RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 JANUARY 2020

THE GREAT RESHUFFLE. I do expect Putin to retire and assume him to be working on a succession plan to keep the team’s aims in operation. He’s due to go in about four years. I would not be surprised if we see something à la Kazakhstan where Nazarbayev still has a significant advisory authority.

1. NEW PM. Mikhail Mishustin, head of Tax Service. Is he the chosen one? (Would be a blow to the Hirsute Analytical Tool, though.) (Мишустин bio on Russian Wikipedia.)

2. CONSTITUTION. Putin suggested constitutional tweaks. A ban on any form of dual citizenship for certain positions: they must “inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances”. The Duma should appoint the PM and the PM the government although little was said about exactly how responsibilities were to be divvied up. (Did he support removing the two consecutive term rule? Don’t know – depends on what you think “этим” refers to.)

3. PRECEDENCE. Back when the world was simpler and happier and Russians naïve, the Constitution (Art 15.4) said “If an international treaty of the Russian Federation establishes rules other than those stipulated by the law, the rules of the international treaty apply.” Brutal reality has taught Moscow the true nature of the “Rules-Based International Order” and Putin has proposed to reverse the authority.

4. MEDVEDEV. Deputy Chairman of the Security Council. I think it’s a real job and not a sinecure.

WHAT’S IT MEAN? My take. Doctorow. MacDonald. We are broadly in step. Robinson discusses possibilities. Those who see Russia as one man and many robots of course see this as Putin hanging onto power forever. But their predictive track record is pretty pathetic, isn’t it?

FEDERAL ASSEMBLY ADDRESS. In addition to the constitutional matters above, Putin’s address (Rus) (Eng), touched on other subjects. He began with population – the births per woman were 1.5 and he wants to raise that to 1.7 and proposes more day care places and greatly extending existing financial support programs as well as spending to improve healthcare. All this is possible because “The federal budget has had a surplus again” and inflation is low. (Robinson points out, quite correctly, that there’s a gap between what The Boss decrees and what actually happens. Nonetheless I’d say Putin has been much more successful than most leaders.) Foreign matters received the barest mention: situation in MENA threatening, Russia ready to cooperate, “defence capability is ensured for decades to come”.

RUSSIA INC. Awara does a study of Russian and American earnings and demonstrates that, in purchasing power, they’re a lot closer than you would think. It’s not just money: health, housing and education – big expenses in the USA – are negligible costs in Russia.

CORRUPTION. After an investigation, the Russian Academy of Sciences has forced the retraction of hundreds of scientific articles for plagiarism and other forms of fraudulent behaviour.

RUSSIA, SPORTS AND DRUGS. It’s all fakery – Mark Chapman takes the trouble to put it all together.

USN ALWAYS HAS RoW. Again the US accuses the Russian Navy of dangerous behaviour, again it was the USN ship that should have given way. (Give way to starboard vessel.) Speaking of rules-based.

IRAQ. It is reported that that Baghdad is in talks with Moscow on buying S-300 SAM systems. Baghdad orders Americans out; they refuse; Baghdad might need air defence that’s independent of US backdoor programming.

TURKSTREAM. Formally launched by the two presidents in Turkey.

NOT IN YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. Helmer discusses a German parliamentary report that shows that there really isn’t any evidence that Russia “invaded” Ukraine or controls the rebels: “few reliable facts and analyses aside from the numerous speculations”. It calls it a “civil war” (bürgerkriegs). Which is what it actually is (with assistance from NATO and Russia, to be sure). (Report, German only).

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. A contested presidential election led to pretty strong protests with the Supreme Court changing its ruling. The long and the short is that Raul Khajimba, an important player and President for six years, resigned on Monday. New elections will be held in March. Independent Abkhazia has not been very stable and I don’t have any good sources to guide me on what’s happening. Although I have been told it is determined on real independence, joining neither Russia nor Georgia.

NEW NWO. Iran has just demonstrated it belongs to the rather small club of countries which can precisely strike a target from far away. At least somebody got the message.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 2 JANUARY 2020

TWENTY YEARS. Putin & Co have been running the place for two decades. I assess how well they accomplished his 1999 program and discuss the one thing he forgot about then but has since been forced to remember. The verdict has to be that they have achieved their goals extremely well. Twenty years ago Russia had a collapsed economy, was falling apart, lawless from top to bottom and insignificant in the world. Not any more. The propagandists at RFE-RL do their best to belittle the achievement. (USA and EU 20 years ago and now; Russia and China 20 years ago and now. You decide which management team you’d like.)

GOLD. Russia’s FOREX kitty is US$548.7 billion of which gold (2261 tonnes) accounts for about 20%.

RUSSIA INC. Reasonable quickie on the economy in 2019: de-dollarisation, turning eastwards, consolidation but still rather flat living conditions. Moscow is planning for the future. I still say that we are going to discover what Russia, freed from autocracy serfdom and bolsheviks, can do.

INFRASTRUCTURE. It’s hard to keep up. Some videos for those who believe Russia is a stagnant mess. Local trains. New highway. Grozniy. Shopping in a Moscow region town. Don’t need a freezer in Yakutsk. Aurus car factory. Trefoil Arctic base. Floating NPP. Beef farm. Farm in Voronezh. Maternity hospital. Fancy hotel in Crimea. Medium range passenger plane. Grocery store. Village shop. Restaurants in Irkutsk. ATOM tram. Siberian cities. Big changes – in my time it was more like this grocery store.

CRIMEA BRIDGE. Last week the railway part was formally opened and the first trains have crossed; the road part opened in May 2018. 63 months from decision to now; 46 from start of construction.

INTERNET TEST. Last week Russia tested the independence of its internet from world connections. The test was said to be successful. Not Russia cutting itself off but defending itself in case it is cut off.

HISTORY WARS. Putin displayed a number of documents relating to the start of the Second World War, thereby giving the fantods to many. But it’s true, even if most people in the West are ignorant: Moscow did all it could to create an anti-Hitler alliance and only gave up at the very last moment. That having been said, my advice to Putin would be to stop trying to defend the USSR’s territorial grabs – they were a cold-blooded attempt to gain strategic depth for the attack Stalin knew was coming.

NEW NWO. A Russia-China-Iran naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Not big but very symbolic.

RAQQA. Russian forces enter the town the US destroyed with “precision bombing“.

NORD STREAM 2. Nearly finished and Washington is infuriated. Tucked into a gigantic military spending bill are sanctions against companies working on it; one company has already quit. The Russians say they can finish the job and Berlin remains determined to do so. So what will the net effect be? A few months’ delay and Washington’s allies even more irritated. Which, I speculate, might be the point.

FAKE NEWS. Russia bombs hospitals says NYT. But, if you look closely, you’ll find, deep down, the admission that many of the given locations are wrong. That they are fakes doesn’t occur to the NYT.

OPCW. More leaks (good summary). Corporate media pretty quiet: in UK, Hitchens then Fisk yesterday; only Carlson in the USA. I guess exposing the lies that support attacks on Syria aren’t really real news.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “Its economy, already smaller than Italy’s, may be sputtering… “. Two howlers and he hasn’t even finished the sentence.

US EXPERTISE. Somebody said that the USA has a shallow bench on Russia and so it does. Here’s a rather brutal exposure of the “expert” who is presumably Biden’s main advisor. Ten predictions about Russia in 2019, all assuming a malevolent expansionist lawless Russia. Result: no wins, many miserable misses. Has any US government “expert” got anything right about Russia? (Of course I exclude Cohen, Hahn et al; but they’re not official. Unfortunately.) An echo chamber of complacent ignorance.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Horowitz put a few nails in the conspiracy coffin, but only on the FBI part.

IMPEACHMENT. Who imagined that a little regime change to weaken Russia and get a naval base in Crimea would have such reverberations at home? And not, by any means, done yet.

UKRAINE. More encouraging steps. Another prisoner exchange (again most were, from Kiev’s POV, Ukrainian citizens). And finally a gas deal that ensures transit through Ukraine and supply to Ukrainian users at a discounted price. All issues settled says Medvedev and Zelensky is also happy. (So miserable is Ukraine’s economy that the transit fees will be 8% or more of Kiev’s revenue.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 19 DECEMBER 2019

PARIS MEETING. It happened but nothing much happened. Agreed to a ceasefire and to uphold Minsk. But Zelensky can’t deliver: the Ukronazis amuse themselves by popping off rounds into towns in Donbass and Kiev refuses to take the next step: local elections in the rebel areas (Number 4). Nothing suggests that Macron pushed anything, although Zelensky wasn’t able to make Number 9 into the next step. The EU extended sanctions; they include a demand for the “complete implementation of the Minsk agreements“. If Macron had been serious about bettering EU-Russia relations, he would have had his representative object because Russia has no obligations under Minsk; if he didn’t already know that, he learned it at the meeting. So, thus far, no evidence that his actions comport with his words.

PUTIN PRESS CONFERENCE. (Eng) (Rus) I’ll say more next time if anything strikes me. Haven’t seen anything new so far. Again, lots of details, mostly internal.

SHADOW ECONOMY. I had thought that the imposition of the flat income tax rate of 13% in 2001 had pretty well eliminated the problem of the “grey economy”. But a recent study, comparing statistics on taxpayers against the number working, suggests that the “shadow economy” might be as high as 18% of the total workforce. I’m not convinced by that number: some people make too little to pay tax; added to which, given that there are proposals to raise the level from 13%, this study may be part of that discussion because it says that, were the non-payers to be captured, the tax rate could be cut to 11%. So that number might too high but it’s something to keep an eye on.

LUZHKOV. Yuriy Luzhkov died last week. Long-time mayor of Moscow, he was fired in 2010. I remember the moment when, as it were, Moscow city began to turn around. There was a garbage skip on the little street where the Canadian Embassy was. It would fill up, keep filling, overflow, fill up some more, overflow again. One day, early in 1994, it was emptied and thereafter was regularly emptied. Say what you like about him and his wife dipping their beaks, but he got stuff done.

INF. Washington has killed the INF Treaty which prohibited intermediate range missiles in Europe. Foreign Minister Lavrov says Moscow will never be the first to deploy them in Europe. If the US did deploy them (their last attempt sparked huge protests) Moscow can have them there the next day.

CORRUPTION. Aleksey Kuznetsov, who was Moscow Region finance minister 2000-2008, was sentenced to 14 years for fraud and theft. He had fled the country but was extradited from France.

WADA. A 4-year ban on Russia. Two comments: more medals for us! And I guess the Russian team did too well in Syria. Anyhow, the new way is getting doctor’s notes.

UK ELECTION. The craziness has hit there. Johnson is a Russian stooge; Russia has won the election; Fusion GPS (!!) tells us the UK needs a Mueller report.

SKIPALMANIA. “Ex-MP NORMAN BAKER is certain Russia has killed many people on British soil… but he believes we’ve been fed a pack of lies over the Salisbury poisonings“. Say what you like about the DM, but occasionally it veers away from the-re-type-what-you’re-handed mode. (PS Mr Baker, you’re late to the party – you’re just repeating Rob Slane – but welcome. BTW if they’re lying to you now, what makes you so sure they weren’t then too?) Skripal has phoned Russia three times – surreptitiously?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “Pentagon Concerned Russia Cultivating Sympathy Among US Troops“. Too stupid to waste a sneer at.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Erdoğan threatens to close the two US bases in Turkey if Washington goes ahead with sanctions. A YouGov poll finds that a majority of Germans are in favour of reducing reliance on US (55%) and increasing ties with Russia (54%). NATO’s biggest problems are internal cohesion. Germany rejects Washington sanctions on NordStream2. Der Spiegel defies Browder.

BAD DAYS FOR LIARS. Afghanistan war lies. Browder. Media lied about “Russiagate”; so did Schiff. And Comey. And of course, all the lies revealed by the IG: and that was just the FBI part of it. More from OPCW. All helping to make the idea of war with Russia more acceptable.

FAKE NEWS. Ukrainian reporter killed by Putin Ukronazis.

UKRAINE. One of Kiev’s biggest supporters reiterates his advice that Kiev should let the Donbass go: too expensive to fix and they don’t want to be in Ukraine anyway. All true enough but it’s noteworthy that neither now, nor three years ago, does he mention Crimea. But the same arguments apply, don’t they? And probably in Mariupol, Odessa, Transcarpathia and…

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 DECEMBER 2019

POWER OF SIBERIA. Putin and Xi turned on the pipeline on Monday. It carries gas from Russia’s Far East into China and has a carrying capacity of 61 billion M3 per year. There’ll be more. This has no small strategic significance: previously, for foreign sales, Russia was dependent on customers in Europe who are all, to a greater or lesser extent, subject to pressure from the war party. Added to which transport was affected by Kiev’s whims. Turkstream (scheduled to start next month) and the two pipelines to Germany help with the second problem and this one with the first. Sooner or later, Russia-China pipelines would have appeared but I think Ishchenko’s argument that the Western war on Russia speeded up the process is credible. (Come to think of it, now that Putin’s hand is imagined everywhere, maybe it’s time to consider that he’s the American war party’s real backer; after all, everything it’s touched has turned to dust: from the forever wars, to Iran’s increased influence, to the Russia-China alliance and now the furore in the USA over Ukraine – itself another disastrous project.)

WEAPONS. More and more projects are surfacing. The Ground Forces commander says the Kungas robot family is ready for the next stage of tests – the Uran-9 UCGV is already in service. In accordance with the New START Treaty, Avangard was shown to US inspectors and it’s expected to be in service this month: a very hypersonic re-entry vehicle – there’s no defence against it because it’s less than 30 minutes from anywhere. These super weapons are not cost free: Putin confirmed that the August explosion in Severodvinsk did involve an unique weapon (one assumes either the Buravestnik or the Poseydon); work will continue said he. An over-the-horizon radar station is opened. The first upgraded White Swan strategic bomber is being tested.

SOFTWARE. A law has passed requiring electronic gadgets to have Russia software in them. The BBC idiotically says: “Others have raised concerns that the Russian-made software could be used to spy on users”. “Idiotically” because one of the reasons for the law is that US-made software is spying on users.

DEMOGRAPHICS. Karlin sees a small increase in Russia’s population over the next 30 years.

TOURISM. Moscow – World’s Leading City Destination 2019. Russia does show well.

CORRUPTION. The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a case into large scale theft during construction at the Vostochniy launch complex.

BROWDER. His story has been swallowed whole all over the West, “Magnitsky laws” passed and he has been pretty successful in quashing Nekrasov’s documentary. But, finally, a major Western news outlet takes up the story: Der Spiegel: “The case of Magnitsky: How true is the history on which US sanctions against Russia are based?” How true is it? Not very. (DS did it because of the ECHR decision?) DS merely repeats what Nekrasov discovered: watch the documentary and see the lies taken apart.

NATO SUMMIT. “NATO is obsoleteargues withNATO is brain dead“. “The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan“: next month NATO will have doubled the USSR’s time there; can it triple it? Busy busy busy: “much broader range of threats than in the past”: Russia, Middle East, Africa, weapons of mass destruction, cyber attacks, threats to energy supplies, environmental challenges. Add China. And space. More money. Trump leaves early. Brain dead and obsolete.

OPCW. Corrupted over Douma, how about Skripal? Helmer tweets: “British Ministry of Defence document reveals it is missing chain of custody over Skripal blood samples which the ministry’s DSTL laboratory at Porton Down claims to prove a Russian Novichok attack. Publishing shortly.” Somebody could have added “type A-234 nerve agent in its virgin state” or BZ to the sample? Nah, who’d do that?

WADA. A other corrupted organisation. (Tinfoil hat alert!) Dear Little Canada behind it?

THE FULL AMERICAN DELUSION IN 45 SECONDS. No comment.

THE DEMS STEP ON THE RAKE. Impeachment. Only question is how big will Trump’s win be?

NEW NWO. “Macron offers a very coherent geopolitical view of the world. He’s probably now the only western leader to have one.” Very interesting read. The Normandy meeting will tell us if he’s serious.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Six more EU countries join the INSTEX payment system to bypass US sanctions on Iran. US Germany Ambassador not amused. German poll: US down, Russia up.

UKRAINE MISCELLANY. A discussion of how dangerous the decision to use US fuel in Ukraine nuclear power plans could be. A Maidan participant realises that it was all for nothing. Ukronazis spotted in Hong Kong. The scourge has spread to the USA. Tails, dogs, chickens, roosts.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 21 NOVEMBER 2019

RUSSIA INC. The Russian economist Mikhail Dmitriev says “the Russian economy does not give a damn about the world recession [which he sees coming soon].” And he’s right – the Russian economy is the most self-reliant large economy in the world: very little external debt, few imports and a big nest egg of foreign currency and gold. Very self-sufficient (but no French cheese – remember that nonsense?) Ironic, isn’t it? the West’s war against Russia has strengthened it.

HE’S EVERYWHERE! Putin has the UK election covered they shriek: the Labour leader is a “useful idiot“, soft on Russia, a “Putin stooge“; and the Conservative leader hobnobs with ex-KGB agents and suppresses reports on the Russian interference. We’re watching the brain death of Western democracy.

NATO. Speaking of brain death, Macron conjured up another kerfuffle in an interview. Europe, said he, can no longer count on Washington and has to stand up on its own. Second time he’s said things that should not be said. So far it’s only talk but a test of his sincerity is coming on 9 December when he hosts a Ukraine meeting to which he has invited Putin, Zelensky and Merkel. The Kremlin spokesman had no opinion about NATO’s health: “We are not forensic pathologists“.

BUTINA. Finally released and back in Russia. Still a “spy” or “agent” to corporate media consumers.

NORD STREAM. At last, resisting much pressure from Washington, Denmark has granted permission for the pipeline to pass through its sea floor.

NEOLOGISMS. Adding to his useful Russophrenia, Bryan MacDonald has coined “Putophrenia“: “A condition where the sufferer believes Vladimir Putin is a crazed Russian nationalist who wants to destroy the West, and simultaneously, is, together with his cronies, robbing Russia blind & hiding all the dosh in the same West.” These two neatly point up the absurdities of the Western propaganda line.

“INTEGRITY” INITIATIVE. “British Government Disinformation Shop Lost Charity Status – Continues In New Format“. Of course it’s what you don’t see in propaganda operations that’s important.

IMPEACHMENT CIRCUS. We learn two things. Yes, there is a deepstate/blob/borg/groupthink in the US government that believes that only it – “consensus views of the interagency” – has the right to make foreign policy and is prepared to weaken a POTUS who steps out of line. Second, Washington’s policy on Ukraine is being run by people who have a dog in the fight.

CUBAN NOISES. Mass hysteriadancing mania. But the lie is half way round the world already and the State Department still bangs on about “unexplained health incidents“.

SKRIPALMANIA. More delay on the Sturgess inquest. Sounds like Litvinenko eh? Same scriptwriers.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “US Man Warns of ‘Russian Mind Controlling Devices’ in Americans’ Ears, Turns Himself In to FBI“. “Mental illness” or too much corporate media?

OPCW. Corrupted: “Fairweather, the chef de cabinet, invited several members of the drafting team to his office. There they found three US officials who were cursorily introduced without making clear which US agencies they represented. The Americans told them emphatically that the Syrian regime had conducted a gas attack….” Faked: “Its conclusions contradicted the inspector’s version.” False. “Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent.

WESTERN VALUES. OPCW. MSF. HRW. Squandering credibility that took years to build.

RATS, SHIPS, UKRAINE. Kolomoisky’s interview. Shattering: a major player in post-Maidan Ukraine; funded Azov; fully supported the coup although he fell out with the others; thought by many to be the power behind President Zelensky. Key points. It’s time for Ukraine to turn toward Russia. Washington is forcing Ukraine to be at war – a “war against Russia to the last Ukrainian”. The EU and NATO will never take Ukraine in and it’s time to accept reality. Russia will give money. If the Americans “get smart with us, we’ll go to Russia. Russian tanks will be stationed near Krakow and Warsaw. Your NATO will be soiling its pants and buying Pampers.” He is trying to end the war but is afraid that the Americans “will mess it up and get in the way.” When a Kolomoisky switches sides, it’s over. Stay tuned.

UKRAINE. Just when you thought that everything that could be stolen, had been stolen, they come up with something else. Land sales. Not to foreigners of course; well, maybe a referendum. Big foreign companies have been wanting in and in a country as corrupt as Ukraine laws are a flimsy barrier

MH17. Now there’s some hope in Ukraine, it’s time for the JIT to “discover” something or other.

SHIPS. Moscow has returned to Kiev the ships it captured in November. Video.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 OCTOBER 2019

SYRIA. A master class on patient, intelligent diplomacy engaging all players combined with the judicial application of force, supported by the bravery and skill of its military culminating in the recent screenplay in seven acts. 1 Ankara says it will invade; 2 Washington pulls out (helped along with stones, jeers and vegetables, note the contrast with the Russian reception); 3 Kurds instantly do a deal with Damascus; 4 Syrian army and Russian MPs immediately move; 5 Trump sends some minions to “negotiate” a “ceasefire”; 6 Putin and Erdoğan wrap it up; 7 Ankara says no need for more fighting. Trump announces. Everybody wins except the war party. I have two questions: how involved was Trump in writing the script? (certainly he outwitted the war party) and did any Turkish troops actually cross the border? (don’t see why they needed to). Next stop Idlib. (Russian MP video – Syria owes these men (and women) a lot – usually the first into no man’s land.) I can’t resist saying that consumers of the Western corporate media would have been dumbfounded by every act of the playstill are; NATO and the US Senate ditto. The Four A’s of American Policy Failure in Syria. Saker’s analysis.

DELAMINATION. Did US Secretary of State Pompeo just threaten military action against a NATO ally? Where would that leave the famous Article 5? Anyway, we have the latest failure of the neocons’ PNAC – stones and jeers, bomb your own base because you left so fast, Iraq refuses to take you.

FAKE NEWS. ABC shows Turks slaughtering Kurds – actually a mad minute at a US gun range. But, whatever, an honest mistake that anyone could make.

DIPLOMACY. “But Russia will never be friends with one country against another” and that is why Moscow can put together solutions in places like Syria; people who think it should take sides will be disappointed. It’s a cold-blooded, realistic but effective point of view and Putin has been saying it for years. Moralistic foreign policy is a bust – especially hypocritical moralism. (Putin & Co remember that Moscow used to be “exceptionalist” and have learned from its failure.)

TERRORISM. The FSB Director says law enforcement agencies prevented 39 terrorist attacks and eliminated 49 terrorist cells so far this year; some with US help.

HOLIDAYS. The two most popular air routes are Moscow to Simferopol and Moscow to Sochi. Apart from showing that Russians like sun and sea and are finding them at home, I make two observations. Crimea is, as it used to do, attracting lots of tourists and Sochi was not $15 billion squandered on a once-off Olympics; it was an investment in a sports and tourist destination. Both are paying off.

AIRLINERS. In another blow to the staggering Boeing enterprise, Aeroflot has cancelled its order for 22 Dreamliners. Martynov suggests that this may in fact be another case of import substitution: the MC-21 covers the medium ranges and a new Il-96 (arguably the safest passenger plane in the world) is in the works for long range. So, make them at home, use them at home and sell them to China and the other victims of the “Rules-Based International Order“. Boeing and Airbus can have their little markets.

AURUS the Russian luxury car brand and supplier of the Putinmobile, says it has 600 private pre-orders already. I’m not surprised – I can see Russian plutocrats, who would otherwise buy a luxury Merc, wanting to show their patriotism (or suck up to The Boss) by buying Russian.

TRAIN CARS. Fans of long-range Russian trains can see the new sleeper cars.

ISOLATED. Remember when Putin and Russia were isolated? In the last two weeks, visits to Saudi Arabia and UAE, meeting Erdoğan, calls to Assad, Macron and Merkel. Now a Russia-Africa meeting.

COUP ATTEMPT. Larry Johnson sums up the moving parts of the conspiracy against Trump.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. A retired admiral appears to call for a coup and Tulsi is a Russian asset. Taibbi sums it up “Everyone Is a Russian Asset“.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. At least it was a warship and not a cruise ship. (The comments add another coating of stupidity.)

UKRAINE. Chairman of the National Corps Andrei Biletsky gave President Zelensky until Friday to drop all Minsk obligations. The guns have spoken, all Zelensky has is the support of the population; now what happens? There’s a theory (but how can he pull it off? – the guns will go nuts) that he “renounces” the contested territories – the so-called Cyprus scenario. Meanwhile some congressmen have called on the US State Department to declare Azov to be international terrorists.

SANCTIONS. Another failure: Huawei VP says sanctions pushed it to self-reliance.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 OCTOBER 2019

HEALTH. Paul Robinson reads junk so that I don’t have to: a book by some academic explaining why so many Russians (wrongly – of course!) support the horrible Putin. Well, only a tenured intullekchul couldn’t figure it out. (I can never forget Orwell’s “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.“) Here’s two (more) reasons why so many Russian have liked and trusted Putin & Co for so long. An excellent report from Awara on Russian longevity. “In 2000, the difference in life expectancy between the two countries [USA and Russia] was 11.1 years or 14.5% in favor of the US. But by 2019, the difference had shrunk to only 4.8 years or 6.1% “. As it were, 20 years of Putin & Co cost his voters only 12! Suicides, homicides and infant mortality are also way down: a third or less of what they were in 2000. Boozing has dramatically decreased – a WHO report says down by 43%. Excessive drinking – especially binge drinking – was a weighty contributor to low life expectancies, suicide, homicide and infant mortality. The health system is improving hugely and Russians no longer have to drink their way through the Time of Stagnation and the misery and hopelessness of the 1990s. Many causes, certainly, but no one (except silly intullekchuls) could deny Putin and his team a lot of the credit. If you were a Russian, you’d support them too (well, maybe not if there’s enough American money – Navalniy’s operation just declared a foreign agent, BTW.) Putin and his team are doing what people hire governments to do. (I leave the reader to contemplate his own government’s achievements. Russia’s curves are all going up; ours are all going down. What will we see in another 20 years? And that’s not even mentioning China. For the West it looks bad. We want to start hoping that they – and Iran – are magnanimous in victory.)

NEW NWO. In August Rosneft said it would be moving to Euros to denominate its contracts, it has now done so. Ankara has signed on to the Russia replacement for SWIFT.

VISAS. Quick internet visas for St Petersburg are now being issued; the plan is that this will spread to the rest of Russia next year. Apparently the happy experience with the World Cup was the inspiration. The government is pushing tourism and I would expect it to grow significantly. Russian “soft power” is pretty inept but maybe they’re starting to figure it out: the experience of most visitors is that Russia “shows well”. For those of us in the “Five Eyes” the tiresome old procedure will remain.

SANCTIONS. US foreign policy today seems to be threats, bombs and sanctions. A GAO report declines to judge whether sanctions (20 countries!) are effective. (Are the other two effective?).

REMEMBER when they used to say once KGB always KGB? Does that also apply to former members of organs of state security who are now all over US TV as “independent experts”?

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS I. Years ago the anti-Russia mob were telling us that Moscow was doing something nefarious about Caspian Sea boundaries. I predicted the ultimate answer would be Baku’s and so, grosso modo, it has proved to be. The seabed is divided by the five. Putin just ratified it.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS II. Remember the Russian submarine in Sweden in 2014? Well, not Russian: a “Swedish object”? It was pushed to boost defence spending. You’ll be glad to know Swedish state TV launched a campaign against fake news spread, apparently, only by Trumputin.

PROTESTS. Still believe they’re real? Read this.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Pelosi sees Russia’s “hand” in the Ukraine business and the NYT discovers a top secret scary Russia unit that’s bungled everything it tries to do. (Extremely unsecret, in fact.)

UKRAINE. After his disappointing meeting with Trump (“I really hope that you and President Putin get together“), Zelensky went home and signed on to the “Steinmeier Formula“. Which is really just a way of getting Kiev to do what it is already supposed to do in the Minsk agreements. Protests began immediately. Zelensky is in a difficult position: the plutocrats – who have the money – like to keep Ukraine lawless so they can steal more; the nazis – who have the guns – ditto; Trump doesn’t care and Europe is sick and tired of the mess. I reiterate that, at the end, I expect Ukraine to be much smaller.

WHERE DID IT GO? According to the head of Ukraine’s Central Bank, there is almost no gold left.

MH17. This could become interesting: Netherlands MPs demand investigation into Ukraine’s role. Do you think Zelensky might be tempted to blame his predecessors for that and the Maidan shooting?

SYRIA. US withdrawal? Or just rearrangement? Ankara’s actions and intentions? Where’s Russia in all this? The US war party is melting down. The Kurds will probably have to to make a deal with Damascus.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 26 SEPTEMBER 2019

RUSSIA INC. Another must-read report from Awara on the Russian economy. Bottom line: “In a global recession, no country is safe, but Russia looks to have quite a lot going for it in terms of economic advantages… by far the lowest debt of all major countries. All economic actors… are economically solid and minimally leveraged… government virtually debtless, but it has again replenished its spectacular forex and sovereign wealth fund reserves… hefty budget surplus… Russia runs the world’s third biggest trade surplus…We also need to point out that Russia has an enormous strength by way of being the world’s most self-sufficient major country. Russia has the by far lowest level of imports relative to GDP of all countries.” Discussion of the true state of the Russian economy is hindered by two errors: while oil and gas are two-thirds of its exports, they’re only 10% of the total economy (and getting smaller). Secondly, measuring Russia’s GDP in USD is useless – Russia, is a full-service economy. Further discussion by Hellevig here: “while Russia does not export a great deal of manufactured goods, it produces by far a bigger share of those for the domestic market than any other country… The Western world is in turmoil: the previous overwhelming geopolitical domination is gone and over with; military solutions against the main adversaries – China and Russia – are off the books; hybrid wars against them have failed; China and Russia are economically stronger than ever, too strong for the adversary…”

RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES. Good interview with Minister of Defence Shoygu on how they started all over again to build them up. (Russian only but use a machine translator).

ELECTIONS. The bottom line in Moscow: low turnout, pedestal party retained majority but lost somewhat. Karlin thinks Navalniy’s strategy made have made a bit of a difference (in a 22% turnout, mind you.) Otherwise the pedestal party pretty well kept control. Not much of anything, really. Russian politics remain dull, uninspired and stagnant which either means that people are generally satisfied or that they’ve given up. Turnouts are now getting as low as they are in the West.

CORRUPTION. A very senior policeman was arrested in a sting and charged with extortion yesterday.

WITH A THIN SMILE Putin offers hypersonic weapons to the USA and SAMs to Saudi Arabia.

BROWDER. Magnitskiy’s family (remember him? Browder’s honest lawyer murdered in jail by corrupt cops?) brought a case against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. It was thrown out: read it here “This judgement utterly explodes the accepted narrative, and does it very succinctly“. Bet your local news outfit never tells you that the entire base of the “Magnitskiy” case has been punctured by a Western court. Not the first time that a pillar of the anti-Russia mindset has been exploded in a real court. Here’s another ruling by the same court. Good betting assumption for analysts: Moscow tells the truth much more often than Western governments or media do.

SMOLENKOV. I doubt it: Johnson’s take smells right to me.

THE COST OF GETTING RUSSIA WRONG. We’ve just learned that Putin phoned Bush two days before 911 warning him that something big was coming out of Afghanistan. Other Russian warnings were ignored; one reason being Condoleezza Rice’s belief that it was “Russian bitterness toward Pakistan for supporting the Afghan mujahideen”. She was supposed to be a “Russia expert” too! A flat learning curve: error piled on conceit piled on complacency.

G7. Trump and Macron have hinted at Russia’s being invited into the G7/8. Putin said he’s ready to host so long as China and India attend too. A polite way of saying 1) no thanks 2) G7 is not very important.

UKRAINE. Some interesting stirrings. An investigation against Parubiy over his involvement in the Odessa massacre has been opened. Several investigations of Poroshenko. At least a re-look into the Maidan shootings. The prisoner exchange was a good sign although the western media didn’t notice that most of the 70 people exchanged were, in the eyes of Kiev, Ukrainian citizens. This is important because in a real war you capture citizens of the other side, in a civil war you capture your own citizens and call them traitors. Ergo, it’s a civil war, but the West pretends it is not.

PAINTED CORNER. Iran and/or its allies have just given Washington a lesson on what “maximum pressure” really looks like and there’s a story that Trump is looking at a French plan that allows Washington to get out and pretend victory. Bolton’s absence may make this possible.

TRUMP-ZELENSKY PHONE CALL. The Democrat Party has found a new rake to step on.

MACRON SPEECH. Certainly saying unsayable things. We’ll see whether it’s just a speech though.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 AUGUST 2019

MOSCOW PROTESTS. Whatever might have been the reason for the original protests, they’ve now gone full provocation. How to make a photogenic riot: 1) ask for a demo permit 2) refuse it 3) move to the main drag 4) invite cameras. (Is there any country that allows protests anywhere, anytime? Not USA, not Canada, not UK and certainly not France.) This impresses Western pundits – Putin’s frightened! but not Muscovites, who support the authorities. Why? Because they’ve seen the movie before: the regime changers are running out of ideas. Another sign it’s a colour revolution attempt is the creation of a poster girl – just like Bana of Aleppo and I am Ukrainian. (Venezuela too). Moscow’s Ms Deeds confronts Evil; the hero facing down the tank (Click on the link: it’s not what you’re expecting). Not such striking images as these from France, or of France’s poster man, but they will have to do. And – another tired trope – Navalniy was poisoned, but not very effectively. So what’s the point? Distract attention from Gillets jaunes (Week 38); but who was covering that? Last chance to use the tattered playbook before Trump & Co crush the Russia-interference lie and bring the Deep State down? (Well, one can dream). Force of habit? Seizing an opportunity? Whatever, it’s not working very well.

NEW WEAPON. Video of a test flight of a stealth RPV named Okhotnik (hunter).

GOLD. Still buying it, now 2.3 tonnes; and the bet is paying off as gold prices rise. Meanwhile, Russia’s US treasury holdings are down to $12 billion USD from nearly $100 billion 12 years ago.

RUSSIA IS FINISHED! Again. Just as well – it doesn’t have a “better nature“. And they tell us that Russia’s the one spewing out the we-they stuff.

ATLANTIC COUNCIL. The Procurator-General named it an undesirable organisation.

FOREST FIRES. Big, but not as big as all that.

INF. INF Treaty is dead. If Trump thought he could include China, he’s wrong – Beijing is not interested. Three of the four arms-control treaties left us are gone, all killed by Washington although Russia was blamed of course. But Putin & Co saw it coming and their answers are already here: whatever Washington may think it can do, it’s been checkmated: MAD returns. As to nearby missiles, Moscow’s got that covered too: Tsirkon on a submarine off the US coast.

RUSSIA/CHINA. The NYT had an absurd editorial chiding Trump for not doing enough to split Moscow away from Beijing. Too late, that ship has sailed. I’d change the illustration – the ship is over the horizon.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. A Pew poll shows 65% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans see “Russia’s power and influence” as a “major threat”. I would say that the 30-point difference is Muellermania and the lie that Russia hacked the DNC computers. A poll by Gallup, on the other hand, shows concerns about Russia haven’t registered all year. A CNN poll (p12) likewise shows Russia’s nowhere. So it’s only a big concern to Democrats and only when they’re asked about it. Interesting. Meanwhile, Tulsi Gabbard, pretty mainstream on most issues, dares to criticise the endless wars: she’s a Putinassadbot! Full attack!

THE “FAKE NEWS” FAKE. An article describes how Finland is “winning the war on fake news” (all from Russia of course) by getting students to take their “laptops and cell phones to investigate their chosen topics“. This could easily backfire: what would a reasonably intelligent child think when presented with, say, both the BBC coverage of Skripal and Rob Slane’s? Not much to the BBC’s benefit, I suspect. They sure don’t want them to start wondering what happened to Kerry’s we saw the whole thing or any of the other tripe they’re supposed to take on faith. Best just to train them to love Big Brother and understand that what BB says is true news and be done with it.

MH17. French reporter reveals that there are still many parts aircraft parts and human remains at the site. Also shows photo of what look a lot like bullet holes. Malaysia expresses more criticism of JIT.

UKRAINE. “Ukraine is turning to the playbook that helped rebuild the continent’s ex-communist wing back in the 1990s.” Well, maybe in Poland or the Czech Republic, but in the other places it was pretty disastrous. Especially in places – like Ukraine – with deeply embedded corruption. Come to think of it, it was a disaster in Ukraine in the 1990s too. Time to re-read Collision and Collusion.

HISTORY. Only a couple of years ago I learned that Poland (1934) had signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler’s Germany. Yesterday, thanks to this, I learned that Estonia (1939) and Latvia (1939) did too. Lots of countries taken in by Hitler, eh? Some thought to buy the package, others thought to buy time. (BTW Finnish “fake news” mavens, don’t let your students discover that the USSR was not the only one; that could lead to questions and questions are always doubleplusungood.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 25 JULY 2019

STALIN. The Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights condemns efforts to erect statues to Stalin: “civil servants of all levels should be clearly aware of the inadmissibility of the use of state or municipal land and buildings for this purpose. Such actions contradict not only morality, respect for our departed, innocently injured ancestors, but also official state policy”. Ah well, mere facts should never get in the way of shrieking from the usual sources: (Guardian in July; WaPo in June).

DEMOS IN MOSCOW. There have been substantial protests in Moscow over the disqualification of opposition candidates for council elections. (Video). Candidates are required to get signatures from voters – these are easily faked and equally easily declared fake. If the establishment is trying to nobble Navalniy & Co, it’s wasting its time and doing itself a disservice: they have little support and it’s better to let them run. Moscow Times gets excited: no, it’s not a “pre-revolutionary situation”.

RUSSIA/CHINA. Joint Russia-China air patrol. The first of many, no doubt. The NYT (yesterday’s news today) clutches its pearls. “That means President Trump is correct to try to establish a sounder relationship with Russia and peel it away from China. But his approach has been ham-handed and at times even counter to American interests and values.” Now that’s chutzpah!

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. We’re not saying that they started the Great Hawaiian Pizza War, but them pesky Rooskies sure would like to. Satire is impossible.

NEW NWO. JP Morgan asks: “Is the dollar’s ‘exorbitant privilege’ coming to an end?

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Ankara defied Washington, the S-400s arrived, Washington cancelled its participation in the F-35 program. Why did Ankara insist? I believe the principal reason is insurance against becoming Washington’s former friend: much more dangerous than being its enemy.

MH17. I have always thought the JIT “investigation” was rotten – see this (port engine intake – BIG clue as to direction of missile). We now have a documentary that reiterates Malaysia was excluded, a secret mission to get the black box first, the intercepts are fakes, more people report seeing fighter planes, the radars were not down for repair. But including Ukraine in the JIT and excluding Malaysia were enough clues that the investigation would be a fix. I’m sceptical that it was a BUK (too few fragments); I think the fighter plane sighting reports should be looked at. I think the Ukrainian side shot it down but I don’t know whether by accident (wouldn’t be the first time) or whether there was government involvement (but those faked up intercepts were out pretty quickly, weren’t they?) Helmer discusses; the documentary.

UKRAINE 1. Not only was Poroshenko beaten by Anybody at All but the latter’s instant support party won a majority on Sunday. In second place an eastern party; the Galicians, nazis and former Big Wheels were left in the dust. The only conclusion is that the voters of Ukraine are sick and tired of the last five years; the West’s project in Ukraine has failed. And for the second time: Yushchenko was also scornfully rejected. Now what? The so-called NGOs (Washington puppets all) have given President Zelensky “red lines” – an obvious threat that there will be another “spontaneous” revolt if he tries to make peace and have a normal relationship with Russia. He is in office, without a tail and with only the support of the population and how many guns do they have? Three reasons for cautious optimism 1) Washington allowed the elections to happen without interfering 2) Trump shows little interest in Ukraine 3) the EU has its own problems. So maybe… if Zelensky does want to change course, if he moves quickly and decisively, if he can get backing from some power agency, if the West keeps out, if the rebels in the east want to be in some new Ukraine, if the nazis hold off… Probably too many ifs; Ukraine’s nightmare is not over. I still think the end state will be a rump Ukraine with the other bits eaten by its neighbours. Post 1991 Ukraine has been pretty miserable for its unfortunate inhabitants; who really wants a re-do?

UKRAINE 2. A couple of weeks ago Zelensky proposed a bill to remove high-ranking officials who held their posts during the Poroshenko period – Poroshenko having lustrated the Yanukovych period. In short, he’s proposing that nobody who’s held high office in Ukraine before can hold it again. Which is a very interesting proposal indeed; even a reasonable one given their dismal performance. He now has the parliamentary majority to make it law. But again, there are questions: nobody knows who the newly elected members of his party really are and there are the suspicions that he’s just Kolomoisky’s creature and all that has happened is that a new batch of robbers has arrived in Kiev to steal what’s left. I hate to fall back on the feeble analyst’s conclusion but time will tell.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer