RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 JANUARY 2022

MY LATEST WRITINGS. SOMETHING HOPEFUL FOR THE NEW YEAR – SORT OF

KAZAKHSTAN. Major trouble. Started, they say, with the doubling of the price of LPG but now clearly another “colour revolution”, complete with a “leader” who is out of the country. (Page 121 in RAND report). Korybko, Escobar and Bernhard worth reading. President Tokayev promises to be “as tough as possible“. CSTO troops already on the ground and very strong counter-actions underway. We’ll soon see if I was correct in what I wrote. But the authorities’ reaction is promising: lay down your weapons or be destroyed. Who wants to live in Ukraine. Libya, Afghanistan or other recipients of NATO’s democracy promotion? (Interesting speculation: “The best way to root out such problems is to let them unfold first as it reveals the actors.”) My guess is that the authorities will regain control pretty quickly.

TWO DIFFERENT LEAGUES. NATO likes to gas on about its quick reaction forces. Russian spetsnaz were in Kazakhstan 13 hours after Tokayev asked for CSTO help (agreed). More are coming.

PRESS CONFERENCE. (Rus) (Eng) Very much internally-focussed, not so much about garbage disposal as in the last couple of years (I guess it’s getting better) and markedly less of “Batyushka, can you fix my roof?”. Foreigners given less opportunity to pose, hector and interrogate. But those who did gave Putin a chance to put the Russian POV: “And you are demanding guarantees from me. It is you who must give us guarantees, and you must do it immediately, right now..”

A THOUGHT. I have long been puzzled why Putin has evidently fallen for the COVID hoax (yes, Virginia, there’s a disease there but it’s not very deadly and mostly kills people with one foot in the grave. I’m just a simpleton who looks at the data: check out Canada’s official data on ages of deceased.) I think that Waggaman is on to something here: Putin may be, as Atlas might put it, being “Trumped”.

GUNS. New things keep coming. The S-500 SAM tested in Arctic (I wonder how many of NATO;s weaponry has been). The S-550 is already in service. Volley-firing of Tsirkons. An American study finds that one little Russian ship has the same hitting power as two of the USN’s main destroyers. Palate-cleansers, so to speak, before the security talks.

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. Another monster icebreaker: four-metre ice.

RUSSIA DOESN’T FORGET. Two suspects in the Khattab/Basayev 1999 invasion of Dagestan arrested.

BRITISH INTERFERENCE IN RUSSIA. Hackers – Underside – have released documents showing London’s investment in “democracy” “civil society” and so on in Russia. (Docs) (Docs) (Docs). All sounds very nice but it’s aimed at subversion. Imagine the reaction in the West if it had actual documents from Russian sources rather than invented nonsense like Putin weaponising humour.

MEMORIAL. Memorial International and Memorial Human Rights Centre have been shut down. Whatever Memorial was when it started (and I remember it from then) getting money from the UK for LGBT matters is some distance from its beginnings in the 1970s.

NOT JUST FOR KILLING PEOPLE. Tank art and – look down the comments – tank bartending.

WHAT RUSSIA WILL DO IN UKRAINE. My bet anyway. “Товарищи, отойдите подальше!” But only if it has to. And maybe Kiev is seeing reality: sees no troop buildup at the border now. But Kiev doesn’t control the Ukronazis. Lieven suggests “Finlandisation” for Ukraine: it’s a solution, but I don’t see it as likely these days. But Ukraine did start out with neutrality hard-wired into its Constitution…

A GOOD THING TOO: the P5 have just declared “We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Now if US/NATO would only understand that they can’t win a conventional war against Russia, maybe we could all calm down.

THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS. “Putin outsmarts EU as new China gas deal to pump ‘same amount’ as banned German pipeline“. The commenters are pretty scornful of the absurd headline.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. Make up stuff, get caught, whine.

TABAQUI REPORT. Just after saying only “winners” can demand, Borrell demands.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Poland next? Now, if only Warsaw could realise that, in terms of values, it and Moscow are singing from the same songsheet…

NEW NWO. China’s Excellent, Very Good Year.

UKRAINE NPP. I very much hope this report is not true.

THERE ARE NO NAZIS IN UKRAINE. The New Year’s march is becoming a Kiev fixture too.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 23 DECEMBER 2021

Happy Christmas, so to speak, as it were, sort of. Let’s hope.

ULTIMATUM. Moscow has had enough. “Do they really think we do not see these threats [угроз]? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat“. Excellent backgrounder from Doctorow. Here they are: draft USA/Russia treaty and draft Russia/NATO agreement. Short summary: after enumerating all the agreements these people have signed up to (remember all the stuff about “Rules-Based International Order”?) the drafts flesh out the principle that security is mutual. Neither should make the other nervous; if one party feels threatened, the issue will be resolved by negotiation. Neither is to station nuclear weapons outside its territory (which means the USA will have to pull back); no further expansion of NATO. Or to put it another way, USA/NATO must formally commit in writing to what they promised back then: “U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous ‘not one inch eastward’… was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders… according to declassified documents…”. Maybe Washington hears. USN seems to get it. We stand at the edge.

OR ELSE. All ultimatums have an “Or Else” – possibilities that I see. Two points – Russia will not “invade” Ukraine – it is a huge decaying, lawless, collapsed, unstable liability and Russia doesn’t want to rescue it, pay for it or police it. (This has been clear to me for years.) But it will respond powerfully to any foolishness from the Ukronazis. Second, stopping Nord Stream only costs Moscow money (it has plenty: USD620 billion-worth) but it will cost Germany much more.

TREATIES. There were four key Cold War arms control treaties, negotiated with much effort. The CFE Treaty controlled conventional weapons. The INF Treaty banned medium range nuclear weapons. START regulated the big nuclear weapons. Open Skies, the least of the four, allowed inspection flights (Moscow withdrew Saturday). All that remains is a feeble version of START. For all their deficiencies they kept the lid on things and created a level of trust and interaction. All were killed by Washington (blaming Moscow of course). This is part of Moscow’s motive to force a re-start.

KENNAN saw it all coming a quarter of a century ago: “a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs”.

GUNS. Since last Sitrep: super anti-submarine torpedo, Okhotnik dropping PGM, RPV shooting down helicopter target, mass production of Tsirkon begun, two new SSNs and two new Airborne regiments.

CORRUPTION. University report suggests extensive kickbacks in state contracts.

JUST NUKES AND OIL. A large maternity centre opened in Khanty-Mansi Region.

PUTIN PRESS CONFERENCE. I’ll cover it next Sitrep. Summary from Sputnik.

BATTLE ON THE ICE MEMORIAL. Check it out. Powerful. Speaking of Russia’s attitude today…

RUSSIA/CHINA. The two presidents talk (Kremlin) (Beijing). Xi: “China and Russia need to launch more joint actions to uphold the security interests of the two sides more effectively. China and Russia need to step up coordination and collaboration in international affairs, be more vocal on global governance”. Washington should understand that Beijing is a co-signer of Moscow’s ultimatum.

MH17. The Dutch “trial” hops along to its pre-ordained conclusion.

WESTERN VALUES™. CSIS comes to call. Knowing what my American colleagues went through, and knowing that when Shere Khan growls, Tabaqui obeys, I informed SCF that I would stop writing for them and thanked them – always published what I sent, never tried to shape it, never changed a word and always treated me right. More from Ron Paul’s site.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. This takes the cake – boy oh boy when we do a whole bunch of stuff that there’s no way we ever will, you’ll be sorry then, you nasty people!

RUSSIA-UKRAINE RELATIONS. A Levada poll shows some interesting results. (Googlish) To me the most important finding is that about half of each think relations should be those of separate countries but without visa and customs barriers. (I suspect the Kremlin gets its views about Ukraine from sources like this rather than opeds in the WaPo or Guardian. Where does the White House get its do you suppose?)

UKRAINE. Zelensky likes to live dangerously – he’s shutting down the largest opposition party, attacked one of the plutocrats and decided to charge his predecessor with treason. Whole thing will probably blow up soon. In the cold.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 DECEMBER 2021

RED LINES. Eng. Rus. Putin lays them down: “we will insist on the elaboration of concrete agreements that would rule out any further eastward expansion of NATO and the deployment of weapons systems posing a threat to us in close proximity to Russia’s territory… we need precisely legal, juridical guarantees, because our Western colleagues have failed to deliver on verbal commitments…” What do you do when someone is threatening you, lying about you, breaking every agreement, getting closer and closer to you? Salami tactics: each step is small but there’s always another. Eventually some thin slice will be one thin slice too many. I think that this is the last time Putin & Co will ask; I really get the feeling that they’ve had enough. Read the speech yourself – the important bit is short and the Western propaganda mill will distort it. As the joke goes, it’s not a threat, it’s a promise. Kinzhals off the US coasts? Poseidons lurking at every port? Burevestniks in a holding pattern just offshore? How about these things? Destroy the Azov Battalion to illustrate will and capability?

PUTIN-BIDEN. Neither side is saying much about it (Kremlin, White House). Maybe the only significant outcome is this: “The two leaders agreed to instruct their representatives to engage in meaningful consultations on these sensitive matters.” Western propaganda predictable: “warning“, “warns” “confronts“, “strong response“. There are reports that Biden is telling Kiev to back off and Doctorow sees Western propaganda easing a bit. A NATO/Russia meeting is coming. The Saker is hopeful. Want my take? First tell me who’s in charge in Washington: all I see are bulldogs fighting under a rug and nothing to indicate that Washington is agreement-capable. Let alone Kiev which has yet to act on any part of the Minsk Agreement. Biden is capable of reading threats from a script but is he capable of the give-and-take of real negotiations? We’ll see.

INDIA. More significant was Putin’s visit to India. Joint statement (note “mutual settlement of payments in national currencies”). Lots of agreements signed; pretty widespread interaction.

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. On Tuesday Moscow opened ten new Metro stations completing another piece of the 70-km Big Circle Line.

SWIFT. If Russia, China and the other “non-democracies” weren’t thinking of setting up their own system for moving money and credits around, they are now. (Of course they have – what we don’t know is how close they are to pushing the button and how much gold that button will have.)

AURUS. Interesting video on the development of the luxury Aurus car (and Putin’s ride). Has much to say about import substitution, Soviet engineering and Russian qualitative development.

PORTENTS OF THE END. Just watch this and weep. This guy is on the US Senate Armed Services Committee and is supposed to know something. Any US warship entering the Black Sea to “rain destruction” would have three or four minutes to detect and deal with a swarm of hypersonic missiles coming at it. As to nukes, Russia has them too. Crazy dangerous empty ignorant threats.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Media taking a “limited hangout” in reaction to the implosion of Trumputin. NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Nyah nyah, we’re not coming! But you weren’t invited.

STASIS. While a poll finds that 52% of Americans see China as the “greatest threat” to the USA, they have little confidence in much, not even the military. Another shows American youth pretty pessimistic. Not the strongest foundation for firing threats in all directions. Particularly when 30% think the POTUS is illegitimate and few believe the MSM. And Trump would beat Biden today says a poll.

BELARUS. Developments crawl along. Lukashenka promises a new Constitution for people to vote on soon next year. Suggests Russian nuclear weapons might be stationed in Belarus if NATO moves farther. And he promises to “team up” with Russia if it faces “aggression from Ukraine. Once again, Washington’s policy unites people against it.

TROLLING. Beijing trolls USA on democracy in US practice. Both Beijing and Moscow are getting less polite. Check out Lavrov’s picture and its probable meaning. The correlation of forces is changing.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. The new Norwegian government says it wants Norwegian forces patrol the border with Russia. Is this a way of saying “we don’t want our oafish provocative allies to do something that we’ll have to pay for?”. France isn’t joining in.

UKRAINE. Zelensky has begun actions against Rinat Akhmetov after accusing him of being behind the alleged coup attempt. Not likely to make his position stronger.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 25 NOVEMBER 2021

UKRAINE. Lots of bogus hysteria about how Russia is about to invade Ukraine – for example. Here’s my view – Russia Inc has no desire to pay for “Country 404” – the US/EU/NATO broke it, they own it. But, eventually, the provocations will get to be too much – it’s a cost-benefit analysis and I’m not privy to the data – then Russia will liberate those parts of Ukraine where Russians will be welcomed as liberators and leave the rest to its fate. When/if it happens, it will be fast, decisive and surprise everybody (like every Russian military operation since 2000). There is nothing the West can do (sanctions escalation – that’s a spavined horse) unless it wants to go nuclear in which case the USA will certainly be obliterated. Orlov and Saker. From the West, nonsense and more nonsense (complete with The Misquotation). How about this from the country with one fully-staffed infantry battalion? The safety of the world hangs on the patience of Putin and Xi and the hope that not all Western generals are future VP Sales of MIC rackets.

RUSSIA/CHINA. The two Defence Ministers have agreed to still closer ties. This relationship is much broader and deeper than a mere “alliance”: it’s Mackinder’s Heartland plus population plus production plus sea power. The end of the “Columbian Age”. Moscow and Beijing, learning from the failures of the USSR and the Imperium Americanum, won’t try and run the world: they know it can’t be done.

OPINION WORTH LISTENING TO. This guy is connected: NATO’s mistake is that it still thinks it’s dealing with the weakened Russia of the 1990s. Another mistake, I would add, is that NATO thinks it’s the (imagined) NATO of the 1990s; it isn’t: only a paper tiger then, it’s become a paper pussycat.

RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. Levada poll (Googlish) shows Russians highly value social rights. Situation seems OK but read Levinson’s notes: he detects differences in the young. But another poll suggests that the young aren’t all that much different (despite, IMO, a heavy effort by the interviewers to elicit opposition sympathies).

KURSK. The former Northern Fleet commander says the Kursk was sunk after a collision with a NATO submarine. “No comment” says Peskov.

PLEISTOCENE PARK. “This complex will be a basis to implement one of the super tasks the World Mammoth Center is facing – the ambitious idea to revive mammoths by using biotechnologies“.

GAS TRANSIT. Spreading invasion rumours, Kiev wants another gas transit agreement with Russia.

NORD STREAM 2. More US sanctions and delays by Germany. OK, Russia loses some money but Europe will lose more (even the Greens have figured that out). “This is a game where Germany does not hold a winning hand“. As to money, Russia’s FOREX kitty is now USD620 billion and growing and China will buy anything Russia has.

THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS. They want to spread chaos in the USA and there’s a diesel shortage exacerbating the supply chain problem. So naturally Moscow would like to make this worse – or so we’ve been told over and over. So why is it selling the USA two million barrels of diesel? Another question your MSM outlets will neither ask nor answer.

WESTERN VALUES™. Natylie Baldwin explains why Russians are no longer interested in the West’s “values”. I wrote something similar. Apart from other reasons, they’re not impressed by the gap between promise and performance. Another possibility destroyed by arrogance and ignorance. See below.

WE MAKE THE RULES. “NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members“. Yeah but the famous Rules-Based International Order doesn’t mean we have to stick to the rules.

REFUGEE WARS. Lukashenka spoke to Merkel (I guess there’s no more pretending that she’s in charge). Coincidentally, as it were, Belavia cancelled migrant flights from UAE. The one time I was in the same room as Lukashenka, I didn’t think he was very smart. I was wrong: watch this interview with a “journalist” who thinks he’s a barrister. PS I think Lukashenka has had enough of smug Westerners.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Five corrections we won’t see from the MSM, instead Applebaum hits it out of the park – even when it’s false, it’s true.

MY WEIRDOMETER IS BROKEN. Not even in the USSR was there Ilyich and Koba; Boy Detectives.

ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN. More fighting. It’s reported that Putin will meet the two presidents on Friday. Russia has a mutual defence treaty with Armenia (which does not cover Karabakh).

GUNS. A US general says American hypersonic capabilities are “not as advanced” as China’s or Russia’s.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 11 NOVEMBER 2021

REMEMBRANCE DAY. I remind Russians that, while D-Day was not the decisive battle of the war, it was not hastily thrown together when it was clear that Germany was defeated either.

STEELE DOSSIER. It’s good to be able to tell your MSM-duped neighbours that you were right and their “trusted sources” were lying but so what? Five years too late and still more to go before the principals are on the dock. So what difference does revealing it now make? The coup succeeded: whatever Trump might have done was stymied and Putin was established as The Enemy.

NO KIDDING. “The allegations cast new uncertainty on some past reporting on the dossier by news organizations, including The Washington Post;” Meanwhile they pump out new lies, eliding their responsibility for the last ones: “uncertainties”, “some past reporting”. That’s all we can expect.

QUOTE OF THE YEAR. “The vast majority of disinformation, propaganda and lies that flooded the country over the last 5 years did not come from MAGA boomers on Facebook or 4Chan teenagers but the largest and most influential liberal corporate media outlets.” Reading over what I wrote at the time (for example four years ago), I see that I always underestimated the power that the media/security merger could mobilise to keep the lie going: I kept thinking that some revelation would finally blow it up, but on and on it went. And some are so deep in the delusion that they still spin it away.

CORRUPTION. Criminal cases, firings, disciplinary actions on prison torture scandal.

RUSSIA-BELARUS. More agreements worked out in a meeting; the two grow closer. Especially on defence cooperation which Lukashenka made a point of praising. And that is “a response to the policy of pressure from the West“. Joint air patrol today. I continue to expect an end state with Lukashenka retired and the two countries, while formally separate, very closely tied together on security and economies.

REFUGEE WARS. Colour revolution attempt to overthrow Lukashenka fails; fake bomb threat lands plane, activist discovered, arrested, sings. The West accuses Minsk of this and that; sanctions. Lukashenka imports refugees who congregate at EU borders. That’s b’s take and it sounds reasonable to me. Brussels simulates more outrage. But consider the background: Washington’s “war on terror” has displaced 37 million people and Merkel invited them in. Zakharova suggests Poland, given its participation in the Iraq invasion, should take a few “grateful Iraqis” and Lavrov helpfully suggests Brussels bribe Minsk (I note that Russians permit themselves to be snarkier). Oh, BTW, shouldn’t the EU be addressing its demands to Tsikhanouskaya?

UKRAINE. 1 Nov: Russian buildup on Ukraine border shrieks controlled US media. 2 Nov: CIA Director Burns goes to Moscow; said to warn Moscow against military operations. 3 Nov: Dmytro Yarosh appointed adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukraine armed forces, Defence Minister resigns. 4 Nov: US official visits Kiev. 7 Nov: Kiev says no indication of Russian buildup on border. What just happened? Moscow got its message across and Washington turned its puppet off? (If so, nobody told Blinken.) Hard to imagine anyone in Kiev thinks “a good little war” would improve the wretched situation. But Yarosh might. This time I think Moscow will use force – if they didn’t get the hint in the spring, there’s no point in more hints: time for facts. (Ossetia 2008; but faster.)

GUNS. Putin met with the military bosses (Day 1) (Day 2) (Day 3) and praised the new high-tech weapons for “ensuring a high level of Russian military security for many years”. The fearsome “terminator” is about to go into service; as is the S-500 and they’re working on an S-550, 2000 RPVs. Meanwhile, the US military’s most powerful and competent component confronts 30 years of faking.

YUKOS. The Netherlands Supreme Court has overruled a lower court’s judgement on Yukos: nice to see there’s at least one court there that doesn’t write its verdict at the beginning of the trial.

STASIS. 71% think the US is on wrong track. 30% think the election was stolen. Few in the world think US democracy a good model. Second-greatest life expectancy drop among “wealthy countries”. Graham Allison says the era of US military primacy is over.

NEW NWO. Milley says there are three great powers. Does this mean anything? Who’s in charge in Washington anyway?

COVID. “With” or “From”? Good question – Italian, Googlish.

WESTERN VALUES™. Putin and Xi are wrong for not bringing their planes and motorcades.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 28 OCTOBER 2021

PUTIN VALDAI SPEECH. Eng, Rus. I would say that the principal theme – but read it yourself, it’s an important speech (I’m almost tempted to say valedictory) – is that the West is going down. Russia, thanks to its historical experience, has lived the experience from start to finish – twice. As Putin pointed out there was plenty of “human engineering” in the early Soviet days; the USSR failed at imposing its system. Russians know that exceptionalism doesn’t work; not because they’re wiser but because they’ve lived the failure. “These examples from our history allow us to say that revolutions are not a way to settle a crisis but a way to aggravate it. No revolution was worth the damage it did to the human potential.” Russia, says he, has an advantage in these times when the geopolitical tectonic plates are shaking: “our society has developed what they now refer to as herd immunity to extremism that paves the way to upheavals and socioeconomic cataclysms”.

CONSERVATISM. “This conservative approach is not about an ignorant traditionalism, a fear of change or a restraining game, much less about withdrawing into our own shell. It is primarily about reliance on a time-tested tradition, the preservation and growth of the population, a realistic assessment of oneself and others, a precise alignment of priorities, a correlation of necessity and possibility, a prudent formulation of goals, and a fundamental rejection of extremism as a method.” He mentions Berdyaev several times. Paul Robinson, who knows a lot about Russian conservatism, takes this further: the conservatism that Putin is talking about is derived from a realisation that Western “liberalism” is no longer liberal; it has become a species of totalitarianism.

ARMAGEDDON. Big but: “Arguably, political history has no examples of a stable world order being established without a big war.” If it should happen, Russia is well-positioned: lots of land, lots of water, lots of energy, self-sufficient in food, a conventional military strong enough to defeat any invader and a continually-tested nuclear arsenal for deterrence. Putin said that reducing poverty was his greatest achievement but I think that that is.

FOOD. Doctorow on the revolution in food production. Little covered in the West but very important.

NAVAL ADVENTURES. A US ship was pushed out of Peter the Great Bay. A Russian-Chinese flotilla sailed through the Tsugaru Strait (international waters because Washington made Tokyo make it so).

NO US TROOPS say Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan. Meanwhile a big exercise, in Tajikistan, involving elements from Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan concludes.

COVID. Moscow and St Petersburg have declared a partial lockdown.

COVID ORIGIN. Oh oh. So Fauci’s organisation was funding GoF experiments on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan after all. But just a teensy-weensy bit. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

NATO. Moscow breaks relations with NATO: waste of time from start to finish, despite some hopes back then. Meanwhile, now it’s forbidden to use the word “Afghanistan”, NATO emits something.

GUNS. RT gets excited about the Hunter RPV and NATO worries. A modernised White Swan takes a test flight. Another failed US hypersonic test.

GAS. Putin has instructed Gazprom to start filling storage facilities in Germany and Austria when Russian ones are full (in about a week). Europeans ought to reflect on the fact that Russia has better markets to the east where the customer doesn’t whine and sanction. Meanwhile, in a Ukrainian MP has suggested that Ukrainians start saving manure. He had earlier said Moscow was waging hybrid war on Ukraine by selling cheap electricity.

THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS. “Russian ‘blackmail’ of causing high energy prices across Europe“; “Russia Wants Gas Price 60% Lower to Keep Energy Grip on Europe“. They gotcha coming and going.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. US official urges Russia to supply more gas to Europe; “should do it quickly“. We’re supposed to forget Washington’s years of blocking Nordstream.

TURKISH DRONES. Turkey sold some of its Bayraktar RPVs to Ukraine which promptly used them to attack the Donbass (and not very competently). (Or maybe not.) This won’t last long: Moscow will put its thumb on the scale and either supply AD or EW to stop them.

GOLD HEIST. Amsterdam court rules Scythian gold should go to Kiev. Where it will, no doubt, mysteriously disappear.

AFGHANISTAN. Another “Moscow Format” discussion about Afghanistan attended by Taliban.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 OCTOBER 2021

PUTIN. Putin celebrated his 69th birthday on Thursday and Levada published a poll. (Googlish) He remains popular: about two thirds like him. Which is only slightly different from the score in 2000. A stunning performance, almost unequalled in modern history. But what of the future? Overall 47% would like him to be President for another term and 42% not. What is interesting about that number was that, in 2012, it was 40% against and 35% for. (For what it’s worth, about then I thought he would not run again but theorised that Libya convinced him that he had to stay on because the world was becoming more dangerous). Anyway, as the chart shows, he bounced back. This Levada poll shows that that there is a clear age difference. While the over-55s favour another term, a slight majority of those under 40 do not: and nearly a third of them think there’s a cult of personality about him. Everybody reaches his “best before” date and the wise leader gets out before then. I believe Putin is a wise man and therefore I think we will see him not run again. His auctoritas is strong enough that he can name a successor. But I doubt we’ll know who until he tells us: he runs a pretty leak-free operation. Non-committal too.

US-RUSSIA TALKS. Victoria Nuland, who believes Russia needs a stern talking to, was in Moscow for talks. Ukraine was on the agenda but Moscow’s position is set in Medvedev’s article: “There are no fools to fight for Ukraine. And it’s useless to talk to the vassal, we must talk to the suzerain.” There is a demented notion among some of the the neo-connerie that Washington can do another Kissinger and separate Moscow and Beijing. Perhaps her visit is an attempt to do that. It would be good, though, if they could – as Moscow has proposed – stop sanctioning each other’s diplomats. It appears that little useful resulted – the Russian side complained that it was the usual list of demands – but talk is always better.

EUROPEAN POWER TROUBLES. Not enough wind, cold winter used up reserves, decision to go to spot price buying rather than the long-term fixed-price contracts the Russians prefer (like the one Budapest has just signed). Nordstream delays haven’t helped either. Nothing to do with Moscow as Merkel has admitted – it’s a Euro own goal. Putin has said several times that Russia will supply what is needed; not charity, of course, but not leaving them to contemplate reality while wearing fourteen sweaters either. But he also said that the poor maintenance of the Ukrainian pipe lines means that not much can be shipped through them. Meanwhile, the shriekers shriek.

GUNS. The Navy announced a successful test firing of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile from a surfaced submarine followed shortly after by a submerged launch. It is a missile that travels at Mach 8 or 9, a range of 1000-2000 kms, warhead 300-400 kgs, manoeuvrable in flight, tested from air, land, surface ship and now submarine. Pretty formidable weapon.

BUTTER. Foreign reserves worth 618 billion USD. About a quarter in gold. All-time high.

BELLINGCAT. The Justice Ministry has added Bellingcat and MNews to the registry of media acting as foreign agents. I haven’t run across mnews.world but here’s all you need to know about Bellingcat.

CORRUPTION. A whistleblower has revealed videos of torture at a prison hospital in Saratov Region; the director of federal prison services fired four officers including the one the whistleblower says was the chief perpetrator. Further investigations are underway.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Maybe, at last, the idiocy limit has been discovered.

CIA CRI DU COEUR. According to the NYT, CIA HQ has sent a “top secret” (and how would the NYT know if it really were TS? Mysteries do abound, don’t they?) message to its stations saying too many of its agents have been revealed. Bernhard speculates that it may be connected to an arrest in Russia. Larry Johnson says CIA’s tradecraft has always been sloppy. A curious report, altogether.

STASIS. Rather than a New American Century, Nuland’s husband sees a future of chaos at home. Blames Trump & Co, of course; doesn’t see the contribution of years of neocon failures.

SAAKASHVILI. Returned to Georgia and arrested; announced a hunger strike; in terrible shape says his doctor. Georgian Dream leader says he was attempting a coup and PM Garibashvili says it was to be violent. In local elections the next day Georgian Dream won comfortably but Saakashvili’s party ran second. I guess this is the end of that particular “colour revolution”. Hard to tell whether anybody much cares about him now: he’s certainly time-expired. (And the story gets weirder.)

NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. The principal opposition leader in Ukraine had had his house arrest extended and will be charged with terrorism.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 SEPTEMBER 2021

DUMA ELECTION. Official results are that the pedestal party keeps its strong majority but lost a bit; the communists (KPRF) gained a bit. Not too different from four years ago. A new bubble in the stagnant swamp of Russian politics appears: a new party – New People – makes it into the Duma. The KPRF has two main campaign points: the ordinary guy is doing poorly (especially because of the pensions issue) and Moscow isn’t tough enough on the world stage. I am amused that, immediately, Putin spoke to the government and said that Russia’s greatest enemy was poverty; and he held another meeting on socioeconomic development yesterday. The harder foreign policy is happening anyway. As to communist performance, it’s interesting that young Americans view communism and socialism more favourably too. Maybe Marx isn’t as dead as I used to think he was.

FRAUD? Gordon Hahn enumerates the ways in which the ruling party (United Russia aka “pedestal party”) finagles its way to victory. Not precisely cheating I think, more the use of power and position to “persuade” people where their “true interests” lie. But the big issue is that e-voting was used and there is a dramatic difference in Moscow City: before the e-vote was added in, a lot of opposition wins; after, very few. BUT, before we get excited, we’re not talking about a few strategically-distributed e-votes: there were nearly two million e-votes as against 1.7 million paper votes; I believe there are important differences between the two types of voters: I would expect most KPRF voters to prefer paper to e-votes and Establishment supporters the reverse. Anyway, a re-count is promised and the communists (who lost most) are protesting. BBC coverage (essentially pre-written) typical of Western coverage. See below.

WESTERN TAKE. Bernhard shows that the NYT can see some of the failure but still doesn’t get it. Western-sponsored fake liberals won’t sell in Russia. See below for one reason and next one for another.

DEMOCRACY A LA RUSSE. Intelligent piece by Natylie Baldwin on Russian attitudes: social justice is a big requirement. Americans make a big thing about freedom and let the chips fall where they may. Or they used to anyway. For Russians security is more important. As she says, a lot of what you hear about Russian “lack of democracy” is really just saying they’re not as we like to think we are.

NAVALNIY. A probe into the Navalniy organisation’s activities is opened. Closer to a treason charge?

MEETING. Gerasimov and Milley met in Helsinki last week; it is reported that Milley asked for permission to use Russian bases in Central Asia. Can’t see Moscow agreeing: Washington cannot be trusted; maybe occasional use on a case-by-case assessment.

IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Apparently officials in Sakha are looking at a proposal to populate the region with “resurrected” mammoths. Sounds pretty nifty but we have to consider the possibility that, after the oohs and ahs, comes the screaming.

SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION. Long anticipated but highly significant – Iran is now a full member. Without getting too MacKinderish, this is an important piece of the “pivot area“.

SUBMARINES ET AL. Can’t afford them, can’t build them, can’t crew them. And, anyway, they’re years and years away – it will be a different world then. But it does reveal Washington kicking Europe to the curb. Another of Washington’s gifts to Europe are the current energy problems: despite the Guardian’s effort to blame them on Russia, the delays and obstructions of NordStream are one of the causes. Europeans aren’t willing to be dragged into the new cold war with China, either. Europe is talking; but talk is easy and the Europeans never seem to get past the empty grumbling: cutting loose from Washington’s diktat and forging a genuinely independent foreign activity is a very difficult step. But they do keep getting brutal reminders that Washington doesn’t really care. In that respect the new regime is even more blatant than the old: Trump’s line was pay your bills and I’ll maybe listen; Biden/Harris don’t even pretend to listen.

MEETING. Putin and Erdoğan meeting today. Much to discuss.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS TO YOU. China Is a Declining Power and US has to get ready for war. Russia’s a “declining power” too. The philosophers of Laputa don’t seem to have noticed that neither has declined much since 2000, have they? Litvinenko! Skripalmania! Projection and deflection.

WESTERN VALUES™. Plans to kill Assange and the key witness lied: never mind, keep him in jail, Meng released with charges forgotten. CSIS welcomes the “Michaels” back. Hard to keep up.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. And now, after all the damage was done, we discover, what many of us knew, that it was entirely fake. This guy, however, is surprised. But will any others wake up?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 SEPTEMBER 2021

EXERCISE. The Armed Forces hold big exercises every year, working their way around the compass. This year was West – Zapad. Back in the Day, every September saw big exercises in West Germany – REFORGER – in which formations drove around the countryside (I was on a couple myself and we just drove tanks anywhere we wanted to). The Russian ones, however, are generally restricted to exercise areas and, while they are said to involve, in this case, 200,000 troops, they count everyone involved in any way. But the alarmists make a big deal out of it – here’s can’t-find-Putin’s-speech Applebaum, for example. But they’re impressive nonetheless; two highlights this year: the night drop of a parachute battalion plus armoured vehicles and the appearance of some combat robots.

THEN AND NOW. There is a series of videos using Google Street view of Russian towns in 2010 and 2020. I mentioned Gelendzhik last time but here’s Perm, Sochi (booming, by the way), Arkhangelsk, Petrozavodsk. If you still believe the Western media’s rubbish about decaying Russia, give them a look: it’s not China, but it’s a lot of improvement.

HISTORY. Putin unveils a monument to Aleksandr Nevskiy. In the meeting room in the MoD in Moscow (where I’ve been a couple of times – maybe they meet somewhere else now) there are three decorative bas reliefs – 1941-45, 1812 and Nevskiy. The existential threat to Russia has always come from the West. Highly recommend Paul Robinson’s essay on the background and meaning of this.

NORD STREAM. The last pipe was welded on the 6th; apparently there are some legal details to be completed before the gas comes through. Kiev fulminates, Washington threatens. Meanwhile gas prices in Europe hit a record high.

INFLATION. At a five-year high – 6.7%. Food especially; but that’s a world-wide phenomenon.

NAVALNIY “POISONING”, John Helmer has much on how the story was created. (Still waiting for a Western “news” outlet that was insisting Putin wanted him dead to explain why he isn’t.)

DISEASE. Further evidence that Russia is thinking about biowar attacks: it is building a network of labs and testing facilities: “sanitary shield” they call it.

ELECTION INTERFERENCE. The US Ambassador was challenged to explain “irrefutable evidence” of interference in next Sunday’s election. (Video purporting to show observers coached to claim fraud.) As typical, the West will instantly condemn them; the object, as Korybko argues, being to block any attempts to better relations. This example shows how savagely such suggestions are beaten down and one can be sure that “yet-another-rigged-election” will be used to smear the next modest suggstion to improve American relations with a country that has 1) a close relationship with the number-one economic power, 2) the capability of obliterating the USA and destroying NATO’s military.

JUST NUKES AND OIL. Work on a Russian-Chinese jetliner begun. Big market, few suppliers (especially given the damage Boeing did to itself). Another medium-sized tanker launched.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. CNN then “Authorities in Belarus have announced the arrest of 33 Russian mercenaries on suspicion of terrorism“. CNN now: “Ukraine spies tried to ensnare alleged Russian war criminals with a fake website, promises of riches and an international sting.” I didn’t cover the story at the time, correctly assessing it to be part of the colour revolution attempt against Lukashenka. (Why would CNN, not known for admitting to its propagandising, put this out? is Ukraine being “Afghanised”?).

LEARNING. General Hyten described a recent US exercise as a miserable failure – see my piece here. In a talk at Brookings he said “our goal is to never go to war with China and Russia.” He also said that the US military was moving too slowly and suggested that the USA wasn’t getting its money’s worth in defence. Very interesting, especially when said in such a citadel of the neocon world. On the other hand, he’s apparently retiring soon and will probably be replaced by a rah-rah type.

UKRAINE. Zelensky complains that Washington is still vague on NATO; possibility of war with Russia; has “no time to think about [Putin]” but wants a meeting. Ukraine is not Afghanistan; army “one of the most powerful“. Meanwhile Edward Lucas gushes about Ukraine’s success which is somehow a challenge to Putin. Stunning levels of delusion; second-poorest in Europe they say.

AFGHANISTAN. I’m amused by all the statements that Taliban must do this or that. No. USA/NATO were defeated. That means Taliban doesn’t care what they have to say and isn’t frightened by their threats.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 2 SEPTEMBER 2021

QUESTION. How many in the former USSR and Warsaw Pact now think that they made the correct bet in the 1990s? How about Western Europe? This will be one of the biggest geopolitical questions for the 2020s. The Afghanistan disaster will have very significant downstream effects; much more than the Vietnam defeat. That was one thing but this is another: in 1975 NATO had a purpose because the USSR was still there; China was poor and weak; the Shah still ruled. Afghanistan wasn’t just a defeat of the Washington’s neocon cabal and revelation of the duplicity of the military-industrial-media complex, it was the finish of post Cold War triumphantasies, moralistic finger-wagging, superior values boasting, NATO adventurism, “nation-building” and many other delusions widely shared in the West.

RESCUE. There are still a lot of NATO and Tabaquis left behind in Afghanistan – what do you bet they make their way to the Russian Embassy to ask to be helped out? And Moscow will do it – the propaganda value is too great to pass up: Russia – the reliable partner.

AFGHANISTAN. Another exercise on Afghanistan’s periphery: Combat Commonwealth-2021. Troops from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic will be involved. Mostly air defence which is an interesting choice.

WATCH THIS. They tell you Russia is a decaying rathole, check this out: Gelendzhik 2010 and now.

ELECTIONS. Duma elections will be held on the 19th and the pedestal party (United Russia) isn’t doing too well. The communists (KPRF) and Zhirinovsky’s party (LDPR) may triumph in some regions but most expect UR to keep a working majority overall. Putin – who’s not formally a member of UR – and other government people are out busily bribing the taxpayers with their own money.

NAVALNIY. A documentary takes a look at the “poisoning” and concludes it was likely a mishap from lithium. Meanwhile, in an interview from prison, he complains that the worst thing is official TV. (BTW, didn’t Western “news” outlets spend weeks telling us that Putin was determined to kill Navalniy and actually tried twice; why aren’t they wondering why he’s still alive? The answer of course – which shows you what Western coverage of Russia really is – is that details in war propaganda aren’t supposed to be remembered: they’re just made up and ignored as needed to create the enemy picture.)

IMPORT SUBSTITUTION. As everyone knows, Putin is skilled at judo which is the art of using the opponent’s strengths against him. When sanctions were imposed after Maidan, Moscow cleverly imposed counter-sanctions on food. This, plus government support, has resulted in Russia becoming pretty much food independent. Likewise many other industries have profited from import substitution. The next area is what you might call electronic independence. Even the Moscow Times has to admit that Russia has made huge improvements here too. Russia is gradually becoming a rather curious economic beast – a economically self-sufficient country with high-demand exports. Pretty strong position, I think.

PLUTOCRATS. Forbes (not that I take it very seriously – anybody remember when it put Chernomyrdin at the top?) has decided that Tatiana Bakalchuk and her husband are Russia’s richest. What’s interesting is that they didn’t use their connections to steal stuff in the 1990s but made it from their e-commerce company Wildberries. Banned in Ukraine, of course.

TANK BIATHALON. Loud and dirty things you can do in a tank.

GARBAGE. A subject that has featured in the last few Putin Q&A sessions is garbage dumps. It seems that the communists were pretty casual and the problems are building up. People complain of nasty messes near them and the Natural Resources Minister has warned that facilities in more than 20 regions will run out of space within the next two or three years. There is a plan and I expect that the problem will – as so many others have been – gradually be ameliorated. Plastics ban?

THE DEATH OF IRONY. “Ukraine Shuts Down Opposition Media – U.S. Ambassador Applauds ‘Daring Act’, Calls For Support“. What actually happened is that Medvedchuk’s party is more popular than Zelensky’s; so shut his news outlets down and put him under house arrest. Perfectly acceptable and praiseworthy because… Putin!

ENDING? Biden, in his end of Afghanistan speech said: “we’ve got to learn from our mistakes… This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries”. Does that mean out of Iraq and Syria too? Or is the key word here “major”? which in practice means no change (they all start as minor, soon-to-be-over victory parades.)

Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer