IRONY. Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Moscow Region. In his Russian-built Aurus. His previous ride was a Mercedes. I suppose he would eventually have wanted a Russian-made limo, but I can't help thinking this is another consequence of sanctions.
GPS. If (if) Russian technology really can spoof GPS signals, (if)… then… well… practically everything NATO does or has depends on GPS signals… Without Aegis and GPS, all NATO has left are bayonets, submarines and an expensive building.
RUSSIA/CHINA. It's clear that a very consequential result of two decades of (stupid and obvious) PNAC machinations is that Moscow and Beijing, not sitting around waiting to be targetted, are drawing ever closer. I've been waiting for Beijing to become more active in the front line – so far it's been letting Moscow take the heat – and it seems that it has. The reports of Chinese soldiers in Venezuela appears to be false, but Chinese aid is certainly arriving and Beijing has pointedly said that Washington does not own Venezuela. Protecting investments certainly, but the larger geopolitical purpose that both know they're on Washington's hitlist and are defending themselves cannot be ignored. And, a number of Russian banks have linked to the Chinese alternative to SWIFT – CIPS. Beijing and Moscow have a multi-faceted strategy; more below.
PETRODOLLAR. Saudi Arabia is reported to have threatened to drop the "Petrodollar" if Washington goes ahead with certain legislation. It then denied it had done so: well, either way, the point is made, isn't it? Meanwhile the Central Bank of Russia continues to buy gold, reserves are now reported to be 2,149 tonnes. China, usually silent, has announced its holdings: up 60% since the last announcement.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. In an interesting finding, given the non-stop Trumputin obsession of the corporate media, Rasmussen finds that slightly more respondents are suspicious of Clinton's collusion with foreign entities than Trump's. And, just on cue (or maybe it's something we can expect in the post-Mueller world) the MSM notices Biden's involvement and interference in Ukrainian corruption (Hill, Times) and a Ukrainian official wondering why Washington isn't interested in their evidence of money and influence going to the Clinton campaign. Well, maybe Washington will be interested now.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Is the dam finally about to break? Barr Forms Team To Investigate FBI Malfeasance; criminal referrals from Nunes; Ukrainian involvement; FISA warrants; lawsuits; spying on Trump campaign; this. Stay tuned.
PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. I speculate on PDS post-Mueller.
WESTERN VALUES™. Canada's Democratic Institutions Minister (apt title eh?) says the Internet should be regulated to protect against election meddling. Who knew Our Democracies were so delicate? I will have a piece coming out in Strategic Culture Foundation to explain how to protect our precious bodily fluids democracies against Putin.
THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. The US violates Swedish airspace more often than Russia.
TURKEY. When the coup failed two and a half years ago, I predicted that sooner or later, Turkey would leave NATO. Erdoğan blamed Washington for the attempt and there is the persistent story that Moscow saved his life. We move closer. More threats from Washington with Pence telling Ankara to choose between NATO or the S-400 ("done deal" says Foreign Minister); some US senators threaten too. Ankara threatens back and points out that there are other makers of fighter aircraft: Russia, for example. A book published by the US Naval Institute is said by a Turkish newspaper to include a scenario of a conflict with Turkey. Erdoğan was just in Moscow for talks with Putin: here's the news conference: trade, investment, NPP, TurkStream, tourism, Syria. And weapons. None these subjects will make Washington happy. Why, BTW, would Turkey want Russian air defence missiles? Simple: in case it should become a former friend of Washington: a very dangerous thing to be.
UKRAINE ELECTION. A poll suggests that the losers' votes are most likely to go to Zelensky in the runoff on the 21st. Putin is apparently a candidate, or is Poroshenko saying Zelensky is Putin's puppet? More questions than answers: will Poroshenko contrive to cancel the election? Is Zelensky a beard for Kolomoisky? How's Tymoshenko going to take being knocked out? Has she cut a deal with Zelensky? How much cheating? (And sotto voce: does anybody care any more?) Speculations.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer