RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 FEBRUARY 2019

RUSSIA COLLUSION. US Senate says none. Clinton’s excuse for her shattered campaign has generated much damage: censorship, stronger war party, hysterical TV, attacks on anyone who bucks the war party, destruction of the last bits of “journalistic standards”, bogus charges, mangled innocents like Maria Butina. And more aggression against Russia. How much better off we’d be if Trump had never uttered the words “Russia” or “Putin”. We’re at the end state I feared: no Trumputin (remember this from the NYT?) but much more evil Putin. I doubt Schiff will ever stop and CNN and MSNBC still have time to fill.

CURRENCY WARS. The Central Bank of Russia continues its strategy: total USD holdings down to 22% from 46%, Euros and Renmenbi holdings up; gold 2,112 tonnes. Total external debt $453.7 billion, lowest in nearly 10 years. Moody’s upgrades debt rating. Washington’s economic war is failing.

INFRASTRUCTURE. Lots of roads being built and improved. Bridges too.

IVANOV. We learn what Sergey Ivanov has been doing. “Environmental Activities, Environment and Transport“. I guess Avangard changes the security environment and is a form of transport.

ROC. I think Helmer’s over-reacting — I see the Patriarch saying the Church is independent of the state.

FAKE NEWS. Only liars try to control the news. (A propos: BBC producer says Douma films faked.)

NOT SUCH FUN NOW. Remember when it was fun to poke the bear? “Weak and dying”, “really weak”, “not strong”, “deceptively weak military”? Second thoughts now. Missile defence systems fail. Chinese and Russian space technologies. S-400 iron curtain against US airpower. US military outgunned. Of course, not a millisecond’s consideration of a diplomatic solution: it’s all “we are not investing enough to keep up“. Delusion rules in Washington.

INF TREATY. Washington is leaving the INF Treaty, Moscow followed suit. I think this is the Trumpian overture (vide North Korea and NAFTA) to negotiating a new treaty to include China. We’ll see if it works. Russia has an immediate response: take the ship-borne Kalibr systems and put them on land. I agree with Orlov that the suspension of the Treaty actually works to Moscow’s benefit. Will the Europeans, with this new bullseye painted on their heads, protest as before – protests that helped create the Treaty – or have they been completely de-spined?

SOTU. 16% by word count on foreign affairs. More money for military, missile defence system, maybe we can negotiate a new INF, Korea going well, time to get out of Syria and Afghanistan. BUT. Time to interfere in Venezuela, Iran is the “leading state sponsor of terror” (where do they get that nonsense? there is an immense gulf between ibn Taymiyyah-inspired jihadists and Twelver Shiites. I know, silly question.) End three wars, start two more. Progress. Sort of.

WESTERN VALUES™. We arrive at cut-rate prostitution of something that, a couple of decades ago, had some content. The excuse: “Venezuela’s Humanitarian Crisis” (ever-compliant Human Rights Watch); the reason: “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” (Bolton) Pretty stupid not to recognise the pattern now.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Tulsi Gabbard is a Putinbot. Russia could freeze us to death! Trump spouts Russian propaganda. Russian fishsticks!!! “Russian disinformation” bunk from Canada. To paraphrase Planck: hysteria will recede funeral by funeral.

NORDSTREAM II. Despite Washington – the US Ambassador even wrote threatening letters – and a peculiar intervention by Macron, Berlin holds firm on building it.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Germany, France and the UK have set up a payments system – INSTEX – to avoid US sanctions on Iran. Or is it too late and will only affect small stuff on the margin?

AUTRES TEMPS, AUTRES MŒURS. Brave protester against Putin’s “diktat of a monolithic and unshakable order“, flees to France, repeats fire stunt. No “art of the political protest” there: arrested, 11 months in pre-trial detention, 2 years suspended and €21K fine. Gessen lionised him then, will she now?

UKRAINE. “Ukraine’s steady progress and growing momentum toward democracy are irrefutable… Ukraine’s accomplishments rival those made by any of the Central Europeans in the same time span since 1990. “Sounds like the sort of tripe the Integrity (Challenged) Initiative extrudes (when not smearing Corbyn). Still not the stupidest pimping Ukraine story: In Ukraine It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and a Lot Less Like Russia remains the winner.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 3 JANUARY 2019

BALANCE. The first successful test of the Avangard hypersonic vehicle is announced. Super fast (Mach 27 they say) and highly manoeuvrable, development began when Washington withdrew from the ABM Treaty. Putin promised that Russia would “act independently”, it did and here we are today. Avangard nullifies the entire US ballistic missile defence effort: “We don’t have any defense“. Impossible to shoot down: there’s only about 20 minutes from launch to anywhere and it can be coming in from any direction. Putin, in his presser, said Avangard “maintains the balance”. It’s important to understand Moscow’s point of view and not respond with petulance. Because, here as elsewhere, Moscow has got it right: the danger of ballistic missile defence development is that one side might come to believe that its defence is good enough to save it from a response and might be tempted to do a first strike. (Who’s stupid enough? Well, that’s what all this stuff is about: removing the possibilities). The ABM Treaty preserved the crazy, but stable, balance of mutual assured destruction. It was stable because, each side knew that, whatever the start state, whatever happened in between, the end state would always be the same: destruction of both. But Washington, convinced it would be supreme forever, tossed the Treaty in 2001. Russia now has a weapon that cannot be stopped; therefore there is no possible way to stop a retaliatory strike and so no first strike is conceivable. We’re back to the crazy stability of mutual assured destruction. This is rebalancing. But it would have been much easier, cheaper and safer to have kept the original Treaty.

RUSSIA INC. From Putin’s presser. 2018 numbers so far. GDP up 1.7%, industrial output up 2.9%; fixed capital investment up 1.4%; real incomes showing small growth of 0.5%; expect to hit inflation estimate of 4%; unemployment down to just under 5%; trade surplus on track to be about $190 billion; gold and foreign currency reserves $464 billion. There will be a small budget surplus (first since 2011) and the National Welfare Fund has grown about 22%. Life expectancy up a bit to 72.9 years. The Energy Minister estimates Russia earned an extra $120 billion in two years of oil production cuts. Russia is surviving the West’s sanctions. Putin later added that Russia produces about 80% of “vital medications”.

PUTIN ON SOCIALISM. See this. Still a тупик (Russian slang for dead end).

THE COUNTRY THAT MAKES NOTHING. Moscow opens the 17th Metro station built this year. A 60-kilometre fence along the Crimea-Ukraine border is completed. The modernised Tu-22M3M has taken its first flight. 3 1/2 million cars have travelled the Crimea Bridge. (Winter bonus picture: Russia’s, and the world’s, second largest icebreaker at the North Pole).

RECIPROCITY? The FSB has arrested an American on espionage charges. It is possible that this is retaliation for the disgusting treatment of the wretched Maria Butina but if so, we may be sure that Moscow will be scrupulous in playing by the rules. If for no other reason than to make the point.

SYRIA. Predictable results from Trump’s withdrawal decision. Ankara holds back on its attack on the Kurds but continues threatening. Syrian Army took over a key town with Kurdish agreement. Moscow is the place to be: Kurds are there and so are Turks. The likely result will be Kurds and Damascus making an agreement that allows Damascus to control the territory and Ankara’s concerns taken into account. Recognising reality, Arab states re-establish relations with Damascus. The soldiers of Washington and its minions were the obstacle to peace. More to come apparently: Trump has ordered a big withdrawal from Afghanistan and that plans for full withdrawal be drawn up. Pat Buchanan sums up the complete failure of Washington’s wars in the MENA. Good analysis by Elijah Magnier.

SKRIPALMANIA. Putin: “Without the Skripal case, they would have come up with something else. This is quite obvious to me. Their only goal is to contain Russia and prevent it from emerging as a potential competitor.” Sochi toilets; MH17; doping; “invasion of Crimea”; election whatever-the-story-is-now; Masha and the Bear and on and on. Always something. (But I don’t think Russia is losing this, do you?)

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. This headline sums up the latest stage of nonsense: “Firm Who Warned America of ‘Russian Meddling’ Caught Running Fake Russia Bot Campaign. And yet the idiocy continues and can only get worse when this guy, who thinks Putin has a man follow Medvedev around threatening to smother him, is in charge of investigations. We’re finding out how stupid stupid can become. It would be funny if there was anything to laugh about taunting a nuclear superpower.

UKRAINE. Informative exchange between Putin and a Ukrainian reporter. To read it, search here for Roman Tsymbalyuk.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 DECEMBER 2018

SYRIA. The US is leaving. Here’s Trump (his saying ISIS is defeated is flim flam; he would remember the saying about Vietnam: “declare victory and leave”). Lots of speculation why and what: here’s the best I’ve seen so far. Everyone who hates Trump hates it: I look forward to pink pussy hat protesters. Will we have a sudden “Assad gases children” false flag? Will the borg just disobey him? Wait and see. But this is one of the reasons people voted for him: these wars do not “make America great”.

PUTIN PRESSER. Quick summary. I’ll cover it next Sitrep if I think he’s said anything new.

TODAY’S AMUSEMENT. US Coast Guard Turns Down Arctic Exercise Because 40-year-old Icebreaker Might Break Down And Would Require Russian Help“. “The country that doesn’t make anything” has the two most powerful icebreakers in existence. You can cruise on one of them.

SOLZHENITSYN. Putin attended the unveiling of a statue on the centenary of his birth and met with his widow in the Kremlin. I repeat, for those who think Putin worships Stalin or something, that excerpts from the Gulag Archipelago are required reading in Russian schools. (The NYT has a poor memory.)

STUNT OR REMINDER? Two White Swans visited Venezuela. Prompting this nugget from the stupidity mine: “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

GUNS. SIPRI reports that Russia is the second biggest arms exporter in 2017 (USA first at five times as much). Of course, apart from other things, Syria has proved to be a great showcase and test bed.

SANCTIONS. The US Treasury has announced that it has dropped its sanctions against RusAl (the second largest aluminum company) but will keep them against its – what now? former owner? absentee owner? Meanwhile more sanctions against some other Russian entities for some imagined involvement in some imagined crime.

WESTERN VALUES™. Months of solitary confinement, threats and emptied wallet and Maria Butina takes a plea deal. As Beria is said to have said “give me the man and I will give you the crime”.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Murdered by Kremlin!!!! Oops, natural causes. Reminiscent of the death of Badri Patarkatsishvili in 2008: another enemy of Putin dies; oops, Saakashvili’s enemy. (Meanwhile, in Georgia, a recording has appeared of Saakashvili ordering his death).

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. There’s a plan to strengthen the Euro’s international role. Merkel criticised Trump for “populism” and similar doubleplusungood things. The EU foreign policy chief says shortcomings of the IMF Treaty are no reason to scrap it. But, obediently the European Parliament praises Ukraine, condemns Russia and calls for stopping Nord Stream. (Germany will ignore the last). And it extended sanctions on Russia because of “zero progress in implementation of Minsk agreements“. Moscow has no obligations under the agreement but that fact has never stopped them before. So baby steps away from Daddy, big steps back.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Some developments. The reporter who first spread the Dossier story now doubts it. Google CEA says “Russians” spent less than $5000. Nate Silver doubts there was much effect. The so called influence campaign was really a click-bait scheme to sucker advertisers. But it rolls on. For your amusement, a mash-up of how Trump is finished!!!!

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. MoA lists all the things Putin has “weaponised”. But don’t dare laugh: the BBC solemnly informs us he’s weaponised humour. A US comic book has him as villain and a super hero whose sister was gassed “by Assad, the Russians’ puppet”. London Times: “Russian accounts fuel French outrage online“. Paris is investigating. And why not blame Russia? Everybody in the EU is as happy as happy can be, only the malign efforts of wicked Moscow could make them think they weren’t. McCarthyism wasn’t as crackbrained as this.

POLAND. The LNG deal is signed. 20 years FOB at Texas. This can’t be cheaper than Russian gas.

UKRAINE. Israel’s ambassador to Kiev ‘shocked’ after seeing that a region in Ukraine honors Nazi collaborator Bandera“. He just noticed? Not just a region. A parliamentarian says the EU cheated them. It is not inconceivable that the election, if Poroshenko can’t finagle his way out of it, may bring some change. The new president can blame the old and it will be a re-arrangement of the deckchairs and who knows what will happen in such an unhappy and unstable country? If Poroshenko orders an attack the certain defeat will stir more up. But change is more likely worse than better.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 DECEMBER 2018

RUSSIA INC. This report from Awara on Russia’s economy is much better than the one I mentioned last time. The authors argue that the Putin Team saw sanctions coming and proofed the economy against them: “Russia now has the world’s most self-sufficient and diversified economy capable of producing anything possibly made in the world. Russia is now for the first time in its history food self-sufficient while simultaneously exporting more food than ever before. With this clout, Russia is prepared to withstand the economic siege, that the US regime is hatching.” And it’s armed to defend itself. The sanctioners did not, as they thought, “have good intelligence“: “The single biggest error was to believe the propaganda lie that the Russian economy was totally dependent on oil and gas. Here they foolishly confused the share of oil and gas in total exports – which was and remains at the level of 60% – with the share of these commodities of the total economy, which in 2013 was 12% (today 9%)”. In short, Russia is well-positioned to go it alone. (It doesn’t have to though, all the countries on Washington’s hitlist are potential collaborators). As I like to put it, Russia has a full-service economy, few others do. I recommend reading the report (testy in parts, but given the mountain of anti-Russia nonsense, that’s forgiveable).

TURKSTREAM. Another big step with completion of the offshore section.

WESTERN VALUES™. The next time the US State Department solemnly declares some country’s election “undemocratic”, just laugh: ballot harvesting in CA and NC.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Finally we learn what Flynn’s “crime” was. He may have corroborated Pence’s erroneous statement that there had been no contacts with Russian officials and, like so many others, he lobbied for a foreign government. (His real crime, of course, was revealing Obama’s and that is why he had to be taken out first.) I hope this begins the end of the Mueller farrago.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Guardian prints fake story, gets caught, some ex-CIA guy suggests Putindunnit. “They had 17 aircraft, we have 48 missiles – I think we’re going to win that one.” In the real world, just before they noticed anything, the first Kinzhal would have slammed in at Mach 10.

GEORGIA. Salome Zurabishvili is the new President of Georgia. She, a quondam French diplomat, was Saakashvili’s Foreign Minister (salary paid by Paris, BTW) until she had enough of him and quit. Always wondered whether Paris’ relatively rational view on the 2008 war owed something to her.

CW ATTACK? WHAT CW ATTACK? More Than 100 People Wounded In Aleppo Chemical Attack: Syrian Officials“. “The West Stays Mum About Aleppo Chemical Attack“. Not a hard deduction.

UKRAINE. No one expects that Poroshenko can be re-elected, no matter what fraud he pulls off. And nothing to suggest that his erstwhile supporters in the West want him any more. The simple truth is that post-Maidan Ukraine has been a comprehensive disaster and a new President (Tymoshenko is ahead and she’s no friend) will need someone to blame. And who better than Poroshenko? So his choice is to finagle his way out of the election or join Saakashvili in the Formerly Useful Club with an arrest warrant on his head and no money. Hence the stunts: the church robbery and now the Kerch Straits adventure. (I doubt your Local News Outlet told you that Ukrainian military vessels following the Russian rules quietly passed through in September.) He tried to get out of elections by declaring martial law but his opponents forced a limitation: only a month and only in Novorissiya and bordering Transdnestr (where he wouldn’t get any votes anyway). So that option has been blocked for the moment. (Another something your LNO outlet hasn’t told you: in early November the martial law regulations were amended to allow deportations. Almost as if it was planned, eh?) What’s left? Start an attack on the eastern rebels and claim Russia invaded? Plenty of rumours of that from both sides. (CW attack? Alleged Russian buildup.) There are always rumours of an imminent Ukrainian attack and I usually discount them; I am less willing to do so this time because of Poroshenko’s desperate situation. If Kiev does attack, it will be another defeat.

MH17. A lawsuit is possible. Not sure what to think: a real trial, with real evidence and real argument would be a good thing; another precooked show not. Are real trials still possible when it’s Russia?

TRUMP OPENS A NEW FRONT. “I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race… “. (Is his INF treaty denunciation a step to getting a US-Russia-China INF? Step one of what Scott Adams calls his persuasion technique?)

Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 22 NOVEMBER 2018

VICTORY! I’ve been waiting a decade for Washington to explain that the Ossetia war was actually a triumph for it. And here it is at last. American efforts resulted in “the Russians withdrawing to their start positions.” Well, they never intended to occupy Georgia. The same official then creatively blames Assad for “producing” ISIS. A complete echo chamber of delusion.

SANCTIONS. Bloomberg calculates that the Russian economy is about 10% smaller than it forecasted it would be in 2013. It reckons that about six percentage points of the decrease are due to Western sanctions and the rest to other factors. In short, sanctions have hurt but not as much as all that. I have long believed that this is transitory pain which will pay off later. For example, the increase in Russian food production has been remarkable. It would be interesting to see Bloomberg do an estimate for the cost to the EU: plenty of estimates out there, some as high as €100 billion. The point is that Russia wasn’t such a big market for the EU, but it was one of the few that was growing.

CORRUPTION. We are told that 300 police officers have been fired this year after complaints from citizens. There were 45,000 complaints. VTsIOM reports that trust in the police has dropped ten points since last year’s all-time high of 67%. Better than the old days when trust was under 50%; so, more work to be done, but work is being done. Corruption is a tricky subject, often treated too simply, I believe.

DIPLOMACY. Russia is trying to fix Libya and Afghanistan. I think it’s time to start contemplating the thought that Moscow might have some soft power.

WAR. A recent report comes as close as we will ever see to an admission that the USA would lose a war with either Russian or China on their home turf. This comes on the heels of a report showing that a large number of key defence components manufacturers are not secure and an earlier one that said many US weapons systems are vulnerable to hacking. These are consequences of endless wars in MENA, twenty years of poking Russia and China and unilateralism. Surely the rational conclusion would be that Washington should start rethinking things from the bottom up. Nope, more of the same is the answer: “The report also called for an expansion of the current $716 billion defense budget.”

THE LATEST. “GPS glitches during NATO’s largest war games in decades blamed on (DRUM ROLL) Russia“. Maybe. Russia is preparing for a war and, without GPS, NATO ground and air forces would be pretty helpless. So maybe a teeny tiny test to see if jammers worked. On the other hand, excuses are cheap and the exercise was not a very happy experience for Norway.

WESTERN VALUES™. Over the years I have grown drearily accustomed to human rights organisations being co-opted – weaponised is the fashionable word – by the Western war party (MSF, Pussy Riot and the rest) and have pretty well given up on them. But, a ray of light appears. Amnesty International is active in reporting the destruction of Raqqa by the US coalition. It is starting a project to record the destruction: what they have collected so far on “the most destroyed city in modern times” is at strike-tracker. So the next time the White Helmets or Bellingcat tells you of some Russian atrocity, remember that it would be impossible to be more indiscriminately destructive than US/NATO “targeted actions“.

US ELECTIONS. Did Putin fix them? If so how? Why did he want Trump’s party to lose the House? If he didn’t, why didn’t he? I look forward to the NYT explaining how this fits into Operation Infektion.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Masha and the Bear. “Putin’s tanks are hidden in Masha’s backpack“. DM readers treat this with the scorn it deserves. A friend suggested setting up a mock conference to make deadpan over-the-top claims to ridicule Russophobia. I don’t think you can ridicule people who believe in Masha’s armoured backpack and Medvedev’s pillow carrier.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Some more straws in the wind. Madrid has allowed 3 Russian warships to resupply at Cueta, the first time in 3 years. A minister says Paris will lead EU efforts to create a payment mechanism to keep trade with Iran. And TurkStream marks another milestone.

UKRAINE. Remember when Ukrainian nazis were just Putin propaganda? US News, Daily Beast, AIM, Fox, and plenty more assured us (BBC here) that reports of nazis in Ukraine were only troll factory output. Now, for some reason, the Western media is noticing: New Republic, CBS, AP, Max Blumenthal. Even the US propaganda outlet RFE/RL tells us: “Azov, Ukraine’s Most Prominent Ultranationalist Group, Sets Its Sights On U.S., Europe.” And chickens are arriving home as this Criminal Complaint shows. Why they notice today what was perfectly obvious then, I cannot tell you.

NOTE. Alexander Mercouris has referred me to his discussion of the Bloomberg report. He argues, very convincingly, that the report doesn’t actually make sense when you look at it carefully, that Russia has very effectively responded to Western sanctions and that it is a very strong position to withstand further sanctions. He sees the report as part of a propaganda effort to gather support for more sanctions on the grounds that sanctions are working and that another push will gain the desired result. It’s reinforcing failure along the lines of Einstein’s alleged definition of insanity.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 NOVEMBER 2018

US ELECTION. The chance of war has gone up a bit: the House investigation into the conspiracy will stop (unless Nunes can do anything in the next two months) and go into reverse. Any move Trump makes towards improving relations with Russia will be met by the House shrieking he’s a Putin puppet: the new people in charge there are too heavily invested in the Russia story to stop now. The US political system will be seized up – lots and lots of investigations. Threats and counter threats. Not such a bad thing for the rest of us if the US system turns into a cannibal banquet but further ratcheting up the anti-Russia hysteria is not so good (top priority says Schiff). (A Chinese view of increased danger).

COINCIDENCE? 25 October 2018, China: “concentrate preparations for fighting a war”. 26 October 2018, Russia: “Yes, Russia is preparing for war”. They hear what’s said; they see what’s happening in their neighbourhoods. They draw conclusions and take steps.

TODAY’S THOUGHT. “In light of this very low level of military competence, maybe wars are not our best choice of hobby.

THE MOTHERLAND CALLS. A Russian diplomat says Russian exiles are returning. I can believe it: they moved West for security or better money; as Russophobia intensifies (see below) it’s not safer and maybe the money’s not so good after all. I expect to see a steady trickle of returnees.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “Half of the Russians in London are spies, claims new report“. (But why not all of them? They’re Russians, after all, and should shut up and go away.) That’s 75 thousand Russian spies. Wow! And the report says there are only 200 case officers to handle them. But that’s nothing for Putin’s superhuman minions: they threw the US election with 80K FB posts buried among 33 trillion posts (that’s about half a billion others to every “Russian” post). They control time: they arrived in Gatwick at 1500 on a flight scheduled to arrive at 1545 that actually arrived at 1558. (Gotta be pretty stupid or inattentive to swallow this nonsense.)

SWIFT. Is a network linking banks around the world enabling transactions to move around easily and securely. US-dominated, it was used because it worked. But once Washington turned it into a weapon against Iran in 2012 (and again just now), it stopped being so convenient. It’s not fantastically complicated to replicate, SWIFT was used because it was expedient. But, if you’re on Washington’s hitlist, or fear you may be, it’s not so attractive. So Moscow, which is on the hitlist, has developed its own system and is linking other countries to it. It’s the same thing with the “petrodollar“: useful until Washington weaponised it; then time to find an alternative. And, when you must, you will: Delhi will pay for its S400s in rubles; Iran has turned off transponders on its tankers; Hungary upped its gold reserves (and so did Russia – now 17% of FOREX). The SWIFT story is an interesting demonstration of the fact that, sometimes, using it can mean losing it.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Macron calls for real European armed forces and Europe continues to be rebellious about Washington’s stance on Iran (new sanctions imposed – but with waivers to its oil customers. But not for the EU). Ah well, talk is cheap – especially in the EU – and there are formidable problems creating a European army – a new report shows the stunning incapacity of the German forces. They would have to completely rethink the Russia relationship then find the mountains of money to build up their forces, support elements and supply chains. Today Europe relies on the US to provide all these things. The US military, in its turn, as a new report shows, depends on foreign suppliers or a single struggling domestic manufacturer for several hundred key inputs… (NATO should meditate on being a little less demanding, don’t you think?) But the Istanbul meeting did show a refreshing independence from Paris and Berlin. It’s rather like the SWIFT story: they went along with the USA because it was easy and it worked well enough. But it’s no longer easy and it doesn’t work so well.

SYRIA. While the Russia-Turkey-France-Germany meeting on Syria in Istanbul did not settle all issues, or maybe even any issue, it was momentous because of no USA and the end of the “Assad must go” magical spell. Moscow continues to give us lessons on how to blend military power with diplomatic skill. Meanwhile, in Syria, demonstrating the opposite, we see US-backed forces fighting Turkey. As I wrote three years ago, it’s not hard to see why Moscow runs rings around Washington here and elsewhere. The midterms will probably put Washington back to недоговороспособность: no agreement possible either because it can’t make one or won’t keep it.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 25 OCTOBER 2018

CHURCH DISPUTE. I dreaded having to write something because I really don’t know enough. But US Secretary of State Pompeo has saved me much study by proving that those who see the hand of Washington are correct to do so: “We urge Church and government officials to actively promote these values in connection with the move towards the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” Who knew an avowedly secular state like the USA felt competent to make rulings on such esoterica as ethnophyletism or autocephaly? You’ve heard Official Washington’s opinion (swiftly retransmitted by your local news outlet), here are others: one, two, three, four, five. Their argument is that Constantinople has arrogated too much to himself and Orthodoxy will split; Washington & Co talk of “freedom” (but don’t show much understanding of who’s who). This further excuse for violence will increase the misery of Ukraine. (And, ironically, the dominant church in western Ukraine, the home of the Ukrainian nationalism that’s driving things, has nothing to do with this: it’s under Rome.)

NUCLEAR DOCTRINE. At Valdai, Putin made a statement on Russia’s nuclear doctrine. No change, but with a twist that caught people’s attention: “Our concept is based on a reciprocal counter strike… any aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable and they will be annihilated.” The attention-catching part was “And we as the victims of an aggression, we as martyrs would go to paradise while they will simply perish because they won’t even have time to repent their sins”. Don’t forget that American spokesmen have made some stupidly aggressive statements lately.

DRONE ATTACK. The Russian MoD says a US aircraft coordinated the January drone attack on their Syrian bases.

EXPLOSION. There was an explosion and shooting at the Kerch Polytechnic College in Crimea and a number of people were killed. It is said to have been done by one student who then killed himself.

RUSSIA INC. Russia has climbed two places the World Economic Forum ranking to 43 of 140. Current account surplus predicted.

AGRICULTURE. One of the most surprising developments to me, who remembers farms in the 1990s, has been Russia’s agricultural turnaround. This five-minute report gives an introduction.

STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION. Let me put in a plug for this site. It has now acquired quite a stable of writers (myself included) and is a good place to get alternative views to those repeated by the drearily monotonic Western outlets. There may be Russian government money behind it but my bet is that the government’s effort is still in RT (see below). My guess (and another author’s) is that it’s bankrolled by a rich Russian who’s tired of the endless anti-Russia coverage. I have never had anything I have written changed or censored. I recommend you bookmark it.

WESTERN VALUES™. Enjoying the irony, RT introduces New Samizdat to bring you the news that the ZapGlavLit (if I may coin a neologism) hides.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Watch it. Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on House Intelligence Committee.

NATO EXERCISE. NATO bravely shows it won’t be intimidated by Russia’s building up its military on its doorstep by holding an exercise on said doorstep. “NATO is a defensive Alliance… committed to defense and deterrence.” A defensive alliance with a moving doorstep.

INF TREATY. Trump talks of pulling the US out. Is this the loud prelude to re-negotiation that we saw him do with Korea and NAFTA? Or is he clearing the battlespace for the expected damp squib from Mueller or a blue dribble? Tune in in mid-November.

NEW NWO. “The Perfect Storm Bringing China And Russia Together“.

OOPS. Apparently many US weapons are very vulnerable to cyberattacks. Stories of cruise missile attacks, USS Donald Cook, destroyers rammed by container ships make you wonder, don’t they?

UKRAINE. Entrepreneurs of political violence: the varied interests and strategies of the far-right in Ukraine” In Open Democracy no less. Bit by bit the word is seeping out. IMF rates Ukraine the poorest country in Europe. This piece gives a summary of its problems with Hungary, Poland and Belarus.

GEORGIA. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office says it has a recording that proves Saakashvili sanctioned the murder of Patarkatsishvili. (English) (Georgian) (At the time some UK outlets blamed Putin but when they discovered he was Saakashvili’s enemy they quickly shut up.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 11 OCTOBER 2018

WAR. I didn’t notice this at the time, but it’s effectively a declaration of war against Russia. I will be writing more but, in essence, the US State Department official responsible for Russia has given the game away. “It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers. The central aim of the administration’s foreign policy is to prepare our nation to confront this challenge by systematically strengthening the military, economic and political fundaments of American power.” It’s a Mackinder war; so far fought by sanctions (the economic fundament) and propaganda (political fundament). Ignore details of the latest accusations against Russia (Star Wars, organic food); they’re only there because, unlike the Romans, the Americans are uncomfortable about their imperium unless they drizzle moralistic cant over it. But think about it: when American businessmen outsourced manufacturing to China, Beijing took advantage of the gift. NATO expansion destroyed better relations with Russia. Washington alienates the Iran that its failed wars make more influential. Its wooing of India isn’t going well (see below). Destruction is its policy in MENA. And CAATSA will alienate everyone else. I call it a series of unforced errors.

SKRIPALMANIA. Has now been completely outsourced to Bellingcat. Which tells the discerning observer two things: 1) there is no evidence 2) the truth is probably the opposite. (And for those of you who take Bellingcat seriously: become discerning.)

LATEST. Do the Russians spy? They’d be fools not to. Do I believe this? Not from these sources.

THE CONSPIRACY. Bit by bit, slowly (far too slowly) the story comes out. A DNC/FBI/CIA conspiracy to discredit Trump. I just read Shattered where it is stated that the Russia story was invented as the excuse for failure: but the book establishes that defeat was the consequence of never being able to articulate a reason to vote for her, a disorganised campaign and not observing the dissatisfaction that Sanders and Trump (and Bill Clinton) perceived. The Russia stuff is 1) a distraction from failure, 2) a hook on which to hang Trump and 3) propaganda for the “Mackinder war”.

RETURN. Moscow has been quietly trying to get some of its rich emigrés to return. Here’s one interesting story. I am amused by the conceptual difficulties the authors have with his story: fear for his life or that his money will be lifted? Berezovskiy – and just after begging Putin to let him back, Perepilichniy, Glushkov, Golubev and Skripal and Litvenenko. Russian exiles don’t last as long in the UK as elsewhere; maybe GRU hitmen only have maps of England. And remember the “Cyprus haircut“.

LAUNCH FAILURE. The emergency system worked and both passengers landed safely. Videos.

BATTLEFIELD TESTING. Russia’s Military Operation in Syria: Three Years On” is a round-up of all the weapons they have tested. A lot.

S300s. Have been delivered to Syria – video. 24 S300PM launchers and 300-plus missiles. They were formerly in Russian service until replaced by S400s and were handed over for free. Tough talk from Israel. An alternative opinion: an Israeli writer thanks Russia for “saying to Israel: Stop right there”.

VICTIM OF RUSSIA. Says Volker. No, of Kiev. Americans do swallow whatever Kiev feeds them – remember Senator Imhofe and his photos of Russians invading through the Ukrainian mountains?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The Daily Beast has forgotten the first rule of decision-based evidence-making when it says there’s no evidence of Russian interference in US midterms: after the decision, you create the evidence. If the Dems win, then the Russians didn’t; if the Repubs win, they must have.

INDIA. Putin visited and business was conducted. Washington will not be happy: Delhi will buy Russian warships and S400s and oil from Iran. Some think Delhi has capitulated to Washington but I don’t agree. I think it’s doing what every wise middle power does: don’t be drawn into anyone’s orbit and avoid offending the mighty. Beijing’s very successful strategy: “hide your ambitions and disguise your claws”.

CHEAP AND STUPID. More nuggets from the Stupidity Mine. The US Navy will blockade Russia (are there no atlases in Washington?). Syria “that flopping cadaver of a regime“. Britain will defend the Arctic from Russian land grabs (atlas please). Destroy Russian missiles. They’re so frustrated: other people they’ve demonised have gone (Aidid, Saddam, Milosevic….) but Putin goes on and on.

US BIOWEAPON LAB? Suggested by a former Georgian minister; reiterated by the Russian MoD; denied by everybody else. Some reporting and a discussion; you decide; I don’t know, information wars go both ways. This story, however, does seem to be real.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 SEPTEMBER 2018

CONSEQUENCES KEEP COMING. Moscow’s story is that the Israeli F16s (or at least one) hid behind the Russian aircraft. Jerusalem denies this but the Air Force commander did immediately hustle off to Moscow. Other theories. Minister of Defence Shoygu sets out the consequences here. S300s with IFF ASAP. But, to my mind, the most significant is his third point: “In the regions adjacent to Syria and over the Mediterranean Sea, all satellite navigation, on-board radars and communications systems of aircraft engaging targets in Syrian territory will be jammed”. Everybody suspects that Russian communications jamming technology is very effective and powerful. We’ve had some revelations of what they can do with their capture of drones and the last cruise missile attack on Syria (unless you believe the Pentagon’s idiotic statement of 76 missiles at one complex). Given that the US and its allies have been fighting enemies without any such capacity for decades, I suspect that Russia is far ahead of anyone in these capabilities. (And I would make the same argument about its air defence: it’s probably the world leader there too. And I would also bet that the Russians practise operations with no communications and no air superiority and that nobody in NATO does.) The mere fact that Shoygu – nobody’s idea of a blowhard – has made the statement shows that he is confident that Russia can do it. Given that the armed forces of the USA & Co cannot function without GPS and easy secure communications, Russia turning off the switch would be a stunning blow. Which leads me to suspect that whatever capabilities Russia reveals in the coming time will not be its full powers. I reiterate: NATO has already lost any future fighting war with Russia on its own territory or near to it. The consequences of “light-hearted actions” just keep coming: “Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”

MH17. Russia was immediately blamed and it’s been a fact-free Gish gallop since then: flight routes changed retroactively, sudden discoveries of “evidence” defying the laws of physics, faked up intercepts, a potential suspect gets a veto but the owners of the airplane are shut out, blame Russia before the inquiry is finished, no sign of Kerry’s promised data but “social media and common sense” instead, radars switched off, damage ignored when it doesn’t fit the story. But, finally, a mistake: the Ukrainians came up with a fact. Missile parts have serial numbers, those serial numbers are recorded in logbooks, logbooks exist and the numbers can be looked up. Those parts were from a Buk missile supplied to a Soviet AD unit in the Ukrainian SSR in 1986 and the missile remained there when the USSR broke up. Oh, and Bellingcat’s favourite video is a fake. Conclusions: 1) that particular missile had nothing to do with MH17; 2) the Ukrainians shot MH17 down either on purpose or by accident (wouldn’t be the first time). But let’s gallop round the fact-free track again.

SYRIA. As I suspected, lots of talking and manoeuvring in the background. Russia holds most of the cards. Putin and Erdoğan have cut a deal and the battle is postponed. You can watch the rough cuts of the next “CW attack” yourself. (Was the whole thing a ploy to get the White Helmets to expose themselves?) In any case, with Shoygu’s new jamming decree, a FUKUS attack would be much more difficult.

WADA YA KNOW? Ban lifted, sour grapes. But, again, the damage has been done. The purpose of propaganda is to leave an impression when the details are forgotten. (A theory that dear little Canada was behind the accusation. I dunno: I just put it out there for interest: but two Canadians led the charge.)

WHO’S DRIVING THE CLOWN CAR? “Mnuchin’s slip-up forced Treasury officials to scramble to come up with a plan that would match the secretary’s under-oath statement, according to four congressional sources directly involved in the sanctions process. And in April, the department sanctioned Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and his aluminum company Rusal”. Daily Beast – not a Trump-friendly source but the story sounds plausible to me. As experience shows, US knowledge and intelligence about Russia is pretty poor. Nevertheless, more sanctions for some reason or other. Soon, the way things are going, the only country the USA won’t be sanctioning will be itself.

SKRIPALMANIA. Poisoned, not poisoned. Murderers” says BoJo. More Bellingcrap.

NEW NWO. Trump blew up some more of the globalist NWO in his UN speech. But still the rubbish about Iran the “leading sponsor of terrorism” and let’s sanction Venezuela for the “restoration of democracy”. Confused? So am I: is it the “right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions” or does the USA still “tell you how to live or work or worship”?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 SEPTEMBER 2018

WHAT IS TO BE DONE? PCR asks. Martyanov and Saker answer. PCR responds. More, more. A collapsing imperium is dangerous:What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta“. We are in serious times, folks.

ELECTIONS. The pedestal party won most but the communists and Zhirinovskiy won some. The same boring scene for years: the ruling party is dull but people support what stands on its pedestal. They’re not very enthusiastic (turnout in the low 30s) but neither are they very discontented. The political system works well enough. Pension protests continue.

RUSSIA INC. IMF predicts 1.7% growth this year (North America 2.8% and Europe 2.4%). Deloitte CIS expresses confidence; Fitch says coped with sanctions well. I say, considering the economic war being waged against it, that Russia isn’t doing badly.

SYRIA. Two facts: Idlib is the last stronghold of jihadists in Syria and Damascus sooner or later will have to take it. Numerous threats out of FUKUS about CW attacks (Assad must be a disciple of Sun Tznever). (Check this story out and see what you think.) Very dangerous. Optimistic view that the people running the US military aren’t that stupid; pessimistic view that the neocons are that stupid; Russia is winning with the patient game; no, it’s time to sink a US ship, it’s the only way Washington will get the message. Erdoğan is playing games. BUT. Fisk finds no signs of a big offensive (but would he?) and the Kremlin feigns ignorance. Which leads me to these thoughts. Moscow is certainly aware of the correlation of forces. Moscow is talking to everybody. The clearing out of the south was accomplished with very little fighting: most of it seems to have been pre-negotiated. Russians are masters of deception in war. So I suspect that the West is being played and that what, how and when will, again, surprise the punditocracy. But it is a very dangerous situation and, as VIPS says to Trump: “The best way to assure Mr. Putin that you are in control of U.S. policy toward Syria would be for you to seek an early opportunity to speak out publicly, spelling out your intentions. If you wish wider war, Bolton has put you on the right path.Watch this video and decide who runs State. As always, the most important question is who’s in charge in Washington? Well, maybe the truth is leaking: go to 4:20; the Netherlands awakes.

A REMINDER. OPCW Report “Destruction of declared Syrian chemical weapons completed” 4 Jan 2016. And a US company did it on a US ship.

VOSTOK 2018. Videos. MoD page. The parade. Of course the exercises are staged (I was on NATO exercises in The Day and so were they). Moscow is trying to get Washington to understand that your average gas station can’t do this.

CLINTON-YELTSIN. To summarise: please Bill, I beg you; Hah hah Boris, stick it in your ear. (IMO Yeltsin is doing what he can, but Russia is weak and USA is triumphant.) But Putin remembers.

SKRIPALMANIA. Nonsense piled on nonsense. The fabled principles of British law — presumption of innocence, prosecution must prove its case — are tossed when it’s Russians: now it’s petitio principii and “probably” all the way. The “executed” “hitmen” speak. Murray’s take: bad presentation but quite possible.

ANOTHER REMINDER. As wannabe “Russian poisoning” cases pop up, remember Karinna Moskalenko. It’s an old and tired movie.

WHO’S IN CHARGE IN GERMANY? Merkel supports Russia in Syria but may do a bit of bombing after the false flag CW attack. With its 4 planes? Unconstitutional and illegal. Last ditch desperation?

THE GWOT. Only 17 years from attacking al Qaeda to defending it. Even Graham Fuller, a creator of the policy of supporting jihadists there but not here, doubts the efficacy of the program.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES. Theories then, facts now. “Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Back Syrian Rebels“. “AQ is on our side in Syria“. Official admits Skripalmania and Syria are connected.

DONETSK. The leader was killed in an indiscriminate restaurant bombing. Probably the work of Kiev. Maybe a bit of help from Washington.

UKRAINE. The US Special representative for Ukraine wants the US to supply weapons to Kiev. (Why do none of these people ever wonder what became of Ukraine’s gigantic USSR legacy arsenal? Shipped to Georgia. (Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.) Well, Russia can play that game a lot more effectively. And perhaps it’s time it openly did. Again: who’s in charge in Washington?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer