RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 OCTOBER 2021

PUTIN. Putin celebrated his 69th birthday on Thursday and Levada published a poll. (Googlish) He remains popular: about two thirds like him. Which is only slightly different from the score in 2000. A stunning performance, almost unequalled in modern history. But what of the future? Overall 47% would like him to be President for another term and 42% not. What is interesting about that number was that, in 2012, it was 40% against and 35% for. (For what it’s worth, about then I thought he would not run again but theorised that Libya convinced him that he had to stay on because the world was becoming more dangerous). Anyway, as the chart shows, he bounced back. This Levada poll shows that that there is a clear age difference. While the over-55s favour another term, a slight majority of those under 40 do not: and nearly a third of them think there’s a cult of personality about him. Everybody reaches his “best before” date and the wise leader gets out before then. I believe Putin is a wise man and therefore I think we will see him not run again. His auctoritas is strong enough that he can name a successor. But I doubt we’ll know who until he tells us: he runs a pretty leak-free operation. Non-committal too.

US-RUSSIA TALKS. Victoria Nuland, who believes Russia needs a stern talking to, was in Moscow for talks. Ukraine was on the agenda but Moscow’s position is set in Medvedev’s article: “There are no fools to fight for Ukraine. And it’s useless to talk to the vassal, we must talk to the suzerain.” There is a demented notion among some of the the neo-connerie that Washington can do another Kissinger and separate Moscow and Beijing. Perhaps her visit is an attempt to do that. It would be good, though, if they could – as Moscow has proposed – stop sanctioning each other’s diplomats. It appears that little useful resulted – the Russian side complained that it was the usual list of demands – but talk is always better.

EUROPEAN POWER TROUBLES. Not enough wind, cold winter used up reserves, decision to go to spot price buying rather than the long-term fixed-price contracts the Russians prefer (like the one Budapest has just signed). Nordstream delays haven’t helped either. Nothing to do with Moscow as Merkel has admitted – it’s a Euro own goal. Putin has said several times that Russia will supply what is needed; not charity, of course, but not leaving them to contemplate reality while wearing fourteen sweaters either. But he also said that the poor maintenance of the Ukrainian pipe lines means that not much can be shipped through them. Meanwhile, the shriekers shriek.

GUNS. The Navy announced a successful test firing of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile from a surfaced submarine followed shortly after by a submerged launch. It is a missile that travels at Mach 8 or 9, a range of 1000-2000 kms, warhead 300-400 kgs, manoeuvrable in flight, tested from air, land, surface ship and now submarine. Pretty formidable weapon.

BUTTER. Foreign reserves worth 618 billion USD. About a quarter in gold. All-time high.

BELLINGCAT. The Justice Ministry has added Bellingcat and MNews to the registry of media acting as foreign agents. I haven’t run across mnews.world but here’s all you need to know about Bellingcat.

CORRUPTION. A whistleblower has revealed videos of torture at a prison hospital in Saratov Region; the director of federal prison services fired four officers including the one the whistleblower says was the chief perpetrator. Further investigations are underway.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Maybe, at last, the idiocy limit has been discovered.

CIA CRI DU COEUR. According to the NYT, CIA HQ has sent a “top secret” (and how would the NYT know if it really were TS? Mysteries do abound, don’t they?) message to its stations saying too many of its agents have been revealed. Bernhard speculates that it may be connected to an arrest in Russia. Larry Johnson says CIA’s tradecraft has always been sloppy. A curious report, altogether.

STASIS. Rather than a New American Century, Nuland’s husband sees a future of chaos at home. Blames Trump & Co, of course; doesn’t see the contribution of years of neocon failures.

SAAKASHVILI. Returned to Georgia and arrested; announced a hunger strike; in terrible shape says his doctor. Georgian Dream leader says he was attempting a coup and PM Garibashvili says it was to be violent. In local elections the next day Georgian Dream won comfortably but Saakashvili’s party ran second. I guess this is the end of that particular “colour revolution”. Hard to tell whether anybody much cares about him now: he’s certainly time-expired. (And the story gets weirder.)

NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. The principal opposition leader in Ukraine had had his house arrest extended and will be charged with terrorism.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 SEPTEMBER 2021

DUMA ELECTION. Official results are that the pedestal party keeps its strong majority but lost a bit; the communists (KPRF) gained a bit. Not too different from four years ago. A new bubble in the stagnant swamp of Russian politics appears: a new party – New People – makes it into the Duma. The KPRF has two main campaign points: the ordinary guy is doing poorly (especially because of the pensions issue) and Moscow isn’t tough enough on the world stage. I am amused that, immediately, Putin spoke to the government and said that Russia’s greatest enemy was poverty; and he held another meeting on socioeconomic development yesterday. The harder foreign policy is happening anyway. As to communist performance, it’s interesting that young Americans view communism and socialism more favourably too. Maybe Marx isn’t as dead as I used to think he was.

FRAUD? Gordon Hahn enumerates the ways in which the ruling party (United Russia aka “pedestal party”) finagles its way to victory. Not precisely cheating I think, more the use of power and position to “persuade” people where their “true interests” lie. But the big issue is that e-voting was used and there is a dramatic difference in Moscow City: before the e-vote was added in, a lot of opposition wins; after, very few. BUT, before we get excited, we’re not talking about a few strategically-distributed e-votes: there were nearly two million e-votes as against 1.7 million paper votes; I believe there are important differences between the two types of voters: I would expect most KPRF voters to prefer paper to e-votes and Establishment supporters the reverse. Anyway, a re-count is promised and the communists (who lost most) are protesting. BBC coverage (essentially pre-written) typical of Western coverage. See below.

WESTERN TAKE. Bernhard shows that the NYT can see some of the failure but still doesn’t get it. Western-sponsored fake liberals won’t sell in Russia. See below for one reason and next one for another.

DEMOCRACY A LA RUSSE. Intelligent piece by Natylie Baldwin on Russian attitudes: social justice is a big requirement. Americans make a big thing about freedom and let the chips fall where they may. Or they used to anyway. For Russians security is more important. As she says, a lot of what you hear about Russian “lack of democracy” is really just saying they’re not as we like to think we are.

NAVALNIY. A probe into the Navalniy organisation’s activities is opened. Closer to a treason charge?

MEETING. Gerasimov and Milley met in Helsinki last week; it is reported that Milley asked for permission to use Russian bases in Central Asia. Can’t see Moscow agreeing: Washington cannot be trusted; maybe occasional use on a case-by-case assessment.

IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Apparently officials in Sakha are looking at a proposal to populate the region with “resurrected” mammoths. Sounds pretty nifty but we have to consider the possibility that, after the oohs and ahs, comes the screaming.

SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION. Long anticipated but highly significant – Iran is now a full member. Without getting too MacKinderish, this is an important piece of the “pivot area“.

SUBMARINES ET AL. Can’t afford them, can’t build them, can’t crew them. And, anyway, they’re years and years away – it will be a different world then. But it does reveal Washington kicking Europe to the curb. Another of Washington’s gifts to Europe are the current energy problems: despite the Guardian’s effort to blame them on Russia, the delays and obstructions of NordStream are one of the causes. Europeans aren’t willing to be dragged into the new cold war with China, either. Europe is talking; but talk is easy and the Europeans never seem to get past the empty grumbling: cutting loose from Washington’s diktat and forging a genuinely independent foreign activity is a very difficult step. But they do keep getting brutal reminders that Washington doesn’t really care. In that respect the new regime is even more blatant than the old: Trump’s line was pay your bills and I’ll maybe listen; Biden/Harris don’t even pretend to listen.

MEETING. Putin and Erdoğan meeting today. Much to discuss.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS TO YOU. China Is a Declining Power and US has to get ready for war. Russia’s a “declining power” too. The philosophers of Laputa don’t seem to have noticed that neither has declined much since 2000, have they? Litvinenko! Skripalmania! Projection and deflection.

WESTERN VALUES™. Plans to kill Assange and the key witness lied: never mind, keep him in jail, Meng released with charges forgotten. CSIS welcomes the “Michaels” back. Hard to keep up.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. And now, after all the damage was done, we discover, what many of us knew, that it was entirely fake. This guy, however, is surprised. But will any others wake up?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 SEPTEMBER 2021

EXERCISE. The Armed Forces hold big exercises every year, working their way around the compass. This year was West – Zapad. Back in the Day, every September saw big exercises in West Germany – REFORGER – in which formations drove around the countryside (I was on a couple myself and we just drove tanks anywhere we wanted to). The Russian ones, however, are generally restricted to exercise areas and, while they are said to involve, in this case, 200,000 troops, they count everyone involved in any way. But the alarmists make a big deal out of it – here’s can’t-find-Putin’s-speech Applebaum, for example. But they’re impressive nonetheless; two highlights this year: the night drop of a parachute battalion plus armoured vehicles and the appearance of some combat robots.

THEN AND NOW. There is a series of videos using Google Street view of Russian towns in 2010 and 2020. I mentioned Gelendzhik last time but here’s Perm, Sochi (booming, by the way), Arkhangelsk, Petrozavodsk. If you still believe the Western media’s rubbish about decaying Russia, give them a look: it’s not China, but it’s a lot of improvement.

HISTORY. Putin unveils a monument to Aleksandr Nevskiy. In the meeting room in the MoD in Moscow (where I’ve been a couple of times – maybe they meet somewhere else now) there are three decorative bas reliefs – 1941-45, 1812 and Nevskiy. The existential threat to Russia has always come from the West. Highly recommend Paul Robinson’s essay on the background and meaning of this.

NORD STREAM. The last pipe was welded on the 6th; apparently there are some legal details to be completed before the gas comes through. Kiev fulminates, Washington threatens. Meanwhile gas prices in Europe hit a record high.

INFLATION. At a five-year high – 6.7%. Food especially; but that’s a world-wide phenomenon.

NAVALNIY “POISONING”, John Helmer has much on how the story was created. (Still waiting for a Western “news” outlet that was insisting Putin wanted him dead to explain why he isn’t.)

DISEASE. Further evidence that Russia is thinking about biowar attacks: it is building a network of labs and testing facilities: “sanitary shield” they call it.

ELECTION INTERFERENCE. The US Ambassador was challenged to explain “irrefutable evidence” of interference in next Sunday’s election. (Video purporting to show observers coached to claim fraud.) As typical, the West will instantly condemn them; the object, as Korybko argues, being to block any attempts to better relations. This example shows how savagely such suggestions are beaten down and one can be sure that “yet-another-rigged-election” will be used to smear the next modest suggstion to improve American relations with a country that has 1) a close relationship with the number-one economic power, 2) the capability of obliterating the USA and destroying NATO’s military.

JUST NUKES AND OIL. Work on a Russian-Chinese jetliner begun. Big market, few suppliers (especially given the damage Boeing did to itself). Another medium-sized tanker launched.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. CNN then “Authorities in Belarus have announced the arrest of 33 Russian mercenaries on suspicion of terrorism“. CNN now: “Ukraine spies tried to ensnare alleged Russian war criminals with a fake website, promises of riches and an international sting.” I didn’t cover the story at the time, correctly assessing it to be part of the colour revolution attempt against Lukashenka. (Why would CNN, not known for admitting to its propagandising, put this out? is Ukraine being “Afghanised”?).

LEARNING. General Hyten described a recent US exercise as a miserable failure – see my piece here. In a talk at Brookings he said “our goal is to never go to war with China and Russia.” He also said that the US military was moving too slowly and suggested that the USA wasn’t getting its money’s worth in defence. Very interesting, especially when said in such a citadel of the neocon world. On the other hand, he’s apparently retiring soon and will probably be replaced by a rah-rah type.

UKRAINE. Zelensky complains that Washington is still vague on NATO; possibility of war with Russia; has “no time to think about [Putin]” but wants a meeting. Ukraine is not Afghanistan; army “one of the most powerful“. Meanwhile Edward Lucas gushes about Ukraine’s success which is somehow a challenge to Putin. Stunning levels of delusion; second-poorest in Europe they say.

AFGHANISTAN. I’m amused by all the statements that Taliban must do this or that. No. USA/NATO were defeated. That means Taliban doesn’t care what they have to say and isn’t frightened by their threats.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 2 SEPTEMBER 2021

QUESTION. How many in the former USSR and Warsaw Pact now think that they made the correct bet in the 1990s? How about Western Europe? This will be one of the biggest geopolitical questions for the 2020s. The Afghanistan disaster will have very significant downstream effects; much more than the Vietnam defeat. That was one thing but this is another: in 1975 NATO had a purpose because the USSR was still there; China was poor and weak; the Shah still ruled. Afghanistan wasn’t just a defeat of the Washington’s neocon cabal and revelation of the duplicity of the military-industrial-media complex, it was the finish of post Cold War triumphantasies, moralistic finger-wagging, superior values boasting, NATO adventurism, “nation-building” and many other delusions widely shared in the West.

RESCUE. There are still a lot of NATO and Tabaquis left behind in Afghanistan – what do you bet they make their way to the Russian Embassy to ask to be helped out? And Moscow will do it – the propaganda value is too great to pass up: Russia – the reliable partner.

AFGHANISTAN. Another exercise on Afghanistan’s periphery: Combat Commonwealth-2021. Troops from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic will be involved. Mostly air defence which is an interesting choice.

WATCH THIS. They tell you Russia is a decaying rathole, check this out: Gelendzhik 2010 and now.

ELECTIONS. Duma elections will be held on the 19th and the pedestal party (United Russia) isn’t doing too well. The communists (KPRF) and Zhirinovsky’s party (LDPR) may triumph in some regions but most expect UR to keep a working majority overall. Putin – who’s not formally a member of UR – and other government people are out busily bribing the taxpayers with their own money.

NAVALNIY. A documentary takes a look at the “poisoning” and concludes it was likely a mishap from lithium. Meanwhile, in an interview from prison, he complains that the worst thing is official TV. (BTW, didn’t Western “news” outlets spend weeks telling us that Putin was determined to kill Navalniy and actually tried twice; why aren’t they wondering why he’s still alive? The answer of course – which shows you what Western coverage of Russia really is – is that details in war propaganda aren’t supposed to be remembered: they’re just made up and ignored as needed to create the enemy picture.)

IMPORT SUBSTITUTION. As everyone knows, Putin is skilled at judo which is the art of using the opponent’s strengths against him. When sanctions were imposed after Maidan, Moscow cleverly imposed counter-sanctions on food. This, plus government support, has resulted in Russia becoming pretty much food independent. Likewise many other industries have profited from import substitution. The next area is what you might call electronic independence. Even the Moscow Times has to admit that Russia has made huge improvements here too. Russia is gradually becoming a rather curious economic beast – a economically self-sufficient country with high-demand exports. Pretty strong position, I think.

PLUTOCRATS. Forbes (not that I take it very seriously – anybody remember when it put Chernomyrdin at the top?) has decided that Tatiana Bakalchuk and her husband are Russia’s richest. What’s interesting is that they didn’t use their connections to steal stuff in the 1990s but made it from their e-commerce company Wildberries. Banned in Ukraine, of course.

TANK BIATHALON. Loud and dirty things you can do in a tank.

GARBAGE. A subject that has featured in the last few Putin Q&A sessions is garbage dumps. It seems that the communists were pretty casual and the problems are building up. People complain of nasty messes near them and the Natural Resources Minister has warned that facilities in more than 20 regions will run out of space within the next two or three years. There is a plan and I expect that the problem will – as so many others have been – gradually be ameliorated. Plastics ban?

THE DEATH OF IRONY. “Ukraine Shuts Down Opposition Media – U.S. Ambassador Applauds ‘Daring Act’, Calls For Support“. What actually happened is that Medvedchuk’s party is more popular than Zelensky’s; so shut his news outlets down and put him under house arrest. Perfectly acceptable and praiseworthy because… Putin!

ENDING? Biden, in his end of Afghanistan speech said: “we’ve got to learn from our mistakes… This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries”. Does that mean out of Iraq and Syria too? Or is the key word here “major”? which in practice means no change (they all start as minor, soon-to-be-over victory parades.)

Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 19 AUGUST 2021

THE END. The unipolar moment is over and the hyperpower was defeated by a guy on a bicycle (with, note, a rifle the US taxpayer provided.) NATO’s brag of going everywhere and doing wonderful things pops like a bubble. Members learn that NATO membership is a ticket to death, humiliation, failure and abandonment. (Tabaqui, take note: Shere Khan doesn’t care.) The New American Century has ended – thanks largely to those who dreamed up the idea. (Would Zbigniew Brzezinski still say it was worth it? PS, here is the one time he got it right – their struggle did succeed.)

NEW NWO. Who were the first foreign officials Blinken called after Taliban took Afghanistan? China and Russia. Then the allies.

HERE WE GO AGAIN. The US is never defeated, it’s always betrayed. Watch everyone pass the blame to somebody else. One. Two. Three. Four.

ANGUISH. “However, many countries wonder what commitments the US has in return when it asks friends and partners to help it in this rivalry” worries the Jpost. “What does it say about NATO if we are entirely dependent on a unilateral decision taken by the United States?” wonders Theresa May. The question of who will be the new international leader troubles Garten Ash. “What should I say to the Germans if 20 years of service in the Bundeswehr had been in vain?” asks Merkel. “Is America back or has it turned its back?” asks a “British official “. EU must step in bloviates Borrell. Will we be tossed next? wonders a Ukrainian MP.

TALIBAN II. Seems to be different: “when it comes to experience and maturity and vision, of course, there’s a huge difference between us, in comparison to 20 years ago“. The theme of a long press conference was pardon to all, inclusive Islamic government, no intention of moving out of its borders, no more narcotics. I noticed that its first advances were in the north which immediately suggested that it was no longer exclusively Pashtun. Also appointed a Hazara to a position. Therefore, at first glance, more inclusive and much more polished. A senior mullah condemns Wahhabism. But it will undeniably be a Muslim state – which notion includes a certain amount of variation.

SHIITES. Yesterday was Ashura, the Shiite mourning day for Hussein’s death. Yesterday’s Taliban was hostile to Shiites so their behaviour will be a good indicator. So far so good: a Taliban representative visited a Shiite area in Kabul to participate in one of the ceremonies. The day was subdued but not interfered with.

RUSSIA AND AFGHANISTAN. No victory lap for Moscow (or Beijing) – the US/NATO forces in Afghanistan soaked up a lot of jihadist activity that may now become be a problem for them. However, the embassy operates peacefully and Moscow’s representative, Zamir Kabulov, is busy (Googlish). But note that Russia has been holding military exercises with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. And Russia and China just wrapped up a big exercise. Moscow’s interest can be simply stated – no spread of jihadism or instability. Recognition will follow in time.

SCO. It’s generally agreed that Iran will become a full member of the SCO. So all of Afghanistan’s neighbours will be members (Turkmenistan only as a “guest”); Afghanistan itself is an “observer”. This is the organisation that the new Kabul government will principally deal with.

TREASON. Another hypersonic scientist arrested. Curious: one was arrested last December. Is this arrest a result of new information or the wrapping up of a disinformation game? (US test failure.)

RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. MacDonald is amazed: “how so many Western ‘Russia experts’ can’t seem to understand the simplicity of contemporary Russian foreign policy. Moscow wants good relations with those who want good relations with it. It’s not interested in ideology”.

PUTIN TEAM POPULAR. Why? Simple: they do what you hire governments to do. Check the graph – World Bank says GDP (PPP) tripled. And probably an underestimate. Meanwhile, in the West…

THE DEATH OF IRONY. Pussy Riot founder joins OnlyFans. Plans to titillate her way into the Kremlin.

BELARUS. The Emperor Aleksandr told de Caulaincourt that Napoleon’s enemies had given up too soon. Lukashenka followed his advice and the colour revolution is over as admitted by Protasevich: “Without the street, it is impossible to carry out a revolution.” (What he really meant, of course, the simulated street.) In short, they’ve figured out how to stop the outside-created overthrow – and part of the secret is to tough it out. Lukashenka says he will be going “very soon“.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 AUGUST 2021

HYPERSONIC WEAPONS. Are real game changers. Extremely fast and, at the same time, manoeuvrable, impossible to stop with present or imaginable technology. And certainly not by anything the USA has: “Patriot Missiles Are Made in America and Fail Everywhere“. Russia has systems fielded and more in the works, it is years ahead of the USA, the latest US test was a bust. What does this mean? In a word: everything within 2000-3000 kilometres will be hit. Every forward base; every assembly area; every logistics base; every airfield; every warship. Can you stop one? Probably not; but you won’t have to stop one: ten Kinzhals for one carrier? Good exchange. Stay at home.

ECONOMY. Russia’s economy is obsolete, ‘exhausted’ and has failed to transition to better, modern model, says ex-finance minister Kudrin. If you say so, but I don’t think a FIRE economy is a good idea.

LEVIATHAN. Russian movie: “But behind them – way, way behind them – stands the Leviathan of post-Soviet Russian politics, a figure who is never named and seen only in the official portrait on the mayor’s wall: Vladimir Putin“. Actually, a wholly American story. Never saw the movie but sure got the “only in Russia bit” from the reviews; didn’t knew the American source until Vladimir Golstein’s post.

ENGINES. Remember when Russian shipbuilding was doomed for want of Ukrainian engines? No more, done it themselves. Two years earlier, too.

BAM. A second tunnel is opened.

GRUDININ. His ex-wife ratted him out and he’s banned from running for the Duma.

OLYMPICS. The Country Which Must not be Named is third in the medal count. Whining.

RUSSOPHOBIA. Interesting piece by Alexander Lebedev about the anti-Russianism which even he – a rich and insulated guy – meets. One wonders whether he, or some other Russian plutocrat, funds Strategic Culture Foundation. Much more likely than Washington’s idea that it’s run by Russian security organs: Moscow still thinks RT is the way to go. Washington is, as usual, projecting and deflecting: it buys opinions, therefore Moscow does too.

STRATEGIC WEAPONS. US and Russian team met in Geneva. Martyanov discusses: the Russians are ready to talk about hypersonics et al but only later. Russia has the upper hand here and Washington will have to make real concessions. Something, as we see with the Iran negotiations, it doesn’t know how to.

FAKE NEWS. KGB takes over Russia and moves West. Or so the book said. The “Putin Whisperers” get away with all sorts of nonsense but in this case they guessed wrong. Russian plutocrats are losing patience and have the deep pockets to sue. Fridman and Aven forced one withdrawal. Abramovich will be next. Meanwhile, the author has been under-bused by her main source. (Nasty Russian bullies say her supporters.) Regard everything you see or read about Russia from Western authorities or media as wrong. You’ll be correct to do so much more often than not. And Browder loses a case in Switzerland.

SYRIA. Interesting video on Russian MPs in Syria and what they do. Many are Vaynakhs and everybody knows not to mess with them.

AFGHANISTAN. Russian exercises in Uzbekistan, deployments in Tajikistan. Taliban visits China.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “[Putin] has a real problem — he is — he’s sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else. Their economy is — what? — the eighth smallest in the world now — largest in the world? He knows — he knows he’s in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous, in my view.” Biden to US Intelligence Community. Two days later the Nauka docked with the ISS. No wonder the US Establishment is surprised all the time.

EXPERTISE. Anne Applebaum is looking for the English text of Putin’s Ukraine essay. Incredible!

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Slow to be vaccinated? Blame Putin, the NYT does. Putin’s Long War Against American Science. A year ago but ever-young.

WARGAME. The US military is a paper tiger. A wargame in October simulating a Chinese attack on Taiwan ended with utter defeat for the US forces. “Without overstating the issue, it failed miserably… They knew exactly what we were going to do before we did it.” No kidding: China, Russia and Iran know they’re on the hitlist, they haven’t been sitting around. I’ll have a piece in Strategic Culture Foundation shortly on this and other US wargame disasters which presaged real-world military failures.

RUSSIA/CHINA. Russia-China military exercise in China. To counter terrorism. Of course. Video.

UKRAINE. Moscow’s long game.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 22 JULY 2021

UKRAINE LEGAL CASE. Maidan and post-Maidan Ukraine is a construction of half-truths, lies and atrocities; now we see why Moscow has been patiently collecting data. Today it filed a complaint with the ECHR accusing Kiev of numerous crimes. Here it is in Googlish. “The appeal is intended to draw the attention of the European Court and the entire world community to gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Ukrainian authorities, to record numerous facts of criminal acts in the international legal field, to force the Ukrainian authorities to stop committing them, conduct a proper investigation and immediately bring the perpetrators to justice, restore peace and harmony on the territory of Ukraine.” Watch the Western media ignore and twist this and the court squirm out of it. Western values in practice.

PUTIN UKRAINE SPEECH. (Eng Rus) and follow-up. Lots of people are reading all sorts of things into this. I take a minimalist approach. Putin was speaking to those Ukrainians not lost to the Galician nazi fantasy and putting down a marker for the future. It was a coup, Kiev is not independent and Russia patiently awaits the people’s decision. He knew the court case was coming: there will be a future.

JUST A GAS STATION. RosStat finds that oil and gas made up about 15% of GDP in January; down from 19% the year before. Some of this is surely a consequence of COVID lockdowns.

GUNS. Big week. 13th successful test of S-500. 19thtest of ship launched hypersonic missile: 350kms in 2.5 minutes (about 4 minutes from Crimea to the Bosphorus exit). Pentagon not happy. 20thinexpensive single-engine STOL fighter (presumably for export, rudely named “Checkmate”.)

BUTTER. Russian exports.

CAN’T MAKE IT UP. Russian security (not a CCTV!) followed and filmed an American diplomat stealing a piece of railway equipment – here’s the video. The Americans whisked him out. I invite you, Dear Reader, to figure out what that was about.

NAVALNIY. Yavlinskiy says Yabloko doesn’t want any votes from his supporters: views are “fundamentally different“. Well past his best before date – everybody got what they wanted from him.

COMPUTER HACKING. Not Russia, not China but Israel. Too big for the compliant media to ignore.

BIDEN-MERKEL. A lot of the usual guff about values and democracy to paper over Washington’s defeat on Nord Stream. (And Washington told Kiev to shut up about it too.) Germany doesn’t seem to be on net with the anti-China summons, either. Money and vague promises to Ukraine, but future money is not present money and Merkel is supposed to be gone in September and where Biden will be by then?

MH17. Good summary of all the things you have to swallow and forget to accept the standard story.

TERRORISM. The FSB says it arrested somebody planning an attack in Moscow.

CORRUPTION. The head of the Stavropol region traffic police and a lot of his senior staff were arrested for bribery and abuse of power. Russian crime detection is easy – monitor toilet sales from Gold Я Us.

TRUMPUTIN. Guardian and Harding on Putin and Trump. What more is there to say?

AFGHANISTAN. Taliban visits Moscow, RFE/RL impotently fulminates. Escobar’s thoughts: he thinks Taliban has changed, is much more representative and “wants to be embraced”.

FAKE NEWS. It’s not Russia but it sure is fake news. Whatever the agenda calls for.

TRAVEL. A piece showing that Washington is making it more difficult for Americans to visit Russia and for Russians to visit the USA. Don’t Go to Rome. Despite the Boccaccio story, Washington is not supposed to be the earthly representative of a heavenly kingdom – it’s supposed to be here and now as it is. Clearly its occupants want to hide it. On the other hand. Moscow is making it easier to visit. Another of those curious reversals that we have seen in the post Cold War period.

BELARUS POLL. Lukashenka is losing support but still has quite a bit, Russia is very popular, the majority dreams of good relations with both EU and Russia (but that’s not possible any more, is it?). A lot of the questions are designed to elicit anti-Lukashenka sentiments but what I take from this is that he is good for another year or so and that she, despite the booming in the West, hasn’t much support (calling for sanctions on her own country isn’t a great campaign platform.) I’m still betting the end state will be Lukashenka retiring and the two countries moving much closer together.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. The EU thinks Spanish border guards should patrol Gibraltar; London thinks Ukrainian border guards should patrol Crimea. But, alas, HMS Defender is far away patrolling the South China Sea.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 JULY 2021

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. Annual marathon Q&A Rus, Eng. A sort of durbar; you can’t imagine any Western leader daring to or capable of doing it. Much on COVID: it’s clear he believes it’s real and he encourages people to get vaccinated. Most of it was minutiae: the price of things, infrastructure, garbage collection and disposal again and so on. “Naturally, the time will come when I hope I will be able to say that a certain person deserves to lead such a wonderful country as our Motherland – Russia”. Ukraine-Russia: Ukrainians and Russians are one people; the Kiev government is hostile but its decisions are mostly made in Washington. (In short, Moscow will patiently wait.) Foreign social media must follow Russian law. US-Russia relations: “I really hope that an awareness that the world is changing and a rethinking of their own interests and priorities in this changing world will lead to a more attractive world order, and our relations with the United States will get back on track.”

PUTIN AMUSES HIMSELF. What you think you learned was what we wanted you to think you learned.

PROBLEMS OF THE NEW RUSSIA. Having been in the business so long, I can’t resist mentioning this new Russian problem: “Mr President, please tell me why is it more expensive to spend a vacation at a Russian resort than abroad?”. Infrastructure, Putin replied and they’re working on it.

FAVOURITE FAIRYTALE. Kolobok: “I want all my colleagues in high offices to pay attention to this story. Why? Because as soon as you, my dear colleagues, begin to take flattery for the truth and sink into this atmosphere under the influence of what they are telling you, you risk being eaten”.

DOOMED RUSSIA. Still doomed.

COVID. I was certainly wrong last Sitrep. But, they say, people are rushing to be vaccinated.

UNDESIRABLE ORGANISATIONS. Moscow has been steadily clamping down on these colour-revolution “NG”Os; Here is a list from RFE/RL: USA 19, UK 8, others (all NATO) 12.

AFGHANISTAN. USA/NATO, defeated, is getting out and Taliban, victorious, is taking over. I think we can assume that a majority of Afghans are willing to give Taliban their support as the only force capable of uniting – as far as it is possible – the country and that much quiet negotiating has happened. Washington has dreams of leaving something; if it does it will be helicopters off the Embassy roof. Taliban will likely be in control everywhere soon, probably without much fighting. Then what? Will Ankara’s ambitions allow Afghanistan to add the neo-Ottomans to its collection of scalps? What about northern neighbours? Tajikistan is concerned and Moscow has promised to help. What about the Belt and Road Initiative? I don’t know and neither does anyone else – my bet is that Taliban will meet general acceptance, China will do business and the area will be reasonably quiet. We’ll see. It’s not the end of two decades of US involvement, it’s the end of four. Another Brzezinski/neocon/PNAC disaster. For amusement, here’s NATO’s spin: “We have denied terrorists a safe haven… We will now open a new chapter… hard-won gains of the last 20 years… training and financial support…”.

BELARUS/RUSSIA. Newton’s Third Law of Geopolitics holds: Minsk suspended its membership in the EU Eastern Partnership initiative and announced closer links with Russia.

RUSSIA/CHINA. The two presidents spoke and renewed the treaty.

FAKE NEWS. Something to watch – will anti-China propaganda become more idiotic than anti-Russia propaganda? China weaponises elephants while Russia weaponises humour. The race is on!

MH17. The Dutch trial hops along: no you can’t ask any questions.

TABAQUIS WIN ANOTHER. Berlin, Paris and Vienna think an EU-Russia summit is a good idea, Balts and Warsaw say no. The problem with consensus organisations is that otherwise insignificant players get their way on Their One Big Obsession. And so we move a little closer to the end of the EU.

NATO EXERCISE. So far so good, nothing foolish. Of course, the lack of foolishness might have something to do with Moscow’s statements (I do think Moscow will do something next time – black holes? EW? Cripple the ship?). And there are two MiG-31Ks in Syria.

WESTERN VALUES™. Tired of Western moral sanctimony, Beijing and Moscow call for an “impartial investigation” into Canadian aboriginal residential schools; the truth is terrible: “TB incubators and superspreaders.” Trudeau tries to deflect. (Speaking of Uyghers – read this or this.)

NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. Julian Assange Case: Key Witness Admits He Lied.

CYBERATTACKS. Highly reliable experts (in an opposite sense) say Putindunnit, “reportedly” “believed” is good enough for the WaPo, but at least Biden holds back.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 10 JUNE 2021

PUTIN-BIDEN. I can’t think why Putin wants to waste his time unless it’s to assess Biden’s mental capacity – imagine this guy going up against someone who can hold four-hour press conferences without dropping a thought. Doctorow has a theory that makes sense for both sides: “the summit has one driver behind it, namely to put a cap on an arms race that the United States is losing” but he wonders if the Americans do actually get it. I half expect Washington to cancel it on some pretext and there are plenty of indications – see below – that Biden will try and talk tough.

QUOTE OF THE “NEW AMERICAN CENTURY”. “Biden has told his aides he believes Putin responds to signs of strength, something he feels is better conveyed in person rather than over the phone.

WESTERN VALUES™. Good start to Biden lecturing Putin on interfering, isn’t it? And after Obama promised her too.

COVID AND RUSSIA. Essentially over. Meanwhile, in a 1984 moment, in the West, the crackpot lunatic fringe conspiracy of yesterday has suddenly became today’s rational conventional thinking.

USD. The Finance Minister says that the National Wealth Fund will get rid of its USD holdings “quite quickly”: afterwards EUR 40%, RMB 30%, GBP 5%, JPY 5% and Gold 20%. Gradually, the dollar is becoming toxic.” Convenient once, when a weapon not convenient. Another unintended consequence of PNAC arrogance.

AMAZON AND RUSSIA. Interesting piece on why Amazon hasn’t cracked the Russian market. Short answer: Russia has its own. In fact, Russia is rather independent of the mostly-US-based social media empires. Yandex, VK and Telegram are home-grown, strong there and spreading (In my experience VK, because it doesn’t censor, is gaining on Facebook). Ozon, Lamoda and Wildberries handle e-commerce.

MORE EVIDENCE that Moscow has had enough and believes it has enough: Patrushev says it will use force when it believes it has to.

WESTERN FRONT. Minister of Defence Shoygu has announced further build-up of forces in the west. No details yet. As Kennan foresaw: the fruits of NATO expansion. The NATO GenSek wants to talk.

TOLD YOU (2121) (2020) (2015) (2014). The US military is finally noticing its shortcomings in the event of a war with a real opponent. To wit: hypersonic weapons, electronic warfare, defence against anti-ship missiles, air defence. Too late I think: can the US MIC make anything these days other than cost over-runs? Vide F-35, littoral ships, Zumwalt, railgun.

GOOD QUESTION. If we’re declining so rapidly, what’s all the fuss about?

THE DEATH OF IRONY. “Russians will never be free unless the West takes decisive action” this from the guy videoed trying to sell Russia.

LIVING THE DREAM. Latest survey of EU inmates shows rather tepid enthusiasm for the project. I mention this because we’re always hearing dread things about Russia and we’re never given any context. The percentage of Russians who think Russia’s heading in the right direction has never, in a decade, been as low as the EU percentage is now. Or today’s US number. Think about that the next time you read some rubbish about how unhappy Russians are.

IFOs. Well, probably not aliens but they could be from Russia or China. Could be, might be, may be; but one thing’s for sure: US Space Command is dangerously short of money.

PROTASEVICH, RYANAIR AND MINSK. The now-established Western narrative is almost entirely false. He’s singing: he believes he was shopped by one of his “friends”.

THOSE PESKY RUSSIANS got Brit soldiers drunk and kicked off a train in Estonia. But, see below.

ENCOURAGING. Occasionally we learn the relentless anti-Russian propaganda isn’t working so well.

COLONIAL PIPELINE. But weren’t the supposed Russian hackers supposed to be incredibly clever? And yet they were incredibly stupid? Somebody’s stupid here, but I don’t think it’s anybody Russian.

UKRAINE-USA. Zelensky learns that the only thing worse than being Washington’s enemy is being its “strategic partner”: “I truly thought that when it came to Nord Stream 2, the United States remained the last standing outpost, so to say…we were very unpleasantly surprised.” And they didn’t even bother to call him first: “I learned about it through the press.” And, no the NATO carrot is still dangling way out there. You were useful for a while, that’s all; now you’re just a cost. Meanwhile: “donors were all young people from Ukraine and Moldova“. Country 404.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 MAY 2021

IN A WORD. Some time ago – Munich speech? Libya? Ivanov’s re-assignment? – the Putin Team decided that NATO wanted war and Russia had better get its defensive power up. They have decided that they have done so. That’s why the rhetoric has toughened. NATO’s window of opportunity has closed but it will take a while before the dullards in Washington and NATO get this. Moscow will knock their teeth out and add their gewgaws to the world’s largest collection of nazi banners and French cannons. Only a fool thinks it’s a threat and not a promise.

MILITARY. Shoygu says combat robot mass production has started. He doesn’t say which ones but these were shown on Victory Day. Putin says tests of the S-500 are almost complete and that 85% of commanders of “of large military formations and regiments” have received combat experience in Syria.

BOMBERS. Some strategic bombers have arrived at the Russian base in Syria; for exercises, we’re told.

NUKES. According to Moscow, as of 1 March, Russia had 517 ICBMs, SLBMs and strategic bombers with a total of 1456 warheads and the USA had 651 with 1357 warheads. I seem to remember a study years ago that said that something like 400 would be more than enough for each; here’s one that says 100 is the number. Anyway, you can see that with these two having these numbers why Beijing (with a few hundred) is not interested in three-way talks until Russia and the USA come way down.

NORDSTREAM. Washington has lifted sanctions on German companies involved with the pipeline but imposed new ones on Russian entities. What are we to make of this? A realisation that Berlin is determined on completion combined with face-saving meaningless toughness. Amusingly Biden’s now being called “Putin’s $5 million man” (because of the supposed payout by the pipeline to the supposed Russian supposed hackers). Nordstream was a “key Putin goal“, giving power to Putin, what does he have on him? Hilarious, isn’t it? Biden loved it then: here he is calling Trump Putin’s puppy.

SWIFT. An official of the Central Bank of Russia says she sees no risk in using SWIFT now, but that Russia can easily switch to its own system: the Financial Messaging System of the Bank of Russia.

POLLS. In Levada’s presidential stakes Putin is well out in front as usual, most of the rest (especially Navalniy) are in the margin of error. Maybe Zhirinovskiy has edged out Zyuganov for a distant second (both of them were around in 1996!).

MINSK AND RYANAIR PLANE. The story gets fishier by the minute. First the simulated and hypocritical outrage when Minsk is accused of following the example of the keeper and guardian of the Rules-Based International Order (suspiciously rapid and uniform). Calling this coup specialist a “journalist” is pretty creative: yes he did fight with the nazis; more on Protasevich and more still. There has been a sustained – and unsuccessful – anti-Lukashenka operation for some time, is this the next try? The real key to the story is the fake bomb threat: who did it and when? If it did come, as Lukashenka says, from some source in Switzerland (don’t be fooled by the time stamp – they are in different time zones), then everything took place as it should have and the rules required the pilot to land in Minsk; and the threat did say the bomb would be set off in Vilnius. Incidentally, this is the third time (!) a Ryanair plane has been forced to land by armed fighters after a bomb hoax: 2017 and 2020. Fighter interception is normal behaviour. The people who stayed in Minsk were not sinister operatives but people headed there anyway. Did the Belarusan authorities only know he was on board because of this tweet as Petri Krohn wonders (see comment 6)? Maybe we’ll read about it years later in the WaPo – remember Ukraine’s Joan of Arc? So, the question that they should be asking is: who originated the bomb threat? Answer that and you’ll know whether it was another anti-Lukashenka provocation (vide Vovan and Lexus) or something Lukashenka did to get Protasevich. But, anyway, it’s time for Lukashenka to get closer to Moscow; maybe he will.

MACRON says sanctions against Russia aren’t working and “I think that we are at a moment of truth in our relationship with Russia, which should lead us to rethink the terms of the tension that we decide to put in place.” Every now and again he says the unsayable, but nothing happens afterwards.

FAKE NEWS. Don’t toss your NYT subscription! Eventually the news will fit. Steele dossier is junk!

RUSSIA/CHINA. It’s only an opinion, but the Global Times carries weight: “So Beijing and Moscow must keep close coordination to handle the upcoming situation, including how to establish a new order to replace the US-dominated one once the latter gets totally dysfunctional, Yang Jin said.”

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer