RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 19 NOVEMBER 2020

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\

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 NOVEMBER 2020

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

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 22 OCTOBER 2020

(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?

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 OCTOBER 2020

THE STRUGGLE INTENSIFIES. Stalin: “because they are becoming weaker, they feel that their last days are approaching and are compelled to resist with all the forces and all the means in their power“. Navalniy, Belarus, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia-Azerbaijan and another treason arrest. Connected?

SYRIA. Fifth anniversary of Russia’s intervention. And successful it has been: a brilliant combination of judiciously applied force, good intelligence, diplomacy and cooperation. And a reminder that, historically, Russians have been pretty good at war. Shoygu sums it up. (Russians like numbers as much as McNamara did – 133K jihadists killed? Let’s just say lots.)

SUGGESTION. Putin suggested how to improve Russia-US relations including a formal undertaking not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. VOA coverage sums up the Western (non) reaction. I assume Putin does these things, not because he expects an answer, but for the record and the outside audience.

CHEESE. Among the silliest things ever said about Russia was this by Masha Gessen (one of the silliest purveyor of silliness about Russia): What the Russians Crave: Cheese. Moscow countered the EU sanctions with a food ban; together with a well-planned program of subsidies and grants, it has effected a huge turnaround in Russia’s food production. In the 90s it was commonly thought that Russia imported half its food, today it is probably self-sufficient. And so with Gessen’s cheese: “it is the third largest producer of cheese after the European Union and the US.” Fancy cheeses too. Probably the ur-mistake of the so-called Western experts on Russia is their baked-in conviction that Russia is as they think it is and cannot, ever, change. This despite all the changes in the Putin Team era. But they’re paid to believe what they believe to be paid.

MEDIA. Speaking of “Russian experts”, RFE/RL six and a half years ago: “The 20 Russian News Outlets You Need To Read Before They Get The Ax“. All still there except for No 7. Ah well, change the date and put it out again; no one will notice. Meanwhile, Twitter removes RIA Novosti. A Levada poll shows that, as elsewhere, Russians get less news from TV, newspapers and radio and more from the Net.

WEAPONS. Zircon test. More interesting to see the hit than just the launch, though. New AAMs?

PEOPLE POWER. The protests in Khabarovsk continue. But very weird now: USSR flag, “Sacred War” and current address of the Antichrist. Pretty hard to fit all those into a coherent narrative.

WESTERN VALUES™. “If the necessary information is not provided, then targeted and proportionate sanctions against those responsible on the Russian side will be unavoidable.” So much for that sacred Western principle, Russia: if you don’t prove you didn’t do it, you’re guilty. “Freedom, democracy and the rule of law. These values are what define us.” Yeah, right.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. Trump says he has declassified everything. OK, let’s get on with it. But one has to ask if a tree falls in the forest and the NYT doesn’t report it, does it make a sound? Or are those who hear the sound debunked conspiracy theorists? And it’s probably too late anyway.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Forget actual evidence: the less there is the more proof there is. “Especially clever is planting tales of supposedly far-reaching influence operations that either don’t actually exist or are having little impact.” WaPo of course.

US ELECTION. Putin says he can work with either. Translation: “президенты приходят и уходят, а политика не меняется” (Presidents come and go, but the policies don’t change).

OOPS! A Ukrainian TV poll on whether Putin should get the Nobel Peace prize: 76% said yes.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Some more steps along an uncertain path. It is principally the relationship with Russia that is the driver (although China and the Muslim lands are factors too). Whatever may have been the case on the past, I don’t see that Europe gets much out of its subservience to Washington these days. But the separation will be slow and painful. I suspect Trump may be pushing it. (Gordian Knot 3).

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. In the early cargo-cult phase of EU/NATO aspirations, no one considered the full package. To a large extent the promised riches have been elusive but the globalist “human rights” package has not. I am amused to see that Budapest and Warsaw, targets both, have decided to fight back. What does this have to do with Russia? Well, Russia is the poster-child of a Westphalian world of independent sovereign states while Brussels is the poster-child of the globalist, one-size-fits-all world. Another tiny step.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 SEPTEMBER 2020

This is the 800th Sitrep

RUSSIA AND COVID. As far as I can see it’s pretty much under control in Russia. CNN has a (surprisingly) intelligent discussion; counting is everything (vide: with or from?) and the Russians are stricter on their counting. They also treat early with an effective drug. Meanwhile in the USA and UK, supposedly the best prepared… I recommend Stephen Walt’s essay again: The Death of American Competence. And I reiterate: 2020 will go down as the year the West lost its mojo.

MEDICAL. Russian researchers claim to have found a powerful new antibiotic.

HYPERSONIC. Putin said it was the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002 that forced Russia to start designing hypersonic weapons. One of the chief designers, refuting stories that Russia stole the technology from the USA, said research began long ago.

LENIN. A recent poll finds 40% want Lenin’s body out of Red Square and buried; 22% want it left there and 17% think it should stay there until last person alive in communist days is gone. Putin’s line has always been that it will be moved when a majority wants it so we’re not there yet. (I was premature nine years ago). Will the whole of the Communist pantheon on the wall – Stalin and all – have to go too? One of these days…

KAVKAZ-20. Big international exercise. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the 80,000 – Russians tend to count everyone involved, even if at a desk in Moscow.

OOPS. Russian cop who planted marijuana to get his arrest numbers up, becomes an arrest number.

RUSSIA INC. Now the second-largest car market in Europe after Germany.

RT AMUSES ITSELF. Trump’s new job post-November. Fun to watch the Trumputin conspiracists’ reactions; a humourless bunch.

RUSSIA BASHING. Easy money. Someone should develop a program. Putin’s latest victim X, one of a series DATA DUMP. Putin attacks Rules-Based International Order DATA DUMP. And so on.

NAVALNIY. I can’t be bothered keeping up with the latest nonsense – John Helmer follows the twists and turns and asks the questions. EG: why would Navalniy thank a diabetes and kidney specialist?

VENEZUELA. It appears that Venezuela’s large oil tanker has been switched to Russian ownership. An interesting move. Presumably to reduce the chance of US piracy.

IRAN. A Russian official suggests Moscow will sell arms to Iran as soon as embargo ends on 18 October. I’ll bet they’re discussing details now. Let me predict: air defence and EW will lead the list.

BELARUS. Still demos. Lukashenka sworn in. EU fails to agree on sanctions.

YEAH, WHATEVER I. Facts just don’t matter: re-type whatever “the sources” tell you as long as it’s anti-Trump, -Russia, -Iran or -China. Bounties. Trump insulting soldiers. US Ambassador.

YEAH, WHATEVER II. Fine example of what passes for reporting in the USA these days: first the fakery then, at the end, the reality. Finally, in the very last para: “Russia has an exceptionally good track record on managing clinical trials”. But who reads to the end?

YEAH, WHATEVER III. “C.I.A. Reasserts Putin Is Likely Directing Election Influence Efforts to Aid US President Trump“. And then we’re told “The C.I.A. has moderate confidence in its analysis… in part because the intelligence community appears to lack intercepted communications or other direct evidence… “. Now read this and wonder what’s going on: “Everyone who works here knows that analytic objectivity is beyond reproach”.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. “US must demand equal access to Russian airwaves.”

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Macron insists Europe will not compromise over Iran.

BIDEN/UKRAINE. Son of the man at the head of the table? Nothing to see here; move along.

UNGA SPEECHES. Interesting to compare; Putin and Xi about cooperation; Trump boasting and hostility (par for the course – here’s Obama in 2015.) Sure it’s PR from the first two but effective in comparison. The so-called Rules-Based International Order is dying of failure.

NEW NWO. I note that Beijing is becoming much tougher in its statements (check this video). Moscow’s countermoves are also becoming more direct – as we see with the latest moves on the Venezuelan tanker and arms sales to Iran. I guess they feel that the correlations of forces is shifting. I think they’re right: the USA seems to be heading for really dramatic domestic problems. Lots of talk, anyway, from both sides.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 SEPTEMBER 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 1046K; total deaths 18,263; tests per 1 million 270K. Russia has done 39.5 million tests (fourth after China, USA and India); among countries with populations over 10M it’s done the most tests per million. Lancet paper on Russian vaccine. Photographs of the vaccine production line. Claims that Surfactant drugs are effective treatment. A machine capable of detecting numerous pathogens including COVID-19 unveiled.

CAR CRASH. The famous actor Efremov was given an 8-year sentence for causing fatal car crash.

TREASON. A military historian and reservist has been imprisoned on charges of high treason; no details given and the trial was in camera. There have been several recent trials. I wonder what’s going on. Renewed attacks on Russia, or a decision to clean things up?

NAVALNIY. Notice Novichok doesn’t need people in hazmat suits this time? Noticed the mysterious bottle? (Helmer and Cunningham have). Hard to keep the lies straight – another hole in Skripalmania.

CONTEMPT. Now they come right out and tell us they think we’re stupider than pond scum: “a variant that the world did not know until this attack, but which is said to be more malicious and deadly than all known offshoots of the Novichok familyThe fact that he is still alive… is only due to a chain of happy circumstances.

IN THE COUNTRY THAT MAKES NOTHING. “The President drove an Aurus limousine along a newly-built section of the Taurida motorway.”

UBI. Medvedev, leader of the majority party, floats the idea of universal basic income. Something to watch.

VODKA. Continues its decline as Russia’s booze of choice. Another change to the Russia of clichés.

AGRICULTURE. Short piece on how effectively Russia has used sanctions and counter sanctions to make its agricultural sector an important international player. It’s been a stunning achievement in fact and unimaginable in the 1990s – I remember an agricultural guy then just shaking his head. I reiterate – Russia, far from being the feeble and failing entity described by Western propaganda, is the closest thing to an autarky on the planet today. Twenty years of peace and you won’t recognise Russia.

THE HUMBLE SOYBEAN. China imports a lot from the USA. But, given the way things are going, it’s probably reconsidering: Commerce Minister Zhong calls for a “soybean industry alliance” with Russia.

DOOM AVERTED. AGAIN. Russia’s military, formerly “hamstrung” by lack of parts from Ukraine, has replaced the lack. COVID-19 didn’t finish Russia and Putin off. Relying on Western coverage of Russia makes you more ignorant. Continuing to, failure after failure, makes you stupid.

RATINGS. New Levada poll puts Putin back in the high 60s.

ANOTHER ONE. The Admiral Nakhimov (remember seeing it in the distance in the 1990s) put in water after years of reconstruction. Prestigious-looking ships packed with weapons.

COOLEST PLANE EVER. Is back. Did you know it’s actually younger than the American B-52?

PROBABLY NOT A COINCIDENCE. Film of biggest nuclear weapon ever declassified.

WESTERN VALUES™. Navalniy. Assange. MH17 trial. Meng. Sacoolas. Sterling examples all.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. “Vote because Russian lessons are expensive“. But suppose Putin doesn’t care whether you speak Russia as long as you obey? But see below – Farsi is probably a better choice.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. China Russia and Iran are “are seeking to disrupt our election“. Has there ever been such a fearful superpower? I still bet that Tehran will make the choice because the other two will cancel each other out.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Remember when we said Russia was dangerously fast tracking its vaccine? Forget we said that.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Pompeo says the European Allies “chose to side with the Ayatollahs“. Time to sanction them all I guess.

BELARUS. The shape of the settlement is appearing: a referendum on constitutional changes; Lukashenka steps down; new election; solid alliance with Russia.

UKRAINE. A poll shows 49% distrust and 44% trust President Zelensky. Not so surprising: he hasn’t delivered on anything. Not that anybody would let him. Ukraine continues its misery.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 AUGUST 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 942K; total deaths 16,099; tests per 1 million 229K. Russia has done 33.5 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s done the most tests per million.

SPUTNIK VACCINE. Bernhard covers the meretricious headlines in the Western media. CNN’s deduction is especially irrelevant “Putin and his interests are routinely supported by an unbelievable three quarters of voters. Three-quarters of Americans don’t agree on much of anything“. The foundation the vaccine is built on. Production photos. Official website so you can see for yourself what they claim.

WARNING. In what we must assume an official statement, two senior officers state that any incoming ballistic missile will be assumed to be a nuclear attack. So this is where we are after low-yield nukes, Obama’s modernisation program and killing arms control treaties. Balance of terror and MAD return.

SAME SAME. Navalniy “poisoned“. Again. He does appear to be seriously sick this time, though.

PRISONS. Russia has a large prison population, but has been gradually reducing it. It has fallen below 500K which is about half what it was twenty years ago. But still high by European standards.

MEDIA. “There is more diversity of thought – and criticism of government foreign policy – in the Russian mainstream print media than the American equivalent. That’s a fact.” (Brian MacDonald, an Irish reporter working for RT and living in Russia.)

EDUCATION. Russian universities rank low. USA UK rank best in pandemics. Ranking lists are GIGO.

US TROOP WITHDRAWAL. 12K out of Germany, half to USA, 1000 to Poland, rest stay in Europe.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. Twitter has decided to label “state media” starting with the P5. Amazingly enough, only two of the five qualify to be labelled. RFE/RL (“funded by the U.S. Congress“) is not. BBC World Service (government-funded) is not. And so on. Gaslighting.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem“. Everything on Russian media is controlled by Putin. Everything Rachel Maddow says about Putin is true. Anyone who questions this is a dupe or puppet. Repeat for 77 pages. Senate report: ditto but take 1000 pages.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Russia is backing Donald Trump, China is supporting Joe Biden and Iran is seeking to sow chaos in the U.S. presidential election…”. I guess that means that Russia and China will cancel each other out and Iran will choose the winner.

BELARUS. Obviously another colour revolution directed from outside. Lukashenka won the election (not by 80% – my guesstimate – 60% or so) but a lot of people are tired of him. He tried to play both sides but now understands that the West wants him dead or gone and only Putin can save him; that is why he has invoked the Union Treaty. And there is the military alliance. So, if Belarus’s independence is threatened from the outside (as it is) Moscow can intervene on request. The Russian mercenary story was a (typically incompetent) SBU plot; all are back in Russia. The West sternly warns Lukashenka not to shoot protesters in the eye with rubber bullets or kneel on their necks. (Pompeo, when asked if it’s hypocrisy: “Even your question is insulting.”) I expect the colour revolution to fail but Lukashenka will, as they used to say, “retire at his own request for health reasons”. Putin told Merkel and Macron outside interference was “unacceptable” (strong language for him). Lukashenka has told the Interior Ministry to restore order. Two facts you may not know: Lukashenka says he was offered a World Bank loan if he did a COVID lockdown and Belarus is important for OBOR. A third: the white-red-white flag the protesters all seem to have (another sign of a colour revolution – where do they all come from so suddenly?) was used by nazi collaborators. (The conductors of these performances really have no idea, do they? Belarus lost a quarter of its population in the war).

MOSCOW AND BELARUS. Moscow doesn’t care what kind of government Belarus has. Become part of Russia? Nice, maybe, someday; but not if its economy is a drain. What Moscow will not permit (and the treaties give it the entry) are Belarus becoming 1) a hostile military alliance base 2) a constant source of problems. Moscow would have been perfectly happy with a neutral, independent and prosperous Ukraine. (And in retrospect, I’ll bet most of the supporters of Maidan would prefer it too).

BELARUS AND ITS NEIGHBOURS. Not leaking population like the Baltics. Much better off than Ukraine. No wars like Russia. OK there’s Poland, but it got enormous help from the EU (and still does). Not such a paltry record, is it?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 AUGUST 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 870K; total deaths 14,606; tests per 1 million 203K. Russia has done 29.7 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. The Health Minister says mass vaccinations will begin by October. Has Russia really won the vaccine race? this researcher believes so and gives his explanation.

KHABAROVSK. Protests continue (video of Sunday’s). A lot of things going on: Furgal was popular, his replacement, while from the LDPR, is unknown in the area, Khabarovsk feels ignored (Moscow is only 700kms closer than Vancouver), outside activists coming in, corruption. Moscow has handled it badly.

RUSSIA INC. Despite the usual predictions from the usual sources, Russia Inc is healthy: big FOREX kitty; low debts. And, furthermore, it’s about the closest thing to an autarky that exists today. Entertaining argument that it can only get better in the rest of the year. It’s just been suggested that there may be even more money available in a couple of oil and gas companies.

PUTINOLOGY. Sarkozy and Bill Clinton agree: he always keeps his word. I agree after years of observation: he says what he means and means what he says.

CHURCH. Some of the Church’s officials live very well indeed. An Abbess was requested to sell her Mercedes. This is drawing some attention. The Patriarch says such speculations “are designed to prevent the spread of God’s word”. Which is not an entirely satisfactory response. In the Yeltsin days the ROC was given a piece of the action of certain imports (tobacco for one) so as to fund itself. That seems to have stopped and revenue today comes from the state, sale of articles for church use and some business entities. Scandals come up from time to time and are forgotten as this one probably will be too. The wealth of religious organisations is not, of course, just an issue with the ROC.

FOREIGN CONNECTIONS. A Constitutional amendment prohibits certain officials from having foreign citizenship or residency permits. A KPRF Deputy says 39 Deputies from the pedestal party have; the Speaker has promised to look into it. Some one else has published a list of officials with a second passport. Quite a few; something to watch: presumably they formally renounce these things or are fired.

MOON. The Roscosmos head says that Russia and China are likely to build a Moon research base. Another sign neither sees Washington as reliable. I note Beijing is becoming blunter: a “bully” “undermining international law and order” “reckless provocation” “conspiracy theories“.

MILITARY. Airborne exercise video and a reminder that they’re the only one that routinely drops AFVs. Eastern Military District. Mediterranean. Sea of Japan. Black Sea. Baltic. Practice and messages.

BEIRUT DISASTER. First Russian aid arrived yesterday, more coming today.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Source of The Dossier finally revealed – unimpressive, to put it mildly. Interesting link with Fiona Hill and Brookings. Even the CIA thought it was junk but the FBI insisted. Comey “went rogue”. (Are we ever going to get to the arrest and handcuff phase of this so that even WaPo and NYT readers can learn what happened?)

DOUMA. The Douma fake CW attack, the FUKUS attack, leaks from the OPCW and its cover-up finally hit the MSM thanks to Aaron Maté and The Nation. Neither fake attack nor coverup news to my readers.

BELARUS. Pretty mystifying. The Russians-sent-to-destabilise story is absurd (vide.) I know that Lukashenka has been playing Russia and the West, I see signs of a “colour revolution” (colours. Slogans). I’ve heard that the arrested Russians were on their way to be security guards for a facility in Libya. Now Lukashenka says US citizens have been arrested and that Putin’s his “elder brother“. It’s smelling to me like a Western regime change operation that hasn’t been very well prepared. I would expect Lukashenka to prevail and suggest he check his immediate entourage.

GERMANY-USA. Little by little the split grows. Some recent German polls show good support for American troop reduction. And good support for reducing dependence on the USA and improving relations with Russia.

FREUDIAN SLIP. “So we can all deter Russia and avoid peace in Europe“.

NORDSTREAM. Washington huffs and puffs, last opposition from Copenhagen over.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Sloppy, sloppy: the latest UK Russian hacker story debunks itself: documents reported in UK media two days before “Russian hackers” “hacked” them!

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 23 JULY 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 795K; total deaths 12,892; tests per 1 million 178K. Russia has done 26 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. Russia claims to have a working vaccine that is safe and reliable and that produced antibodies in all who were tested. Mishustin expressed confidence to the Duma. In an amazing development Newsweek actually published this “What Russia Got Right About the Coronavirus—and What It Can Share With The World“.

KHABAROVSK. Two weeks ago the FSB arrested Sergey Furgal, governor of Khabarovsk Region, on suspicion of organizing murders in 2004 and 2005. He was one of the few governors not from the pedestal party but from the LDPR. Furgal was quite popular and there have been significant protests. Doctorow discusses the background: one of his conclusions is that there are misgivings in the Russian Far East about Moscow’s closeness with Beijing. Protest numbers have probably been exaggerated, but are still significant. Perhaps the appointment of another LDPR member as acting governor will calm things down. We will see. A terrorist plot in Khabarovsk was just prevented: would it be too cynical to wonder whether Moscow is telling the good citizens of Khabarovsk how valuable it is to them?

RUSSIA INC. Despite everything, Russia’s FOREX and gold kitty keeps growing – now worth 569 billion USD. Of course, quite a bit is the increase in the price of its gold holdings (about 2300 tonnes).

RUSSIA-EXERCISE. Snap combat readiness test of Southern Military District. Kinzhal launch. Video. Not aimed at anybody or anything, just routine, blah blah blah, but, should anyone be watching…

CHINA. Another conversation between the two presidents about their “comprehensive strategic partnership”. China FM Wang told Lavrov the USA had “lost its mind, morals and credibility”.

NYT BIAS. Historian David Foglesong has written a piece about the long-time Russophobia of the NYT: “propaganda…is not necessarily untrue.… It is a method of emphasis calling attention to that which it is desired to have known”. It is desired to have known. Free media indeed.

WESTERN VALUES™. Today’s bloviation: “America is fundamentally good… America, uniquely among nations, has the capacity to champion human rights and the dignity of every human being made in the image of God, no matter their nation… And to the world, America is the star that shines brightest when the night is the darkest…”. And so on. Does any other country say this sort of thing routinely?

MEDDLING. The CIA has been authorised to make cyberattacks on other countries including Russia. You only do this if you think you’re better at it than your targets; otherwise you’ve just stuck a kick me sign on your back. Are the Americans better at this? Doubt it.

NORDSTREAM 2. Washington is going all out in sanctions; Berlin is determined to finish it. Well, Washington is going to lose this one; then what?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All lies. “The statements by Mr. Strzok question the entire premise of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign and make it even more outrageous that the Mueller team continued this investigation for almost two and a half years. Moreover, the statements by Strzok raise troubling questions as to whether the FBI was impermissibly unmasking and analyzing intelligence gathered on U.S. persons.”

STEELE. Troubles are catching up to him. He just lost a court case in the UK against two Russian bankers over claims he made in the infamous Dossier. The fines plus court costs may bankrupt his company. And more revelations about the worthlessness of the sources of the junk in the famous Dossier. Bit late for this to come out – anybody with a bit of nous knew it was garbage from the start.

BUT THEY’RE STILL AT IT. The UK report is the same old crap from the same old sources (Steele too!) – don’t pay it any attention. GIGO. Flying vampire bats with smart phones. (And Soviet stars – natch.)

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Today’s story is that Russian big wheels were getting the vaccine months ago, I guess we’re supposed to forget last week’s story that Russia was trying to steal our vaccine.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Why do Russia’s enemies fall from balconies? Oops! Can we re-write that?

HISTORY. “Canada’s Nazi Monuments“. And don’t think there aren’t policy implications today.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 JULY 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 707K; total deaths 10843; tests per 1 million 151K. Russia has done 22 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. RT reports a survey finding that most Russian physicians are sceptical of the official numbers. Its counting rule is strict; a looser rule would create bigger numbers: I don’t take any numbers very seriously. (Vide chaotic UK counting.)

CONSTITUTION. Passed comfortably. The ads I saw varied between happy families and – the one projected on the US Embassy facade – in 1993 we were yours and now we’re ours. Sums up the main changes. As to the term reset many argue that it is designed to kill any succession in-fighting (or foreign fiddling): even if Putin quits after this term, he can still come back. I still see it as a cheap trick.

ESPIONAGE. Ivan Safronov was arrested on Tuesday and charged with espionage. The claim is that he passed information on weapons sales to the Middle East and Africa to Czech intelligence which then passed it the the USA. He denies the charges. He had worked for several newspapers covering space and defence and had been hired by RosKosmos in May. The authorities say they had been watching him for several years (from which we can deduce that the information passed on was probably false – the Russians are very very good at this). Meanwhile it has been officially denied that an exchange is been considered for Whelan (which, I guess, means that it either is or isn’t).

MH17 TRIAL. Hops along to its pre-ordained conclusion: “‘The relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987,’ the judge claimed. ‘In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Konashenkov] can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located‘”. So we’re not going to look at the provenance of the conveniently discovered missile bits; wouldn’t suit the guilty verdict. A farce.

DEJA POO. Let’s make up a story that 1) keeps the Russia enemy theme going 2) can be used to harm Trump 3) will stymie negotiations to get out of Afghanistan and 4) fool the simple-minded. Should run for a week or two and then we’ll come up with something else. Meanwhile, in the real world, survivors or families are suing US companies that paid protection money to Taliban.

ICEBREAKERS. Russia starts an even bigger one. Russia dominates the icebreaker business.

WADA YA KNOW. Der Spiegel dares to question the US/Canadian Russia mass doping story.

MORE SANCTIONS. The UK has just revealed new sanctions against Russians (and others). Moscow says it will retaliate.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Shrinks or slammer. Once the West’s darling. Do you think HRW will get excited about this “sinister reminder of the Soviet legacy of punitive psychiatry“?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Every time I think the insanity has reached the top, somebody shoves it up another notch, the “Lincoln Project” with this absurdity. But then that is surpassed by some Democrat politician: “Wakes up every morning, goes to be every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.” And these people are spectacularly ignorant: Russia is bulging with new infrastructure; even the Moscow Times reports it. Americans get in a tizzy over their enemy du jour but when they kill him (Qaddafi, Hussein) or jail him (Milosevic) they calm down. How much more frenzied can they get?

NEW NWO. Interesting poll about COVID: about half the Europeans polled thought the EU had been irrelevant; 60% said they thought less of the US than before. The pollster concluded that “Europeans have lost faith in the United States in its power and competence to lead the world”.

BIO-LABORATORY. In Tbilisi. What’s the story? Russian Foreign Ministry expresses concern. Russian disinformation. Perfectly OK says Washington. Sinister purposes say other Americans. Even creepier says investigative reporter. I don’t know, but if the purposes are benign, why can’t they be done at home? Fauci-funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan?? USAF admits to collecting Russian genetic material?? Some serious questions here, I think. Certainly one could understand Moscow and Beijing taking a mistrustful view.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Nordstream advances. Washington contemplates sanctions, Berlin, committed to it, bites back. Merkel says Europe has to prepare for a future in which USA not a world power. Schroeder says the sanctions would mark the “definite termination of the Transatlantic partnership“. Copenhagen gives approval for the final bits. An important defiance of Washington’s diktat.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer