RUSSIA COLLUSION. US Senate says none. Clinton's excuse for her shattered campaign has generated much damage: censorship, stronger war party, hysterical TV, attacks on anyone who bucks the war party, destruction of the last bits of "journalistic standards", bogus charges, mangled innocents like Maria Butina. And more aggression against Russia. How much better off we'd be if Trump had never uttered the words "Russia" or "Putin". We're at the end state I feared: no Trumputin (remember this from the NYT?) but much more evil Putin. I doubt Schiff will ever stop and CNN and MSNBC still have time to fill.
CURRENCY WARS. The Central Bank of Russia continues its strategy: total USD holdings down to 22% from 46%, Euros and Renmenbi holdings up; gold 2,112 tonnes. Total external debt $453.7 billion, lowest in nearly 10 years. Moody's upgrades debt rating. Washington's economic war is failing.
IVANOV. We learn what Sergey Ivanov has been doing. "Environmental Activities, Environment and Transport". I guess Avangard changes the security environment and is a form of transport.
ROC. I think Helmer's over-reacting — I see the Patriarch saying the Church is independent of the state. FAKE NEWS. Only liars try to control the news. (A propos: BBC producer says Douma films faked.)
NOT SUCH FUN NOW. Remember when it was fun to poke the bear? "Weak and dying", "really weak", "not strong", "deceptively weak military"? Second thoughts now. Missile defence systems fail. Chinese and Russian space technologies. S-400 iron curtain against US airpower. US military outgunned. Of course, not a millisecond's consideration of a diplomatic solution: it's all "we are not investing enough to keep up". Delusion rules in Washington.
INF TREATY. Washington is leaving the INF Treaty, Moscow followed suit. I think this is the Trumpian overture (vide North Korea and NAFTA) to negotiating a new treaty to include China. We'll see if it works. Russia has an immediate response: take the ship-borne Kalibr systems and put them on land. I agree with Orlov that the suspension of the Treaty actually works to Moscow's benefit. Will the Europeans, with this new bullseye painted on their heads, protest as before – protests that helped create the Treaty – or have they been completely de-spined?
SOTU. 16% by word count on foreign affairs. More money for military, missile defence system, maybe we can negotiate a new INF, Korea going well, time to get out of Syria and Afghanistan. BUT. Time to interfere in Venezuela, Iran is the "leading state sponsor of terror" (where do they get that nonsense? there is an immense gulf between ibn Taymiyyah-inspired jihadists and Twelver Shiites. I know, silly question.) End three wars, start two more. Progress. Sort of.
WESTERN VALUES™. We arrive at cut-rate prostitution of something that, a couple of decades ago, had some content. The excuse: "Venezuela’s Humanitarian Crisis" (ever-compliant Human Rights Watch); the reason: "It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela." (Bolton) Pretty stupid not to recognise the pattern now.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Tulsi Gabbard is a Putinbot. Russia could freeze us to death! Trump spouts Russian propaganda. Russian fishsticks!!! "Russian disinformation" bunk from Canada. To paraphrase Planck: hysteria will recede funeral by funeral.
EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Germany, France and the UK have set up a payments system – INSTEX – to avoid US sanctions on Iran. Or is it too late and will only affect small stuff on the margin?
AUTRES TEMPS, AUTRES MŒURS. Brave protester against Putin's "diktat of a monolithic and unshakable order", flees to France, repeats fire stunt. No "art of the political protest" there: arrested, 11 months in pre-trial detention, 2 years suspended and €21K fine. Gessen lionised him then, will she now?
UKRAINE. "Ukraine’s steady progress and growing momentum toward democracy are irrefutable… Ukraine’s accomplishments rival those made by any of the Central Europeans in the same time span since 1990. "Sounds like the sort of tripe the Integrity (Challenged) Initiative extrudes (when not smearing Corbyn). Still not the stupidest pimping Ukraine story: In Ukraine It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and a Lot Less Like Russia is still the winner.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer