As an experiment, and with PL's agreement, I'm posting my regular Sitrep on Russia-related matters. There are 200+ more on my site plus many other writings
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
I welcome this and hope the ensuing discussions here are of benefit to you and all of us.
In reference to the Tomahawk strike, I also see it as much more as sending a message rather than conducting a military strike. I’m just not sure what the intended message was. I wonder what message the coalition is trying to send with its strike on SAA and supporting militia forces approaching the Al-Tanf border crossing? I don’t think we’ve totally given up our old dreams of an Assad-free Syria.
I do share your apparent exasperation with the America-Hysterica phenomenon. Why we have to see the Russkies as ten foot tall demons is beyond me. I also thought we were past that foolishness. And that’s from someone whose Lithuanian family was far more than decimated by the Russians/Soviets.
Well, as I think most of us on SST would agree, there is a deep state/borgist war on Trump. So who knows who does what.
Re Al-Tanf, I suspect the message is directed squarely at Israel, as there is reportedly a Iranian-backed element in the force attacked. Tillerson prepared the ground for such an attack with his “leading state sponsor of terror” speech.
This looks like a tactical mistake; had the advance have been made by SAA only, a Coalition strike on it should have been harder to justify. Perhaps the Iranians had to learn the hard way what would happen if they included their forces.
Also interesting that no Russian ‘advisers’ are reported as present in the force. Putin not willing to up the ante on this front, or
is he waiting to gauge reaction in the US before R+6 have another try on Al-Tanf?
In any case, it will be very interesting to see what happens next.
With the appointment of Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Russian collusion with Trump and other matters, we can be certain that this investigatory team and grand jury will be in place the whole of Trump’s term. This is a very good example of a “self-licking ice cream cone” and a perfect government bureaucracy. Once launched, will never end, and will only grow in scope and budget. There will be periodic leaks to keep the ratings up for the MSM as they get more hysterical with each leak. It will no doubt provide confirmation bias for all the partisans. The NeverTrumpers will be shrieking with each leak about how he should be indicted and impeached immediately, while Trump’s supporters will be screaming how this is all a big witch hunt.
IMO, this will keep the Beltway, NYC, Atlanta and all the places where the establishment groupthink prevails fully occupied hyperventilating. The rest of the country will over time lose interest at each manufactured outrage. My prediction is that Trump will not be impeached and will ride out his full term. And the Republicans will maintain their Congressional majority at the mid-terms.
The Russians, Chinese and the rest of the world will get a good laugh at how dysfunctional US governance has become and focus on avoiding the fallout from our craziness.
I appreciate PA posting here but I am not posting links to his site. SST is about the SST discussion. It is not a bulletin board. pl
“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.”
There’s no surprise to the people studying Austrian Economics, who have been very impressed with the head of Russia’s central bank, Elvira Nabiullina.
Remember that Russia started out only a generation ago with a clunky, inefficient, centrally planned economy and their industries were largely unable to share technology with the outside world. Nowadays they have been able to onboard Western technology, open up to greater exchange of ideas, and they have the internal freedom to develop their own designs. They have great human resources and a lot of potential remains to be unlocked.
I realize there’s still a lot of cronyism in Russia, and not really a competitive marketplace, but compared to where they were before, they are in an excellent position for growth… especially into high technology areas which is where the USA lead is slowly being eaten up.
OK, then is there some way for the many good links that were embedded in this piece to also show up in this post at SST?
Re: China’s Belt and Road Initiative
The Chinese authorities can write a heckuva press release. Let’s see what materializes from the initiative before becoming too exercised about it.
During the 2016 election in the U.S. Viktor Orban of Hungary was cheering for Trump, Nationalism/populism…now that the Chinese have unveiled the
p.r. on One Belt One Road check him out now
“Viktor Orbin Globalization and the new Silk Road”
Weren’t Iraqi forces hit?
I read one report today that Russia had tried to talk the SAA out of the attack. I am still processing what taht means. I certainly hope it doesn’t mean that Russia has agreed to give up parts of Syria. They didn’t really like it when Crimea was given away.
I am expecting Iran to stir the pot in Iraq in retaliation and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some one starting to stage attacks on Americans in Iraq now that the Americans aren’t really needed any more.
This is a link to the Facebook page for CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). This is part of the new Silk Road and is a prototype for the project. This project has now advanced to a new phase: Chinese banks will now operate in Pakistan to finance the project. I’ve found it very interesting to follow this site and see how the project is carried out on the ground.
Some of y’all are definitely riled up.
All Patrick’s stuff is full linked.
Armstrong mentioned: “Russia’s history is regaining its unity. We treasure each page in this history, no matter how difficult. These are our national spiritual roots.”
This touches on something that struck me about 5 years ago. There seems to be something going on in Russian politics that has been referred to as the ‘red-white’ alliance. It seems to be real. The red-white conflict refers to the horrible civil war that convulsed Russia between 1917-1922. Millions died. The reds won at that time. However today Putin is recognized as the leader who has brought together the remnants of both of those sides — the monarchist, the orthodox church, pan-slav nationalist,the communists, and oligarchic capitalists. In polling he is getting approval ratings in the 80 to 90 percent range for over the last three years. It is impossible to imagine any American president having such high approval ratings.
It also turns out that Putin has never achieved more that 65 percent of the vote in presidential elections. The other 35 percent is mostly split between the communists and the solid nationalists. That sounds like a healthy division of opinion. However, after these elections the losers continue to approve of Putin’s policies.
Compared to what is happening in the United States Russia seems to have very healthy politics. They are a united country at some very basic level. Here in the US we continue to be divided on this red-blue crap the mainstream news organizations promote daily.
Somehow it seems to me that a nation united will prevail over a nation divided.
US authorities have a heckova propaganda machine. Current China.. and Russia, nether seem driven by ideology, whereas US now is. Interesting times.
Patrick, Sweden apparently finally dropped the rape charges against Assange. The British police states that the moment he steps out of the embassy they will sent him to the US.
Would he have a fair chance on US ground?
I would like to draw your attention to two developments on the “north front”. Norway is considering to take part in the Nato missile defence system. A working group of US and Norwegian experts will present a recommendation late in 2017. The government will make a decision in 2018 (which is after the election). Some politicians have sounded their scepticism, but so far it is not clear that any political consensus is forming. Traditionally, political consensus is being sought on the main foreign policy issues.
Another important development is the stationing of 330 US Marines at Vaernes in the middle of Norway. This is not called a “base”, “since the soldiers are rotating”. There has however been some talk of making Vaernes the european “hub” of the Marines. http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/05/11/norwegian-base-may-become-marines-hub-in-europe.html
Up to now, Norway has had a “no foreign military bases”-policy, and has wanted to avoid “poking the bear”, who after all is our neighbour. The liberal-right government seems to change that policy.The Russians are not happy with these two developments.
Patrick, quite a change from your brilliant, coherent flow, but much appreciated.
I do not think that Russia is unique in this reconciliation phenomenon decades after the end of civil war; such has also been affected in Greece. I think, in Spain, that process is not yet underway – nor in Lebanon.
When I was visiting Moscow recently my friends were mostly gainfully employed and the economy seemed to be picking up. Of course Russia will stay largely a natural resource economy, like Canada or Australia, but I suspect a niche in high tech is quite likely, Russia retains it’s defense and space industries, alongside a high IQ population, so the ingredients are there. Went to an event with Condi Rice at Skolkovo where she was waxing lyrical about Silicon Valley, Ruben Vardanyan made sure to interrupt her to mention the key role the defense sector played in its growth, so obviously something the Russian leadership is aware of.
I am not Patrick Armstrong, obviously. But I will jump in and say . . . no. Upon shipment to the US, Assange would immediately be Padillafied or Guantanamized. And then convicted at leisure and sentenced to life in solitary confinement in some place like the Marion Control Unit or the SHU or someplace.
Would there be any way to include a survey of economic events within Russia in these SitReps?
The anti-Russian sanctions have unwittingly set up an experiment in how a national economy can perform under a form of Protectionism. The EU has banned itself from selling its aqua-feedlot corn-fed “salmon” to Russia, for example. This has opened a market for genuine wild-caught Kamchatka salmon from Far East Russia to be sold in “Eurussia” west of the Urals. Can the Russians upgrade bulk cold-food transport between Kamchatka and “Eurussia” enough to ship west all the salmon which the Kamchatka fishing fleet can
catch? If so, would the Kamchatka salmon-catchers earn enough money to mediate a visible rise in the amount of economic activity happening in Kamchatka?
Would similar processes of embargoed import replacement all over the Russian economy permit indigenous Russian growth to fill the vacuum imposed from without?
Is there any sign that the Russian authorities themselves see the sanctions as an accidental opportunity to pursue protectionist policies under any other name?