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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


WAR PLANS. US/NATO war plans always start with a heavy bombardment. The expectation is that complete air superiority will be quickly gained so that aircraft and cruise missiles will have unrestricted freedom to destroy vital infrastructure. This succeeds against countries like Iraq, to say nothing of Afghanistan. But it won’t happen if the first few minutes of the war see the destruction of half of NATO’s airfields, hangars, ports and EW assets in a cloud of hypersonic missiles. Russia sends another message to Washington and Brussels – don’t even think of it. But, of course, they are thinking of it. Shoygu called for increased production of hypersonic missiles. Not, they say, easily detectable by radar. A US ship entering the Black Sea would have about three minutes to detect and defend against Kinzhals fired from 550 kms away in Crimea. The just-deployed Bastion system would take longer. Russia isn’t trying to do everything everywhere, just defend its own territory: that’s an achievable goal; the other isn’t.

WAR DREAMS. Fantasy: in NATO planning the Polish Army quickly seizes Kaliningrad. Partial reality: in Polish Army war game, Warsaw is surrounded in five days. Real reality. Poland has targets: see above.

NAVALNIY. The story continues. The theory that he’s being fitted up for a treason charge was given a boost when Zakharova said he should be called an “agent of influence” rather than a politician. His suspended sentence for fraud was lifted and he’s off to prison. Read Yves Rocher’s statement; sounds to me as if the company believes he did swindle them. The fact that there’s now a campaign against the company suggests my deduction is correct. Meanwhile his wife is being set up as the new Navalniy – it’s evident from the Charité report that his health is pretty bad. After the lacklustre performance of the demos, one of his people declared a moratorium but was ordered to reverse the decision.

COVID. The Sputnik vaccine received good press from The Lancet. Vaccination centre in Sochi. Russia has developed a quick PCR process. Forget all that stuff we were saying a few months ago: we want it now. All this is causing cognitive dissonance for Western propaganda organs: read this tripe: “Putin’s COVID-19 charm offensive will be transient“.

FINES. Moscow fines RFE/RL for failure to declare ‘foreign agent’ status on material aimed at Russians. Washington will have the fantods but this is just Moscow’s version of the US FARA legislation in action.

POLICE BRUTALITY. Here’s the video Moscow is giving every visitor who comes to lecture it.

START Extended for five years. A good thing, but otherwise more of the same from Washington: “determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy” and so on.

RUSSIA-CHINA. A piece in the Russian media suggests that the two are very close to concluding a formal military alliance and enumerates the mutual advantages to the world’s largest economy and best military (too soon to call it that? Should we wait a few years when it will be obvious?). It’s coming.

EU. The EU has made a mess of its COVID vaccine policy. An EU official is sent to Moscow to beg for the Sputnik vaccine. But he can’t resist giving the usual moralistic lecture. (As an aside, I am sick and tired of EU flunkeys posturing about “European values”; if it weren’t for the USSR – 80% – and the Anglosphere – 20% – they’d all be goose-stepping around in leather giving each other Hitler salutes: Hitler, Franco, Mussolini and the rest of them were all Europeans). Lavrov is not amused and called the EU unreliable. EU guy returns, usual sources accuse him of being feeble, and he starts talking tough again. “Headless chicken“. Moscow doesn’t care: the Western model is now seen as one of failure.

WESTERN VALUES™. Listen to Blinken explain why Israel can annex Golan ; one day he will explain why Crimea can’t be Russian.

DAVOS. An inflection moment? Putin speaks of the failure of the “Washington Consensus” and unilateralism. Xi agrees. Merkel promises neutrality.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Vladimir Putin Has Become America’s Ex-Boyfriend From Hell: “a geopolitical stalker”. This from the outlet that has “stalked” Putin 3000 times in four years. And never forget this demented bit of filth.

UKRAINE. Hopeless. Meanwhile, let’s ban the Russian vaccine. Not that we have any from anywhere else.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. If it’s Russia, it’s OK to ban it. Actually they’re opposition TV channels.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


DOOMED. Kasparov, a famous chess player, says Russia’s on the way down thanks to Putin. Said the same thing 13 years ago. Why does the Western media keep printing this rubbish? Silly question.

PUTIN PALACE. Here’s a palace actually built on his orders. And here’s how the richest man in the world spends his time. (But it’s gotta be Putin’s: here’s a photoshop of him in the pool). More rubbish.

COVID. A WHO representative thinks Russia’s getting it under control. Moscow is opening up.

VACCINE. It is reported that the EU is considering approving the Sputnik vaccine because of delays in US ones. Merkel says she will help. Only a few months ago, this was out of the question.

INTERESTING. Zakharova: “The most popular comment I receive from Americans on my personal social media accounts is how to get Russian citizenship“. I doubt much will come of this – but… Russia, land of the free and home of the brave. Has a ring to it, hasn’t it? There are some Americans there.

OPEN SKIES. Moscow is preparing to leave after failing to get assurances that US allies won’t share information with Washington. But, if Washington changes its mind, it will too.

NAVALNIY. Navalniy returns on plane filled with Western reporters and supporters, arrested and, after bail hearing, jailed for 30 days. (Broke probation terms on fraud conviction). Great excuse to sanction Nord Stream! Demos around Russia on Sunday – see video of 14-year old. Usual stuff, usual coverage. Meanwhile both Sweden and Germany keep information about his so-called poisoning from Russia.

NAVALNIY, COCKROACHES AND PISTOLS. I’d heard he’d called Muslims cockroaches but I didn’t know there was a video. Here it is with English subtitles. Definitely Nobel Prize material. Did Washington really want to suggest that he is an “ally”?

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. This week’s “Made in Russia” video: aircraft, vaccine, buses, robot weapons, pigs, medical facilities and a new airport. All very new, shiny and high-tech, too.

PUTIN-BIDEN. They had their first phonecall. Interesting to compare the Kremlin’s record with the White House’s: but Biden has to talk tough, Putin doesn’t. But “interference in the 2020 United States election”? Really? Wasn’t it the most secure ever? Does Biden really want to raise that subject?

RUSSIA-EU. This seems to me to be much harder language than we’ve seen before. More suggestion that Moscow is going to dump the EU qua EU.

SAUCE, GOOSE, GANDER. RFE/RL has been fined for not admitting it’s a foreign agent.

SOLARWINDS HACK. Not Russia but Israel? And another so-called Russian hack blows up.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. While START will likely be extended for another five years which is good, we can otherwise expect more of the same: Clinton and Pelosi suggest Trump was following Putin’s orders and Biden mentioned bounties, Solarwinds and Navalniy.

FAKE NEWS. The NYT printed over 3000 items on the bogus Trump/Russia story. That’s two a day!

NEW NWO. European poll. Everything has changed: “Most Europeans rejoiced at Joe Biden’s victory in the November US presidential election, but they do not think he can help America make a comeback as the pre-eminent global leader… Majorities in key member states now think the US political system is broken, and that Europe cannot just rely on the US to defend it… look to Berlin rather than Washington as the most important partner… A majority believe that China will be more powerful than the US within a decade and would want their country to stay neutral in a conflict between the two superpowers. Two-thirds of respondents thought the EU should develop its defence capacities… Washington cannot take European alignment against China for granted. Public opinion will have a bigger effect on the relationship than it once did, and needs to be taken into account.” Another time when Trump exposed the emptiness behind the curtain. Note the reference to having to pay attention to “public opinion” – the dreaded populism appears.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. One of the Trump Administration’s last actions was to impose more sanctions on Nord Stream 2. The chair of the relevant German parliament committee said the sanctions were “unacceptable” and suggested penal duties on US gas. I doubt Biden will change the policy.

UKRAINE. Only 10% of Ukrainians think things are going in the right direction. In a curious parallel, given the US involvement in destroying Ukraine, only 14% of Americans think their country is.

TURKEY. Erdoğan says Ankara will not ask Washington for permission to buy more S-400 SAMs.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


RUSSIA-CHINA. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says: “In developing China-Russia strategic cooperation, we see no limit, no forbidden zone and no ceiling to how far this cooperation can go.” The two now settle 25% of their business in their own currencies. I would say that the two lasting achievements of the neo-cons and their New American Century have been the ever-closer Moscow-Beijing alliance and the increased influence of Iran. Who did win the Cold War after all?

RESERVES. The Central Bank of Russia has published its account of Russia reserves as of 30 June 2020. The total was 561.1 billion USD (up $44.3 billion since a year before). Euro holdings accounted for 29.5% . For the first time ever gold (22.9%) was a bigger proportion than USD (22.2%). Renminbi was 12.2%. Russia’s economy – failing always failing.

NAVALNIY. The report from the Charité Hospital in Berlin fires another nail gun’s worth into the coffin of the Navalniy story. Numerous health problems, lots of drugs in him, but no novichok symptoms.

NOTE: John Helmer’s site has been under attack since his Navalniy reporting. He has sent me these Twitter-access links Link1 Link 2 Link 3. A reminder that, back in the day, they jammed us.

COVID. Putin has ordered mass use of the Sputnik vaccine (1.5 million inoculated already). No side effects, they say. A scientist is optimistic that COVID will have faded down by the summer.

PUTIN CHRISTMAS. What Putin did on the 6th; what some Americans think he did. Or this.

WESTERN VALUES™. As Western social media apps censor, people are bailing out and Russian ones grow: the founder of Telegram says 25 million new members have joined in past 72 hours. These things are bubbles: Twitter and Facebook are said to have lost fifty billion dollars after banning Trump.

PAVLIK REDEVIVUS. From Vladimir Goldstein. And she wants to be a lawyer, too.

JOKES. Just heard this one: I can make anti-Putin jokes on Russian social media. Big deal, I can make anti-Putin jokes on Western social media. (A re-tread of a Soviet-era joke). Or this: Due to travel restrictions abroad, Americans have done a coup at home.

MOON. Moscow considering manned moon mission. Hmmmm. Russian/Chinese base on the Moon in ten years?

SURVEILLANCE. Moscow City has revealed a plan to spend money on a database containing information about every resident, including passport numbers, insurance policies, salaries, car registrations. Much of it appears to already exist. For safety, security and convenience, of course. Mind you, we all volunteered: we all carry smartphones around broadcasting everything we do.

ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN. Putin chaired a meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. They signed a statement on development of Karabakh region. Here are the official statements after the meeting. Its another step in resolving the difficult problem which has deep roots. I note a reference to the OSCE Minsk Group but I don’t expect it to get much involved. It’s done nothing much in 28 years and who wants the West meddling in the area anyway?

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. “After months of bashing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, Western journalists in Moscow line up to be inoculated“. A reminder of the job description.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. I am amused that the US Navy has announced that it may start “freedom of navigation” trips in the Russian Arctic (despite not not signing on to the UNCLOS.) But the biggest US icebreaker is rather elderly and can barely handle two-metre ice. So perhaps it will lease icebreakers from Finland. Given that the Arctic is a Russian lake, not least because of the Russian monopoly of gigantic icebreakers, one can easily imagine some embarrassments for the Americans.

NEW NWO. “We are seeing images that I never imagined we would see in this country-in some other capital yes, but not here. No one in the world is likely to see, respect, fear, or depend on us in the same way again. If the post-American era has a start date, it is almost certainly today.” Richard N Haass.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. After seven years of negotiation, the EU and China have produced a comprehensive trade agreement. Washington is not amused. Meanwhile Nord Stream 2 chugs along.

UKRAINE. Has been left rather high and dry on vaccines with none of its BFFs in the West doing anything for it. But the Foreign Minister insists Kiev will not buy Sputnik vaccine even if it works: “It [Russia] cares about imposing its propaganda cliches and ideology by supplying the vaccine, even if it were effective”. Like most things in Ukraine, it’s a mess.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


Happy New Year! (as much as it can be, that is) С Новым Годом!

RUSSIA AND COVID. Total deaths in the first 11 months of 2020 are 13.8% higher than in 2019 – 81% of this increase, she estimates, is connected with COVID. This would suggest 186K fatalities which is quite a bit higher than the 116K put out previously. Here’s Karlin’s analysis. As for my part, I haven’t a clue. I feel I know less than I did at the start when I said the Diamond Princess gave us the basic data. Since then, we’ve had a multitude of contradictory information, for example see here: for every datum, there is a contradicting one; for every confident opinion, a contrary one. Usually, over time, possibilities narrow but not in this case. I don’t know. And things like this make me reach for the tinfoil.

VACCINE. AstraZeneca and Sputnik’s maker have made a cooperation agreement. The Sputnik vaccine has been approved for people over 60. Belarus and Kazakhstan will start producing it soon. About a million injections issued as of today. The first foreign countries are starting to receive it.

SPORTS. Russian athletes can’t compete under their flag for two years. The mistake the Russians made was not getting on to Therapeutic Exemptions. That way you can transform asthmatics into world champion endurance athletes. Or champion cyclists. Cold War II contaminates everything.

THEFT. On the 8th thieves stole equipment from one of Russia’s four “doomsday” C3I planes. But nothing important we’re told three weeks later. Pretty embarrassing either way.

OPEN SKIES. Now that Washington has pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, Moscow is understandably concerned that US allies will pass information to Washington anyway. It is awaiting assurances that they won’t. My guess is it won’t get them, (more Russian “assertiveness”) and that that treaty will die too.

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. The US is still buying rocket engines from Russia. Ten for next year.

NAVALNIY. I don’t bother any more – it’s just more nonsense. It’s all Captain Jedburgh now. For those who do bother, Helmer keeps abreast of the latest revision to yesterday’s revision.

BIDEN’S Administration will be full of Russiagate believers, but I agree with the Saker: “sound and fury, signifying nothing”. But Moscow may be sending messages to the few that can hear…

1) WEAPONS. And the rollout of new weapons continues. The first regular production Su-57 enters service. Its companion RPV Okhotnik (hunter) will carry out flight tests with weapons in 2021. And a military design bureau specialising in developing weapons for extreme Arctic conditions has been re-opened. So let’s add it up: the First Guards Tank Army, an MRD in Kaliningrad, new weapons – especially hypersonic missiles, new warships at regular intervals, new nuclear weapons, serious presence in the Arctic, continuous tests and exercises, coastal missile brigade in Sakhalin. And China and Russia keep getting closer to a formal military alliance (Chinese poll put relations with Russia way out in front.). A joint air patrol of strategic bombers (of course it “does not target any third party”). “A light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs“.

2) COMPUTERS. Many US agencies have been penetrated by what seems to be espionage rather than “hacking”. Whodunnit? There’s no evidence (big players aren’t going to leave any are they? No “Feliks Edmundoviches” to titillate the simple-minded). Remember reports that the US was attacking the Russian power grid? Doctorow suspects Moscow is telling Washington that it already knows everything. Maybe. A lesson of history is that you can start a war with Russia, but Russia is likely to finish it. Another is that Russian/Soviet intelligence is very, very good. But we don’t know who did it.

RUSSIAN HACKING. Notice the Russians were hacking away, interfering, breaking in continuously from January to October, stopped completely in November and resumed in December. Amazing, isn’t it?

FAKE NEWS. “Believed to be … are feared… concerns … if,.. is said to be… thought to have been… It’s believed“. Another rock solid story.

BLAKE. George Blake, a famous double agent for Soviet intelligence, died in Moscow at 98. Putin’s statement is here. What turned him, he said, was his experience in North Korea where he witnessed the relentless USAF bombing of a country already ruined by 35 years of brutal Japanese occupation. The US dropped more bombs on North Korea than it had in the entire Pacific campaign 1941-1945 killing 20% of the population and destroying everything. How many Blakes were created by Raqqa, do you suppose?

NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. Ukraine press conference.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


PUTIN PRESS CONFERENCE. Here. COVID-19 a big theme – he lists what has been done – 277,000 beds, 40 purpose-built hospitals, over 500,000 medical staff deployed.

ECONOMY. Numbers from Putin: GDP down 3.6%, industrial production down 3%, agricultural industry up 1.8%, real incomes down 3%, unemployment up to 6.3%, national debt lowest ever at US$70 billion, international reserves up to US$587.7 billion, National Wealth Fund up to ₽13.5 trillion (about US$180 billion), 70% of federal budget comes from non-oil and gas revenues.

POLITICAL PARTY STANDINGS. I am not much surprised by the latest from Levada (question: for which would you vote this Sunday?). United Russia is 29%, Zhirinovskiy’s party 11%. KPRF 7%, Fair Russia 5% and the rest in the weeds. A ranking that you would have had pretty much any time in the last 20 years (but Zhirinovskiy and the KPRF often switch positions because they share some base). Pretty stagnant: and Zhirinovskiy and Zyuganov go back to the beginning. One big change though: Yabloko gets 1%. Once it was a contender; I think it died partly because the pedestal party stole a lot of its program but mainly because it always refused to unite with other like-minded parties. Putin says about 16 parties are now qualified to run without needing to collect signatures but most of them are no-hopers.

CHOOSE YOUR HEADLINE “Russia’s economy ‘recovered’ quicker than most of industrialised world” or “Russia in retreat as the Soviet collapse continues“.

KALININGRAD. In another triumph for NATO’s policy, Moscow has announced that a motorised rifle division has been formed there. This formation far outmatches NATO’s puny multi-national battlegroups in the Baltics and Poland. Poking the bear has consequences.

WATER. Crimea has always had a water supply problem and in 1950 it was decided to build a canal connecting springs in the Ukrainian SSR with the Crimean Oblast, then part of the RSFSR. The project was completed in 1965 by which time the Crimean Oblast had been transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. After incorporation into the Russian Federation in 2014, Kiev began to reduce the water supply. Rationing was imposed in parts of Crimea a couple of weeks ago as water supplies got low. Moscow is spending money to improve the situation. The Western media is full of stuff about how Crimea is costing Moscow more than it’s worth. Nonsense and wishful thinking of course – no wonder the West is always surprised by Moscow. Planning and realism always beats fantasists muttering in echo chambers.

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. On Sunday four Bulava missiles fired from an SSBN and successful test of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile. On Monday successful test launch of Angara-A5 heavy-class carrier rocket and excellent test results from Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday successful test flight of MC-21-310 airliner equipped with Russian-made engines.

ARMATA. The army will begin receiving T-14 Armata MBTs next year. Nothing was said about T15s.

THE ARCTIC IS A RUSSIAN LAKE. It was only when I researched this piece that I realised just how far ahead of the other Arctic powers Russia was: the race is over, Russia won.

NAVALNIY. Stupid gets stupider. The stuff they think they can make us believe. Incredible.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. Washington sanctions Turkey over the S-400 purchase.

SANCTIONS. A German report estimates Europe loses €21 billion annually because of Russian sanctions. For comparison, that’s what Berlin plans to spend on COVID aid in the first half of 2021.

US ELECTION. Putin has sent congratulations to Biden. But it’s not over yet – several states have sent competing Electors. Polls show a lot of doubt: Daily Kos finds only 51% feel the election was fairly conducted (Q3); Fox finds 36% think it was stolen; Politico says 32% don’t trust the results (POL7).

WESTERN VALUES™. Telling the truth might be “feeding the Russian narrative“.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Now they think Trump gone, it’s coming out “Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services“.

SHOWERS, GOLDEN. Helmer recounts how Steele made a career of inventing anti-Russia stories.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “How Vladimir Putin’s anti-vaxxers are trying to use Covid to kill us as surely as his agents did in Salisbury

BELARUS. Lukashenka has approved plans for new power-sharing arrangement.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


RUSSIA AND COVID-19. I wonder whether Xi suspected at first (at first) that COVID might (might) have been a biowar attack and communicated that possibility to Putin. (There are probably people in Beijing who think the US used biowar in Korea.) I think they quickly decided that it wasn’t but the possibility was put into their minds. (Remember the so-called Thucydides Trap?) I thought this up as an explanation of why, as far as I know, only Russia and China have built new permanent isolation hospitals. Just in case. Any way, four new ones just opened in Russia with another one coming later this month. Putin announced the beginning of large-scale vaccinations yesterday, key workers have the priority. Shoygu announced a vaccination program for the military.

KARABAKH. The ceasefire is holding, refugees are returning. “It is worth noting that international actors [he means Western ones, of course] have been completely sidelined from mediation…” Well, what do they bring to the table and who would trust them? The world is changing.

PUTIN. On his last legs again. Again.

SPACE STATION. An Energia executive says that the ISS is breaking down and suggests it has only about five years left. Meanwhile Beijing says China will start to build its own orbital station in 2021. (A Chinese probe just landed on the Moon.) Do I see a joint venture coming?

NAVAL INCIDENT. Peter the Great Bay is near Vladivostok and Russia claims the straight line from cape to cape; the US does not recognise that. A US warship on a “freedom of the seas” trip entered it and was chased off. Not that the USN would ever bow to foreign intimidation; (entertaining read that: the facts are that the US ship entered, the Russian ship told it to leave, it did – but nobody made it leave!!!) The Russian and Chinese navies should do a FONOP in the Gulf of Mexico. But that would be a silly and dangerous provocation without any real point, wouldn’t it?

ARCTIC. Rosneft announces that the Zvezda shipyard in Primorskiy Region has begun constructing the first of 15 icebreaker LNG carriers of the Arc7 class for its Arctic LNG 2 project. There is already a fleet of South Korean-built icebreaker LNG ships operating in Yamal. The Arctic is a Russian lake.

SHARON TENNISON. Interview with her here: worth your time. She’s been tirelessly working to improve American-Russian relations for three decades: ordinary people, face-to-face. Probably the greatest thing she has achieved is that Putin – whom she met way back then – certainly knows what she is doing and I’m sure that he feels he has had enough of Americans, he thinks of her and tries again.

NATO is again concerned by how close to its bases Russia puts its country.

NAVALNIY. More confusion and contradictions revealed in the German story.

SKRIPALMANIA. Yulia phoned home, on a burner it seems; living apart, she’s OK, dad has a tracheostomy tube; dad never wrote to Putin asking to come back and did not give interviews to Urban.

WESTERN VALUES™. The country that judges other countries’ elections just had an election. Somebody won. One day a court will tell us who. Lots of evidence of fraud: here, here, here and here. And who would contract out their elections to machines that can be hacked by anyone? (Note the date and source of the video – three years later, in CNN-land, the machines have become 100% solid.)

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Bubbles continue to burst. Too late, of course – the damage has been done. The only way to get to the truth is to sue. Gee maybe Moscow didn’t fund the Brexit campaign as we told you. Carter Page is suing Comey and others. Now that Flynn is pardoned maybe he’ll sue too.

OPEN SKIES. The USA has formally left it. The irony is that it was Eisenhower’s idea.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. A revealing ad for a Russian correspondent for the NYT – in essence, ya gotta believe all the anti-Russian propaganda or we won’t hire you. But what I don’t get is why pay the housing and transportation costs? They can make up this stuff more easily from home. BELARUS inches towards a solution: Lukashenka just said he will not be President under the new constitution which is expected to appear in 2021.

UKRAINE. Ukrainian historians continue their work: Joe Biden is the descendent of a Ukrainian noble and “culinary deceptions” are the newest Russian “hybrid warfare”. Meanwhile, in the real world, Ukrainians are getting out when they can. The seventh anniversary of Maidan – war, poverty, industrial decline, population fleeing, birthrate collapsing, a comedian in powerless power, the oligarchs looting what little is left, nonsense enshrined. And let’s not even think about this.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


KARABAKH. This ceasefire should last. Russian troops have been moved to the points of contact and secure the road link from Karabakh to Armenia proper. (Deployment positions and General Staff briefing). Baku recovered a lot of territory that had been taken in the first war and can justifiably claim to have won. Armenia, which officially was not involved at all, under its present somewhat colour revolution leadership has lost – but avoided a greater defeat – and Pashinyan is now under considerable pressure to quit. Ankara has once again extended itself but come up short. Moscow has demonstrated that it is the indispensable element in the area. However, it is important to recognise that the final status of Karabakh itself remains undecided and this will be a difficult problem to solve. But it will likely be settled with Moscow’s efforts and not that of outsiders.

NO MORE EMPIRE. Dmitriy Trenin explains to Americans that Russia is just Russia. Moscow knows exceptionalism is a waste and that empire is too.

COVID. A curfew in Moscow at 2300. Phase III trial results of the vaccine are said to be good. To my cynical surprise, Reuters has pretty balanced coverage of the Western reaction to the Sputnik vaccine.

E-VISAS. A quick, easy and cheap visa system goes into effect next year for citizens of 52 countries. None of the “Five Eyes” is included. This move has been in the works since the great success of the quick visas for the World Cup.

ISS. Russia finally loses its taxi monopoly.

RED SEA. It is reported that a small naval logistics base will be constructed in Sudan. Not sure I understand why: I don’t see how this fits into Russia’s defensive posture. Although it might be connected to supporting Iran which is in Moscow’s interest (the enemy of my enemy is my friend).

GUNS. Washington realises its air defence has holes (Tehran’s “black cygnet“). US comms aren’t reliable. Strategic bombers and their weapons loads. Lasers on fighter planes. New nuclear war command bunker. The US State Department fears that the Russian Poseidon weapon underwater nuclear drones could unleash ‘radioactive tsunami’ on US. Well… that’s what they’re designed to do; maybe it’s time to reconsider your policy on Russia. I reiterate – Russia just has to counter.

WESTERN VALUES™. The country that judges other countries’ elections just had an election. Somebody won. One day a court will tell us who. Apparently it’s easy to lose track of votes and takes a long time to find them. There’s a box around here somewhere.

RUSSIA AND THE WEST. I speculate that Moscow is giving up on the West and Western courts.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Remember all we were told about how weak US election security was and how Russia could easily change results? Well, forget it, Russia was shut out this year and US elections are solid as a rock. (Not that these people would give credit to Trump for the alleged re-securing.) Although those pesky Russians are still busy sowing, won’t congratulate and are disinforming.

WITHDRAWALS. The new US Defence Secretary says US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be reduced to 2500 each by 15 Jan 2021 and that “All wars must end“. Good luck with that: we’ve just heard a deep state operative boasting about defying Trump on this issue. And there’s opposition from the usual quarters: “leaving too soon”, Russia will “fill the vacuum” (but hasn’t Moscow been there and done that?). I guess they think doubling the Soviet record isn’t enough – Washington should go for the triple.

NEW NWO. 15 Asia-Pacific nations have signed onto the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: a third of the world economy. And poof goes Obama’s Asian pivot and Trump’s isolate China attempts. The grouping include two of the Five Eyes as well as Japan and South Korea. The world is changing.

UKRAINE. Remember when Putin allegedly told Bush that Ukraine wasn’t even a country? What he meant was that it is a territory assembled out of parts of other countries by Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev (not the people I’d personally pick to design my country) and deeply divided. It still is in the post-Maidan nightmare. A recent poll in “the poorest country in Europeshows it After all the propaganda, only 41% want to join NATO, 37% want non-alignment, 13% want to join the Russian-led security grouping. 57% expect relations with Russia to get better, 30% do not. Results vary with location. (Here’s the original). All that suffering and misery to remain where they were and not much change on the “cultural map” either. As I said at the beginning, Ukraine no longer exists: the West broke the First Rule of Ukraine.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer\


VALDAI. Putin’s speech is here. To my mind, other than the funeral crack, the most memorable bit was his strong defence of a mixed economy: when things are purring along, free enterprise does the job but in bad times you need the government. I’d say the last 20 years vindicates this point of view.

MOSCOW. I generally regard ratings lists as GIGO except when they provide an unexpected result as this does: Moscow fourth best city in the world for living and doing business. London, New York, and Paris ahead of it. Well… here’s a New Yorker saying COVID has killed NYC, and a Brit saying London too. The world does turn, doesn’t it? COVID is a gigantic black swan and it’s hit the West very hard.

PRESIDENTS. Last week Putin submitted a bill to the Duma that would make ex-presidents members of the Federation Council, today another to given them extensive immunity. Is he planning to go soon? After my predictive failure nine years ago, I’ve given up. I have always expected him to go when he thought the time was right and has a successor ready; he’ll determine the timing. But it’s a black box and I don’t know what’s going on inside. (This is not pseudo wisdom about “Mysterious Russia”: in any political process, we only see things going in and things coming out, what happens inside is speculation).

CORRUPTION. The CEO of the Vostochniy cosmodrome was arrested. The project has seen a lot of corruption and embezzlement.

ARCTIC. There are eight “Arctic nations“. But only one, thanks to its unequalled fleet of powerful icebreakers, has the capability to do anything more than maintain a thin presence. Helmer discusses.

ARMS CONTROL. As START will probably not be renewed, I agree with a Russian chief designer that Russia is well ahead of the USA in nuclear weaponry.

RELIGIONS. Putin had his annual meeting with religious leaders. Quite a variety; read the list.

DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. Sputnik reports that Russian scientists have found a way to quickly diagnose cancer. We’ll see: Sputnik sometimes gets ahead of itself on these matters.

SECURITY ORGANS. I think allowing intelligence officers take foreign citizenship and residency is being misinterpreted. If required “by the tasks of operational and intelligence activities”; it’s not permission to get a winter home in Majorca.

SNOWDEN. He was granted permanent status residence and says he will apply for citizenship. He’s very lucky the timing of his passport pull set him down in Russia – one of the few countries that has the will and muscle to defy Washington. Otherwise he’d be sharing the fate of Assange.

PC AND WOKENESS. An interesting essay arguing that the USA is repeating some Russian “follies”.

THE DOSSIER. I was always sure it was made up but I thought there were no actual Russians involved. Turns out there were actual passport-holding Russians, now quarrelling, involved in the invention. Of course, should Biden win, all this will be forgotten and Rachel Maddow’s version will become The Truth. But no Russian fiddling this time we are assured.

BREXIT. Oh, and Putin didn’t do that either. But people got airtime and a few quid out of saying he did.

WESTERN VALUES™. The country that judges other countries’ elections just had an election. Somebody won. One day a court will tell us who. Apparently counting votes is a tremendously difficult task, requiring enormous amounts of time.

BELARUS. A source suggests that the head of the SVR was sent to tell Lukashenka that the situation is serious, he should stop blaming outsiders and take responsibility for his mistakes. This, and other indications, suggest Moscow is pushing for a peaceful transfer of power. Anyway, Tikhanovskaya’s “ultimatum” came and went without effect.

CHICKENS, HOME, ROOST. “…we have repeatedly warned our French partners of the dangers posed by terrorists of North Caucasian origin, while they accepted them as ‘fighters for freedom‘”. “The extremists in this case are more cunning, clever and stronger than you, and if you play these games with them, you will always lose.

BIRTHRATES. We always hear about how Russians are disappearing but the fact is that turning West is much worse for your birthrate: for example the Baltics. Now we have some Ukraine numbers: 40% decline in the birthrate since the Maidan coup. Really, all Moscow has to do, if it covets the territory, is wait a couple of decades and then move into a forest with a few nursing homes scattered though it.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


(This, BTW, is the 802nd Sitrep – forgot to count. The first was in March 1997)

WAAAY HARSH! Putin is only worried about catching a cold at the West’s funeral.

SOMETHING ELSE from the country that doesn’t make anything. First of the new project 22220 class on its way to Murmansk: most powerful icebreaker ever made.

COVECONOMICS. IMF predictions are out. I am fascinated to see that it predicts Russia will do better (less badly) than anyone in the G7 or Euroland. China is set to grow a bit.

CLUELESS. Paul Robinson reminds us that so many Western “experts” haven’t a clue: Putin is popular because Russians think he’s doing a good job, not because “state TV” tells them he is.

RUSSIA-EU. I’ve long wondered when or whether Moscow will decide it isn’t worth wasting its time talking to the West. Maybe it’s about to start with the EU. A cheap and easy case to make its first step.

ENEMIES. A recent Levada poll shows 82% of respondents think Russia has enemies: 70% name USA, 14% Ukraine, 10% UK, 7% EU, 7% Poland. Only half as many thought it had enemies in 1994.

KARABAKH. A Russian-brokered ceasefire failed immediately. But I get the impression that the fighting has stalemated and sooner or later Moscow will be required. It’s one of Stalin’s little cartographic jokes that has come back to make trouble. One should be aware that there are three pieces of territory. Armenia proper; the former Nagorniy-Karabakh AO – largely ethnic Armenian; the Azerbaijan territories conquered by NK two decades ago. Moscow is obliged to protect the first if attacked – which it has not been and for that reason likely won’t be; the second needs some creative diplomacy to make the inhabitants feel secure (and the involvement of Ankara takes them straight back to the massacres a century ago and reinforces their conviction that their forever enemy are the Turks), the third is unquestionably Azerbaijan territory. (Moscow taught Erdoğan a very sharp lesson in 2015; love to know what discussions are going on in the background.)

START. Obama prolonged it as a sort of gentleman’s agreement; but I don’t think it’s going to survive. For one thing, the US negotiator lives in cloud cuckoo land. But – maybe – a development.

CORRUPTION. I’ve long thought that corruption is a much more complicated subject than it’s usually presented as and that we, on our side, might well have more invisible corruption than Russia. Read this and see what you think. And the Pelosis bought a piece of Crowdstrike – well, just… gosh! Of course, if it’s not reported by the NYT it didn’t happen, did it?

THE WISDOM OF RETIREES. MI6 head told us Russia was a “standing threat” “fundamental threat“. Retired, he tells us not to exaggerate. I attempt to explain the appearance of reality upon retirement here.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “Scrambling their brains“, Well…. I guess it does recognise the phenomenon of scrambled brains even if the explanation is a bit of a re-run. Heres’ the story from one of the usual sources. Remember the crickets? Of course it’s primarily anti-Trump agitprop: “the victims are left wondering why so little is being done by the Trump administration”. It’s all so idiotically transparent. (And anything you hear about H— B— is Russian disinformation and not really a story).

USA. Sure are a lot of pieces like this: America on cusp of a Civil War. Or this; this; this; and, especially, this. “For those who have followed events outside the United States during the past few decades, much of this sounds familiar. We’ve seen it before – inflicted on other countries“. If the US itself is suffering a colour revolution, what happens to the colour revolutions in other places? If the USA is tied up in severe civil strife, secession movements, accusations of election fraud, lawfare and the like, in the background of a faltering economy, COVID and forever wars, it will take a lot of pressure off Russia. (Starting to sound a bit like the USSR in the 1990s, isn’t it?)

RUSSOPHRENIA or or How a Collapsing Country Runs the World. I attempt to catalogue the craziness.

UKRAINE. Letter from three EU parliamentarians – strong supporters and believers – complain: “We cannot but see that the corruption perception in Ukraine in 2020 fell back to the 2017 mark, the praised reforms are backsliding…”. What happens when these people finally realise they’ve been lied to and played for suckers from the start? Will they do anything or go away and just be replaced by new suckers?

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS TO YOU. Fighting the Russians with slingshots. No, Rudi, complete nonsense: Ukraine started out with a big slice of the USSR’s heaps of weapons. Like 1000+ tanks, 1000+ AIFVs and so on: Wikipedia list here. A better question is what happened to them?