s pilgrimage to the site of the Romanovs’ murder in Yekaterinburg.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Newsweek has had to retract two false articles after a lawsuit. A Clinton advisor doesn’t blame Russia. Neither does the US Senate Minority Leader. The intensity of the insanity is shown by a poll that finds only 6% of US population is concerned about Russia while 75% of media coverage is about it. Only Democrats believe it, and not that many of them. Maybe the end is coming.

NEW NWO. As a quondam historian I know that empires take a long time to build up and a long time to decline. That having been said, I remain stunned by the speed of the US decline. It has only been a couple of decades since the neocons triumphantly proclaimed a New American Century and Brzezinski drew the map of how to get there. “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran… Averting this contingency… will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill” said he. Well, that skill wasn’t displayed, was it? But why would he think it was skill? The very program of American domination everywhere could only result in the formation of a resistance alliance. It is precisely the actions – arrogant, ignorant, one-sided, short-sighted, over-reaching and… failed – of the neocons and their humanitarian bomber allies that brought this about. The tectonic plates shift; here’s this fortnight’s collection.

CHINA The standout was Chinese warships in the Baltic. After passing through the Med (Chinese and Russian ships “prowling” the Med is old hat now.) And, For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything‘” And, China will be involved in rebuilding Syria. And will be creating a base in Djibouti. A Chinese military thinker brightly explains this as the “fanbian” strategy of approaching your enemy from a different direction. Or, bluntly, do things in the South China Sea and we’ll do things close to you. (When will we see a Russian-Chinese “freedom of navigation” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico?)

TURKEY. Germany is leaving İncirlik. Reports say Ankara wants to buy S-400s and that negotiations proceed. (I cannot believe Russia would sell even an export version of a crown jewel weapons system to a NATO member so I don’t know what to make of the story. Of course they will take some time to arrive…) A Turkish news agency leaked details and locations of secret US bases inside Syria. The coup attempt was a year ago; many in Ankara blame Washington; the aftershocks continue.

MENA. Iraq and Iran signed a defence cooperation agreement. Iraq will be buying Russian tanks. The Iraqi VP in Moscow said a Russian presence in Iraq would bring balance to the whole region, He thanked Russia: “if it were not for the Russian stance, the region would be fully destroyed… and in the end it would lead to the fall of Baghdad.” Looks as if another American ally is tiptoeing out of the room.

SYRIA. Russia entered the war nearly two years ago. There is no doubt that that changed everything. Washington has ended the CIA funding for rebels in Syria (it says, has it really?). And pretty extensive it was too, if this report be true. Most of these weapons eventually got to – if they weren’t directly delivered to – Daesh. Which is one of the reasons the Iraqi VP is saying what he is saying. The Putin-Trump ceasefire seems to be holding and I suppose Netanyahu’s dislike of it is evidence that it is. The Russian navy will be conducting exercises all month off the Syrian coast; in short, lots of air defence and strike missiles available.

SAAKASHVILI. Has been stripped of Ukrainian citizenship; he’s lost Georgian already so he’s a refugee I suppose. Ah, how thankless to be yesterday’s regime change hero!

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 JULY 2017

WHICH G2? Another G20. People met inside, ate, said things and outside Sorosian rioters rioted – watch the video! – (but not spun as a Maidan-like celebration of Europeanness, just car burnings). But the important part was the G2 when Trump and Putin finally met. As everyone knows, the meeting seems to have gone well and went well over time. Some level of agreement on Syria, Ukraine and cyberstuff. But we’ll see whether Washington keeps the agreement: with its inconsistent messaging and Deep State sabotage against Trump (did Comey cook the latest nothingburger?), it is unclear whether Trump can deliver. Or maybe the really important meeting was the other G2 with Putin and Xi in Moscow. Both of them can deliver on their promises. The “Chinese-Russian comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation” grows deeper and stronger. Europe sings “Freude, schöner Götterfunken” to the thump of Molotov cocktails and the pop of car windows blowing out. The world is changing.

CORRUPTION. Putin has signed a law creating an online register of former officials dismissed because of corruption. From which I deduce that there are a lot of them. By the way there is a Presidential Council for Countering Corruption which meets periodically.

WHERE IS PUTIN? It’s time for another where is Putin panic. He just visited the monastery at Valaam where he often goes on retreat.

RUSSIA INC. “The Russian economy is increasingly becoming self-sufficient and less oil-price dependent.” Sanctions do work! (Not necessarily as intended, however.)

FREE LAND. The program of free land in the Far East is about a year old and has been reasonably successful. A problem is that a hectare is either too big or too small. At any event, about 20,000 plots have been registered and nearly 100,000 people have applied.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. More blows. Craig Murray, who claims inside knowledge, reminds us of Seth Rich’s murder. Another lawsuit simmers away. An analysis shows the Guccifer 2.0 data had to be a local leak. The latest NYT nonsense is collapsing fast (and may boomerang). Carr remains unconvinced: “The public evidence isn’t enough to identify Russian government involvement, or even identify the nationality of the hackers involved.” Oh, and “The FBI requested direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) hacked computer servers but was denied“, “it was CrowdStrike that told the FBI that it was the Russians.A reminder on how unreliable Crowdstrike is. And how selective the “analysis” was; violating all of the post-Iraq-fiasco procedures, in fact. And, finally, the NYT admits not “all 17” (just a few “hand-picked” analysts, but that’s next month’s correction). The question remains: what are the Russians supposed to have done?

NONSENSE. Even Newsweek gets it: the US State Department, in its latest Russia-is-the-worst-place-in-the-world report, refers to a lonely bright spot – the city of Kitezh. Which is a mythical Russian city saved from the Mongols by miraculously sinking into a lake.

SYRIA. The ceasefire agreed to by Trump and Putin started on Sunday. Will it last? One must remember that the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire collapsed when the US attacked Syrian soldiers and, ominously, the US military claims ignorance. This one will be monitored by Russians; Chechen MPs actually. Who would dare meddle with Chechens? And, just out, Macron calls for a “new approach“.

WHO YA GONNA BELIEVE? “[T]he Russians are there, they say to fight ISIS. They haven’t fought them much and mostly they just support Assad” says Secdef Mattis. Russians just killed our leader says Daesh. (By the way, you should read the interview – “Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East”. Really!!!! isn’t he supposed to be such a student of history? And I guess his reputedly huge library doesn’t include Mahan: “We fought on this planet mostly with ground armies until navies became something one hundred years ago.” Sheesh!)

THE BUBBLE. Robinson reveals the “Overton Bubble” (read it) that our masters live in. The same people are asked to repeat the same things that they said before; nothing else is acceptable or imaginable.

UKRAINE. A recent Ukrainian poll shows positive views of Russia (44%) outweigh negative (37%) and the regional divide remains. If we add in Donbass, Crimea and the refugees in Russia, it’s probably a positive majority. All that suffering, poverty and destruction and nothing’s changed. How much longer until Rump Ukraine breaks into its immiscible parts?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 JUNE 2017

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. English, Russian. Mostly domestic nuts and bolts, a lot of “Batyushka, my roof is leaking” and the usual declaration that Russia is open to cooperation with its “partners”. Memorable lines: “the history of Russia shows that we have usually lived under sanctions whenever Russia started to become independent and feel strong” and “‘What do you do in your spare time?’ I work.” The customary mastery of detail and directness; I doubt any Western leader could match it. Pre-cooked or not.

RUSSIAGATE. This crazy clown show has just taken some big hits. After four losses in a row, many Democrats want their leadership to find some slogan other than “Trump is a crazy racist and Putin’s pet”. A majority of voters agrees. CNN, one of the pack leaders, had to retract another bogus story, the CNN brass then decreed that all Russia-Trump stories must be run by them first and three reporters “resigned”. (Lawsuit, they say, no sudden rush of “journalistic ethics”). Then it was hit by a Veritas report in which a producer admitted the story is just for ratings, is probably BS and, however “adorable” they may be, “journalist ethics” have nothing to do with reality. A big “nothing burger” says another CNN personality. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee is closing in on Fusion GPS which is probably the origin of the whole thing. One can hope that the story is on its last legs and the lügenpresse will take a fatal hit. I’ve said all along there was no Russian attempt to interfere with the election and no collusion with Trump: the story began as deflection from the DNC’s rigging of the primaries and was seized upon by the opponents of rapprochement with Russia. The logical fallacy at the heart of the story is that if the DNC hadn’t rigged the process Moscow would have had no handle with which to affect the outcome. Deflection, projection and manipulation. (And ratings!) It has done great damage.

THOSE CUNNING RUSSIANS. Later, the Russian government repeatedly introduced resolutions calling for cyberspace disarmament treaties before the United Nations. The United States consistently opposed the idea.” Published eight years ago Tuesday.

RUSSIA’S AGGRESSIVE BORDERS. The Armed Forces newspaper says 14 reconnaissance aircraft were intercepted near Russia’s borders in the last week. Here is a video of a NATO F-16 getting close to the Russian Defence Minister’s aircraft in the Baltic: the escort fighter chases it off.

WASHINGTON’S LATEST INCOHERENCE. First Washington warns that “potential preparations” for a CW attack have been detected in Syria and then it takes credit for stopping it. What on earth are “potential preparations”? One theory I’ve heard is that the White House got wind of a false flag and made this statement to show it was on to it. Another is that Kushner was suckered by a false flag, thought it was real but was corrected by the adults. But who knows? Is there any connection with Macron’s recent statement that Assad can stay? Or with Hersh’s piece showing that US intelligence knew there was no CW attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Of course Hersh is correct that the Khan Sheikhoun “attack” was theatre but I suspect that Trump’s attack was too. I speculate here that the ludicrous “intelligence assessments” that are produced to justify these actions are faked up. As for the “deep state” conspiring against Trump with the partial objective of wrecking rapprochement with Moscow, I simply observe that the FBI Director admitted to leaking in order to weaken him; that moves the notion out of the sphere of dank imagination, doesn’t it? There is more swamp to be drained.

SYRIA. When the Americans shot down a Syrian aircraft in Syria (it took two missiles and the pilot was rescued) Moscow responded. It cancelled the flight coordination agreement. But, more to the point, it declared that in the areas in which it was operating, all aircraft of the US coalition west of the Euphrates “will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets”. The Saker explains in greater detail here, but what this means is that any coalition aircraft will detect a tracking radar signal; that will set off a cockpit alarm and there would be no way for the pilot to know whether he was just being “pinged” by a radar or if a missile was coming at him. And, given the speed of the missile, he’d better decide quickly. The alarm is designed to attract attention (go to 0:57). So, something to spoil your day of otherwise low-risk bombing. It may be that a Russian S-300 shot down an American drone over the Mediterranean last Thursday. If so, that would a suitable response. Meanwhile, the Syrian Army continues its advances and whatever it was that the part of the Washington Incoherency that makes these decisions was trying to do in south-east Syria seems to have been checkmated. Here, by the way, is President Assad moving around Hama – somewhat staged no doubt, but a far cry from what we are told about him.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer