RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 AUGUST 2018

TURKEY. As everyone knows, Ankara-Washington relations are bad and getting worse. There are many factors involved in Turkey’s economic problems but Washington’s pressure is exacerbating them and it is using the opportunity/excuse to force Erdoğan back into line. The situation creates, to put it mildly, a tremendous opportunity for Russia and China to offer a better deal, thereby weakening NATO and strengthening their own “Eurasian bloc”. Erdoğan spoke to Putin on Friday and Lavrov has just been in Ankara, possibly presenting the bill. Erdoğan is changeable and could go either way, but it’s a major decision point: going Washington’s way would be a big surrender whereas a deal for Chinese and Russian investment in return for leaving NATO and getting out of Syria could be a big win. Turkey’s value to NATO was never the “common values” tripe we hear so much about today but instead its large army and important real estate. Possibly a huge development in the new New World Order coming.

DEFENCE. More steps to protect against what Medvedev calls “economic warfare“. Putin has signed a law allowing Russian-owned foreign operating companies to be re-registered in two areas in Russia. The Finance Minister speculates about abandoning the USD in oil trade. An argument that Russia didn’t sell as many US Treasuries as thought but moved some elsewhere.

VISAS. Many complain that the cumbrous Russian visa system is a deterrent to tourism. The World Cup was a great victory for Russia in the information war, and it’s interesting that they have decided to extend visa-free entry for holders of fan IDs until the end of the year. I think people saying what a good time they had there is a powerful counter to anti-Russian propaganda.

CASPIAN. After years and years the Caspian Sea Convention has been signed by the five littoral countries. Not every last detail is nailed down but the generality is clear: local economic zones, relatively free use and no foreigners. This is essentially what I foresaw in 1998 although it has taken much longer than I anticipated. We are reminded that, thanks to the Kalibr, Russia’s Caspian Flotilla has a greater significance than Washington ever suspected.

MAGNITSKIY MOVIE. An authorised version is available on Vimeo here. I urge you to watch it: not only does it complete destroy Browder’s case, it is an interesting detective process as the film-maker gradually perceives the inconsistencies and manipulations. Browder’s story has been extremely important at setting up the anti-Russia dancing mania: if it’s a lie, then what?

EUROPEAN REVOLT? Well, will they defy Washington? Tough talk from Mogherini, also Britain, France and Germany. The “blocking statute” is being activated. Meanwhile a reminder of the cost of Washington’s last sanctions effort: food exports to Russia cut in half. (And China just snapped up France’s business in a gas project in Iran.) In short, there must be more than a few Europeans realising that the cost of joining Washington’s crusades is too high. But it’s rather hard to imagine Europe’s current rulers daring to think outside the “Atlanticist” box let alone acting on such thoughts.

WESTERN VALUES™. In the Cold War the USSR undertook an enormous (but futile) exertion to block our news and propaganda; we, confident that we were in the right, didn’t bother. Today Facebook, advised by Atlantic Council people, is blocking “Russian propaganda”. To defend against this attempt to impurify our precious bodily fluids, a US Senator (Dem of course) is floating a proposal for more government-imposed controls. Those who are mostly telling the truth don’t do this. Maybe NATO could buy old Soviet jamming equipment.

SYRIA. More endgame. UN observers, with assistance from Russian Military Police, return to the Golan Heights. China may participate “in some way” in the battles around Idlib. The Russians and the UN say there are about 6.6 million Syrian refugees in foreign countries of whom 1.7 million say they are ready to return. So far this month 16 UAVs have been shot down at the Russian airbase. Apparently the YPG has switched sides. Peter Ford’s assessment. Pat Lang’s.

SKRIPALMANIA. Dumb, dumber, dumbest and dumbester.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “U.S. senator says Russians have penetrated Florida election systems“; “Governor Demands Bill Nelson Back Up Claims That Russia Hacked Florida Voting Systems“. Well, ummm errrr.

NEW NWO. Not there yet, but more steps: Turkey, Caspian and EU defiance. (I haven’t stopped thinking that this may be just what Trump intends.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 2 AUGUST 2018

TREASON. Among the super weapons Putin described in March were hypersonic missiles and warheads. The story is that details (some? many?) have been leaked to the West by people working at research centres. The FSB is investigating and arrests have been made. Apparently the recipient of the information was a scientific institute in Belgium which which there was an agreement. I don’t suppose we’ll ever learn what actually happened nor be able to fully believe what we are told. There was an earlier case involving China.

RESERVES. Sputnik tells us that Russia’s reserves are worth about US$460 billion. It’s selling off US Treasuries (now US$15 billion down from US$92 in December) and buying gold (now 1944 tonnes). It’s clear that Russia Inc is getting out of US securities, probably for protection in case of more sanctions, and getting into gold. I would expect this to continue. Is China doing the same?

PENSION REFORM. Protests are occurring – significant ones organised by the KPRF last week. The plan is to raise the age qualification gradually over time. This is, in fact, quite reasonable and even necessary as life expectancies increase. My bet is that the government will announce a compromise (already planned and worked out), extend the time period and the issue will die away.

BROWDER MOVIE. A Russian documentary maker believed everything Browder said and started a film to justify him. As it progressed, he discovered anomalies and came to realise the story was false. See here. It is moving around the Net now and it’s worth looking for because Browder’s story is a primary founding myth of the Putin hysteria. The film is fatal to Browder’s story.

MILITARY. For twenty years the US military has been attacking people who can’t fight back (but who are, nonetheless, beating it. An intriguing paradox: my explanation here; a similar one here.) The Russian activity in Syria is a wakeup call. First there were complaints about Russian air defence bubble, now EW. I doubt the US military has much of either and we may be certain that the Russians aren’t using their best and latest. Without guaranteed communications and GPS, the US military cannot operate; in a war with Russia they would have neither. Here’s the effect of an anti-ship missile and there’s Poseidon. In short, and I hope it’s sinking in, the US has lost the future fighting war with Russia. Time to talk.

WHO BENEFITS FROM THE RUSSIA HYSTERIA? Not you or I, that’s for sure. A good summary and analysis here. “The Utility of the RussiaGate Conspiracy“.

SKRIPALMANIA. Latest information from my secret source.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK. “After A Week Online, NATO’s Latest ‘Counter-Disinfo’ Facebook Game Is A Complete Flop“. Not complete: people at the NATO Centres of “Excellence” were paid.

NEW NWO I. Trump says he’s ready to talk to Iran, Washington is talking to the Taliban, covert program to arm Syrian jihadists rebels ended. Cutting the Gordian Knot. Why the Establishment hates him so.

NEW NWO II. Turkey attends BRICS. US sanctions Turkey. What next?

TRUMPUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. A collection of cartoons covering the meeting.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. As I suspected, it was The Dossier. And I’ll bet there’s a Skripal connection.

WESTERN VALUES.Republic of Latvia, Apartheid State within the EU“. But they’re only Russians, so it doesn’t count.

RUSSIAN “INVASION OF UKRAINE”. Ivan Katchanovski has examined records of 1000 Donbass PWs: only 1.5% were Russian military and 4% Russian citizens. It’s a civil war, not a foreign invasion. “If Russia had invaded, you wouldn’t have to ask; if you have to ask, it hasn’t.

UKRAINE. The longest-lasting legacy of the US-EU coup in Ukraine may be a nuclear disaster. And it’s not just the overstrain of the existing reactors added to corruption and incompetence, there’s also the fuel issue. The Ukrainian reactors are Soviet-era VVER reactors and they are designed to take Russian (ie Soviet) fuel cores. “Nuclear fuel assemblies are specifically designed for particular types of reactors and are made to exacting standards says the World Nuclear Association. A Russian supplier is, of course, doubleplusungood in today’s Ukraine. Well the first reactor has just been fuelled with Westinghouse cores. This was tried at Temelin in the Czech Republic and they had to go back to the Russian fuel. Read this and feel worse. (BTW, it took me some time to find references to Temelin’s fuel problems in Western sources. Buried it seems. Here’s TASS on the issue.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 19 JULY 2018

THE MEETING. Seems to have gone well; press conference. (Eng) (Rus). Two good ones: Putin daring Mueller to bring his accusations to Moscow and prove them and Trump answering another question on Russian interference by asking where the DNC server was. Meltdowns all round: “treason” says Brennan; let’s have a coup says some Dem apparatchik. The chattering class is driving itself crazy over its unexpected loss of power. I am impressed that Trump made the move: he has evidently decided that the neocon/humanitarian bomber alliance Obama created is on its way out. More to come.

BROWDER. Another good one – verrrrry interesting. BTW, those of you who still think Browder is a credible witness might spend some time on his 2015 deposition; very poor memory. Part I here.

HISTORY. A VtsIOM poll shows 43% have a positive and 22% a negative attitude towards Nikolay II. One should understand that, unlike some other countries with difficult histories, Russians see whole: they’ve stopped tearing down statues (although they are adding and restoring plenty). The Lügenpresse only notices Stalin, but they’re all there.

US TREASURY BONDS. Moscow got rid of more in May.

KERCH BRIDGE. According to the government head, the Kerch bridge (the road part is operating) has increased the flow of tourists to Crimea by a third. (VOA get quotes from the usual people so it can claim Crimeans are “divided” on the bridge.) Russia is well aware of threats and is ready.

WORLD CUP. I expected it would be done well but not be “the best ever” as the FIFA head calls it. The British video is nearly 500K views. (Fools say they were paid!) “Everything they told us about this place was a lie”. Yes it was. And they knew it was a lie. And I think many people now realise that that everything means everything.

RESPECT AND TRUST that Russia is earning in the Middle East is incalculable; watch this.

NATO TRUMPED. Well, it was the question, wasn’t it? If you say Russia is the enemy (and Merkel just did), then why are you buying gas from it? If you think it’s a reliable supplier, then why are you calling it an enemy? And, if you really think Russia’s an threat, why do you spend so little on your defence?

CUTTING THE GORDIAN KNOT. I wrote a piece six months ago suggesting that Trump was purposely stomping around the place slashing family portraits and smashing the china to get others to kick Uncle Sam out of the guest bedroom. That was how to “make America great again”. He’s moving. NATO, Russia and now direct talks with Taliban.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. A staged attack I think: first the indictment, then the questions at the press conference designed to stoke the outrage even higher. Two exhibits: the NYT cartoon of a love affair (remember when the NYT at least affected a certain decorum?) and traitor Trump shooting Uncle Sam. But, as Trump asked, where are the DNC servers? I stopped my Putin Derangement Syndrome series because I thought it couldn’t get worse; but it has. A whole section of the Kommentariat has gone insane. Who knows what will happen next? They’re expecting the Dems to do well in November and impeach Trump, but I’ll bet they’ll be disappointed. What then? Mass suicides? It’s time for Trump to go on the offensive and un-redact the document so we can find out which “private contractors” had access to “raw FISA information”. (And why is McFaul nervous?).

CLINTON E-MAILS. China had them all and the FBI/DOJ covered it up. (Another source). I suspect everybody who could got them – probably the biggest leak in US history: the foreign minister’s communications for four years. A lot of things to distract attention from. Turn up the volume on Russia.

TRUMPUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Today’s winner: “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? “A case like this presents an easy temptation for conspiracy theorists” says the author, but assures he’s not one because his theory originates inside the government. Which would make it a conspiracy, not a theory. (In the real USA, BTW, Russia hardly registers as a concern.)

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. “‘No Nerve Agents’ In Douma: OPCW Report Demolishes White House Sarin Narrative“. So the OPCW has honest people. Lügenpresse does its best though.

UKRAINE. Poroshenko speaks to an empty room at NATO. Another sign people are losing interest in the never-changing story.

HISTORY. Gramps wasn’t a hero bravely fighting Stalin; he was a Jew-murdering nazi wannabe. Lots of stories like that but most grandchildren accept the story and don’t look further.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 JULY 2018

THE MEETING. I don’t expect anything to be settled: the Russia/collusion/interference nonsense has to be exploded before Trump is free to do what should be done and Putin has no reason to ever trust the mere word of a US President. Like the Trump-Kim meeting, it will be a first step in a long journey. I do enjoy, though, that Trump cunningly made Bolton set up the meeting thereby revealing that neocons are for sale too and pre-empting their opposition to any improvement of US-Russia relations.

THE BEST ACCOLADE TRUMP COULD EVER WISH FOR. “‘He’s willing to destroy the world’: Billionaire investor and liberal donor George Soros blasts Trump’s presidency saying ‘everything that could go wrong has gone wrong‘” Hope so. DM readers agree.

WORLD CUP. A triumph. Russia has gained enormously I think. Money well spent. One Brit: “The British media should be ashamed of themselves for their clear propaganda against the Russian people. Absolutely class country.” Millions of people who were there or who had friends who were and told them what they saw will form a mighty bulwark against more anti-Russia lies. This video by an English father-son team has 90K views so far. Casual Russophobia will be harder to sell and the credibility of Western media has taken another hit.

RETIREMENT. The government plans to raise retirement ages: men from 60 to 65 by 2028 and women from 55 to 63 by 2034. This is causing some angst – and a dip in Putin’s popularity – but it makes sense as life expectancy rises across the board. Typical Western coverage based on out-of-date information.

RUSSIAN WEAPONS. It’s often pointed out that the US spends much more on defence than Russia but this is not really a very meaningful comparison: USA has 700+ foreign bases and 10 carrier battle groups; Russia 4 that I can think of and none. But there is another important difference: these days, to put it rudely, American weapons are made to make money, Russian weapons are made to work. Even the Pentagon has had to notice that the Mi-17 helicopter is better (and cheaper) than the Blackhawk, and the Iraqi Army appears to be replacing Abrams tanks with T90s (ditto). And, while the US has spent two decades bombing weak opponents, Russia is working on the big one: new tank tactics described.

US SECURITIES. In May Russia dumped half its US Treasuries. Speculation about What It Means.

DIPLOMACY. A very important difference between Moscow and Washington (at least pre-Trump) is that, while the latter decrees some countries to be unclean, Moscow keeps relations open with everybody. This piece shows how, bit by bit, Russia is coming close to some US allies.

RULINGS. Mercouris once argued (neither he nor I can find it now) that, when Russia presented its case in front of real courts that made real rulings that set real precedents, it didn’t do badly. A court has suspended the ruling that said Ukraine Naftohaz could seize some Gazprom European assets.

DEPRESSED? World Cup success got you down? Fearful of a Trump ‘peace deal’ with Putin? Worried NATO’s going to go pop? It’s time to play Skripalmania II! “…believes… thought to… thought to… thought to… almost certainly… believed…“. More sick people in Wiltshire! Commenters on both stories remain unconvinced. Gone to the well once too often, I guess.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The IG report has lots of meat in it but it was covered by a summary that contradicted some of the findings so its impact was blunted. But more is coming: Nunes is chewing away at it (watch the interview – a lot of dots connected). Clearly Trump has decided the story is dying, otherwise he wouldn’t have decided to see Putin.

STUPIDEST PIECE ABOUT WORLD CUP. “Russia’s National Team Is Too Russian, Which Is One Reason It Will Bomb out of the World Cup“.

QUEEN OF HEARTS’ RULES. I agree that the OPCW is no longer trustworthy after the British amendment was accepted. No more need for evidence or argument: go straight to “off with his head!”.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. “Vladimir Putin has positioned himself as the leader of an authoritarian, white-supremacist and xenophobic movement that wants to break up the EU, weaken America’s traditional alliances and undermine democracy“. So much to do, so little time.

UKRAINE. More noticing of nazis from those (AC) who (NW) told us formerly it was only Russian propaganda: Atlantic Council and Newsweek. Washington’s wars end in one of three ways 1) ceremony in Tokyo Bay 2) helicopters off the Embassy roof or 3) walk away and pretend it never happened. I think we’re seeing the ground prepared for number 3. (It’s almost as if there’s a secret signal, isn’t it?)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 JUNE 2018

PUTIN PHONEIN. Russian, English; again I remind you that you don’t have to depend on “reliable” reports, you can see for yourself what he says. Putin said (with numbers to prove it) that he thought the economy was “moving in the absolutely right direction” and had “reached a trajectory of sustainable economic growth” albeit “modest”. He reiterated that only discussion, negotiations and taking nations’ interests into account can succeed in world affairs; he stressed again Russia was willing to talk but would defend its interests. Exactly what he has been saying for years. He couldn’t resist pointing out that Washington’s allies were finding out for themselves what happens when Washington does whatever it wants; as he had warned in Munich years ago would happen, Washington was “spreading its national jurisdiction to other countries” and Europe and Canada are now tasting the results. For the rest, it was, as usual, mostly domestic concerns with the customary “Batyushka, my roof is leaking” calls. I suppose it is a useful gauge of feeling in the country: several million messages are sent and filed by category so it’s a better way of taking the national pulse than polls that depend on pre-selected questions. It’s probably orchestrated to some degree but amuse yourself imagining your local leader doing it.

WORLD CUP. Starts today. Will be in 11 cities in European Russia. How will the Lügenpresse avoid reporting that all went well? As you recall, it never had to correct all the brown water, dead dog, doorknob and toilet lies at Sochi because the Ukraine coup occupied subsequent reporting space and the cognitive dissonance that I expected never happened. But I don’t see how they can avoid it this time.

WESTERN VALUES™. “‘Precision’ airstrikes kill civilians. In Raqqa we saw the devastation for ourselves” (Guardian) “US-led strikes on Raqqa may amount to war crimes, Amnesty says” (CNN) “US, Britain and France inflicted worst destruction ‘in decades’ killing civilians in Isis-held city of Raqqa, report says” (Independent) “Syria: Raqqa in ruins and civilians devastated after US-led ‘war of annihilation’ Amnesty Report. “Meticulous” says British commander. Photos.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The IG report is finally out. A conspiracy involving, inter alia, the US, British, Baltic and Ukrainian organs of state security to prevent Trump being elected and then, when he was, to bring him down. “We’ll stop it.” Serious stuff that will reverberate for a long time and lead investigators in many directions. I reiterate: there was no Trump-Russia collusion of any sort and there was no Russian government interference in the election of any sort. If Moscow had wanted to support a candidate it would have been Clinton: it had already bought her once and had plenty of kompromat on her. Mueller’s indictment of Concord et al is bunkum as is proven by his desperate manoeuvres to avoid having to show his “evidence”.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. No conclusive evidence to blame Russia for MH17 says Malaysia Transport Minister; no evidence that Russia poisoned Skripals says German int source. What does Malaysia know? It’s been kept out of the inquiry. As to the Skripals, well the G(7-1) says “no plausible alternative explanation“. (Once you’ve dug the hole, I guess you have to plausibly live in it.)

KOREA. A start at dual suspension. Maybe Moscow contributed a bit: Lavrov met Kim on the 31st.

TODAY’S LAUGH. (But not actually very funny). “Today the Atlantic Council launched DisinfoPortal.org, an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad”. It says it’s “reliable” several times, so I guess it must be.

SIGNS OF CHANGE? Bulgarian PM suggests returning to Turkstream. EU official says “Russia-bashing” must stop. New Italian government wants Russia sanctions ended and Russia into G(7±1). Trump wants Russia into it too. Nonetheless the G(7-1) communique continues to condemn Russia for its “failure to demonstrate complete implementation of its commitments in the Minsk Agreements.” (I actually asked the Canadian Minister to tell me what the “commitments” were – the word “Russia” doesn’t even appear in the agreement – but got no answer.) But Lexus and Vovan – they strike again!! – get the OSCE Secretary General to admit it’s Kiev that’s blocking it – more seeing what’s in plain sight.

UKRAINE. Freedom House notices what has been in plain sight for years: “Far-right extremism represents a threat to the democratic development of Ukrainian society.” Does this signify anything? Who knows? Propagandists don’t often change their line. But still: both Amnesty and Freedom House committing crimethink! Maybe something is changing.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 31 MAY 2018

RUSSIA: REALITY AND ILLUSION. In my employed days (10 years ago this week!) we Russia hands would periodically be visited by someone from our Embassy who would tell us (expressing surprise) that Moscow was safe, interesting, the people “normal” and so on. I testily told one once that all he was telling us, who already knew this, was how bad Western (and Embassy) reporting was on the reality of Russia. Nicolai Petro has written a masterful piece on this persistence of an out-of-date and wrong-headed picture that is still the foundation of so much comment. “Paradigm blindness occurs when an event remains invisible because the observer has no context or expression for naming it. Simply put, Americans cannot talk about Russia as a democracy because there is no frame of reference for Russian democracy in their minds.” He sadly concludes that “Russophobia is a chronic condition for American elites” and that it is “a by-product of American exceptionalism”. You should read the original but Paul Robinson summarises it. I notice it all the time: to say “Russian elections” is to get a smile – “everybody knows” they don’t have them, ditto “Russian law” and so on. An inadvertently hilarious illustration of self-deception masquerading as analysis can be found here: “Our foreign policy successes have been far more numerous than our mistakes, and the benefits of American involvement around the globe far outweigh the shortcomings”, “Putin’s Moscow has sought to rebuild Russia’s prestige by challenging the United States in its Allies without moral constraint” and so on. In short: we bomb hospitals by mistake, Russians do it on purpose. Dangerous stuff to be thinking these days.

FOUR AT ONCE. Four Bulava ICBMs launched at once. That’s potentially 24 150kt warheads. Maybe it’s time to start paying better – and less self-delusory – attention to Russia.

OOPS. The Russians claim to have two Tomahawk missiles from Syria; they say they will study them so as to better counter them. This will not bother the Pentagon which denies that any such thing happened.

SPIEF. Took place last week. May prove to be an event of some significance depending on Europe’s reaction to Trump’s cancellation of the Iran agreement and tariffs. Serious meetings with Japan, France and the IMF, China and, a few days before with India and Germany. Interesting that, no matter what, they come to talk to Putin sooner or later, isn’t it? There’s a new world a-borning but it will take a while yet.

SANCTIONS. Oleg Deripaska has resigned as CEO of Rusal; the idea is that since the US has sanctioned him personally, the company can now function. But so long as the US sanctions random people for things Russia didn’t do, who can say? Washington currently involves 20 countries in sanctions; or is it more? You add it up. Once on the list, you never got off and Jackson-Vannik morphs into Magnitskiy.

MH17. Is back and just in time for the World Cup. Some old Bellingcat videos and a conveniently-just-discovered-somewhere-sometime 30-year old missile bit. Meanwhile Kerry’s “we observed it” is nowhere to be seen and Ukrainian radar was “down for maintenance“. Who knew that the mighty US intelligence structure all comes down to social media and one guy in the UK?

SKRIPALMANIA. “British Hostage Video Of Yulia Skripal Released“. But, as is argued here, maybe she bravely negotiated what she could say. I stick by what I said at the start and I am pleased to see that the readers of the Daily Mail (one of the few MTP outlets that still allows comments) are equally scornful. (PS: I especially enjoyed it when Lexus and Vovan got Johnson to promise: “evidence we many be able to produce in due course“. I thought they already had all the evidence). Craig Murray discusses.

SRIPAL KIEV. I don’t know what the point of this idiotic death and resurrection was, but be assured that Putin will continue to be blamed for it. Stupidest take (so far): “The Babchenko stunt may end up feeding the Kremlin spin machine“: those pesky Russians will use our lies to prove that we lie.

PHONE PRANKS. Lexus and Vovan, pretending to be the Armenian PM, talk to Boris Johnson; the Foreign Office say it was the “latest desperate attempt by the Kremlin to save face” and Johnson figured it out pretty quickly. “Quickly” in this case being 18 minutes. You have to wonder: can anyone with an accent and a story get to talk these people? Lexus and Vovan have done this many times.

NEW NWO. Is Trump alienating allies? I suggested he is on purpose; others notice it’s happening. Either way, people are starting to consider life without Uncle Sam ensconced in the guest bedroom.

UKRAINE. It’s not just “Putin trolls”: from an American Jewish publication: “Violent Anti-Semitism Is Gripping Ukraine — And The Government Is Standing Idly By“. The legacy of Nuland’s “Revolution of Dignity”: nazi recrudescence, war with Russia and – potentially worse – nuclear disaster.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, CanadaRussia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 17 MAY 2018

PUTIN’S PRIORITIES. For those who think Putin dreams every night of conquering Estonia or re-creating the Empire, here’s his actual todo list: population growth; life expectancy; real wage growth; reduce poverty; housing; technology; economic growth; high-productivity export-oriented businesses. What Moscow wants is a quiet life to get on with making things better in Russia for Russians.

FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES. There is a certain amount of talk that Russia has “betrayed” Syria (or Donbass) or “backed down” or something. Apparently it should have turned on its military power and kept it going full throttle until victory. I believe this greatly oversimplifies reality; even childishly so. Moscow’s most important foreign policy priority is the preservation of Russia. In the face of Washington’s multi-faceted war against it, this is no easy task. While Russia is doing pretty well, one cannot forget the reality that Washington and its minions, while fading, still possess immense destructive military, financial and economic power. Therefore, prudence is essential. A direct shooting war would be disastrous for all; something that Moscow has little confidence that Washington understands. Moscow works to strengthen the multilateral system partly for its own sake (it knows the cost of “exceptionalism”) and partly as a countermove to Washington’s schemes. Moscow believes that the US in its self-appointed role as “upholder and defender of the liberal world order” aka “rules-based order” has an inbuilt tendency to produce chaos and destruction. It has come to this point of view by observation, not because it’s innately “hostile” or “predatory” or “malign”. It didn’t start out that way; here’s a reminder of what Putin once expected from the USA. This entails a continual effort to balance competing powers – not too much of this, not too much of that – in order to preserve a tenuous peace (we see this especially in the Middle East today). The Soviets had an concept: “the correlation of forces” – the attempt to take everything that could affect an outcome into consideration; you may be sure that Putin’s team is continually assessing it. To remind you of what he sees as his job: “I’m not your friend, I’m the President of Russia“.

CHURCH RESTORATION. When I was in Russia 20 years ago churches were being renovated everywhere. This shows some of the more dramatic restorations.

VICTORY DAY. Red Square parade. Immortal Regiment in Moscow, St Petersburg, Sevastopol, Surgut,

KERCH BRIDGE. Putin formally opened the road part. The “country that doesn’t make anything” has completed the longest bridge in Europe in two years. Newsweek, NYT and the Atlantic Council assure us it will fail and some random neocon wants Kiev to destroy it. Moscow has already thought of that.

SOCHI. Remember all that stuff about wasted money? It was always about more than the Olympic complex itself – the ski resort is doing well.

MEDITERRANEAN. Always, Putin says, there will be Kalibrs there. Newton’s Third Law.

PUTIN’S NEW WHEELS. Revealed at his inauguration last Monday. There will be other high-end luxury models. I can see them selling: twenty years of unrelenting hostility has (surprise!) made Russians more patriotic and it may become a fad for the rich to ditch their Mercs for “patriotic” cars.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Mueller’s grand indictment of miscellaneous Russian entities for interference (probably actually a commercial marketing scheme) was flimflam designed to keep the story going and he surely never expected to have to prove it. Well he has to: the catering company has produced lawyers and is demanding its day in court. And discovery. This should be a good laugh. Flynn’s sentencing for “lying” has been again postponed. And his Manafort case isn’t going well either. There’s no there there.

NEW NWO. Trump walks out of the JCPOA, scorning Europe’s pleas. Sanctions will follow and Washington will demand compliance from Europe (“secondary sanctions“). Will Europe knuckle under? Juncker, Merkel and Tusk talk tough but always before tough talk has preceded obedience: Washington’s sanctions on Russia have cost Europe a lot but it still dutifully signs up for more. But maybe (maybe) Washington has gone too far this time: we have a report that sanctions will be defied and US court rulings will be ignored. Brzezinski observed that for American global dominance “the most dangerous scenario” would be a grand “antihegemonic” coalition of Russia, China and Iran. He was confident it could be averted by a “a display of US geostrategic skill”. (!) His head would explode imagining a Russia-EU-China-Iran coalition.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 3 MAY 2018

MILITARY SPENDING. SIPRI says that Russia’s defence budget has been cut by 20%, the first decrease since 1998. The reason, I believe, is not the “economic problems” they suggest (always exaggerated by Western sources) but that the very big post-Soviet lag has been overcome. Modernisation and development certainly hasn’t stopped: here are the latest AD improvements. By the way, Russia seems to be the only country in the world that has cut spending.

TECHNOLOGY. The Akademik Lomonosov, a floating nuclear power plant, has left St Petersburg for Murmansk where it will be fuelled. This is not the very first floating NPP, but it is by far the biggest. It will move to Kamchatka and provide power to settlements there. There will likely be more of them built.

SANCTIONS. Anti-Russia sanctions are partly based on the absurd assumption that Putin is a sort of criminal-in-chief surrounded by lesser criminals and if these lesser criminals can be hurt enough by sanctions, they will overthrow him. And so the attack on Oleg Deripaska and his Rusal company. Which is the second-largest aluminum producer in the world. With a lot of customers who won’t be happy if it’s driven out of business. Bloomberg is scornful: “a lack of expertise”. Two things are happening: Deripaska is trying to sell some of the company and Washington has backed off a bit. So far Moscow hasn’t reacted to the latest sanctions which, it should be clear, are hostile acts that have nothing to do with the ostensible reasons: Moscow is really being punished because it resists. Moscow did not interfere in the US election (and if it had, Clinton would have been the one: it had bought her once, why not again?); the Minsk agreement doesn’t even mention Russia and no one in the West cares what really happened in Crimea. I expect that, as usual, Moscow’s reaction, when it comes, will surprise the West. John Helmer suggests EW in Syria. And when is Europe going to react to the fact that the anti-Russian sanctions hurt them more than either Russia or the USA? Some murmurings in Germany, but we’ve heard them before and they eventually knuckle down. But, given the unending torrent of anti-Trump propaganda, it may become more acceptable to question Washington’s diktat. And, if Washington does pull out of the Iran agreement, the split could become very wide. Moscow may be waiting to see what happens then and tailor its response to widen the gap.

TELEGRAM STUPIDITY. Just gets worse and worse. And it’s not working.

WADA YA KNOW. The sole source of the doping accusation backtracks. But that’s OK: the purpose of propaganda is to leave a bad impression when the details have been forgotten.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Russia says it has a complete Tomahawk and that only 22/105 missiles hit anything, Pentagon denies. Russia brings the actual victims of the so-called CW attack to the Hague, FUKUS covers their eyes and ears.

SKRIPALS. Not news any more. Believing the government story requires an enormous amount of doublethink. Murray believes there’s a connection to Steele, Orbis and the Dossier. Oh: it’s apparently OK to leave this incredibly dangerous stuff around for 51 days before cleaning it up. Wearing your full protective suits. Well, some of you wearing them. Still more doublethink and crimestop required.

ARMENIA. What appears to be a colour revolution triggered by the long-time President’s re-treading himself as Prime Minister continues. And you can’t have a “peaceful” colour revolution without a little mysterious gunfire. Unlikely to have a happy ending for anybody in Armenia.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Do you think the Democrats are going to win the mid-term elections on a platform of “Because Putin stole the last election from us, you owe us this one“?

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Metastasises: “Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn“.

NEW NWO. “the erosion of U.S. military advantage in relation to China and Russia.” US Defense Secretary. Not very PNAC, is it? And, in Yalta, the International Economic Forum attended by people from 71 countries (last year 26 countries, the year before 13.) A somewhat larger chunk of the “international community” that we hear so much of from FUKUS and friends, isn’t it?

UKRAINE. The first US Javelin MAWs have been delivered. I don’t expect them to make a battlefield difference (Russia is not actually attacking Ukraine with armoured formations) but it may encourage Kiev to think it has the green light to attack (it will be another defeat for Kiev). And morale is terrible – at least 554 suicides since the start of the war. (8.4K WIA and 3.7K KIA).

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 19 APRIL 2018

MISSILE STRIKE. Pentagon briefing. Russian MoD briefing (Google trans). You decide.

CRIMETHINKING. If you doubt FUKUS’ word that 76 missiles hit this site (here’s just one missile), you’re a Russian troll. If you don’t believe the Russians Swiffered Douma clean, you’re a Russian troll. If you think England will not win, you’re probably a Russian troll. We trolls can read Fisk, a German and an American reporting from the spot. In a previous universe we were told by Janes, no less, that ISIS had used CW at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria. Have they jumped the shark at last?

PROBABLY SIGNIFICANT. A commentator on China’s English language TV takes on the FUKUS story. “China and Russia have since decided to draw a red line to prevent the abuse of UN resolutions.”

TRUMP AND RUSSIA. From the WaPo: “Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost“. The story of the diplomatic expulsions is especially interesting.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee ends the probe: “We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” Although it still believes in “Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions in 2015-2016 and their use of social media to sow discord”. Mueller, on the other hand, wanders ever farther from Russia. The first part of the IG report (covering McCabe’s firing) is out.

SOCIAL MEDIA. Telegram is a Russian messaging app that has a certain popularity. The security organs want to be able to break in at will, claiming that terrorists use it. The owners of the app have refused. On the 13th a court ordered the app blocked. And it was; but so clumsily that there were many unexpected downstream effects. The story is detailed here. Encouraging, I suppose, because it shows that it’s much harder to control these things from outside than the authorities think it is.

RUSSIA-EGYPT. Russia has resumed direct flights to Cairo which means the Russian authorities believe security is OK. Egypt was a big tourist destination for Russians, we’ll see if it gets the business back; to some extent Crimea and Sochi compete as sunny places at home.

RUSSIA AND THE WEST. Vladislav Surkov says Russia’s long attempt to become part of the West is over. Paul Robinson discusses. Certainly since Peter there have been attempts to Westernise and an on and off debate over the issue. Personally, I do not regard Russia as “European” – a sibling so to speak, but not the same thing. One day I will set out my argument; for those who know Toynbee, it’s a variation on his discussion of why British is part of European society and not an independent entity. I remember years ago thinking that to older Russians NATO expansion was a continuation of an enemy alliance but to younger ones it was a door slammed in their faces. It is worth reflecting that in the recent presidential election pro-Westernisation candidates altogether got less than 5%. The dream is certainly tarnished.

CHUTZPAH. Rolls-Royce wants to supply the engines for the new Russian-Chinese passenger plane. Germany wants to re-build Syria.

POKING THE BEAR. STRATCOM commander says Russia and China are operating hypersonic missiles and that US nuclear weapons are “operating beyond their designed service life”. NORAD commander says Russia has “advanced cruise missiles capable of holding targets within North America at risk from distances not previously seen.” You wonder whether any of these guys ever wish they could put the clock back: lots of us warned then that Russia’s often down, but it’s never out.

NEW NWO. Hamid Karzai said only Russia could help Afghanistan and the USA has “been killing us for17 years”. Now I don’t quote him because I think that his opinion is golden but that a man, who many would regard as pretty much Washington’s puppet, is saying these things shows how Washington’s status and power is slipping. Countries – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines to name three – are looking around for alternatives. The two Koreas might be about to solve their own problems. Speaking of which, this former Turkish general sees the S-400 as protection against the USA (as I said here).

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. “Putin hacks British homes: Russian cyber agents set to cripple laptops, phones and ‘critical’ infrastructure after secretly accessing millions of computers“. But it’s not selling: the best rated comment by 10 to 1 is “Would you stop with this fake news please? No one can take it anymore.” The others are equally scornful.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 APRIL 2018

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Being away for so long, I wasn’t following it closely but some things I didn’t expect. Putin won of course but did a bit better than I thought he would. I really thought Grudinin would do better but he turned in the worst performance of a KPRF candidate. Zhirinovskiy also faded. The “liberals” are finished as a force I think: you can’t go around saying that Crimea is part of Ukraine and expect people to not notice that you’re parroting Washington. 20 years of Washington’s behaviour has reversed a strong pro-American sentiment. In this respect Simonyan’s piece is relevant: “We no longer want to live like you. For fifty years, secretly and openly, we wanted to live like you, but not any longer. We no longer respect you”.

PUTIN 2.1. The electorate voted for more of the same and that’s what they’ll get. And, if you were a Russian, so would you have: grosso modo, the improvements across the board since 2000 that you have personally seen and tasted are compelling. Putin has to find a successor but he can be confident that because he is trusted whomever he picks will be too. I have every confidence that Putin will make a good choice: by and large he has chosen pretty well and his team is remarkably stable. Someone, I expect, not too well known now because he (or she, certainly very wrong to rule that out: Russia has the highest percentage of women business leaders) should be in his 40s.

SKRIPALMANIA. This ridiculous story is collapsing. Years of flaccid acquiescence by MSM stenographers have made the anti-Russia fabulists sloppy: after some wavering on thallium and Scaramella, the Litvinenko story settled down; MH17 stated on message throughout (except for a slip-up in the Dutch report: see port engine intake) but this one was incoherence and absurdities from the start. We are reminded of a similar anti-Russia fabrication in 1994. What next? Re-writing history, of course. Or pretending it away. Craig Murray is the best single source: not wrong yet.

SPORTING DANGERS. Ever notice the coincidences? Georgia’s invasion timing? Just when the lies about Sochi are revealed it’s time to move the narrative to Ukraine? Ban Russia from the Olympics but clear it after. The soccer World Cup will be held in Russia in a couple of months and it will be held in a dozen Russian cities; the world will see that they’re not miserable s—holes full of wretched people suffering under Putin’s boot. What to do? This is too big a deal for the governments of soccer-mad countries to dare to boycott. Nerve agent attack? When that story bursts, then what? It seems that sports are the greatest threat to world peace.

WADA YA KNOW? Norwegian asthmatics win! What a good thing only Russians dope, isn’t it?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. We have an interesting American poll showing that an increasing number of Americans believe that there is a “deep state”. Here’s the poll; read it for yourself. How could that be?

WESTERN VALUES™. Remember due process? Presumption of innocence? International agreements? Vienna Convention? Rule of law? Beijing remembers: see below.

NEW NWO. China weighs in on Skripalmania reminding us that no matter how subservient NATO allies may be, the rest of the world is less impressed: “Over the past few years the international standard has been falsified and manipulated in ways never seen before.” The petroyuan moves a step closer with the opening of an oil futures market in Shanghai. With the gold-yuan exchange in Hong Kong already functioning, it’s only a matter of deciding the right time to connect the two. The Chinese Defence Minister visits Moscow: “The Chinese side came to let the Americans know about the close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces.” Step by step.

GERMANY. Expel 4 diplomats to show “solidarity”, approve Nord Stream. Does that make sense?

UKRAINE. An American survey shows that the mood in Ukraine is bad and expecting worse. Well, that’s one post-Maidan Ukraine expectation that will be fulfilled. Nadia Savchenko, a former Ukrainian hero, has been arrested in Ukraine on terrorism charges. She dares to suggest that the massacre was a false flag. (Read Ivan Katchanovski’s paper: “This academic investigation concludes that the massacre was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power. It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas”. Here are confessions by some of the snipers that your local news outlet has been too busy to tell you about.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer