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

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 FEBRUARY 2017

RUSSIA INC. Summarising three recent authorities, Wikipedia says Canada’s GDP is greater than Russia’s and Germany’s is about two and a half times greater. There’s something deeply misleading and, in fact, quite worthless about these GDP comparisons. Russia has a full-service space industry including the only other operating global satellite navigation system. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has an across the board sophisticated military industry which may be the world leader in electronic warfare, air defence systems, silent submarines and armoured vehicles. Neither Canada nor Germany does. It has a developed nuclear power industry with a wide range of products. Ditto. It builds and maintains a fleet of SSBNs – some of the most complicated machinery that exists. Ditto. Its aviation industry makes everything from competitive fighter planes through innovative helicopters to passenger aircraft. Ditto. It has a full automotive industry ranging from some of the world’s most powerful heavy trucks to ordinary passenger cars. It has all the engineering and technical capacity necessary to build complex bridges, dams, roads, railways, subway stations, power stations, hospitals and everything else. It is a major and growing food producer and is probably self-sufficient in food today. Its food export capacity is growing and it has for several years been the leading wheat exporter. It has enormous energy reserves and is a leading exporter of oil and gas. Its pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly. It is intellectually highly competitive in STEM disciplines – a world leader in some cases. Its computer programmers are widely respected. (Yes, there is a Russian cell phone.) It’s true that many projects involve Western partners – the Sukhoy Superjet for example – but it’s nonetheless the case that the manufacturing and know-how is now in Russia. Germany or Canada has some of these capabilities but few – very few – countries have all of them. In fact, counting the EU as one, Russia is one of only four. Therefore in Russia’s case, GDP rankings are not only meaningless, but laughably so. While Russians individually are not as wealthy as Canadians or Germans, the foundations of wealth are being laid and deepened every day in Russia. What of the future? Well there’s a simple answer to that question – compare Russia in 2000 with Russia in 2017: all curves are up. Of course Russians support their government – why wouldn’t they? It’s doing what they hired it to do; we others can only dream of such governments. For what it’s worth, PwC predicts Russia will be first in Europe in 2050, but, even so, I think it misses the real point: Indonesia and Brazil ahead of Russia? No way: it’s not GDP/PPP that matters, it’s full service. Russia is a full-service power and it won’t become any less so in the next 30 years. Autarky. Very few aren’t there? And… in that little group of four autarkies on the planet, who’s going up and who’s going down? A big – fatal even – mistake to count Russia out.

TREASON. A couple of weeks ago it was revealed that a computer security specialist and an FSB officer had been arrested under treason charges. Another arrest followed. Theory 1. Connected with a group of hackers known as Шалтай-Болтай (Humpty-Dumpty) for whom the FSB has been looking for some time. Theory 2. Connected with the “golden showers” dossier. If so, this is evidence that the dossier is fake – the FSB would not publicise arrests if it really had kompromat on Trump. But passing even fake information to Western intelligence could be treasonous. Theory 3. Something else. But the treason aspect does suggest information passed to foreign intelligence operatives.

FAMILY LAW. Decriminalisation of domestic violence brings out the usual stuff from the usual sources. The reality is much more complicated and John Helmer explains the background: “An amendment adopted last year by the Duma decriminalized a first battery offence between strangers but left battery between kin or spouses as it was. The practical effect was anomalous — strangers beating children could be treated with more leniency than parents.” The new law equalises things. But the proof will be in the results and there’s no guarantee the law won’t be changed again.

FREE LAND. Last year a program offering free land in the Far East was begun. According to the website, there have been 55,000 applications and about 5000 plots handed out.

UKRAINE. US Senators McCain and Graham visit Poroshenko and urge him to attack: “Your fight is our fight. 2017 will be the year of offence.” Even RFE/RL admits Kiev re-started the war. Is there a US law against Americans doing this? Maybe, under the new management, we will find out.

NEW NWO. Another wheel comes off the juggernaut.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 26 JANUARY 2017

TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY. In his inaugural speech he said that other countries were quite right to put their own interests first. Has any other US President in recent decades ever said that? The official site continues the echo of Adams’ policy to not go abroad to seek out monsters. All to the good – the world has suffered enough from the Exceptionalists – 26 thousand bombs in 2016. However, some things disturb me. I don’t like the hostility towards Iran from him and his team – Iran (much stronger today thanks to the inept machinations of Washington, by the way) may be a concern for Israel and Saudi Arabia, but it isn’t for us; to say Iran is “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism” while ISIS/Daesh is “the greatest threat globally” is not only idiotic but self-contradictory. Secondly, threats against China’s activity in the South China Sea are frivolous: in the final analysis there is nothing Washington can do about it short of a big war (which it would certainly lose) and no reason why it should. Finally, if he seeks a less interventionist foreign policy, why does he want even bigger armed forces? And, if, as some think, there is some notion of a Kissingerian separation of Russia and China, there will be disappointment. Xi Jinping recently emphasised the difference between China’s relations with the USA and with Russia: “We will strive to build new model of major country relations with the United States, a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with Russia…“. Lavrov reinforced it by saying he considered Russia-China relations as “a model for responsible major powers“. The situation was very different in 1972 and the intervening years have taught Beijing and Moscow to put little trust in Washington’s promises or capacity to carry them out.

RUSSIAN HACKING. I hope – probably naively – that, now that it has failed in its purpose, we never hear anything more about this preposterous story. Although we do need serious investigations.

FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE. The Neocon Lament: Nobody wants them in Trump’s Washington.

MYSTERIOUS RUSSIA. Not the face you’d expect under a papakha, is it? Wikipedia on African-Abkhazians.

PUTIN’S RUSSIA LEGALISES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!!!! Not really.

RUSSIAN MPs IN ALEPPO. Interesting video – most are Chechens but all of them are Russians. In this respect – the distinction between русские and россияне, Русь and Россия – Russians are better heirs of the Roman Empire than we are. Note the first-rate equipment and air of soldierly competence.

SYRIA. The Astana meeting, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, took place. Nothing was decided, but it was another step in a necessarily slow process. Some developments in identifying the non-jihadist opposition; Turkey further distanced itself from the USA; Iran made another advance in importance. Russian and Turkish aircraft have conducted joint operations. As an earnest of the paragraph in America First Foreign Policy on defeating ISIS, the Russians report the US passed target information to them. There is reason to believe that the US military will be happy to cooperate: “they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis“. Remember what Michael Flynn, then DIA head, now National Security Advisor, said. (Remember the flapdoodle when Trump called Obama the “founder” of ISIS? That’s what he meant.) Tulsi Gabbard has visited Syriainterviews here.

SPEAKING OF WASHINGTON AND DAESH… “we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened… We could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.” And that’s after the US giving an “extraordinary amount of arms”. Kerry, thanks to Wikileaks at 22:25. Washington always thinks it can “manage that” and never does: a catastrophic record of self-deception and hypocrisy since 1979.

MH17. Don’t try investigating or challenging the official story yourself, you’ll get into trouble. Trump himself is unconvinced. There’s a call for a new investigation.

UKRAINE. Kiev had 460 troops killed in the Donbass last year – 55% from non-combat causes (63 of them ruled as suicides). Terrible morale. There’s a move to punish Pinchuk for daring to suggest it’s over.

WESTERN VALUES™. The Director of Human Rights Watch has decided that Trump and the others revolting against the established order are “a new generation of authoritarian populists [that] seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections”.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 JANUARY 2017

PREDICTION FOR 2017. The revolution will continue. And spread. And there will be more harbingers of that change – here’s this week’s.

RUSSIA HACKED THE ELECTION. Read the disclaimer – not even the authors of the DHS/FBI report believe it. (Were the Russians listening? Of course they were and so was everyone else. As soon as it was learned that the Ukraine coup was plotted on open cellphones and Clinton was wedded to her Blackberry, you can be sure that every hacker in the world started looking. And when they found an insecure private server, dopey passwords, phishable dupes and plenty of juicy information – a hacker’s paradise! Clinton’s decision to ignore State Department security procedures is one of the biggest security leaks in US history. Here’s Tuesday’s interview with Assange: not Russia and not a state.

PUTIN-ABE MEETING. While no breakthrough on the territorial issue (Moscow is not giving it up: if ever possible, the opportunity has passed), a number of agreements that will lead to others. Tokyo broke the G7 boycott of Russia, Washington will be next and then the rush. I bet Ottawa will be last.

FAILING RUSSIA. Remember all that stuff you were told by the “experts” about failing Russia? Very, very poor predictions – when not simply purchased to order, they were a mixture of wishful thinking and profound ignorance. Here are photos of major infrastructure projects of 2016. A lot is happening.

“THE RUSSIAN THREAT”. Gone: it’s not a priority. I like the Tillerson appointment and either of the two people said to be short-listed for Ambassador will be good too.

WADA. Since I learned about Therapeutic Exemption Certificates, I’ve stopped taking WADA seriously.

NEW FAKE NEWS RECORD. Anti-Russia fake news used to last a few days (NYT photos, WaPo PropOrNot) but the WaPo has managed to put out and retract a story on the same day! Even CNN’s fake news story about the Anglo-American School in Moscow lasted a bit longer.

NUKES, TRUMP AND PUTIN. New nuclear arms race!!! More fake news: here’s my take.

OIL CUT. The agreement has gone into effect; Russia’s share of the cut is 300,000 barrels a day.

SYRIA. I recommend the following antidotes to the rubbish in the Fake Stream Media (FSM): Aleppo didn’t “fall”, it was “liberated. Eva Bartlett. Vanessa Beeley. Andrew Ashdown. Carla Ortiz (watch incredulity from the CNN hairstyle at 4:00). They’ve all actually been there: they don’t report on Aleppo from the UK. MSF, formerly respected, has disgraced itself. A ceasefire negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey is operating (under current management the USA is недоговороспособны). Russian engineers continue to clear Aleppo. Russian aircraft support Turkish operations in northern Syria. I was very interested to see Erdoğan‘s statement that he had evidence that the US coalition supports Daesh (of course it does. As he very well knows. Stay tuned). I would expect, under the new circumstances, that Gabbard’s bill will pass. She is, BTW, someone to watch.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS (SYRIAN BRANCH) TO YOU. Mona’s magic pyjamas save her again and again and again. Aleppo’s twitter girl has amazing Internet service and doesn’t like to speak Arabic (see also Ortiz video above). Anybody remember “Gay Girl in Damascus“? Fake Syrian atrocity videos in Egypt and in Norway.

UKRAINE. It’s never easy to know what’s really going on there – for example the Privat Bank nationalisation has several interpretations. But of greater import is oligarch Viktor Pinchuk’s piece “Ukraine Must Make Painful Compromises for Peace With Russia“. No EU or NATO membership, local elections in the Donbass and Crimea is Russian. It has the usual fantasies to sweeten the bitter medicine – Ukraine will be so rich in “15 to 20 years” that Crimea will beg to come back – and the usual claptrap blaming Moscow. But the recommendations remain. We will see whether anything comes of it but it’s momentous that a big player who thought he had secured his future (a BIG donor to the Clinton Foundation) realises his investment is gone and is trying to make another. Ukraine is pretty dysfunctional and there are a lot of people with guns who get extra votes, as it were, but the dream is over. Three years after Maidan Ukraine is ruined, in a civil war, overrun with nazis, as corrupt as ever, has got nothing from the EU and will get nothing from the USA. It will soon disappear off the West’s news pages joining Kosovo, Somalia, Libya and the other regime change triumphs nobody talks about today. USA Today discovers Crimeans like being in Russia. Expect more of this as the FSM adjusts to the new boss in town.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 DECEMBER 2016

HOPE AND CHANGE. And within a few days of each other, too. Trump: “we will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments… Our goal is stability… We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS… we will seek shared interests wherever possible.” Putin: “We are ready for a serious discussion on building a stable system of international relations… we affirm the principles of justice and mutual respect in international affairs… I certainly count on joining efforts with the United States in the fight against real rather than fictional threats, international terrorism being one of them.” A chance for a real meeting of minds and intentions, don’t you think?

PUTIN’S STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH. English, Russian. I suppose the theme would be this: “In recent years, we have had a hard time, but these trials have made us even stronger”. It’s true, Russia has survived – and prospered – despite Western sanctions and low oil prices. And it is undeniably stronger and in a better position, internally and externally. Its opponents are stumbling and facing internal revolts: even the neocons understand that “the triumph of the West is over” (although they still blame others – less “softness” or “retreat” and everything would have worked out). Putin’s foreign policy position is still the same: “We do not want confrontation with anyone. We have no need for it and neither do our partners or the global community. Unlike some of our colleagues abroad, who consider Russia an adversary, we do not seek and never have sought enemies. We need friends. But we will not allow our interests to be infringed upon or ignored.” As usual, the main emphasis was on domestic matters – a rather dry exposition of things done and things to do. What did catch my eye were these numbers: IT exports ($7 billion) were half the value of arms exports ($14.5 billion) which were lower than agricultural exports ($16.2 billion): the economy is diversifying and the sanctions and counter-sanctions have helped it to do so. Another great achievement – mostly unknown to the West because it doesn’t fit the story – is the turnaround in mortality figures: the fertility rate is now (2015) higher than the EU average and the infant mortality rate slightly better. But I was surprised to hear him saying that the defence industry must produce consumer goods: “conversion” had few successes in the Gorbachev period. But, generally speaking, the speech was dry and businesslike, as these things are: a record of what’s happened and what’s planned. The general impression being that the worst is over.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. My latest collection is here. I must say the “fake news” nonsense is more ridiculous than anything yet: the idea that Putin is controlling what Westerners think is more than merely ludicrous. The truth is that consumers of the WMSM are tired of being surprised by everything that happens: they’re searching for more reliable information elsewhere. Meanwhile the WaPo is trying to slither away from its PropOrNot story.

OIL. We appear to have an agreement to cut back oil production which will raise prices and they say Putin played a key role in getting agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. So, if it’s true, as some say, that Washington got Riyadh to drop prices to hurt the “Gas Station Masquerading As a Country”, then it’s another success for Moscow.

PRESSTITUTES. (I am indebted to Paul Craig Roberts for this evocative epithet). There’s a new boss in town and it will be amusing to watch the WMSM change its tune. The UK Independent may be out in front with “We have to accept that Assad will win in Syria – and the West should be ashamed of how we drew the conflict out” and This is why everything you’ve read about the wars in Syria and Iraq could be wrong“. (I stress that neither Dejevsky nor Cockburn has changed, it’s the fact that they are published – and with such headlines – that suggests the editors are changing the message). The WaPo, however, just digs its hole deeper: “How a 7-year-old Aleppo girl on Twitter became our era’s Anne Frank. (A more sceptical – and researched view here.) Schadenfreude is not admirable, but it is enjoyable: I look forward to bankruptcies.

SYRIA. Amusingly, after a phonecall from Putin, Erdoğan “clarified” his remark that the purpose of his incursion into Syria was to overthrow Assad: not at all, just to fight Daesh. Large sections of east Aleppo have been liberated (video; watch it, I doubt your local “news” outlet will show it) and Russian combat engineers are clearing UXOs; two Russian medics were killed when a field hospital was shelled.

UKRAINE. Independent again – allegations by an insider of enormous high-level corruption.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer