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

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 15 JUNE 2017

PUTIN Q&A SESSION. Today so I haven’t had time to look at it. The Western media will report what fits its agenda so you should read it yourself. English here as they translate it, Russian here.

STONE-PUTIN INTERVIEWS. Website with first three parts. Transcript for Kindle.

FAKE NEWS I. Navalniy applies for a permit to hold a demonstration on Russia Day. City grants him a permit for Akademik Sakharov Avenue, a large reasonably central area that has been used before. Navalniy decides that’s not good enough and moves his rally to Tverskaya Street which is filled with historical re-enactors. The cops move in, the Western media laps it up and pundits pontificate about what This All Means for Putin. Some demos in other cities, but nothing much. A flop, actually, says Karlin (who prefers evidence to the clairvoyance of the Western journo – see this idiotic example). (What do you suppose would happen if Occupy Wall Street moved a licensed demo – yes, you need a permit there too – to the Mall on July 4? This and this of course. Russia’s no different.)

FAKE NEWS II. Oh, and lots of the stories you read about Russiagate were, according to Comey, “dead wrong” (as in “NYT Scrambles To Fix ‘Almost Entirely Wrong’ Russia Scoop After Comey Testimony“). In short, Dear Readers, if it’s about Russia, it’s probably fake.

WHO YA GONNA BELIEVE? Macron e-mail dump. “The NSA Confirms It: Russia Hacked French Election ‘Infrastructure‘” or “French Cyber Security Leader: No Trace of Russian Hacking Group in Emmanuel Macron Campaign Leaks“.

RECOMMENDED READING. From a former Ambassador to Russia: “The Common Wisdom About Russia Is Not Wise“. From a former intelligence officer “Fake News and the Russian Interference Lie“.

RUSSIA-US RELATIONS. As plenty of us suspected: “In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia… “. A lot is invested in bad relations: to do otherwise would be to betray democracy, apparently.

RUSSIA INC. The Governor of the Bank of Russia said that the influence of Western sanctions on economy had been exaggerated and their effect was practically over; she also said that the economy had adapted to the lower oil prices in the last two years.

POLITKOVSKAYA. The man convicted of organising her murder has died in a penal colony.

QATAR BLOCKADE. Moscow is involved in two ways: it sent food there and it is diplomatically involved: the Presidential Website mentions calls with Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. However it ends, Moscow will come out stronger with a better reputation.

SYRIA. Apparently talks between Washington and Moscow are quietly going on in Jordan. Meanwhile the Syrian Army has advanced to the Iraq border cutting off the US-supported “moderate rebels” from their base of supply. Tillerson is quoted as saying that the US has no authorisation to use force against the Syrian Army. Meanwhile the USAF attacks the Syrian Army. Paul Robinson looks for, but is unable to find, Washington’s strategy. So, same-same. 1) Damascus with its allies from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah is winning slowly but steadily; 2) Washington remains incapable of either keeping its word or controlling its people. And, for once, the UN notices and the Guardian publishes something about the “‘staggering loss of civilian life’ caused by the US-backed campaign to reclaim Raqqa“.

UKRAINE. Profound dissatisfaction with the state of affairs at home plus visa-free travel to the EU. What could go wrong?

WESTERN VALUES™. Of the ten least peaceful countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index, Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine, Sudan and Libya have all had US/NATO interventions or involvements. Syria, Ukraine and Libya, in particular, were far more peaceful before: Syria 163rd today, 99th in 2008; Ukraine 156/101 and Libya 154/85. The USA itself dropped 11 places in the last year. Still they boast: “America has guaranteed freedom, security and peace for a larger share of humanity than any other nation in all of history“. NATO is about “Projecting Stability Beyond Our Borders“.

SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION. India and Pakistan are now members. The new world is forming quickly; China and Russia will big players in it and I don’t think there will be much room for the USA. Martin Jacques suggests Europe had better get on board soon. I recommend his book.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 1 JUNE 2017

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI is dead but he lives on in three ways. He didn’t invent jihadism or takfirism but he gave it a key lift by supporting the mujahidin in Afghanistan in order to entice the USSR to intervene: the disastrous policy of encouraging jihadism in one place arrogantly thinking you could stop it spreading to another. This is something he apparently never regretted (at least not in 1998: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?). His obsessive anti-Russian stance remains embedded in the USA as this absurd Time magazine cover shows. He had some influence on Obama and one can legitimately ask whether his silly view about the importance of Ukraine to Russia was a prime mover in the Ukrainian catastrophe. There are some indications that he was beginning to realise how dangerous (and unsuccessful) this policy was becoming. But, probably, the longest-lasting legacy, though neither to his liking nor wishing, is the resistance to US hegemony taking concrete form in many places but most powerfully in Beijing and Moscow. As he said in his key book in which he thought to lay out the game plan to keep the USA on top forever: “the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia… Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill…” Neither remote nor skilful enough I guess. He should have paid more attention to Newton’s Third Law of Diplomacy: if you push countries around, they will push back. An exceptional failure all round.

NATO. When the chief member tells the others that they’re not “paying their fair share” and their real job is the Daesh threat, you have to wonder what is the longevity of an organisation whose members have never “paid their fair share” and spend their time obsessing about “Russian threats”. Pay for what, by the way? Defence against the “Russian threat”? Overthrowing governments in the Middle East?

NATO CRUMBLE. We have here a very interesting poll conducted by an American GONGO. Spun as discovering “Vulnerabilities to Russian Influence”, it actually shows how tarnished the Atlanticist idol has become. Majorities in Slovakia (75%), the Czech Republic (62%) and Hungary (54%) want security cooperation with Russia and over a third of Poles (!) agree. They’re worrying about the erosion of traditional values, they’re watching more Russian media and they’re feeling less “European”. None of this has anything to do with Russian “disinformation” of course: it’s an entirely homemade failure. More Brzezinski legacy.

EUROPE-US. When the chief member of the EU says that automatic agreement with Washington is no longer a given and that Europe must “stand on our own two feet” you have to wonder what will next happen in an organisation that has been pretty obedient to Washington’s diktat in recent years. Think of how much the Ukraine mess and Russian sanctions have hurt, and will continue to hurt, Europe. Do they still have feet, by the way? More Brzezinski legacy.

RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER. Some time ago there was a story about a single Russian aircraft shutting down the electronics of a US warship. I put it in the “Who Knows?” file. But now and again something else appears. The expensive US new battlefield communications system is, apparently, worthless. Wonder how they found out? Not while fighting people with no EW abilities, air defence, artillery or anything much but determination and high explosives.

LOGICAL CONUNDRUM. Russia is wrong to say that NATO is a threat to it, but NATO is right to say that Russia is a threat to it. Russia is wrong not to take NATO’s word for it, but NATO is right not to take Russia’s word for it. Meditate on this: a koan for our time.

MH17. Russian sources have published documents claimed to be from Ukrainian intelligence sources. They describe a coverup after a Ukrainian fighter plane shot it down. (Original Совершенно секретно) (English) I merely put this out – I don’t know: there are plenty of fakes around. But I do not believe a Buk shot it down: a Buk warhead has about 6000 lethal fragments and detonation a metre or two from the aircraft would have left a lot more fragments in the wreckage than were found. The Dutch report is self-contradictory by the way.

MISSING. Amnesty International, citing a 2016 US government audit, says Washington failed to monitor over $1B worth of arms and other military equipment transfers to Kuwait and Iraq. Would these US weapons found in Aleppo be some of the “unmonitored” items do you suppose? More Brzezinski legacy.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. 1000 Russian bots on Facebook.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 18 MAY 2017

RUSSIA INC. More Western sources agree that Russia’s economy is growing again – EBRD, UN and IMF. Even Stratfor, which predicted Russia’s collapse, now admits it’s doing well. Which is no big news for those of us who ignored the NYT, WaPo and their friends. All I can say is: stop drinking each other’s bath water and do the work.

VICTORY DAY. What struck my attention was the Arctic camouflage air defence systems. Here’s the full parade. Here is the first parade on 24 June 1945: limos have replaced horses, loudspeaker trucks are less important, Nazi banners are stored away, but otherwise recognisable.

HISTORY. Much has been written about Putin’s views on Russia’s tangled history; much of it rubbish. Let’s listen to the man himself as he unveiled a monument to a grand duke assassinated in the Kremlin. “Russia’s history is regaining its unity. We treasure each page in this history, no matter how difficult. These are our national spiritual roots.” It has to be all of it, doesn’t it? They’ve already been through years of changing history around to suit present needs.

OIL PRICES. Moscow and Riyadh have agreed agree to extend the oil production cut. The January cut was initially successful at boosting prices, but they have fallen of late.

SYRIA. We do appear to have a measure of agreement among the principals, including Washington. Here’s the text of the “de-escalation zones” agreement. Still much that is murky though: are Washington and Ankara about to shoot at each other? Has Washington stopped the Assad must go stuff or not? Faked up atrocity stories continue. Is Washington still недоговороспособны – incapable of making agreements – as this would suggest? It’s all rather ambiguous; but I do understand that it takes a long time to turn a big ship around, especially when it’s surrounded – to keep the analogy going – by little boats pushing the other way and people in the engine room resisting the timoneer. I believe that my theory on last month’s airstrikes has not been falsified. So, things appear to be happening.

RECONSIDERATION. Let me introduce you, Dear Readers, to Graham Fuller. One of the authors of Washington’s (disastrous as it turned out) policy of supporting jihadists in one place expecting to put them back into the toy box afterwards, he has reconsidered: read this. He believes that overthrowing Assad would make things much worse: “Syria Will Likely Be Run By Terrorists”. He, by the way, appears to agree with my theory on the airstrikes, see last two paragraphs.

NO COMMENT. From the WaPo “NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose. Then it did.” At least no one is blaming Putin for this. Yet.

COMEY FIRING. Assange predicts leaks will begin. One: Russian hacker claims FBI tried to bribe him to say he hacked DNC. Two: “federal investigator” says Seth Rich sent e-mails to Wikileaks. Stay tuned.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Ever louder. But not working: Democrats dropped 5 points. Two years ago Russia was “a regional power”, last year it was “important”; today its influence is everywhere; next year it will rule the world. Then I guess it’s all over. I’ve given up my PDS series now it’s merged with TDS: “Here’s how the Russians might have snuck a recording device into the Oval Office” (WaPo of course), I can’t keep up. Dimwitted and dangerous. Roman comparisons are trendy: try Cato and the Optimates.

WESTERN VALUES. Ukraine has blocked a number of Russia-based social media networks. A NATO spokesman is quoted as saying that’s OK because it’s “security”. (NATO’s “enduring mission”, by the way, is “defending values”.) Western values, which had real content a couple of decades ago, are now bedraggled camp followers of the juggernaut of war. (To be fair, an EU official, whom you didn’t know existed, did “voice concern”.)

UKRAINE. US House of Representatives passed a DoD funding bill that expressly forbade funding the Azov Battalion (Sec. 8131.) Meanwhile, in a decision it will live to regret, the EU has allowed visa free visits from Ukrainians.

NEW NWO. China hosted the Belt and Road International Forum. (The Chinese have a genius for coming up with descriptive slogans and this is one: a belt ties things together and a road communicates.) Putin was the first foreign speaker (not a coincidence, I’m sure) (his speech). Many countries attended. As always, the fact of the event itself and the side meetings were the most important. North Korea sent a delegation so probably some developments there with all its neighbours present. Eurasia: it’s real, it’s happening and it’s the future.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, CanadaRussia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 4 MAY 2017

RUSSIAN ISOLATION. Remember when Russia was “isolated“? Today it seems to be the essential hub: just in the last seven days Japan, Germany and Turkey have visited and USA has phoned. Patience, persistence, performance, principle; they take a while but they kick in eventually.

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been ruled an “extremist” organisation; there is still an appeal period. This seems a very wrong decision, and one based on a rather poorly-written law, as the conservative Fr Vsevolod Chaplin points out, with bad potential. On the other hand, I can well understand Russian concern about the true intentions of any US-based entity these days.

TRUST. The Levada survey of most trusted politicians has, as usual, Putin in the lead in the 80s, followed by Defence Minister Shoygu (who has been number two for many years) and Foreign Minister Lavrov. And why not? Westerners can only dream of such competency. PM Medvedev is in the 40s; I’m not sure that that means much: someone has to be blamed for things that go wrong.

CORRUPTION. Prosecutor General Chayka produced some data on corruption in 2016: 13,774 cases involving 15,207 people (both numbers down a trifle from 2015). He said that 97% of corruption crimes were detected (how did he detect the undetected examples?) The Moscow City Court sentenced the former head of the anti-corruption (!) department of the Interior Ministry to 22 years; subordinates received from 4 to 20 years. Western commentators often assume things should go faster than they do: the FSB started this back in 2010 and the case was formally opened in February 2014; the trial itself lasted about a year.

NAVALNIY. Big Western media coverage of a small subject. Yes, you are “fake news”.

SANCTIONS. A UN official, who has been examining the matter, praises the Russian government for taking “appropriate measures to insulate the population from the most adverse impact of the sanctions“. He estimates that Western countries lost more over the three years of sanctions and counter-sanctions: US$100 billion to Russia’s US$55 billion. This corresponds to what I (December 2015 for example) and many others not in Western governments, thinktanks and media outlets expected.

CHECHNYA. The NYT, quoting Novaya Gazeta, had this story: “Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says“. Mark Ames, who holds to a quaint belief in the value of research, tells us this about the source. Hmmm…. НГ, NYT and Alekseyev. Not very reliable sources say I.

CHINA-RUSSIA. A Chinese official delivered a message to Putin from Xi. It should be read in full: it is a strong statement of the closeness and permanence of the Moscow-Beijing relationship. Any fantasies in Washington that the two can be separated should be abandoned.

NORTH KOREA. There is a solution to the dilemma and it has been around for some time. Beijing calls it the double suspension” (Pyongyang stops missile and nuclear tests and Washington and Seoul stop big military exercises near the border) and, with Moscow’s support, has put it on the table at the UNSC. The problem is that Washington, ever the virtuous one, has always refused to do so. But things are happening in the background and we shall see. By the way, I am fascinated to see this in the WaPo: “The U.S. war crime North Korea won’t forget“; it actually dares to suggest that Pyongyang’s point of view should be considered. Likewise “Let’s stop calling North Korea ‘crazy’ and understand their motives” and “Kim Jong Un Is a Survivor, Not a Madman“. All I can conclude is that the Party Line either hasn’t been formulated or hasn’t yet been sent to editorial offices. Normally, there is only one valid POV.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. “They went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.” And it still is part of the excuse package: “I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks“. The ever complaisant MSM followed its instructions (“we are not fake news!“) and we have the story. But it’s crumbling into incoherence; there’s no there there. Perhaps in a year or two the Democratic Party will stop blaming its catastrophe (more than 1000 elected positions lost in 8 years) on others. It will probably take more defeats, though, before it does: it’s pretty heavily invested in the anybody but us meme.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Well worth the read – shows the Russian hacker story began with vague accusations during the Ossetia War and its fundamental shakiness; now it’s “a multibillion-dollar boondoggle, employing shoddy forensic techniques and politicized investigations”.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 APRIL 2017

TWO UNBELIEVABLE THINGS. I’ve been at this since the days of Chernenko and I just read something that, while not all that important, furnishes a concrete example of the unbelievable changes since those days; something that, had you suggested it was possible at almost any time in the intervening years, people would have thought you crazy. Here it is: TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice best airline in Europe was Aeroflot and it was rated the best business class in the world. It was also the world’s “most powerful” airline brand. And one of the safest. Scaroflot! Impossible to imagine, as I said, in 1985, 1995 or 2005. And here’s another unimaginable event: I well remember the grain shortages in the USSR and the annual negotiations with Canada to supply wheat and two decades ago I saw it when I visited a huge grain elevator complex in Murmansk that had been built to handle Canadian imports. Those days are long gone: today Russia is the leading wheat exporter and, as an extra, FT informs us that “agriculture has overtaken arms sales to become Russia’s second-biggest export sector“. In the 1970s and 80s USSR meant food shortages, by the 1990s half the food in Russia was imported. I think that we are standing at the threshold of a huge growth in Russia’s food industry; its potential has never been tapped – serfdom, the village mir and collectivisation were powerful production brakes. Despite the expected tripe from the FSM – “Soviet-style shortages” “worst days of the USSR” “hurt Russia more” “backfires” (And who can forget Masha Gessen and her cheese?) it was, as I said at the time, a “clever move“. A summary of the benefits. And, something else: here is Russia’s spiffy new military base at 80º North. “Eurasian economic basketcase” indeed! Russia is on a roll and consumers of the Western FSM haven’t a clue.

RUSSIA INC. Not doing badly: Medvedev reports. Notable increases are pharmaceuticals (up about 24%) and agriculture (up 5%). Unemployment is 5.5% and inflation is down to 5%. IMF head Lagarde agrees: she has praised Russia’s economic management and agrees that the economy is now growing. (Without, it should be noted, recourse to the standard IMF-style austerity package either.)

MESSAGES. Lots of messages being sent this month – Syria strike, MOAB, carriers on the move. By Russia too. Hypersonic anti-ship missile. Lots of EW equipment. And, a bigger bomb, by the way.

TILLERSON IN MOSCOW. Too early to know the results. See below.

SYRIA STRIKE. My theory here: it was aimed at Trump’s domestic enemies and appears to have hit the target. But another month will show the theory falsified or not. (Rather encouraged to see that Scott Adams has the same idea. But so does Maxine Waters). Moscow suspended the Russia-US MOU on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents. The CW attack was, of course, a fake.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. With the election call in the UK there will be more insanity/absurdity.

WESTERN VALUES™. “West Rattled Over Russian Missiles on NATO Border“. Or, as you could put it: “Russia Rattled Over NATO on Russian Missiles’ Border”. Depends on your perspective, I suppose. But it’s not Russia that’s moved, is it? “Light-hearted actions” have consequences down the line.

G7 FM MEETING. No sanctions on Russia. We know that London wanted them, Ottawa was ready to go along and Paris, Berlin and Rome grumble but sign in the end. Deduction: Washington didn’t want them.

UKRAINE. Finally someone in the West notices what may prove to be the longest-lasting consequence of the Maidan coup. Ukraine’s nuclear power plants: “corruption, which is breeding a lack of accountability and mismanagement”; “many positions at the regulatory body remain empty”; “started using dubious firms that do not possess the necessary experience”. The writer even knows about the Westinghouse fuel danger “The West has been pushing the Japanese-owned Westinghouse as an alternative source to Russian nuclear fuel… The Westinghouse product is simply not as good as the Russian fuel made for the Russian-designed reactors, creating a highly dangerous situation where the reactor could fail”. Sooner or later…

MORE UKRAINE. And the NYT notices the new history of the new Ukraine. “The O.U.N. and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or U.P.A., are now being glorified as freedom fighters. What is not mentioned is the O.U.N.’s xenophobic, anti-Semitic ideology…”. What took it so long?

STILL MORE UKRAINE. “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” asked Tillerson. What you might call a reverberative question.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 MARCH 2017

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The story continues to fall apart. No evidence says Clapper. Not even Krauthammer believes it. Morell, previously calling Trump an “unwitting agent” now says “no fire, at all“. Rogers says no evidence. Nunes says no evidence. The authors of the hysteria are backing off. The source of the “evidence” – Crowdstrike – looks fishier by the moment (even VoA doubts it. It’s just another NATO tool.) In short, fake news. The New Yorker bravely tries to keep it alive, “worked together to halt… a sweeping investigation of Russian interference”, but it’s dying. As a reminder of just how feeble the whole story was, here’s what “All of Trump’s Russia Ties, in 7 Charts” tells us about Flynn: while DIA head he visited his Russian opposite number, he met with the Russian Ambassador and appeared on RT; pretty thin. Maybe we will find out who really leaked the evidence of rigging the DNC.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Pretty much displaced by TDS (humans soon to be extinct, thanks to him) but still some good ones: “Russia’s coming attack on Canada”, “The Senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.” “Russia’s 5th Column” (pretty well anybody anywhere who disagrees with the Establishment line).

DEMOS. I’m not going to spend much time on the demos – I am rather surprised that they happened at all given the gradual elimination of foreign GONGOs and Navalniy’s Western cookie cutter views on Crimea and Ukraine: “referendum at the barrel of a gun”, “invasion” . Karlin was there. I doubt that there will be much in the way of aftereffects. Western hypocrisy was in full cry: Toronto 7 years ago, Washington a year ago, London half a year ago. Nobody likes unsanctioned protests.

TRUCKERS’ STRIKE. Another strike against the Plato system has begun. I don’t know much about it – here’s something – but I believe it to be a genuine protest.

SEPARATION. The Russian defence industry has almost completed its separation from Ukraine. Safeguards against the risk of being shut out of international transaction systems such as SWIFT have been introduced. More evidence of Moscow’s foresight and determination.

RUSSIA INC. Bloomberg says Russia is out of its recession and S&P has raised its sovereign outlook to positive. Which doesn’t stop tripe like this and this from being extruded by the fake stream media.

FREELAND’S GRANDFATHER. It’s not Russia that is the source of the story, it’s Poland: “The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland’s maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo) Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war.” Warsaw is starting to be concerned about what it helped to revive in its neighbour (desecration of graves of Poles in Ukraine). And that neighbour is noticing back: a grenade attack on a Polish consulate in Western Ukraine the other day.

NEW NWO. One of the unintended by-products of the neocon direction of American foreign policy has been the increase in Iran’s power. The destruction of Iraq removed a barrier and the attempted destruction of Syria gave it an opportunity: it now dominates its immediate surroundings, from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, in a way almost unimaginable in 2000. It grows closer to Russia: its S-300s are now operating, a port visit to Makhachkala and President Rouhani visited Moscow. Relations will only get closer (China too). It really is remarkable how much the West has squandered in a couple of decades.

US SENATORS NOTICE SOROS. Something to watch.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Remember – it’s only a year ago – when “Russia [was] stoking and exploiting Europe’s migrant crisis to extract concessions“? Neither does anyone else: now it turns out that Norway was playing games with migrants on the border. I can’t say it often enough: practically everything you read in the Western media about Russia is fake news.

UKRAINE. Complete blockade both ways of rebel Donbass: another step towards independence. Two and a half million Ukrainian refugees in Russia and more elsewhere. The nazis join up: their principles; (remember that in Remnant Ukraine, guns get a vote too). The IMF postpones its next disbursement. Kiev loses case. Since the “revolution of dignity“, Ukraine has slipped (p 27) in the “world happiness ranking” and now sits at 132/155 (p22). 80% are in poverty. Catastrophic explosion at arms dump near Kharkov (pretty casual behaviour there). A former Russian Duma member shot on the street. It should be pointed out, by the way, that everything bad in Ukraine is immediately blamed on Russia (including attacks on Polish consulates); the WaPo and other FSM outlets usually parrot the accusation.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 MARCH 2017

RUSSOMANIA. The US is going though a period of insanity over Moscow’s influence to a degree not, I think, exceeded even during the McCarthy period. The immediate motives for this hysteria are projection, distraction and avoidance. It is actually Washington that overthrows governments, insinuates its GONGOS everywhere, spies on everybody, dominates world propaganda, has military bases everywhere and is at war all the time. Accusing Moscow is psychological projection. As to distraction, we only heard that “Russia had hacked the election” when it was proved that the Clinton machine had hacked the DNC. Blaming Russia avoids the pain of understanding why the Democratic Party lost so badly. But I think there’s a deeper terror that accounts for the intensity of the frenzy. And that is, simply, that the New American Century is not going very well. Brzezinski proudly announced the unprecedented supremacy of American power two decades ago; he has since had to admit that that era (and what a short “era” it was!) is already over. The “New American Century” has become “Our Miserable 21st Century: unemployment, food stamps, opioids, incarcerations, crime, murders, departed manufacturing. And, outside the borders, wars that have no end. First proclaimed by neocons, consummated with liberalism’s humanitarian bombers, we see – today – the unavoidable consequence of hubris: believing you are the “most powerful, good and noble country in the history of mankind“, believing in “American global leadership”, believing in “American exceptionalism” is the route to Nemesis. The hierarchs of the “Church of America the Redeemer” can sense that it’s slipping away, but they don’t know what to do: how can they blame themselves? how can they admit their soteriology is hollow? Blame somebody else; blame Russia. But Russia didn’t start these wars, it didn’t jail millions of Americans, it doesn’t prescribe opioids, it didn’t steal American jobs: all it did was resist. The acolytes of the Church of America the Redeemer see the rise of something even more frightening: people are starting to see Russia as a standard bearer of the alternative, an example of a government that puts its own population first: trot out the usual smears of racism or some other bad word, but it’s happening. The European satraps see it too: vide Marine le Pen’s slogan of Oui, La France! The same slogans, mutatis mutandis, are rising all over Europe. The Imperium destroys itself with its globalism and its unending wars; it needs no assistance. As the USA sinks, Russia rises. All that Russia (and many other countries) have done is resist as best they can. The hierarchs curse their imagined opponent louder.

ESTONIA. Must be made of solid gold or unobtainium or something: according to this writer, Putin’s doing all this just so he can invade it in 2022. Trump, Assange, Wagenknecht. Le Pen; all is proceeding as planned. Nothing to do with globalism and unending wars: it’s all Evil Putin all the time.

ST ISAAC’S. A famous church in St Petersburg, sometimes called the “cathedral of stone”, turned into a museum by the Bolsheviks. What to do with it today? The ROC wants it back, people object. Fred Weir discusses the pros and cons. (A model, if I may say, of how to report on Russia. Just report: leave out the editorialising and sneery little adjectives.)

WADA WE SAY? “It was admitted by WADA that in many cases the evidence provided may not be sufficient to bring successful cases.” So, in the end, just another anti-Russia fake news story. But we did learn about Therapeutic Use Exemptions. If you’d thought athletes were healthy, I guess you were wrong.

RUSSIA’S HACKING FINGERPRINTS. Wikileaks tells us the CIA can fake hacking attribution. These two former US int operatives believe the DNC leak was an inside job; no Russian connection at all.

RUSSIA INC. “Russia has exited recession” says Bloomberg: positive growth for a year. And its PMI has been over 50 for a year now. So… sanctions didn’t work… oil price cuts didn’t work… Obviously there’s more to the Russian economy than Western policy people think they know.

HMMMM. A UK Commons Committee says “it is shortsighted not to engage with Russia“. Russia-bashing may be fun but Russia isn’t going away. Time to face reality.

UKRAINE. Extremists block coal moving from the Donbass into Ukraine (yes, all this time Kiev has been buying and Donbass rebels have been selling, coal). Energy emergency declared in Remnant Ukraine. Kiev cannot/will not/dare not control the extremists. The blockade continues. Donbass rebels cut the remaining ties to Kiev. In this video you can watch one set of Maidanites accuse the other of being Putin’s puppets. Remnant Ukraine continues to delaminate, but, as Adam Smith observed, there is much ruin in a nation and, miserable as it is, Ukraine hasn’t hit bottom yet.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 23 FEBRUARY 2017

DEMOGRAPHICS. I was going to write about demographic trends but Karlin has done it first and better. In the early 1990s more died than were born, a decade later the two trends began to reverse direction and today births slightly exceed deaths. He believes that the TFR has stabilised at 1.75 making it one of the higher rates in Europe. Life expectancy has risen from a low of 64 in the mid 1990s to nearly 72 today. The abortion rate has declined a lot – cut in half in the last four years – since the mid-1990s. Karlin sees this as a return to demographic normalcy, suggesting that he expects it to stabilise at these rates. I’m not sure: Russia has reversed the decline, something very few countries in modern times have done. Maybe Russia’s population will continue to grow. Why people en masse decide to have or not have that extra child is rather puzzling. Certainly (for once) Russians are confident their country is moving in the right direction (fourth in the world in fact – ahead of any in the “West”). So, if having confidence in the future makes a lot of parents have another kid…

FAKE NEWS ON RUSSIA. I hope this becomes a regular series: five in a week and a half.

KERCH BRIDGE. A photo from the ISS of the portion to Tuzla Island (Now also on Google Maps).

PHONE PRANKS. Russian phone pranksters, pretending to be Ukraine’s PM, got Rep Walters to express concern over Putin’s fixing the Limpopo election and invading Gabon. Then they called McCain.

NAVALNIY. He has been given a 5 year suspended sentence over embezzlement of funds from the KirovLes company. He still plans political activity but his day is over: another oppositionist with minimal support at home boomed by Western GONGOs. The truth is that there is very little opposition to Putin & Co – maybe 25% tops – and probably half of that thinks he’s too soft.

SANCTIONS. I believe Western sanctions and Russia’s counter sanctions have been good for Russia. I am interested to see a poll in which nearly half of Russians claim to be unaffected by Western sanctions. I think people who expect Moscow to offer a lot of concessions to end them have got it backwards.

MILITARY TECHNOLOGY. A mobile laser system designed to “dazzle” laser-guided weapons. A jam-proof radio using rapid frequency-hopping. The “Soratnik” armed robot vehicle, tested in Syria, will be put into service this year. The all-round anti missile radar detection system is complete. The Armed Forces are over half equipped with “new weaponry”. I and others have said it before: Moscow has given up expecting anything from the West and fears that it may have to fight a defensive war. Hahn describes Putin’s evolution from optimism to distrust concisely here. I believe that NATO’s gratuitous destruction of Libya was the turning point. Can Trump reverse the trend?

NEW NWO. Some interesting Western polls. Four NATO members – Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey – say Russia is their preferred ally in case of a military threat! Support for NATO in Ukraine – never very high despite all Washington’s investment – has declined: in 2014 36% saw it as protection and 33% as threat; now it’s 35% to 29% the other way around. In Finland, despite considerable effort, opposition to NATO membership has increased from 58% in 2015 to 61% in 2016. Russia places only sixth on a list of enemies/unfriendlies for Americans. A very recent poll finds Americans exactly divided (43%-43%) on whether Russia is friendly or not. Karlin presents a very interesting hypothesis. That’s pretty amazing given six months of intense anti-Russia propaganda from all sources. The anti Russia mob are over-egging the pudding. (Not to mention that if Putin really is that all-powerful maybe it’s prudent to get on his good side). And, as Swedes are discovering right now, they have more pressing concerns than imaginary Russian submarines in the Archipelago.

MAIDAN MASSACRE. Third anniversary last Monday; it is a key founding myth of today’s Ukraine. Ivan Katchanovski has proved “that the massacre was a false flag operation.” A long read but apodictic.

DONBASS. Putin has signed a decree recognising certain low-level documents issued by the rebel authorities in the Donbass. This will no doubt get people excited but it should be recalled that Moscow supports – indeed is one of the authors of – the Minsk agreement that envisages the area remaining part of Ukraine (however unrealistic that may seem today). His decision may be related to the constant shelling of towns there – which even RFE knows was started by Kiev – and reports of ballistic missiles fired into the civilian areas and would perhaps be a form of pressure on Kiev. There is also a humanitarian motive to allow easier border crossing – at least a million Ukrainians have fled to Russia.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer