RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 17 DECEMBER 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

Russian flag

PUTIN PRESS CONFERENCE. Here. COVID-19 a big theme – he lists what has been done – 277,000 beds, 40 purpose-built hospitals, over 500,000 medical staff deployed.

ECONOMY. Numbers from Putin: GDP down 3.6%, industrial production down 3%, agricultural industry up 1.8%, real incomes down 3%, unemployment up to 6.3%, national debt lowest ever at US$70 billion, international reserves up to US$587.7 billion, National Wealth Fund up to ₽13.5 trillion (about US$180 billion), 70% of federal budget comes from non-oil and gas revenues.

POLITICAL PARTY STANDINGS. I am not much surprised by the latest from Levada (question: for which would you vote this Sunday?). United Russia is 29%, Zhirinovskiy's party 11%. KPRF 7%, Fair Russia 5% and the rest in the weeds. A ranking that you would have had pretty much any time in the last 20 years (but Zhirinovskiy and the KPRF often switch positions because they share some base). Pretty stagnant: and Zhirinovskiy and Zyuganov go back to the beginning. One big change though: Yabloko gets 1%. Once it was a contender; I think it died partly because the pedestal party stole a lot of its program but mainly because it always refused to unite with other like-minded parties. Putin says about 16 parties are now qualified to run without needing to collect signatures but most of them are no-hopers.

CHOOSE YOUR HEADLINE "Russia’s economy 'recovered' quicker than most of industrialised world" or "Russia in retreat as the Soviet collapse continues".

KALININGRAD. In another triumph for NATO's policy, Moscow has announced that a motorised rifle division has been formed there. This formation far outmatches NATO's puny multi-national battlegroups in the Baltics and Poland. Poking the bear has consequences.

WATER. Crimea has always had a water supply problem and in 1950 it was decided to build a canal connecting springs in the Ukrainian SSR with the Crimean Oblast, then part of the RSFSR. The project was completed in 1965 by which time the Crimean Oblast had been transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. After incorporation into the Russian Federation in 2014, Kiev began to reduce the water supply. Rationing was imposed in parts of Crimea a couple of weeks ago as water supplies got low. Moscow is spending money to improve the situation. The Western media is full of stuff about how Crimea is costing Moscow more than it's worth. Nonsense and wishful thinking of course – no wonder the West is always surprised by Moscow. Planning and realism always beats fantasists muttering in echo chambers.

DOESN'T MAKE ANYTHING. On Sunday four Bulava missiles fired from an SSBN and successful test of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile. On Monday successful test launch of Angara-A5 heavy-class carrier rocket and excellent test results from Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday successful test flight of MC-21-310 airliner equipped with Russian-made engines.

ARMATA. The army will begin receiving T-14 Armata MBTs next year. Nothing was said about T15s.

THE ARCTIC IS A RUSSIAN LAKE. It was only when I researched this piece that I realised just how far ahead of the other Arctic powers Russia was: the race is over, Russia won.

NAVALNIY. Stupid gets stupider. The stuff they think they can make us believe. Incredible.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. Washington sanctions Turkey over the S-400 purchase.

SANCTIONS. A German report estimates Europe loses €21 billion annually because of Russian sanctions. For comparison, that's what Berlin plans to spend on COVID aid in the first half of 2021.

US ELECTION. Putin has sent congratulations to Biden. But it's not over yet – several states have sent competing Electors. Polls show a lot of doubt: Daily Kos finds only 51% feel the election was fairly conducted (Q3); Fox finds 36% think it was stolen; Politico says 32% don't trust the results (POL7).

WESTERN VALUES. Telling the truth might be "feeding the Russian narrative".

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Now they think Trump gone, it's coming out "Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services".

SHOWERS, GOLDEN. Helmer recounts how Steele made a career of inventing anti-Russia stories.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. "How Vladimir Putin's anti-vaxxers are trying to use Covid to kill us as surely as his agents did in Salisbury"

BELARUS. Lukashenka has approved plans for new power-sharing arrangement.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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15 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 17 DECEMBER 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. Avatar ISL says:

    thanks, as always, for the update,
    On the “Russia recovered or not”
    The Not from the Atlantic is foreign policy related, and seems to have neglected in their analysis the Sputnik vaccine (and how the US is a model of how not to run country or even an election) and its powerful geopolitical outreach – the US Pfizer/Moderna ones (if they work at stopping the pandemic) are beyond the financial reach of most of the planet.
    This link for the FT article on Russia recovered gets around the paywall:
    https://www.ft.com/content/5a21001c-b165-4b40-b72e-0f90c6b88a60

    Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.
    https://www.ft.com/content/5a21001c-b165-4b40-b72e-0f90c6b88a60
    “Mr Putin, however, chose not to impose a nationwide lockdown in favour of delegating patchwork measures to local authorities who largely left Russia’s industry alone while shutting the consumer sector almost entirely.”
    I guess if you actually make things instead of entertaining and feeding each other other (classic rentier economy), shutting down hospitality doesn’t trash your economy!

  2. Avatar J says:

    While the West is having big problems with their Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines, film maker Roger Stone says he took the Russian Sputnik Vaccine with no problems.
    On a related matter, a U.S. local news unit photographed a health worker being vaccinated with a empty syringe.

  3. Avatar Christian J. Chuba says:

    NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “How Vladimir Putin’s anti-vaxxers are trying to use Covid to kill us as surely as his agents did in Salisbury”

    This one is particularly funny since it is the U.S. MSM discouraging the use of Russia’s vaccine. When I read Zero Hedge, I was treated to a series of headlines that ran as follows (giving a synopsis). ‘Putin orders distribution of vaccine starting next week even though it hasn’t finished phase 3 testing.
    Russians skeptical of safety, Russia unable to produce estimated doses’
    Massage, Russia is a mixture of evil and incompetence (I heard this joke in the 1980’s, this is a recycled Cold War meme)

  4. Avatar Serge says:

    Due to my work I have intimate firsthand knowledge/experience with big pharma and clinical trials in general, I wouldn’t touch the Moderna or Pfizer MRNA vaxes with a 10 foot pole. If you need to get vaccinated, do whatever you can to get the regular AZN/Sputnik/Sinovax vaccines.

  5. @ Serge
    But you know full well that it will soon be required to have a Gates-Approved-Vaccine (TM)if you want to do anything or go anywhere.
    Which may have been the whole idea.

  6. Avatar Fred says:

    Patrick,
    Bill Gates, making the world safe for serfs. I wonder where his first statue will be?
    Russian national debt reduction is a remarkable achievement. Regarding Ukraine’s water delivery to Crimea, are they using that elsewhere or just cutting their own revenue out of spite (or being paid off by others)?

  7. Avatar Artemesia says:

    Patrick Armstrong’s embedded article on Russia in the Arctic https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/12/13/arctic-ocean-is-russian-lake/
    is an early Christmas present.
    Thanks Patrick & SST.
    Regarding the Moderna & Pfizer vaxs: Don’t follow your Bliss.
    Katherine E Bliss, Senior Fellow at CSIS’s Global Health Policy Center,
    https://www.csis.org/people/katherine-e-bliss
    recently opened a panel discussion on Building Confidence in Covid 19 Vaccine and Misinformation
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?507350-1/discussion-building-confidence-covid-19-vaccine
    Most of the discussion involved strategies to persuade this, that or the other group not to resist vaccination. Missing was any mention of why vaccine was needed.
    Bliss has appeared in perhaps a dozen such conferences.
    Top funders of CSIS’s Global Health Policy Center include
    https://www.csis.org/foundation-nongovernmental-organization-and-nonprofit-donors
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    Carnegie Corporation of New York
    Sarah Scaife Foundation
    Smith Richardson Foundation
    Stavros Niarchos Foundation [SNF]
    SNF’s participation in Covid Relief includes funding Rockefeller-linked vaccine research activities:

    “The first area of focus is medical research. Knowing that combating the virus effectively at the global scale will require both new vaccines and new treatments, SNF will provide support for research efforts focused on effective testing, treatment, and prevention. To this end, SNF has provided an immediate grant of $3 million to The Rockefeller University to support the world-class institution’s round-the-clock research related to COVID-19. Rockefeller’s Nobel Prize-winning researchers are well positioned to speed development and deployment of vaccines and treatments that could have global impact.”
    https://www.snf.org/en/newsroom/news/2020/04/snf-global-relief-initiative-to-help-alleviate-the-effects-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/

  8. Avatar fakebot says:

    Hi Patrick,
    What do you make of those accusations that Russia has hacked into US federal agencies?
    It feels a bit like the boy who cried wolf at this point. Once again anonymous US intel agents are claiming Russia is behind this and they do so without any hard proof.
    Even if Russia is responsible, I’m left asking how is it they could do this “again”? Why has the US government allowed itself to remain so vulnerable after what supposedly happened four years ago?
    On a broader level, these failures I feel demand major reforms. Something has to change on a fundamental scale because it’s impossible to accept claims made by US intelligence agencies on their face given their track record and the risk of failures like this have long been apparent yet not enough is being done to protect against them.

  9. @fakebot
    I’ve been at this business too long to believe anything int sources or the MSM say about Russia. Always believe the opposite.

  10. @ Fred
    So great is Kiev’s love for Crimea that it has cut everything it can.
    Presumably without water, access or electricity the Crimeans will rise up and beg to be taken back into Banderastan.

  11. Avatar smoke says:

    Comments are telling at Daily Mail’s story claiming Putin anti-vax campaign: almost all scoffing. They are not buying it even a little, and a few take the opportunity to cast doubt, again, on the Skripal story.
    What is the intent in calling out “Wolf” (or “bear”)repeatedly? If there were a deliberate campaign to undermine intel and media credibility with the public, how would it differ from this?

  12. Avatar Deap says:

    Anyone else picking up the vibes that NewsMax is a China disinformation operation? What they don’t report is part of this growing perception – and how they are reporting some items is another.
    NewsMax is no longer adding up as a valid alternate media site. They are now even including the tag line ..”without evidence” to anything Trump says. WTF?

  13. Avatar J says:

    On July 5th, Putin signed a decree making Russia’s Northern Fleet a Military District effective this coming January 21st. The newly ‘official’ Military District, will be comprised to include the territory’s of the Komi Republic, the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Regions, and the Nenets Autonomous Region. Admiral Moiseyev is currently the Northern Fleet’s CC.
    Russia’s Northern Fleet is part of its nuclear deterrence.
    https://tass.com/defense/1238053
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Alekseyevich_Moiseyev
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Fleet_Joint_Strategic_Command_(Russia)

  14. Avatar J says:

    It’s sad that so many of our young academics today can’t answer simple questions like….
    How many times has Russia saved America’s bacon?

  15. Avatar vig says:

    Posted by: J | 25 December 2020 at 09:56 AM
    so many of our young academics today
    the way you frame it makes me wonder. Slightly reminding me of my limited glimpses of DH’s mental journey: Academics today vs earlier centuries? …
    … how distinct is intelligence more generally from the larger academic enterprise. How is or was journalism related to both? No doubt each with their own specific limits and advantages. …
    … Easier to study the past then the present? Is it? How, why?
    ********
    Ok, mindgames, let us assume the US and Russia were closely allied in our present, what would, could, should the rest of the world look out for?

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