RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 21 SEPTEMBER 2017

WADA YA KNOW? Fake story, fake accusation as I said at the time “My default position nowadays is that it’s all lies.” NYT reports that WADA has cleared 95 of the 96 athletes they looked at. But that propaganda outlet cannot resist suggesting that that Russia may have destroyed the evidence. That’s the information war: smear the unfounded charge all over; when the story collapses and the damage done, move on to the next one. What we did learn however, is that a remarkable number of Western athletes have a doctor’s note that allows them to take banned substances. Interesting eh?

MOSCOW ELECTIONS. While the pedestal party won overall, there was some excitement because, in a very low turnout, “liberals” organised a win in some seats in Moscow. Karlin is not impressed and points out the correlation with bicycle rental stations. Shamir takes it more seriously seeing it as the latest Washington regime change effort. Perhaps he’s right: both The Guardian and Newsweek hail it (BTW: the comment by Germann Arlington absolutely nails the Big Inconsistency of Western reporting: “If the elections are rigged then the result should have been the usual 98% for Putin’s party. If the election is not rigged then why is it always presented as such?”). Russian politics are pretty frowsty: the pedestal party dominates (but the Putin Team is popular) the KPRF and LDPR were led by the same guys when the USSR was still around, even Yavlinskiy (then, now) is still out there (Crimea is part of Ukraine: not a big vote getter). One day things will start to change but I doubt this is the moment.

LISTENING IN. Wikileaks tells us about Russian scanning of electronic communications. Putin often tells us that everything is done legally. Well, it always starts that way, doesn’t it? If they can, they will.

ZAPAD-2017. Well, the exercise is over and Russia didn’t conquer/invade/attack or even threaten anybody. Next overreaction scheduled in four years. (I amuse myself laughing at the excitables.)

SAUDI-RUSSIA VISIT. My take on Salman bin Abdulaziz’ visit to Moscow. I remember that Abdulaziz switched from London to Washington in 1945 and speculate that Riyadh may again be adjusting its place in the developing new power order.

STALIN’S NOT BACK. Robinson describes a visit to a church dedicated to the New Martyrs situated on a Cheka killing ground. The truth is that Russia remembers everything.

NEW PARK. The horrible old Rossiya Hotel is gone and replaced by an interesting park (design idea).

SANCTIONS. According to the UN rapporteur, sanctions and counter-sanctions cost the EU US$3.2 billion a month; the Russian economy has lost US$55 billion in total. He calculates the total cost to both at US$155 billion. In short, he agrees that Europe has been hit much harder than Russia and certainly much more than the USA. Perhaps that was the real point: Washington’s “overriding strategic objective the prevention of a German-Russian alliance“.

RUSSIANS IN SYRIA. The author has sent me a file of photos which are of interest. What is immediately apparent (I can’t help comparing them with what I saw during Chechnya I) is the aura of tough professional competence and lots of sophisticated kit.

S-400. Turkish President Erdoğan says Ankara has already put down a deposit on the S-400 SAM system. I am still rather puzzled: this is a crown jewel weapon system and Turkey is, still, in NATO. We are assured that this is just the export model and that even taking it apart wouldn’t reveal its secrets.

TRUST. Trump announced the closure of the CIA support to Syrian rebels. Or has it ended, or was that just weasel-wording that allowed the Pentagon to continue? Who can say? Foreign Affairs magazine, no less, has just gone public with The Pentagon Is Spending $2 Billion Running Soviet-Era Guns to Syrian Rebels” and there are persistent reports (denied by Washington of course) that US helicopters lifted people out of Deir ez-Zor after the Syrians broke the siege. (Deir ez Zor was the scene of the US attack on Syrian forces a year ago.) Trump’s constant references to the Iran nuclear deal as “one of the worst” does not give anyone confidence that Washington would keep its word to Pyongyang (or anybody).

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All the reasons why the Russia-election-interference story is bunkum. Not least of which is the remarkable inactivity of the FBI: for example “The FBI has never questioned Assange [he confirms that] or Murray” and neither has it ever looked at the DNC servers. Nonetheless, every time you think the hysteria has gone as far as it can, it goes a bit farther: Morgan Freeman joins the circus. Bershidsky trashes the latest nonsense. One can hope that it’s finally jumped the shark.

NEW NWO. Beijing shows its teeth.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 SEPTEMBER 2017

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack” finally got the VIPS analysis into the mainstream. (Briefly: Guccifer 2.0 documents were locally downloaded and doctored to give a Russian flavour). Has this killed the story? Maybe: the MSM has been shrieking about other things since. (And the interminable US investigations inch closer to the truth.) Normal hysteria returns: “Putin’s Hand Can Clearly Be Seen In the Chaos of a Destabilized West“. Amazing how powerful these people think he is, isn’t it? Nothing is beyond his reach (except Kiev and Vilnius.)

DIPLOMATIC PROPERTY. A complete violation of the Vienna Convention: “Article 22. The premises of a diplomatic mission… are inviolable… The host country must never search the premises…”. Washington has set a precedent that will come back to bite it: what’s to stop any country that thinks it’s on Washington’s target list from doing the same? Incredible. Who’s in charge?

BRIDGE. The Kerch Strait bridge rolls along. Here’s the railway arch being moved into position and the first ship passing under it. Here’s an amusingly one-sided account of things from the Daily Signal.

ZAPAD 2017. NATO is giving itself a major case of the fantods over this exercise “close to its borders”. The website so you can follow yourself: 14-20 September in Russia and Belarus, 13K troops, 70 aircraft, 250 tanks, 200 guns and 10 warships. “Anti-terrorist” of course – aren’t they all these days? – “The exercise stipulates that some extremist groups have penetrated… “. They have them every four years.

QUAGMIRES. Shortly after Moscow began its intervention in Syria, Obama opined “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work“. Well, yesterday Damascus broke the seige of Deir ez-Zor which probably marks the beginning of the mopping up phase. In short it’s not a quagmire and it did work. The US involvement in Afghanistan, on the other hand, is about to enter year 17, getting on for twice as long as the Soviets were there. That is a quagmire and that hasn‘t worked; the Pentagon isn’t even sure how many soldiers it has there: 8.4K, 11K or more? Russia has had three military actions this century – Chechnya II, Ossetia and Syria – all victories; all US military interventions have been failures. What’s the difference? I would suggest that Russia initiates military violence with a clear plan 1) to do only what violence can do 2) that is integrated with a diplomatic and civil program for the things it can’t and 3) coordinated with reliable allies on the ground. When it has done what it set out to do, it stops. Washington, on the other hand, 1) expands its aims after the initial success far past those that violence can achieve 2) has a negligible diplomatic effort and 3) its allies on the ground turn out to be phantasms of the Washington echo chamber. Added to which, I do not believe that the US military is nearly as competent as its cheerleaders think it is; I suspect it resembles the post-Vietnam mess I saw on exercises in Germany in the 1980s. Maybe even “hardwired for failure“.

ISRAEL. Jerusalem seems to have understood its defeat sooner than Washington. Iran has a much stronger presence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq thanks to two decades of calamitous interventions. It is argued here and here that a nervous Netanyahu received a dusty answer from Putin in Sochi: Iran is Russia’s “strategic ally in the Middle East”.

BRICS. The summit communiqué is rather blah except for 10 and 11 which deal with finance and currencies. There’s a story that China “is preparing to launch a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan and convertible into gold“. This would be a strong blow to the power of the US dollar and, by extension, of Washington itself. When Kennan warned against the “superficial and ill informed” decision to expand NATO I don’t think he foresaw all the downstream consequences. Beijing, famous for long-term thinking, took a warning from it too. Newton’s Third Law of geopolitics.

OOPS! It will be at least 2024 before the US can replace the Russian rocket motors. Carefully excluded from Congress’ sanctions bill of course.

KOREA. Has there been much mention in your local news outlet of the US-South Korea exercises of 21-31 August which, they say, sometimes include practising “decapitation strikes”? (The media often leaves out important synchronicities.) I’ve heard that North and South will meet in St Petersburg. We shall see; there is a solution to the problem: what Beijing calls “double suspension“. And it probably doesn’t require Washington: Seoul could agree to stop the exercises and tell some of the 35K+ US troops to leave. Putin has strongly condemned Pyongyang’s tests: “a flagrant violation“.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 AUGUST 2017

THE NEW NWO AND RUSSIA. This is very much worth reading. The authors argue that in the coming (well, already here) rivalry between the American maritime power and the Chinese land power, Russia is the swing player that can hand victory to one or the other: “So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance”. Well, logic’s voice isn’t loud enough for the US Congress to hear. Also interesting is their discussion of Germany’s choices and the important role Saudi Arabia could play if it changes protectors again. (I too wondered this two years ago.)

PUTIN’S POPULARITY. Some Western academics asked “But is his popularity real, or are respondents lying to pollsters?” and concluded “Putin’s approval ratings largely reflect the attitudes of Russian citizens.” I didn’t bother to read their paper because I know – as does any serious observer – the answer already. Of course he’s popular: he is the leader of a team which has achieved a tremendous turnaround in Russia’s situation. Since 2000 all indicators are up. I wish we could say the same in our part of the world.

RUSSIA INC. GDP grew 2.5% year-on-year in the second quarter; this is the highest growth since 2013. PMI is up to 52.7. Inflation is the lowest in five years.

USSR DEBT. With a payment to Bosnia, Moscow has paid off the last of the debt it inherited from the USSR. When an earlier agreement that the 15 would divide the debt fell apart, Moscow took responsibility for all of it in return for USSR assets abroad. It did this despite the fact that its creditors insisted on repayment while many of its debtors could not pay. The total was about USD80 billion and many debts to it were forgiven. I well remember how glad we all were that it took responsibility for the debts as well as the other leftovers: weaponry outside, nuclear weapons and its guarantee of Russian citizenship to any Soviet citizen who wasn’t automatically given citizenship where he lived. It was only later that the last three were rebranded as evidence of imperialistic intentions.

DEMOGRAPHICS. There has been a small net decline in Russia’s population this year after several years of growth. We will see if this is a bump or a trend. (Although Karlin, who is much more knowledgeable than I, predicted a return to “normal” rates two and a half years ago.)

AGRICULTURE. The Agriculture Minister estimates the grain harvest will be 110 million tonnes which would leave as much as 40 million for export. So Russia will presumably keep the title of number one.

VISA RETALIATION. My take: I believe Moscow is ready to follow Washington right down to zero representation is that’s where it goes. But, if the Russiagate bubble bursts (probably the most severe blow is the exposure of the Guccifer 2.0 fake by VIPS) then the original pretext will burst too and things can get back to normal.

MAKING WATER RUN UP HILL. Lithuania is getting LNG from the USA and Ukraine coal from the USA. More expensive but supposedly for security. Well, whatever: if they want to pay more, let them. Of course in all likelihood they will “pay” with IMF or EU loans. Payback’s a problem for later.

CHANGE OR BLIP? The Prime Minister says Riga is interested in better relations with Moscow and a Polish poll shows number who regard Russia as a threat down about 50% in 3 years. After all, despite years of “Europe faces a ‘real threat’ from Russia” Russia still hasn’t conquered anybody. But that just makes some people shout louder: “The growing Russian military threat in Europe“.

TRUMP KEEPS AFGHANISTAN GOING. Reinforcing failure. Trump Vows To Leave A Better Afghanistan For Nation’s Grandchildren To Fight In. The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama. And if it really was short skirts, then there’s a lot more to that story than he, or McMaster, probably know. Today the Americans get their supplies in via Pakistan or the Central Asian countries (through Russia). Washington has made threatening noises at Pakistan and Russia. How then?

CHICKENS, HOME, ROOST. Torchlight parades in Kiev, Riga, Tallinn. And now Charlottesville. “Nationalists” there, but “Nazis” here. Some historical background for the Ukraine case; Baltics.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Newsweek discovers a new bottom level. “Charlottesville’s Alt-right Leaders Have a Passion for Vladimir Russian Federation President Putin“.

UKAINE. More signposts of disaster. Ukrainians now spend 50% of their income on food; not poverty says the Minister of Social Policy fatuously but because they like to eat well. The Economist rates Kiev among the ten least liveable cities. Did Ukraine supply the rocket motors to North Korea? And, I’ve mentioned this before, but the longest-lasting effect of the Kiev coup may be a nuclear disaster.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 AUGUST 2017

THE SANCTIONS. The hypocrisy is thick: NordStream 2 (257.a.9) is specifically targeted; damage to NASA (237) is carefully voided. (NASA needs the Russians to get to the ISS and to launch things but European allies can freeze in the dark. Take that, Europeans, it’s for your own good! “You can’t… ask for a bigger U.S. military commitment… while… oppose nonmilitary coercive measures“). The effect of anti-Russia sanctions since 2014 is that Europe has likely suffered more than Russia and certainly more than the USA; Russia has used the sanctions (and its counter sanctions) to increase domestic production (see below) whereas Europe has just lost markets. Well, we’ll find out whether Europe has the feet to stand on that Merkel thinks it has. Russia has many ways to respond and, as Jeffrey Carr has pointed out, Congress has shown it where to hit hardest. Another thing to find out is whether Moscow decides it’s had enough – as Medvedev suggests – and that it’s time to make its “partner” hurt. (Some responses: no more rocket engines, no overflights, no supply line to Afghanistan, no US NGOs, no Russian investments in USA, no accepting US dollars in trade. But Putin & Co will probably come up with something cleverer than anything I can think of). They will be a drag on Washington’s foreign policy for decades: “never recognize” Crimea in Russia (257.a.3)? well, they’re going to have to some time. I am collecting negative reactions on my site. They’re another step on the downward trajectory of the USA: they will drive a wedge between Europe and the USA; push Russia closer to China; may even lead to a rapprochement between Europe and Russia. But short-sighted outbursts are to be expected in the final days I suppose: Congress’ war with Trump displays a contemptuous indifference to its allies’ interests. (Mercouris argues that Trump’s signing statement hints at a Supreme Court challenge: very plausible given that there is nothing to the Russia collusion story – even the WaPo seems to be backing off – and that Trump will be able to appoint more SC judges.)

SANCTIONS EFFECT. Russian statistics tell us that the share of imports in the retail sector is 36%, the lowest since the 2008 crash. Food imports are down to 24% from 34% in 2014. The percentage of imports in various categories: cereals 0.2%; sausages 1.6%; flour 1.8%; poultry 4.1%; pork 8.3%. Gessen will be glad that cheese imports are 27.7%, but sad that they’re down from 48.4%. Sanctions work: just not the way the US Congress thinks they do. Altogether, it’s probably fair to say that Russia is now self-sufficient in food. And production is only going to become bigger: the potential of Russian agriculture has never been tapped; serfdom, the village mir and collectivisation were not very productive.

CORRUPTION. The trial of the former Minister of Economic Development has begun. He was caught red-handed taking a bribe they say. I believe he is the highest ranking official yet to be charged: some – Luzhkov and Serdyukov spring to mind – have been accused of things and been fired, but no charges laid. We are told that 45,000 people have been convicted of corruption crimes over the last three and a half years and about 350 officials have been fired this year and the same last year.

VILLAGE LIFE. Someone who often lives in the Russian countryside blasts another NYT-Russia-is-an-unchanging-nightmare piece. Agreement from an American happily living in a village.

PHOTO OP. Putin and Shoygu, alone but for photographers, go fishing in Tyva; they forget to pack shirts. Western media goes nuts. (DMail) (USA Today) (Daily B) (AP) (Fox) (Time) (Sky) (WaPo) (TorSun) (News.com.au) France 24) (Telegraph) (You look for the rest). Maybe he really is “the most powerful man in the world“. Bare-chested Trudeau and Obama are ever so dreamy, but bare-chested Putin isn’t: CrazyLand is bigger than I imagined. (Do you think Putin is messing with their minds?)

THE THREAT. Pew has an international survey out asking about leading security threats. The following NATO members name US power as a greater threat than Russian or Chinese: Canada, Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey. USA is named first by 19 countries, China by 9, Russia by 7. This is a competition that the US has won every time out of the gate. And rising. Interesting, eh? And after all that propaganda, too. NATO StratCom needs more money!

UKRAINE. The disaster continues. In 2001 its population was 48.5 million. Latest official estimate is 42.5. Examination of various consumption statistics suggest that this estimate is too high. About 2.5 million are in Russia and another 1.5 million in Poland. At some point, for a country constructed out of bits and pieces of other states, depopulation will become geopolitically significant.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 JULY 2017

WESTERN VALUES™. I am weary of supposedly independent international surveys in which Russia is always near the bottom. At last Denis Churilov has taken the trouble and effort to consider the methodology and “independence” of one of them. Specifically the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. RWB turns out – amazingly enough – to get money from the usual American GONGOs: USAID, NED and, of course, Soros. In short, what they used to call a “front” in the Cold War. Churilov looks at the methodology of the rating – selected people, subjective impressions – practically guaranteed to produce the “correct answer”. Then he looks at the answer in which – of course! – Ukraine scores much better than Russia. Churilov then itemises how preposterous this ranking is. These things are part of the propaganda war and should be seen as such.

MAKS. The military airshow is over. Video. The PAK FA showed off. First deliveries next year.

SPENDING THE MONEY. Some spiffy urban projects in Moscow.

HISTORY. This year’s pilgrimage to the site of the Romanovs’ murder in Yekaterinburg.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Newsweek has had to retract two false articles after a lawsuit. A Clinton advisor doesn’t blame Russia. Neither does the US Senate Minority Leader. The intensity of the insanity is shown by a poll that finds only 6% of US population is concerned about Russia while 75% of media coverage is about it. Only Democrats believe it, and not that many of them. Maybe the end is coming.

NEW NWO. As a quondam historian I know that empires take a long time to build up and a long time to decline. That having been said, I remain stunned by the speed of the US decline. It has only been a couple of decades since the neocons triumphantly proclaimed a New American Century and Brzezinski drew the map of how to get there. “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran… Averting this contingency… will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill” said he. Well, that skill wasn’t displayed, was it? But why would he think it was skill? The very program of American domination everywhere could only result in the formation of a resistance alliance. It is precisely the actions – arrogant, ignorant, one-sided, short-sighted, over-reaching and… failed – of the neocons and their humanitarian bomber allies that brought this about. The tectonic plates shift; here’s this fortnight’s collection.

CHINA The standout was Chinese warships in the Baltic. After passing through the Med (Chinese and Russian ships “prowling” the Med is old hat now.) And, For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything‘” And, China will be involved in rebuilding Syria. And will be creating a base in Djibouti. A Chinese military thinker brightly explains this as the “fanbian” strategy of approaching your enemy from a different direction. Or, bluntly, do things in the South China Sea and we’ll do things close to you. (When will we see a Russian-Chinese “freedom of navigation” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico?)

TURKEY. Germany is leaving İncirlik. Reports say Ankara wants to buy S-400s and that negotiations proceed. (I cannot believe Russia would sell even an export version of a crown jewel weapons system to a NATO member so I don’t know what to make of the story. Of course they will take some time to arrive…) A Turkish news agency leaked details and locations of secret US bases inside Syria. The coup attempt was a year ago; many in Ankara blame Washington; the aftershocks continue.

MENA. Iraq and Iran signed a defence cooperation agreement. Iraq will be buying Russian tanks. The Iraqi VP in Moscow said a Russian presence in Iraq would bring balance to the whole region, He thanked Russia: “if it were not for the Russian stance, the region would be fully destroyed… and in the end it would lead to the fall of Baghdad.” Looks as if another American ally is tiptoeing out of the room.

SYRIA. Russia entered the war nearly two years ago. There is no doubt that that changed everything. Washington has ended the CIA funding for rebels in Syria (it says, has it really?). And pretty extensive it was too, if this report be true. Most of these weapons eventually got to – if they weren’t directly delivered to – Daesh. Which is one of the reasons the Iraqi VP is saying what he is saying. The Putin-Trump ceasefire seems to be holding and I suppose Netanyahu’s dislike of it is evidence that it is. The Russian navy will be conducting exercises all month off the Syrian coast; in short, lots of air defence and strike missiles available.

SAAKASHVILI. Has been stripped of Ukrainian citizenship; he’s lost Georgian already so he’s a refugee I suppose. Ah, how thankless to be yesterday’s regime change hero!

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 JULY 2017

WHICH G2? Another G20. People met inside, ate, said things and outside Sorosian rioters rioted – watch the video! – (but not spun as a Maidan-like celebration of Europeanness, just car burnings). But the important part was the G2 when Trump and Putin finally met. As everyone knows, the meeting seems to have gone well and went well over time. Some level of agreement on Syria, Ukraine and cyberstuff. But we’ll see whether Washington keeps the agreement: with its inconsistent messaging and Deep State sabotage against Trump (did Comey cook the latest nothingburger?), it is unclear whether Trump can deliver. Or maybe the really important meeting was the other G2 with Putin and Xi in Moscow. Both of them can deliver on their promises. The “Chinese-Russian comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation” grows deeper and stronger. Europe sings “Freude, schöner Götterfunken” to the thump of Molotov cocktails and the pop of car windows blowing out. The world is changing.

CORRUPTION. Putin has signed a law creating an online register of former officials dismissed because of corruption. From which I deduce that there are a lot of them. By the way there is a Presidential Council for Countering Corruption which meets periodically.

WHERE IS PUTIN? It’s time for another where is Putin panic. He just visited the monastery at Valaam where he often goes on retreat.

RUSSIA INC. “The Russian economy is increasingly becoming self-sufficient and less oil-price dependent.” Sanctions do work! (Not necessarily as intended, however.)

FREE LAND. The program of free land in the Far East is about a year old and has been reasonably successful. A problem is that a hectare is either too big or too small. At any event, about 20,000 plots have been registered and nearly 100,000 people have applied.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. More blows. Craig Murray, who claims inside knowledge, reminds us of Seth Rich’s murder. Another lawsuit simmers away. An analysis shows the Guccifer 2.0 data had to be a local leak. The latest NYT nonsense is collapsing fast (and may boomerang). Carr remains unconvinced: “The public evidence isn’t enough to identify Russian government involvement, or even identify the nationality of the hackers involved.” Oh, and “The FBI requested direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) hacked computer servers but was denied“, “it was CrowdStrike that told the FBI that it was the Russians.A reminder on how unreliable Crowdstrike is. And how selective the “analysis” was; violating all of the post-Iraq-fiasco procedures, in fact. And, finally, the NYT admits not “all 17” (just a few “hand-picked” analysts, but that’s next month’s correction). The question remains: what are the Russians supposed to have done?

NONSENSE. Even Newsweek gets it: the US State Department, in its latest Russia-is-the-worst-place-in-the-world report, refers to a lonely bright spot – the city of Kitezh. Which is a mythical Russian city saved from the Mongols by miraculously sinking into a lake.

SYRIA. The ceasefire agreed to by Trump and Putin started on Sunday. Will it last? One must remember that the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire collapsed when the US attacked Syrian soldiers and, ominously, the US military claims ignorance. This one will be monitored by Russians; Chechen MPs actually. Who would dare meddle with Chechens? And, just out, Macron calls for a “new approach“.

WHO YA GONNA BELIEVE? “[T]he Russians are there, they say to fight ISIS. They haven’t fought them much and mostly they just support Assad” says Secdef Mattis. Russians just killed our leader says Daesh. (By the way, you should read the interview – “Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East”. Really!!!! isn’t he supposed to be such a student of history? And I guess his reputedly huge library doesn’t include Mahan: “We fought on this planet mostly with ground armies until navies became something one hundred years ago.” Sheesh!)

THE BUBBLE. Robinson reveals the “Overton Bubble” (read it) that our masters live in. The same people are asked to repeat the same things that they said before; nothing else is acceptable or imaginable.

UKRAINE. A recent Ukrainian poll shows positive views of Russia (44%) outweigh negative (37%) and the regional divide remains. If we add in Donbass, Crimea and the refugees in Russia, it’s probably a positive majority. All that suffering, poverty and destruction and nothing’s changed. How much longer until Rump Ukraine breaks into its immiscible parts?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 JUNE 2017

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. English, Russian. Mostly domestic nuts and bolts, a lot of “Batyushka, my roof is leaking” and the usual declaration that Russia is open to cooperation with its “partners”. Memorable lines: “the history of Russia shows that we have usually lived under sanctions whenever Russia started to become independent and feel strong” and “‘What do you do in your spare time?’ I work.” The customary mastery of detail and directness; I doubt any Western leader could match it. Pre-cooked or not.

RUSSIAGATE. This crazy clown show has just taken some big hits. After four losses in a row, many Democrats want their leadership to find some slogan other than “Trump is a crazy racist and Putin’s pet”. A majority of voters agrees. CNN, one of the pack leaders, had to retract another bogus story, the CNN brass then decreed that all Russia-Trump stories must be run by them first and three reporters “resigned”. (Lawsuit, they say, no sudden rush of “journalistic ethics”). Then it was hit by a Veritas report in which a producer admitted the story is just for ratings, is probably BS and, however “adorable” they may be, “journalist ethics” have nothing to do with reality. A big “nothing burger” says another CNN personality. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee is closing in on Fusion GPS which is probably the origin of the whole thing. One can hope that the story is on its last legs and the lügenpresse will take a fatal hit. I’ve said all along there was no Russian attempt to interfere with the election and no collusion with Trump: the story began as deflection from the DNC’s rigging of the primaries and was seized upon by the opponents of rapprochement with Russia. The logical fallacy at the heart of the story is that if the DNC hadn’t rigged the process Moscow would have had no handle with which to affect the outcome. Deflection, projection and manipulation. (And ratings!) It has done great damage.

THOSE CUNNING RUSSIANS. Later, the Russian government repeatedly introduced resolutions calling for cyberspace disarmament treaties before the United Nations. The United States consistently opposed the idea.” Published eight years ago Tuesday.

RUSSIA’S AGGRESSIVE BORDERS. The Armed Forces newspaper says 14 reconnaissance aircraft were intercepted near Russia’s borders in the last week. Here is a video of a NATO F-16 getting close to the Russian Defence Minister’s aircraft in the Baltic: the escort fighter chases it off.

WASHINGTON’S LATEST INCOHERENCE. First Washington warns that “potential preparations” for a CW attack have been detected in Syria and then it takes credit for stopping it. What on earth are “potential preparations”? One theory I’ve heard is that the White House got wind of a false flag and made this statement to show it was on to it. Another is that Kushner was suckered by a false flag, thought it was real but was corrected by the adults. But who knows? Is there any connection with Macron’s recent statement that Assad can stay? Or with Hersh’s piece showing that US intelligence knew there was no CW attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Of course Hersh is correct that the Khan Sheikhoun “attack” was theatre but I suspect that Trump’s attack was too. I speculate here that the ludicrous “intelligence assessments” that are produced to justify these actions are faked up. As for the “deep state” conspiring against Trump with the partial objective of wrecking rapprochement with Moscow, I simply observe that the FBI Director admitted to leaking in order to weaken him; that moves the notion out of the sphere of dank imagination, doesn’t it? There is more swamp to be drained.

SYRIA. When the Americans shot down a Syrian aircraft in Syria (it took two missiles and the pilot was rescued) Moscow responded. It cancelled the flight coordination agreement. But, more to the point, it declared that in the areas in which it was operating, all aircraft of the US coalition west of the Euphrates “will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets”. The Saker explains in greater detail here, but what this means is that any coalition aircraft will detect a tracking radar signal; that will set off a cockpit alarm and there would be no way for the pilot to know whether he was just being “pinged” by a radar or if a missile was coming at him. And, given the speed of the missile, he’d better decide quickly. The alarm is designed to attract attention (go to 0:57). So, something to spoil your day of otherwise low-risk bombing. It may be that a Russian S-300 shot down an American drone over the Mediterranean last Thursday. If so, that would a suitable response. Meanwhile, the Syrian Army continues its advances and whatever it was that the part of the Washington Incoherency that makes these decisions was trying to do in south-east Syria seems to have been checkmated. Here, by the way, is President Assad moving around Hama – somewhat staged no doubt, but a far cry from what we are told about him.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 15 JUNE 2017

PUTIN Q&A SESSION. Today so I haven’t had time to look at it. The Western media will report what fits its agenda so you should read it yourself. English here as they translate it, Russian here.

STONE-PUTIN INTERVIEWS. Website with first three parts. Transcript for Kindle.

FAKE NEWS I. Navalniy applies for a permit to hold a demonstration on Russia Day. City grants him a permit for Akademik Sakharov Avenue, a large reasonably central area that has been used before. Navalniy decides that’s not good enough and moves his rally to Tverskaya Street which is filled with historical re-enactors. The cops move in, the Western media laps it up and pundits pontificate about what This All Means for Putin. Some demos in other cities, but nothing much. A flop, actually, says Karlin (who prefers evidence to the clairvoyance of the Western journo – see this idiotic example). (What do you suppose would happen if Occupy Wall Street moved a licensed demo – yes, you need a permit there too – to the Mall on July 4? This and this of course. Russia’s no different.)

FAKE NEWS II. Oh, and lots of the stories you read about Russiagate were, according to Comey, “dead wrong” (as in “NYT Scrambles To Fix ‘Almost Entirely Wrong’ Russia Scoop After Comey Testimony“). In short, Dear Readers, if it’s about Russia, it’s probably fake.

WHO YA GONNA BELIEVE? Macron e-mail dump. “The NSA Confirms It: Russia Hacked French Election ‘Infrastructure‘” or “French Cyber Security Leader: No Trace of Russian Hacking Group in Emmanuel Macron Campaign Leaks“.

RECOMMENDED READING. From a former Ambassador to Russia: “The Common Wisdom About Russia Is Not Wise“. From a former intelligence officer “Fake News and the Russian Interference Lie“.

RUSSIA-US RELATIONS. As plenty of us suspected: “In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia… “. A lot is invested in bad relations: to do otherwise would be to betray democracy, apparently.

RUSSIA INC. The Governor of the Bank of Russia said that the influence of Western sanctions on economy had been exaggerated and their effect was practically over; she also said that the economy had adapted to the lower oil prices in the last two years.

POLITKOVSKAYA. The man convicted of organising her murder has died in a penal colony.

QATAR BLOCKADE. Moscow is involved in two ways: it sent food there and it is diplomatically involved: the Presidential Website mentions calls with Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. However it ends, Moscow will come out stronger with a better reputation.

SYRIA. Apparently talks between Washington and Moscow are quietly going on in Jordan. Meanwhile the Syrian Army has advanced to the Iraq border cutting off the US-supported “moderate rebels” from their base of supply. Tillerson is quoted as saying that the US has no authorisation to use force against the Syrian Army. Meanwhile the USAF attacks the Syrian Army. Paul Robinson looks for, but is unable to find, Washington’s strategy. So, same-same. 1) Damascus with its allies from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah is winning slowly but steadily; 2) Washington remains incapable of either keeping its word or controlling its people. And, for once, the UN notices and the Guardian publishes something about the “‘staggering loss of civilian life’ caused by the US-backed campaign to reclaim Raqqa“.

UKRAINE. Profound dissatisfaction with the state of affairs at home plus visa-free travel to the EU. What could go wrong?

WESTERN VALUES™. Of the ten least peaceful countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index, Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine, Sudan and Libya have all had US/NATO interventions or involvements. Syria, Ukraine and Libya, in particular, were far more peaceful before: Syria 163rd today, 99th in 2008; Ukraine 156/101 and Libya 154/85. The USA itself dropped 11 places in the last year. Still they boast: “America has guaranteed freedom, security and peace for a larger share of humanity than any other nation in all of history“. NATO is about “Projecting Stability Beyond Our Borders“.

SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION. India and Pakistan are now members. The new world is forming quickly; China and Russia will big players in it and I don’t think there will be much room for the USA. Martin Jacques suggests Europe had better get on board soon. I recommend his book.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 1 JUNE 2017

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI is dead but he lives on in three ways. He didn’t invent jihadism or takfirism but he gave it a key lift by supporting the mujahidin in Afghanistan in order to entice the USSR to intervene: the disastrous policy of encouraging jihadism in one place arrogantly thinking you could stop it spreading to another. This is something he apparently never regretted (at least not in 1998: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?). His obsessive anti-Russian stance remains embedded in the USA as this absurd Time magazine cover shows. He had some influence on Obama and one can legitimately ask whether his silly view about the importance of Ukraine to Russia was a prime mover in the Ukrainian catastrophe. There are some indications that he was beginning to realise how dangerous (and unsuccessful) this policy was becoming. But, probably, the longest-lasting legacy, though neither to his liking nor wishing, is the resistance to US hegemony taking concrete form in many places but most powerfully in Beijing and Moscow. As he said in his key book in which he thought to lay out the game plan to keep the USA on top forever: “the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia… Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill…” Neither remote nor skilful enough I guess. He should have paid more attention to Newton’s Third Law of Diplomacy: if you push countries around, they will push back. An exceptional failure all round.

NATO. When the chief member tells the others that they’re not “paying their fair share” and their real job is the Daesh threat, you have to wonder what is the longevity of an organisation whose members have never “paid their fair share” and spend their time obsessing about “Russian threats”. Pay for what, by the way? Defence against the “Russian threat”? Overthrowing governments in the Middle East?

NATO CRUMBLE. We have here a very interesting poll conducted by an American GONGO. Spun as discovering “Vulnerabilities to Russian Influence”, it actually shows how tarnished the Atlanticist idol has become. Majorities in Slovakia (75%), the Czech Republic (62%) and Hungary (54%) want security cooperation with Russia and over a third of Poles (!) agree. They’re worrying about the erosion of traditional values, they’re watching more Russian media and they’re feeling less “European”. None of this has anything to do with Russian “disinformation” of course: it’s an entirely homemade failure. More Brzezinski legacy.

EUROPE-US. When the chief member of the EU says that automatic agreement with Washington is no longer a given and that Europe must “stand on our own two feet” you have to wonder what will next happen in an organisation that has been pretty obedient to Washington’s diktat in recent years. Think of how much the Ukraine mess and Russian sanctions have hurt, and will continue to hurt, Europe. Do they still have feet, by the way? More Brzezinski legacy.

RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER. Some time ago there was a story about a single Russian aircraft shutting down the electronics of a US warship. I put it in the “Who Knows?” file. But now and again something else appears. The expensive US new battlefield communications system is, apparently, worthless. Wonder how they found out? Not while fighting people with no EW abilities, air defence, artillery or anything much but determination and high explosives.

LOGICAL CONUNDRUM. Russia is wrong to say that NATO is a threat to it, but NATO is right to say that Russia is a threat to it. Russia is wrong not to take NATO’s word for it, but NATO is right not to take Russia’s word for it. Meditate on this: a koan for our time.

MH17. Russian sources have published documents claimed to be from Ukrainian intelligence sources. They describe a coverup after a Ukrainian fighter plane shot it down. (Original Совершенно секретно) (English) I merely put this out – I don’t know: there are plenty of fakes around. But I do not believe a Buk shot it down: a Buk warhead has about 6000 lethal fragments and detonation a metre or two from the aircraft would have left a lot more fragments in the wreckage than were found. The Dutch report is self-contradictory by the way.

MISSING. Amnesty International, citing a 2016 US government audit, says Washington failed to monitor over $1B worth of arms and other military equipment transfers to Kuwait and Iraq. Would these US weapons found in Aleppo be some of the “unmonitored” items do you suppose? More Brzezinski legacy.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. 1000 Russian bots on Facebook.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 18 MAY 2017

RUSSIA INC. More Western sources agree that Russia’s economy is growing again – EBRD, UN and IMF. Even Stratfor, which predicted Russia’s collapse, now admits it’s doing well. Which is no big news for those of us who ignored the NYT, WaPo and their friends. All I can say is: stop drinking each other’s bath water and do the work.

VICTORY DAY. What struck my attention was the Arctic camouflage air defence systems. Here’s the full parade. Here is the first parade on 24 June 1945: limos have replaced horses, loudspeaker trucks are less important, Nazi banners are stored away, but otherwise recognisable.

HISTORY. Much has been written about Putin’s views on Russia’s tangled history; much of it rubbish. Let’s listen to the man himself as he unveiled a monument to a grand duke assassinated in the Kremlin. “Russia’s history is regaining its unity. We treasure each page in this history, no matter how difficult. These are our national spiritual roots.” It has to be all of it, doesn’t it? They’ve already been through years of changing history around to suit present needs.

OIL PRICES. Moscow and Riyadh have agreed agree to extend the oil production cut. The January cut was initially successful at boosting prices, but they have fallen of late.

SYRIA. We do appear to have a measure of agreement among the principals, including Washington. Here’s the text of the “de-escalation zones” agreement. Still much that is murky though: are Washington and Ankara about to shoot at each other? Has Washington stopped the Assad must go stuff or not? Faked up atrocity stories continue. Is Washington still недоговороспособны – incapable of making agreements – as this would suggest? It’s all rather ambiguous; but I do understand that it takes a long time to turn a big ship around, especially when it’s surrounded – to keep the analogy going – by little boats pushing the other way and people in the engine room resisting the timoneer. I believe that my theory on last month’s airstrikes has not been falsified. So, things appear to be happening.

RECONSIDERATION. Let me introduce you, Dear Readers, to Graham Fuller. One of the authors of Washington’s (disastrous as it turned out) policy of supporting jihadists in one place expecting to put them back into the toy box afterwards, he has reconsidered: read this. He believes that overthrowing Assad would make things much worse: “Syria Will Likely Be Run By Terrorists”. He, by the way, appears to agree with my theory on the airstrikes, see last two paragraphs.

NO COMMENT. From the WaPo “NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose. Then it did.” At least no one is blaming Putin for this. Yet.

COMEY FIRING. Assange predicts leaks will begin. One: Russian hacker claims FBI tried to bribe him to say he hacked DNC. Two: “federal investigator” says Seth Rich sent e-mails to Wikileaks. Stay tuned.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Ever louder. But not working: Democrats dropped 5 points. Two years ago Russia was “a regional power”, last year it was “important”; today its influence is everywhere; next year it will rule the world. Then I guess it’s all over. I’ve given up my PDS series now it’s merged with TDS: “Here’s how the Russians might have snuck a recording device into the Oval Office” (WaPo of course), I can’t keep up. Dimwitted and dangerous. Roman comparisons are trendy: try Cato and the Optimates.

WESTERN VALUES. Ukraine has blocked a number of Russia-based social media networks. A NATO spokesman is quoted as saying that’s OK because it’s “security”. (NATO’s “enduring mission”, by the way, is “defending values”.) Western values, which had real content a couple of decades ago, are now bedraggled camp followers of the juggernaut of war. (To be fair, an EU official, whom you didn’t know existed, did “voice concern”.)

UKRAINE. US House of Representatives passed a DoD funding bill that expressly forbade funding the Azov Battalion (Sec. 8131.) Meanwhile, in a decision it will live to regret, the EU has allowed visa free visits from Ukrainians.

NEW NWO. China hosted the Belt and Road International Forum. (The Chinese have a genius for coming up with descriptive slogans and this is one: a belt ties things together and a road communicates.) Putin was the first foreign speaker (not a coincidence, I’m sure) (his speech). Many countries attended. As always, the fact of the event itself and the side meetings were the most important. North Korea sent a delegation so probably some developments there with all its neighbours present. Eurasia: it’s real, it’s happening and it’s the future.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, CanadaRussia Observer