RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 22 JULY 2021

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

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

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

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

BUTTER. Russian exports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 JULY 2021

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. Annual marathon Q&A Rus, Eng. A sort of durbar; you can’t imagine any Western leader daring to or capable of doing it. Much on COVID: it’s clear he believes it’s real and he encourages people to get vaccinated. Most of it was minutiae: the price of things, infrastructure, garbage collection and disposal again and so on. “Naturally, the time will come when I hope I will be able to say that a certain person deserves to lead such a wonderful country as our Motherland – Russia”. Ukraine-Russia: Ukrainians and Russians are one people; the Kiev government is hostile but its decisions are mostly made in Washington. (In short, Moscow will patiently wait.) Foreign social media must follow Russian law. US-Russia relations: “I really hope that an awareness that the world is changing and a rethinking of their own interests and priorities in this changing world will lead to a more attractive world order, and our relations with the United States will get back on track.”

PUTIN AMUSES HIMSELF. What you think you learned was what we wanted you to think you learned.

PROBLEMS OF THE NEW RUSSIA. Having been in the business so long, I can’t resist mentioning this new Russian problem: “Mr President, please tell me why is it more expensive to spend a vacation at a Russian resort than abroad?”. Infrastructure, Putin replied and they’re working on it.

FAVOURITE FAIRYTALE. Kolobok: “I want all my colleagues in high offices to pay attention to this story. Why? Because as soon as you, my dear colleagues, begin to take flattery for the truth and sink into this atmosphere under the influence of what they are telling you, you risk being eaten”.

DOOMED RUSSIA. Still doomed.

COVID. I was certainly wrong last Sitrep. But, they say, people are rushing to be vaccinated.

UNDESIRABLE ORGANISATIONS. Moscow has been steadily clamping down on these colour-revolution “NG”Os; Here is a list from RFE/RL: USA 19, UK 8, others (all NATO) 12.

AFGHANISTAN. USA/NATO, defeated, is getting out and Taliban, victorious, is taking over. I think we can assume that a majority of Afghans are willing to give Taliban their support as the only force capable of uniting – as far as it is possible – the country and that much quiet negotiating has happened. Washington has dreams of leaving something; if it does it will be helicopters off the Embassy roof. Taliban will likely be in control everywhere soon, probably without much fighting. Then what? Will Ankara’s ambitions allow Afghanistan to add the neo-Ottomans to its collection of scalps? What about northern neighbours? Tajikistan is concerned and Moscow has promised to help. What about the Belt and Road Initiative? I don’t know and neither does anyone else – my bet is that Taliban will meet general acceptance, China will do business and the area will be reasonably quiet. We’ll see. It’s not the end of two decades of US involvement, it’s the end of four. Another Brzezinski/neocon/PNAC disaster. For amusement, here’s NATO’s spin: “We have denied terrorists a safe haven… We will now open a new chapter… hard-won gains of the last 20 years… training and financial support…”.

BELARUS/RUSSIA. Newton’s Third Law of Geopolitics holds: Minsk suspended its membership in the EU Eastern Partnership initiative and announced closer links with Russia.

RUSSIA/CHINA. The two presidents spoke and renewed the treaty.

FAKE NEWS. Something to watch – will anti-China propaganda become more idiotic than anti-Russia propaganda? China weaponises elephants while Russia weaponises humour. The race is on!

MH17. The Dutch trial hops along: no you can’t ask any questions.

TABAQUIS WIN ANOTHER. Berlin, Paris and Vienna think an EU-Russia summit is a good idea, Balts and Warsaw say no. The problem with consensus organisations is that otherwise insignificant players get their way on Their One Big Obsession. And so we move a little closer to the end of the EU.

NATO EXERCISE. So far so good, nothing foolish. Of course, the lack of foolishness might have something to do with Moscow’s statements (I do think Moscow will do something next time – black holes? EW? Cripple the ship?). And there are two MiG-31Ks in Syria.

WESTERN VALUES™. Tired of Western moral sanctimony, Beijing and Moscow call for an “impartial investigation” into Canadian aboriginal residential schools; the truth is terrible: “TB incubators and superspreaders.” Trudeau tries to deflect. (Speaking of Uyghers – read this or this.)

NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. Julian Assange Case: Key Witness Admits He Lied.

CYBERATTACKS. Highly reliable experts (in an opposite sense) say Putindunnit, “reportedly” “believed” is good enough for the WaPo, but at least Biden holds back.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 JUNE 2021

PUTIN-BIDEN. I can’t think why Putin wants to waste his time unless it’s to assess Biden’s mental capacity – imagine this guy going up against someone who can hold four-hour press conferences without dropping a thought. Doctorow has a theory that makes sense for both sides: “the summit has one driver behind it, namely to put a cap on an arms race that the United States is losing” but he wonders if the Americans do actually get it. I half expect Washington to cancel it on some pretext and there are plenty of indications – see below – that Biden will try and talk tough.

QUOTE OF THE “NEW AMERICAN CENTURY”. “Biden has told his aides he believes Putin responds to signs of strength, something he feels is better conveyed in person rather than over the phone.

WESTERN VALUES™. Good start to Biden lecturing Putin on interfering, isn’t it? And after Obama promised her too.

COVID AND RUSSIA. Essentially over. Meanwhile, in a 1984 moment, in the West, the crackpot lunatic fringe conspiracy of yesterday has suddenly became today’s rational conventional thinking.

USD. The Finance Minister says that the National Wealth Fund will get rid of its USD holdings “quite quickly”: afterwards EUR 40%, RMB 30%, GBP 5%, JPY 5% and Gold 20%. Gradually, the dollar is becoming toxic.” Convenient once, when a weapon not convenient. Another unintended consequence of PNAC arrogance.

AMAZON AND RUSSIA. Interesting piece on why Amazon hasn’t cracked the Russian market. Short answer: Russia has its own. In fact, Russia is rather independent of the mostly-US-based social media empires. Yandex, VK and Telegram are home-grown, strong there and spreading (In my experience VK, because it doesn’t censor, is gaining on Facebook). Ozon, Lamoda and Wildberries handle e-commerce.

MORE EVIDENCE that Moscow has had enough and believes it has enough: Patrushev says it will use force when it believes it has to.

WESTERN FRONT. Minister of Defence Shoygu has announced further build-up of forces in the west. No details yet. As Kennan foresaw: the fruits of NATO expansion. The NATO GenSek wants to talk.

TOLD YOU (2121) (2020) (2015) (2014). The US military is finally noticing its shortcomings in the event of a war with a real opponent. To wit: hypersonic weapons, electronic warfare, defence against anti-ship missiles, air defence. Too late I think: can the US MIC make anything these days other than cost over-runs? Vide F-35, littoral ships, Zumwalt, railgun.

GOOD QUESTION. If we’re declining so rapidly, what’s all the fuss about?

THE DEATH OF IRONY. “Russians will never be free unless the West takes decisive action” this from the guy videoed trying to sell Russia.

LIVING THE DREAM. Latest survey of EU inmates shows rather tepid enthusiasm for the project. I mention this because we’re always hearing dread things about Russia and we’re never given any context. The percentage of Russians who think Russia’s heading in the right direction has never, in a decade, been as low as the EU percentage is now. Or today’s US number. Think about that the next time you read some rubbish about how unhappy Russians are.

IFOs. Well, probably not aliens but they could be from Russia or China. Could be, might be, may be; but one thing’s for sure: US Space Command is dangerously short of money.

PROTASEVICH, RYANAIR AND MINSK. The now-established Western narrative is almost entirely false. He’s singing: he believes he was shopped by one of his “friends”.

THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS got Brit soldiers drunk and kicked off a train in Estonia. But, see below.

ENCOURAGING. Occasionally we learn the relentless anti-Russian propaganda isn’t working so well.

COLONIAL PIPELINE. But weren’t the supposed Russian hackers supposed to be incredibly clever? And yet they were incredibly stupid? Somebody’s stupid here, but I don’t think it’s anybody Russian.

UKRAINE-USA. Zelensky learns that the only thing worse than being Washington’s enemy is being its “strategic partner”: “I truly thought that when it came to Nord Stream 2, the United States remained the last standing outpost, so to say…we were very unpleasantly surprised.” And they didn’t even bother to call him first: “I learned about it through the press.” And, no the NATO carrot is still dangling way out there. You were useful for a while, that’s all; now you’re just a cost. Meanwhile: “donors were all young people from Ukraine and Moldova“. Country 404.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 MAY 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 MAY 2021

VICTORY DAY. Parade. Putin speech. “Unfortunately, attempts are made to deploy a large part of Nazi ideology and the ideas of those who were obsessed with the delusional theory of their own supremacy.” Not, apparently, visible to Blinken; I guess he wasn’t in Lviv. But at least someone in the USA notices.

RUSSIA-CHINA: THEIR VIEW. In 1995 48% of Russians thought relations with China were good, now 75% do. Beijing is becoming more blunt: “The combined power of China and Russia is far greater than that of the former Soviet Union-Eastern Europe bloc… If anyone tries to ride roughshod over this fact and pushes China and Russia to join forces in a desperate fight, that must be its nightmare,”

RUSSIA-CHINA: US VIEW. China and Russia’s Dangerous Convergence. The authors’ solution: “We instead suggest a far more modest and incremental approach designed to demonstrate to the people around Putin the benefits of a more balanced and independent Russian foreign policy.” Washington hair pullers are some of history’s dumbest strategists: they think a few soft words will change reality.

HISTORY. Russia’s history under the communists was extensively re-written and re-re-written. (Another crossover parallel in this post Cold War world?) The official line today is, I think, the rational and truthful one of admitting everything. Paul Robinson has a piece on a monument just opened in Sevastopol (where the defeated Whites evacuated in 1920) of Mother Russia and both of her sons – White and Red.

“BANKRUPT” RUSSIA. Getting on for 600 billion USD in the kitty.

EASTER. Service at the new Armed Forces Main Church.

VACCINE. Sputnik Light, a single-dose vaccine against COVID-19, has been registered.

MH-17. A dispassionate discussion of the improbabilities of the standard story and the Dutch investigation. But propaganda works by leaving an impression after the details have been forgotten.

FAKE NEWS: NAVALNIY. His doctor disappears!!! Murdered!!! Hit Squad!!! Found safe and sound.

FAKE NEWS: VACCINE. Is Russia’s Covid vaccine anything more than a political weapon? (The begging bit at the end tells us: “Since 1821, tens of millions have placed their trust in our quality reporting, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope.”)

FAKE NEWS: PIPELINE. Federal agencies order pipeline to repair its many leaks, saying that, given its “failure history” continued operation would pose an “integrity risk to public safety” in March. Reported that a cyberattack forces it to shut down in May. FBI blames a hacker group. Biden says no evidence that Russia was involved but “there’s evidence that the actors’ ransomware is in Russia [and] They have some responsibility to deal with this”. And we all know the US “intelligence community” is a reliable source. (PS, the last “Russian” group was actually from Ukraine). Ah well, easier to blame Russia than take responsibility for your rotting infrastructure. Will Bellingcat find his GRU couple visited here?

FAKE NEWS: SYRIA. “The result: The letter was never sent, MPs were never informed of the known corruption, and Dutch taxpayers were not able to learn that Mayday mishandled enormous sums of money it received from numerous donor governments, including their own.” So I guess the money that didn’t go to guns for jihadists, or spiffy never-used coveralls, was stolen at source. Le Mesurier admitted fraud and then was (auto?) defenestrated.

PORTENTS OF THE END. International poll with much to chew on. The USA is seen as a greater threat to democracy than Russia or China. There’s less satisfaction in the West than we’re told. Compare USA and Russia – numbers a lot closer than the Western media would have you believe. Rather amazed that most people think their governments handled COVID-19 well, though. Meanwhile ex military in France and USA don’t like the way things are going and who’s doing it.

NATO EXERCISE. Big NATO exercise is underway. Usual boasting and chest-thumping from Washington – defensive, transparent, interoperable. (Not the least of the delights of the present US Administration is the return of old favourites.) While it may not prove to be the farce that Scott Ritter expects it to be, no one who just witnessed what Russia can mass without months of pre-preparation will be impressed. (Something tells me though, that Ritter’s right in drawing our attention to Albania – bet there won’t be much transparency about something with such a chance of being a Charlie Foxtrot.)

USA-UKRAINE. I agree with Diesen here: Washington just told Kiev that it won’t back it. Another example of what you might call the Kurdish Lesson: Washington won’t be there at the ultimate moment. Escobar has more exciting things that he’s heard.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 APRIL 2021

PUTIN SPEECH. Eng. Rus. Mostly domestic as usual but the foreign bits were memorable – in short: we’ve had enough. We will respond as and when we chose and we’ll do whatever we think we have to. And we’ll decide where the “red lines” are. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Putin make a threat before.

GEOPOLITICAL TECTONIC PLATES. They shifted quite a bit lately, haven’t they? In February Kiev starts moving heavy weapons east; next month Zelensky signs a pompous decree to “de-occupy” Crimea. Moscow moves more men and equipment in less time than NATO could dream of doing anywhere on the planet and makes it clear that it will use it. Wiser heads reflect; they back down. Zelensky now wants to talk. (Silly claims of victory from deluded parties in the West, but let them dream). So that’s it for now: Moscow has shown the world that Washington will fight to the last Ukrainian or Pole and that Moscow can and will respond with whatever violence is necessary. (I repeat my argument that Russia could certainly conquer Ukraine but doesn’t want to – speaking of “red lines”, note my last sentence.) Then there’s a coup attempt revealed in Belarus. The colour revolution was a flop so the next stage: assassination, power outages and cyber attacks on Victory Day followed by the usual appeals, interventions, fake governments and the rest. Except the security forces had it all on tape and the suspects are singing. (We can be confident Moscow and Minsk are telling the truth because of the silence in the West). The bounties story collapsed. Which raises the interesting question of why US intelligence would debunk it just as Biden had referred to it in his latest sanctions. (For your amusement a supercut of TV hairstyles – and Biden/Harris – pushing the story). Prague announces the sudden discovery that the Russians were responsible for an accident in 2014 at a weapons storage facility. On cue Bellingcat provides the “evidence” that the only two operatives the GRU apparently has dunnit. But neither the past nor present Czech President had heard of it – and you’d think they would have. (We already wonder who’s in charge in Washington and now must wonder who’s in charge in Prague.) Merkel insists Nordstream will be finished, Atlantic Council panics – time is running out. Is Washington trying to stop people using the Russian vaccine? There are indications of serious pressure being brought on Germany and Brazil at least (Czechia too?) – can’t let those pesky Russians “sow division” or gain a “propaganda coup”, can we? The neocons struck and they struck out. They haven’t given up because they can’t – that’s who they are – but I smell increasing desperation. Time is running out.

MOSCOW RESPONSE. We’ve already seen the reaction to Kiev’s moves – two corps (armies in Russian terminology) and several airborne units (and Russian airborne troops are not light infantry like the West’s) appear on the spot in a couple of weeks together with lots of air defence, division- and corps-level artillery, missile boats from the Caspian, landing craft, warships, submarines and aircraft. They’ve gone back to base now – some of them – but you may be certain that they can be back, thanks to the practice, even more quickly. (Why tell us about dummy weapons? To mess with NATO’s mind?) Moscow is about to declare some countries as “unfriendly” (Five Eyes for sure but who else?) and will cripple the operation of their Embassies by restricting (or blocking) their chance to employ locals (pretty essential to many operations). I don’t think Russian Embassies hire locals. There will be movement restrictions as well – no more chummy meetings with the “democratic opposition”. And as for the Tabaquis – the Czech Embassy has been reduced to almost no one. Moscow has lost its sense of humour.

BEIJING CLEARS ITS THROAT. Beijing is well aware that it’s on the hit list too and that if Moscow goes down it will be next. Not a formal alliance but “China and Russia will support each other in matters of protecting state sovereignty“. History note: France and Britain did not have a formal military alliance in 1914, but London was committed anyway.

PAPER PUSSYCAT. Pleased to see the GAO agrees with me: “Nearly 2 decades of conflict has degraded U.S. military readiness.” And the same applies to its allies. They spend the bucks but they don’t get the results. We just saw real warfighting capability in the host of Russian weaponry videoed on its way to the frontier. We can only hope that there are serious people in NATO who can see reality. And, further proof, from Israel, that the West does not have adequate air defence.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. MI6 Chief says Russia is an “objectively declining power“.

MORE NONSENSE. Bulgaria imitates Czechia. Putin weaponises Syrian crickets.

UKRAINE. The non-existent nazis hold a parade. If you don’t recognise the symbol, look it up.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 15 APRIL 2021

UKRAINE-RUSSIA WAR. Lots of heavy stuff moving in Russia; especially big artillery systems: 2S4 heavy mortars, 2S7 long-range guns and Iskanders. (Powerful counter-battery fire would be both effective and semi-deniable). Stockpiles of equipment near Voronezh. Two armies (corps) plus airborne formations (probably more than NATO could field anywhere in real life; certainly never as quickly). What most impressed me were ships from the Caspian Sea Flotilla being transferred via the Volga-Don Canal. Never forget that the really important stuff is not visible – the Russians are the best at operational-level deception. A Ukrainian convoy by comparison – pathetic mix of civilian vehicles and elderly APCs. (Incredibly, despite all the genuine videos, CNN still fakes it.) NATO huffs and puffs; Blinken ditto; Berlin throws some cold water on Kiev. Ritter calls Kiev’s “NATO fantasy” a “suicide pill”.

AND THEN AGAIN, MAYBE NOT. Just reported that the two US warships will not enter the Black Sea; they are presently moored in Crete. Kiev changes its tune. Maybe the war hawks got the message: Moscow is determined, willing and more than capable.

BIDEN-PUTIN. At the US request, a phone call: White House take, Kremlin take. Biden talked tough (Ukraine, “cyber intrusions and election interference”), Putin mentioned Minsk agreement. No mention of Navalniy; I guess he’s passed his best-before date. Biden proposed a face-to-face meeting in a third country; I can’t believe that he will dare meet with Putin: look at his carefully scripted press conference. Probably won’t happen any way after this “national emergency” stuff.

INCOHERENCE. Killer, no soul but “stable and predictable relationship with Russia“; more sanctions (love the election tampering charge – they’re not even trying to make sense now) but mostly rational DNI report. Now a “national emergency“. The self-delusion in Washington is stunning: “Freedom and justice for all”. Who’s in charge? Whoever it is, Washington is not agreement-capable.

HOW TO FIX UKRAINE. My idea. Dmitry Orlov’s more interesting suggestion.

SPACE STATION. The ISS is coming to the end and Putin has signed off on plans to build a new one. I’ll bet China signs on.

ARCTIC. CNN excitedly discovers “huge Russian military buildup in the Arctic“; amusingly says “The Russian build-up has been matched by NATO and US troop and equipment movements.” Nope: Russia is far, far ahead of all the others: other than nuclear submarines, none has anything to compare.

SILENCE. Will be the sound that we hear in response to Lavrov’s call for a treaty banning weapons in space. (Not presumably to include the many communications and geo-locating satellites Russia and others already have up there. Bit of hypocrisy there: not weapons as such but necessary for many.)

HYPERSONIC. US test failure. The game of catch-up continues.

COVID. The EU’s vaccine rollout has been a dud and many countries are trying to obtain the Russian vaccine. CNN, for once, covers the issue reasonably evenly: reactions range from a welcome solution to the problem to those pesky Russians trying to divide us again. A German news outlet says Washington is trying to pressure Berlin and Korybko speculates that the tension in Ukraine may be related. One watches, somewhat dumbfounded – more evidence of things falling apart.

RUSSIA-TURKEY. I guess it’s time to teach Ankara another lesson: flights to Turkey have been severely restricted. Because of COVID; nothing to do with Ankara’s fiddling around in Syria or Ukraine. They say. Russian tourism is a big part of Turkey’s GDP. Moscow’s last shutdown brought results.

USA/AFGHANISTAN. Starting 1 May, all US troops to be out by 11 September. NATO’s too. Some questions: what about contractors, advisors, air power; but the biggest is how patient will Taliban be? – that’s another deadline passed. Neocons – Bolton, Haas, Boot – protest. The Pentagon too? We’ll see. Whether it happens then or later, the Afghans have defeated another mighty empire.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. 111 things Putin weaponised. Where does he find the time?

STASIS. We get closer to what Scott Adams foresaw: Biden in the White House, belief that the election was rigged. Rassmussen poll: “A majority (51%) of voters believe it is likely that cheating affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.” What happens if that number grows to, say, two-thirds?

UKRAINE/USA. Foreign interventions have a nasty habit of coming home. “Far-right extremists see the war zone there as a laboratory where they can gain actual combat experience to bring back home.”

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 1 APRIL 2021

RUSSIA AND EUROPE. A Levada poll finds the number of Russians – specially the young – who regard Russia as a European country has nearly halved since 2008. Russia is not part of European civilisation in my opinion, but many Russians think it is and they expected to be welcomed home when the USSR went away. Hopeful signs at the beginning were quickly replaced with NATO expansion, hostility, accusations, sanctions and so on. Russians are getting the message. The significance of this is is that many people – and some Russians – regarded Russia as a European country but a defective one; a delinquent who had to be lectured, cajoled and spanked into proper behaviour. Russians who think of themselves as European are prepared to put up with a certain amount of this, but Russians who see Russia as a civilisation-state are not. “For fifty years, secretly and openly, we wanted to live like you, but not any longer.” Original should be read (Googlish) if you want a real Russian perspective.

NEW NWO. Borrell in Moscow, China in Alaska. “The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.” The Western side opened with the list of “crimes” against the “Rules Based International Order”, in each case the charges were contemptuously thrown back. Once China and Russia were prepared to endure the lectures to get to the real business; but no longer. See “Illegal US Operations” from the MFA. Does not have the qualification. The correlation of forces is changing but the West’s rulers keep doing the same things, previous failure teaching nothing.

WESTERN VALUES™. Remember “rule of law”? Taking a beating these days, isn’t it? Here’s another to add to Meng, MH-17 trial, Assange and Butina. Russians notice: “You and your so called ‘values’“.

FAKE NEWS. A good example of how enmity is implanted by Western propaganda. The headline from the BBC: “Nato intercepts Russian planes ’10 times in a day‘”. Further down we learn “the Russian military aircraft never entered its member states’ airspace”. We are told their transponders were off which could be dangerous, we are not told that NATO refused Moscow’s suggestion that military flights in tight areas leave their transponders on; we are not told how many NATO flights there have been around Russia lately. And so the impression is created that Russians are bad people doing bad things to good people just because they are bad people.

RUSSIA/CHINA. A Levada poll shows Russians’ views of China – pretty favourable. I reiterate that while alliances are based on shared enemies, the relations between the two are deepening and widening all the time. Moving away from Washington-controlled trade systems will be the new emphasis apparently. I would expect, given that neither is prone to boasting, that the two are much farther along on payment independence than they say.

RUSSIA AND COVID. Putin has taken a vaccine and one is being developed for animals.

TRUMP BUYS PUTIN’S PALACE. Ummm… check the date, folks. (Fun to see how far this travels.)

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Fresh sanctions may barely dent Fortress Russia. Some of the usual ignorance (“Since 2014, Russia has fallen off the list of the world’s ten largest economies”) but far better than most. This also is an attempt to re-think things, but again hobbled by Western arrogance.

AMERICA-HYSTERIA. You’d think now that the Russia/Trump story had served its purpose, they’d stop it. You’d be wrong: apparently, in 2016 the Russian hacked nothing but the election and in 2020 they hacked everything but the election.

STASIS. Civil war in Atlantic council: can’t suggest even the slightest change in behaviour towards Russia. WaPo tells us that China’s rise is exactly the kind of threat NATO exists to stop; that’s absurd – China has taken advantage of American outsourcing its manufacturing, hardly a problem for guns to solve. Putin’s a killer without a soul: pointless outgassing from the weak.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. The ignoramus actually says it.

UKRAINE. Drunken nazis popping off mortar bombs into residential areas, but no real war. US propaganda organs are winding themselves up. Maybe the Russians have sent enough signals to make even the war-crazed in Kiev and Washington think twice. EW equipment in Donbass. Artillery exercise. Disappeared submarine in Med. Paratroop exercise in Crimea. Belarus-Russia exercise. All Black Sea Fleet subs at sea. Second disappeared submarine. Lots of ships in the Med. AD exercise in Crimea. Also a great deal of activity in Syria. And, just for fun, submarines in the high Arctic. So maybe nothing will happen. But, for sure, Moscow’s response will stun everybody.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 11 MARCH 2021

UKRAINE ATTACK? The team that gave us the Ukraine catastrophe is back in Washington, a US general is in Ukraine and heavy equipment is moving. A resumption of fighting would suit many in Kiev, Washington and NATO. But Moscow is not asleep and the Donbass defenders are prepared. I would expect, along with supplies, Moscow to make discreet but observable preparations. If that doesn’t stop an attack, Moscow has the long-range weapons to interdict assembly areas and routes and pretend deniability. If that doesn’t work, I would expect a reprise of 2008, only faster. What’s the West going to do in the face of a fait accompli? Shout more? Sanctions? A crushing defeat will produce reverberations in Kiev: very few of the Ukrainian forces in Crimea stayed loyal to Kiev and Zelensky was elected on a promise of making things better, not worse. A week should tell us which it is.

SANCTIONS. More of them thanks to the latest fact-free accusation. But, as an analogy, think of sanctions on Russia as similar to the over-use of antibiotics – Russia is becoming immune.

RUSSIA INC. It looks as if Russia will come out of COVID-19 in better (less bad) shape than most. Its GDP drop is estimated to be 3.1% which is better than the world average of 3.5%. In comparison, the drop in 2015 was 2.0% and in 2009 7.8%. Likewise, its national debt remains lower than most.

HISTORY. Ever since Iron Felik’s statue was torn down, Lubyanka Square has lacked a statue. So they decided to have a vote: Dzerzhinskiy or Aleksandr Nevskiy? 45% for the first 55% for the second, and Mayor Sobyanin scrapped the plan as too divisive because there wasn’t a strong majority either way.

FAKE NEWS. The most dangerous Russian disinformation is true information. “In each case, the Russian outlets were repeating actual news reports“; “certain Kremlin-backed narratives are factually true…”. In a piece about trying to extradite an American fighting for “right-wing militias” in Ukraine, the NYT has to add: “Any suggestion that these groups are extremist risks playing into the hands of Russian propagandists“. Well then, why the fuss? Those pesky Russians; they use facts to confuse us. (Speaking of nazis, I find the timing of this, on CNN, intriguing: “The Ukrainian collaborator Yaroslav Stetsko didn’t have an aptitude for astrophysics; what he did have was a knack for organizing the butchers of Jews”. Sounds a bit like “playing into the hands of Russian propagandists” doesn’t it?)

WAR. We’re supposed to believe – assertions are the new evidence – that Russia hacked nothing but the US election in 2016 and everything but the election in 2020. Washington is planning “clandestine” retaliatory cyberattacks. I’m sure Russia has powerful counter moves. ??????

CHINA-RUSSIA. The Chinese Foreign Minister said China and Russia “will build a model of strategic mutual trust, firmly supporting each other in upholding our fundamental interests, joining forces against ‘colour revolutions’ and fighting all types of false information, and maintaining our sovereignty and political security.” Step by step. Meanwhile the Atlantic Council fantasises about splitting them up.

SPACE. China and Russia have signed an MoU on creating an international lunar research station.

CRIMEA. Washington “does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula“. One day it will.

SPUTNIK. An agreement to produce the Russian vaccine in Italy. Probably not the last EU country to do so, given the bureaucracy’s pathetic performance.

DEFEAT. As expected, Washington is throwing its weight around – “America is back”. Maybe it will try to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan past the implied deadlines: “all options are on the table“. All the escalation options are on the other side – B52s can fly around but the truth is that US troops are hostages and targets. It’s already happening and, if Washington misses the deadlines, there will be more and more until it’s helicopters off the Embassy roof. The clock is ticking on the JCPOA and Tehran is not in the mind to make concessions when it’s Washington that walked out of the agreement.

MESSAGE RECEIVED. But – see above – maybe the Pentagon did get the message Tehran sent them.

SYRIA. Was it the Russians? They’re not saying.

WESTERN VALUES™. Perfectly timed for my essay, a ridiculous NATO woke ad.

BOMBS. In its ads NATO says it “is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes“. In reality it is committed to bombing: over twenty years it has averaged 46 bombs per day in the MENA region.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. The WaPo tells its readers it thinks they’re idiots: “Libyans ousted a dictator, but an ensuing civil war has drawn in Russia, Turkey and others with a thirst for control.”

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 25 FEBRUARY 2021

FAKE NEWS. Hackers or leakers (“We are Anonymous”) have released documents (1, 2, 3, 4) showing that a lot of “trusted news sources” are actually outlets for London-directed propaganda. All under sanctimonious claims of “democracy-promotion” or countering “disinformation”. (Apparently, “disinformation” is most dangerous when it’s true: “Another barrier to combating disinformation is the fact that certain Kremlin-backed narratives are factually true…”). Credit to Max Blumenthal (“…revealing Reuters and the BBC as apparent intelligence cut-outs feasting at the trough of a British national security state…”), Kit Klarenberg (“Thomson Reuters Foundation… has engaged in information warfare initiatives on behalf of Whitehall.”), Neil Clark (“The double standards are off the scale.”) and the hackers/leakers themselves for telling you what the corrupt “trusted sources” never will. Summary by Andrew Korybko. It’s an information war against Russia and I remind you of two good rules. First: when NATO accuses Russia of doing something, it is an admission that NATO is already doing it; it’s all projection. Second: pretend you’re a Soviet citizen reading Pravda when you read Western “news” media.

DISILLUSION. Read this (translation) (original). The author is one of the most liberal people in Russia. He’s had it with Europe – a “New Ethical Reich”; “You just need to unhook this carriage, cross yourself and start building your own world.” Published in Russia’s most liberal paper and causing quite a stir.

MULTI-ETHNIC. Putin (search on Neanderthal nationalism) stresses that the slogan “Russia only for [ethnic] Russians” (Россия только для русских) is bad for the country, for [ethnic] Russians and ahistorical. He is correct – Russia has always had different peoples and religions. This is the reason for the choice of the four “recognised religions”: there have always been Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists in “the Russian lands”. It’s also why there are two words for “Russian” – one meaning ethnic, the other political. I would also observe that, in contrast with North America, the native peoples of the Russian Federation still live where they have always lived.

NAVALNIY. No longer “prisoner of conscience” to Amnesty International. They noticed cockroaches.

SOCIAL MEDIA. Levada poll shows its importance. Online sources (combining social media and internet news) now beat TV for news. Worth noting that FB and Twitter score low. VK is number one.

CONSISTENT. Putin’s views on the Soviet experiment haven’t changed: a Bolshevik “time bomb” (1991). “Road to a blind alley” (1999). 2016. McFaul is equally consistent.

ARCTIC OCEAN IS A RUSSIAN LAKE. More evidence.

NORILSK NIKEL. A diesel spill last year resulted in a two billion USD fine; a building has just collapsed. Potanin, the owner, admits responsibility. Potanin was one of the seven men who, according to Berezovskiy, owned Russia in the 1990s. He took Putin’s warning to heart and concentrated on business.

RUSSIA-IRAN. Another naval exercise in the Indian Ocean. (Video)

WESTERN VALUES™. Insulting war veterans: in the UK bad; in Russia OK.

I WAS WRONG calling NATO a paper tiger – it’s a paper pussycat dreaming it’s a tiger. Very dangerous; take the UK for example: one the one hand, it cuts troops and on the other it funds war propaganda. This will not have a good ending.

DEFENDER OF THE FATHERLAND DAY. From one of the greatest generals ever: “Fight the enemy with the weapons he lacks.” Russia has air defence, hypersonic missiles and EW; NATO hasn’t.

GPS. Has Russia figured out how to spoof GPS? In which case, the war will be over before it begins. Russia has its own system and I’ll bet it’s EW-hard. China has its own system too.

AMERICA’S BACK. Back in Afghanistan; back in Germany; back in Iraq, back in Syria, back to Trump is a Russian agent. Back to Assad must go. And she’s back. Back.

FLAT LEARNING CURVE. A great takedown of the Baker’s husband’s appeal to repeat past failures: “Robert Kagan Diagnosed America’s Biggest Problem: Americans Who Don’t Want To Run the World“.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. NATO GenSek: “China and Russia are at the forefront of an authoritarian pushback against rules-based international order.” To which I answer: Libya.

SOUTH. Trouble brewing in Georgia and Armenia. Neither very prosperous or stable and that not helped by US/NATO destabilising.

UKRAINE. The only thing he’s missed in the unfolding Ukraine disaster is the possibility of a major nuclear power station accident.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer