RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 OCTOBER 2021 by Patrick Armstrong

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

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14 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 OCTOBER 2021 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. Mel says:

    I’m curious to know (if I can know) what proportions of various currencies Russia is holding as foreign reserves. The linked article doesn’t seem to want to say.

  2. Deap says:

    As big government disengages the citizenry around the world, it appears authoritarianism rushes into the vacuum with little resistance.

    • Lyttennnburgh says:

      That’s relevant to this particular “Russian Federation Sitrep”… how exactly?

      • LeaNder says:

        On some matters, Lytt dear, Dead is curiously quite rational, on some more driven by his inner demons, the experts-on-reasons-and-causes.

  3. JohninMK says:

    As the US/EU is rather keen that the Russians continue helping out Ukraine via NG transit fees whilst Russia has had enough, it looks like Putin has started to lay out Russia’s position ahead of the inevitable discussions before the end of 2024 deadline.

    As you say Patrick, Putin pointed out the increasing risks of the Ukrainian pipeline system but he also emphasised the point that NS2 should be supported by the EU as it was a very green, environmentally sound pipeline powered by the latest, most efficient turbines at higher pressures.

    Russia is clearly, as it did with Northstream2, going to be arguing on commercial/technical grounds whilst the US/EU only have political/economic ones.

    Meanwhile, further to your comment, Hungary pulled a brilliantly timed flanker both going back to fixed contract pricing and routing their gas through Turkstream, no longer Ukistream. Not sure how it will affect the ‘reverse flow’ into Ukraine where they claim they are not using Russian gas. It certainly won’t do any harm to Hungary’s large ammonia industry.

  4. ISL says:

    Patrick,

    Nuland’s visit and the problems the CIA is having in Russia may not be unconnected – she may have been there for a special briefing. . . Certainly it served no purpose of note in Russia (Lebanon is another matter), which was 100% predictable, so why bother?

    I do speculate that the haphazard Afghan withdrawal could have led to the Taliban capturing documents or assets, which were handed to Russia leading to the intelligence losses in Russia and perhaps elsewhere.

    Side note, I recommend never predicting that stupidity cant get worse.

    • LeaNder says:

      Certainly it served no purpose of note in Russia (Lebanon is another matter), which was 100% predictable, so why bother?

      Interesting speculation. What specific Lebanese matter are you referring to here?

      • LeaNder says:

        Sorry, forgot, from Russia her pre-planned route back on her way almost back home. Rather vague memory trail.

  5. LeaNder says:

    One of your greatest SITREPs ever, it feels. Thanks. 😉

  6. JohninMK says:

    Don’t you just love seeing the EU eating craw! Worth the full quote.

    Putin earlier this week batted down as “utter nonsense” widespread accusations among Western media pundits that Europe’s energy crisis is due to the Kremlin using gas as a ‘geopolitical weapon’. It now appears the European Commission is quietly agreeing with him. This as Nord Stream 2, which Washington has long battled to stop, is awaiting final approval from German regulators begore going online.

    As the Economist summarized of the ongoing accusations: “Russia is responding to a view gaining currency in European capitals that Gazprom, the state-controlled energy goliath that is the continent’s biggest supplier, has been stoking the continent’s energy crisis by withholding exports of natural gas. European parliamentarians are demanding that Gazprom be investigated for not shipping more gas, allegedly as a ploy to secure final regulatory approval for the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to ship Russian gas to Germany.”
    Image via New York Times

    A somewhat exasperated Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov last week noted Gazprom has fulfilled its current obligations to the maximum extent possible under existing contracts: “Nothing can be delivered beyond the contracts. How? For free? It is a matter of negotiating with Gazprom,” he said.

    Of course, the somewhat sensational headline-grabbing accusations are what dominated press reports for much of the week, with new Friday comments from the European Commission getting buried. Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans indicated there’s no reason to believe Russia is manipulating the market.

    Timmermans bluntly said the following in an interview with Bulgarian broadcaster bTV: “Russia is fulfilling its gas supply contracts.” He added that “we have no reason to believe it is putting pressure on the market or manipulating it.”

    The top level Europe Commission official pointed to global nature of the problem of rising gas and energy prices, saying “the demand for gas at the global level is huge, including there.”

    The illuminating remarks from EU authorities themselves, once again demonstrating the ease of the “blame Russia first” narrative (and worry about hunting down evidence later), come two days after Putin spoke before Russia’s annual Energy Week.

    “Higher gas prices in Europe are a consequence of a deficit of energy and not vice versa and that’s why we should not deal in blame shifting, this is what our partners are trying to do,” Putin said during the panel conversation.

    He invoked Europe’s green agenda as playing a big part in its energy costs soaring just ahead of winter: “You see the problem does not consist in us, it consists in the European side, because, first, we know that the wind farms did not work during summer because of the weather, everyone knows that.”

    Putin said something similar to the latest assessment from Frans Timmermans. The Russian president added: “Moreover, the Europeans did not pump enough gas into their underground gas facilities… and the supplies to Europe have decreased from other regions of the world.”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/after-rapid-fire-blame-putin-headlines-european-commission-quietly-affirms-russia-not

  7. elkern says:

    Re: CIA CRI DU COUER

    To me, the real question is: Why was this announced by the CIA via the NYT? Who gains what by making this public?

    Is this part of some internal struggle within the CIA, where one faction leaked this to embarrass/defeat another faction?

    Is it a (stupid) way to try to get more money from Congress for CIA?

    Is it some NeoCon plot?

    Is it a total fake, to delude CIA’s enemies into thinking that they are winning?

    Anybody have better explanations? It’s not at all surprising that CIA would be losing “assets”, because countries it/we have antagonized are probably sharing info & coordinating more these days (see: SCO). The only surprise is that this would be announced publicly.

  8. Aletheia in Athens says:

    Why Russia goes so comfy along with all the issue of the Covid Pass…Since they, the current administration, feel quite good with all this full control over the population…

    https://twitter.com/ActualidadRT/status/1449706255581265930

    Since there is no competing systems out there…a gift fallen from the sky…

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