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 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

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 18 JANUARY 2018

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. I believe that we are approaching the exposure of the plot. Some reading to bring you up to speed. The conspiracy explained (part of it actually – there were other players. MSM too). Happenings: 1) documents 2) interviews of principals 3) reborn investigations of e-mails and Clinton Foundation. First charges laid in Uranium One (an American charged with bribing a Russian too!). Today’s step. The Dossier is central to the conspiracy. I reiterate: there was no Russian government involvement in the US election; there was no Russian government collusion with Trump. It was a story invented to support a conspiracy against Trump and then an attempt to cover up the conspiracy when, in the destruction of the plotters’ expectations, he was elected. This is very big.

HEALTH. The Minister has provided some statistics that show the steady improvement in Russians’ health. For the first 11 months of 2017, the death rate decreased by about 3% with a considerable drop in deaths by alcohol poisoning (16%). Infant mortality continued its steady decline and so the population increases from each end. In the last five years, alcohol consumption dropped a lot as has smoking; meanwhile exercise rates are up. The overall effect is an increase in life expectancy: now put at 72.6 years for men and 77 years for women. It seems that Russians are more optimistic about the future and less depressed by the present. This further strengthens my belief that Russia is poised to take off in a way that it never has before.

GOLD. Russia has bought quite a lot of gold (and maybe more than it’s telling us). Photos from the gold vaults. I wonder if China will show its hoard.

RUSSIA INC. Growth of 1.7% and inflation down to 2.5% last year. In comparison the EU’s growth forecast was 1.7% but they’re now saying 2.2%; the USA’s was 3.2%. But here are different figures with USA 2.2%. But, anyway, considering sanctions and so on, that’s not bad.

RUSSIAN BASES IN SYRIA ATTACKED. On the night of 5/6 January the Russian bases at Khmeimim and Tartus (Syria) were attacked by 13 UAVs, 10 at the former. The aircraft were armed with mortar bombs. Seven were shot down, six were hacked of which three of which were safely landed. The aircraft themselves were fairly crude but the navigation systems and other electronics were quite sophisticated. The attack was launched from the de-escalation zone in Idlib. On the 12th in a complicated operation involving special forces, artillery with smart munitions and air reconnaissance, the MoD says the people responsible were killed and the depot destroyed (videos). Plenty of rumours of course: a US reconnaissance aircraft was said to be in the area; the Pentagon denies involvement; Putin said it wasn’t Ankara. Certainly the air defences showed their ability – especially by taking over six of the UAVs and bringing three to a soft landing. So, if the US was involved (and who knows what’s going on in Washington’s idiotic and incoherent activities there?) then it discovered that Russian air defences are formidable. (They will only be strengthened – this was an all round learning experience.)

BEEDO! BEEDO! BEEDO! A rather ridiculous publicity video showing the USAF bravely intercepting two Russian fighters flying from Russia to Russia along the very restricted international air corridor in the Baltic. The US side claims the Russians did not “did not broadcast the appropriate codes required by air traffic control and had no flight plan on file”. The Russians say they did. I remind readers that it was NATO that rejected a Russo-Finnish proposal that all aircraft fly with their transponders on.

SANCTIONS FOR THEE BUT NOT FOR ME. A Russian company has signed to launch 12 Dove-series satellites for an American company.

KOREA. As Churchill observed, jaw-jaw is better than war-war and we’re getting talking in Korea. One assumes Beijing is somewhere in the background. Moscow and Beijing are coordinating their efforts. Much, if not most, is hidden and consumers of the MSM would be astounded to hear that President Moon gives Trump some of the credit.

THE TRUMP EFFECT. Whether I, Korybko or the Saker has got it right, things are changing and “America First” is making other countries wonder where they fit in. Doctorow observes, others bemoan, but it’s happening.

FANTASIA UKRAINIA. There are no nazis in Ukraine. And, if there are, there aren’t many of them. And if many, they have little influence. If influential there, then nowhere else. Never mind: 25 December is now a holiday and Hallowe’en is making progress so all is well. (This fatuous piece savaged here).

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 4 JANUARY 2018

LOST OPPORTUNITY. Karlin reminds us that once the USA was extremely popular in Russia. In the early 90s a high of 80% felt good about the USA. 35% then thought the US was friendly and 3% thought it hostile: today it’s 3% and 59% respectively. I’m sure someone will blame Putin for the reversal.

SECURITY. The FSB Director tells us in his annual roundup that 120 foreign and international NGOs, covertly used as tools of foreign intelligence, were stopped and 137 agents of foreign special services were uncovered. 23 terrorist attacks were prevented.

CORRUPTION. The former Economic Development Minister was found guilty of accepting bribes and sentenced to 8 years in a penal colony and a fine of 130 million rubles.

POVERTY. The Labour Minister tells us that about 13% of population lives below the poverty line. Putin has raised the minimum wage and, beginning in 2019, it will be set to the “employable population’s subsistence level for Russia as a whole for the second quarter of the previous year”.

COMMUNISTS. The Russian Communist Party (the real opposition in terms of votes, policies and seats) has nominated the head of the Lenin State Farm, Pavel Grudinin, as its presidential candidate. Although not an actual CP member, he runs a successful farm in Moscow on socialist principles. (Google Maps). He may bring in more votes than the charisma-free Zyuganov did in numerous previous runs.

ELECTION. I quote Karlin a lot because he is, in my opinion, one of the best of the best observers on Russia and has the advantage of having lived both here and there. I recommend his discussion of the function of elections in a country when everybody knows the super popular President and his pedestal party will be re-elected. He argues that the political leadership wants to own the broad centre of opinion; the performance of parties on the wings allow course corrections. A species of demos-kratia isn’t it?

DEPT OF IRONY. “UK turns to Russian project targeted by sanctions for gas supply“.

TARTUS. I was scornful of earlier Western excitement over the “naval base in Syria” which was not a huge facility but just a corner of a small port used as a rest stop. But it will become bigger: Putin just signed the law. Described as a “inventory and logistics support centre” the lease is for 49 years. This will allow the Russian Navy to have a permanent Mediterranean presence. (A tiny voice asks whether Moscow is becoming tempted by its success – does it really need bases here and there? Is that really in its national interest?)

SYRIA WRAPUP. 34 thousand sorties and 215 new weapons systems tested and lots of experience. They say (but the claimed precision is preposterous) 60,318 terrorists killed, 2840 of them Russian-born.

SYRIA. There is still a US military base in Syria, the Russian CGS says it is fully blocked by the Syrian army. Again we wonder who’s in charge? Washington has lost in Syria and it’s time to leave. But it doesn’t: still stories of “moderate rebels” being trained; still stories of Daesh fighters being protected. A much better informed observer than I has a theory: two delegators in the chain create confusion.

S-400. The loan agreement with Turkey has been signed: about US$2.5 billion. Why would Russian sell them and why would Turkey want them? My theory here.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. CNNoids were no doubt shocked or puzzled by this: “Trump is right about the FBI“; video). The London Review of Books unveiled a bit (but not much: the piece could have been written a year ago). “Was the Steele Dossier the FBI’s ‘Insurance Policy’?” moves closer. Even the WaPo starts to doubt. Stay tuned: a big document dump is coming.

TRUMPOLOGY. I put this theory out there for your consideration: “Trump Cuts the Gordian Knot of Foreign Entanglements“. Andrew Korybko has something similar here. Certainly plenty of people are saying that he is “isolating” the USA; but they assume it’s because he is “incompetent“, Korybko and I think he’s doing it on purpose. (Trump’s alleged incompetence is a prime pillar of the Russia interference panic: for the believers, no one so “dangerously incompetent“, unqualified or mentally ill could have beaten the “most qualified presidential candidate in history” on his own.)

POLAND-UKRAINE. Poland, which had something to do with encouraging and assisting the Maidan coup, is increasingly concerned about what it helped stirred up. A lot of Poles were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which is much loved by today’s Kiev. A monument to the Volyn massacre is under construction: it shows a baby impaled on a trident. See also the recent movie. History has not stopped in that part of the world.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 DECEMBER 2017

CIVIL SOCIETY. If you believed the Western media you’d think that Putin did everything in Russia from writing editorials to planning the state doping program and that whatever feeble civil society existed was the creation of selfless foreign NGOs now suffering “squeezing“and a “devastating” “crackdown“. One of the authors sent me the report “Indigenously Funded Russian Civil Society“. In this researched and balanced picture of the state of play we learn that 1) foreign NGOs never funded much (a high of 7% in 2009); 2) there’s quite a lot of civil society activity; 3) there are quite a few sources of funding from government, businesses and private individuals. Read it: a summary of an important subject that gets mostly propagandistic treatment. Russians are doing things on their own at an accelerating pace.

PRESIDENCY. Putin said he’ll run again. This will be his last term – he will be 72 at the end – so, apart from anything else, he will be grooming a successor. He will be elected. And for good reason: you’d vote for more of the same too. Quick summary of today’s press conference. English. Russian.

CORRUPTION. According to the Procurator-General, since 2014 corruption has cost Russia about US$2.5 billion; 122,000 corruption-related crimes have been registered, more than 45,000 sentenced, of whom 4500 were law enforcement staff, 400 were politicians and 3000 were officials.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The story so far. Wife of DOJ Deputy Was Fusion GPS Employee, CIA Research Aide, and Applied for HAM Radio License Month After Contracting MI6 Agent Christopher Steele… “. Oh, maybe he and they went a little too far. I think we’re getting close to the exposure of the whole rotten conspiracy. “What in the hell is going on with the Department of Justice and the FBI?

RUSSIA INC. “Expert” predictions of doom fail again; tiny budget deficit and foreign reserves up.

EU-USA. The German Foreign Minister has called for more independence from Washington. In particular he mentioned the damage done by the Congressional sanctions and the fear that abrogating the Iran agreement could be dangerous.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. The Western Official Narrative is getting harder to spin. Apparently Ukraine is a disappointment in its “fight against corruption” (Washington, IMF). Well, duh: if you replace crooked oligarchs with different crooked oligarchs what would you expect? Meanwhile the BBC says British taxpayers subsidised Daesh. US too. Unintentionally. Of course.

SYRIA. Putin says it’s basically over. The BBC gives an entertainingly grudging report, Fox, USA Today, France 24, Haaretz, New Yorker ditto: lots of only helping blood-soaked dictator, killing civilians, chemical attacks, US coalition did the real work. Washington alternately claims credit or says the declaration is premature. French Foreign Minister ludicrously says Russia “misappropriated the victory“. Washington says it will stay: not a good idea. Bad losers all: complete defeat.

NATO EXPANSION. NATO made a promise. It broke it. Moscow has no reason to ever believe it.

IOC. Doping! What’s that got to do with it? US Senator says we have to stand up to Putin the bully. Thereby giving the whole game away. A very flimsy case – based, in fact, on a single source.

NEW NWO. Putin’s trifecta: Assad, Sisi and Erdoğan all on the same day. Trapped in their misinformation bubble most Westerners can’t see it, but Moscow is establishing a reputation in the rest of the world for competence and reliability. China ditto. The world is readjusting itself. We approach a tipping point, I think, in which the reality can no longer be hidden. I am stunned by the speed of the decline: only a quarter of a century ago the West was triumphant in everything.

MUST READ. Gilbert Doctorow’s presentation of his book Does the United States have a future? He starts: “I will explain why a book about the United States failing on the world stage deals so largely with what is happening in Russia.” The neocons and their liberal allies, in their overreach, had to attack Russia “Because it has been the only major power to publicly reject the US global hegemony both in word and in deed.” Their attempts, ranging from “colour revolutions” to sanctions to regime change in neighbours to Olympic boycotts, have made Russia stronger, more united and more determined and brought Russia and China into close partnership. The ricocheting failure feeds the crescendo of hysteria that is tearing the US polity apart. And the losing wars go on and on. My readers will have noticed that these Sitreps lately have had more to do with Russia-in-the-world and less with Russia internally: Doctorow explains why Russia is now so very central in the geopolitical rebalancing. That was very much not the case when I began the series twenty years ago.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 NOVEMBER 2017

FOREIGN MEDIA. I don’t know what Sputnik’s and RT’s audiences actually are in the USA or elsewhere but indications are that they are small or even tiny. But this hasn’t affected the year’s conniption fit and so we must be protected from their influence by Google, Twitter and now the US government. Well, apart from the mockery this makes of common-sense, proportionality and those Western values they’re always boasting about, Moscow has reacted. And, as usual, in a much more powerful way. Putin signed the amendment; now “foreign media outlet distributing printed, audio, video and other messages and materials designed for an unlimited number of people may be recognised (может быть признано) as a foreign agent.” Quid quo pro. Whining has begun: the BBG, HRW, State Department.

CORRUPTION. According to Transparency International’s 2017 report, a third of Russians say they had to pay a bribe for some public service. Like Karlin, I can believe this (plus or minus – there is some tradition of giving gifts there) because, unlike the easily cooked perception scores, this is a yes or no question. But, as I argue here, this is the lowest and least important form of corruption: the worst forms aren’t even detected by the little guy because the service was stolen long before he tried to buy some of it. And I would further observe that, whatever you may say about the Duma, you can’t say it’s run by “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests“: it pretty much does what the popular and elected government tells it to do. In short, not all corruptions are equally bad.

RUSSIAN STATE DOPING. I don’t believe it: it’s a “Gish Gallop“. Counter arguments here and here.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Aspergers, gunslinger, now tired. The website – you decide.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. It’s not working. 52% believe it’s better to have Russia on “our side” than not; 76% of Republicans and 51% of independents agree but only 29% of Democrats. (I presume Dems find it easier to believe that Trump won because Putindunnit than that he beat their candidate fair and square). It’s not working in Europe either: another poll show large majorities in Germany, Poland, France and UK would like better relations with Russia. But the effluent is still pumped out: “weaponised information“. (As a readers’ guide to this sort of thing, you won’t go wrong assuming that whatever US/NATO accuse Russia of doing, they are actually doing. For example, the Pentagon “weaponised information” years ago: “Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media“.)

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. “FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier.” The collapse of the Fusion GPS operation will unravel the whole construction. And it’s coming. (And don’t forget Awan.) All this because the Dems fixed their nomination and then lost anyway.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. There has been some kind of coup or prevented coup in Lugansk. The head of State, Igor Plotnitsky, has resigned and is said to be in Moscow. The official story is that a “criminal group” controlled from Kiev has been arrested and a coup averted. A group of Ukrainian saboteurs have been arrested. No doubt, more information will trickle out.

PAPER TIGER. Further to my suggestion that NATO is a paper tiger we learn that half of Germany’s tanks are not ready for action. Less belligerent behaviour might be prudent: Moscow doesn’t get the joke: “We need to plan and undertake measures that will help us to respond to such a scenario quickly…“.

SYRIA. Lots of action. Trump has cut off arms supplies to Kurds in Syria (but, as always, can a mere POTUS make them do it?). Putin has been talking to everyone in and around the neighbourhood and lots of meetings. Patrick Lang, a connected observer, thinks it’s about over.

MAIDAN SNIPERS. One of the founding myths of the “Revolution of Dignity” was the massacre on the Maidan. Ivan Katchanovski has proved, to anyone with the capacity for objective thought, that it was a false flag operation; here is his paper; here is a summary. Two Georgian snipers have come forward to confess; here is a summary of what they said with links to the original. The story continues to develop and Katchanovski is following it.

UKRAINE. A country put together out of bits and pieces of other countries should worry as it fails further: Poland does not hide its ambiguous intentions towards western Ukraine. First, create positions of influence, then formulate territorial claims“. Meanwhile, Maidan II seems to be going nowhere (no support from outside, I guess).

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer