CRIMETHINKING. If you doubt FUKUS' word that 76 missiles hit this site (here's just one missile), you're a Russian troll. If you don't believe the Russians Swiffered Douma clean, you're a Russian troll. If you think England will not win, you're probably a Russian troll. We trolls can read Fisk, a German and an American reporting from the spot. In a previous universe we were told by Janes, no less, that ISIS had used CW at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria. Have they jumped the shark at last?
PROBABLY SIGNIFICANT. A commentator on China's English language TV takes on the FUKUS story. "China and Russia have since decided to draw a red line to prevent the abuse of UN resolutions."
TRUMP AND RUSSIA. From the WaPo: "Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost". The story of the diplomatic expulsions is especially interesting.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee ends the probe: "We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians." Although it still believes in "Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions in 2015-2016 and their use of social media to sow discord". Mueller, on the other hand, wanders ever farther from Russia. The first part of the IG report (covering McCabe's firing) is out.
SOCIAL MEDIA. Telegram is a Russian messaging app that has a certain popularity. The security organs want to be able to break in at will, claiming that terrorists use it. The owners of the app have refused. On the 13th a court ordered the app blocked. And it was; but so clumsily that there were many unexpected downstream effects. The story is detailed here. Encouraging, I suppose, because it shows that it's much harder to control these things from outside than the authorities think it is.
RUSSIA-EGYPT. Russia has resumed direct flights to Cairo which means the Russian authorities believe security is OK. Egypt was a big tourist destination for Russians, we'll see if it gets the business back; to some extent Crimea and Sochi compete as sunny places at home.
RUSSIA AND THE WEST. Vladislav Surkov says Russia's long attempt to become part of the West is over. Paul Robinson discusses. Certainly since Peter there have been attempts to Westernise and an on and off debate over the issue. Personally, I do not regard Russia as "European" – a sibling so to speak, but not the same thing. One day I will set out my argument; for those who know Toynbee, it's a variation on his discussion of why British is part of European society and not an independent entity. I remember years ago thinking that to older Russians NATO expansion was a continuation of an enemy alliance but to younger ones it was a door slammed in their faces. It is worth reflecting that in the recent presidential election pro-Westernisation candidates altogether got less than 5%. The dream is certainly tarnished.
POKING THE BEAR. STRATCOM commander says Russia and China are operating hypersonic missiles and that US nuclear weapons are "operating beyond their designed service life". NORAD commander says Russia has "advanced cruise missiles capable of holding targets within North America at risk from distances not previously seen." You wonder whether any of these guys ever wish they could put the clock back: lots of us warned then that Russia's often down, but it's never out.
NEW NWO. Hamid Karzai said only Russia could help Afghanistan and the USA has "been killing us for17 years". Now I don't quote him because I think that his opinion is golden but that a man, who many would regard as pretty much Washington's puppet, is saying these things shows how Washington's status and power is slipping. Countries – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines to name three – are looking around for alternatives. The two Koreas might be about to solve their own problems. Speaking of which, this former Turkish general sees the S-400 as protection against the USA (as I said here).
PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. "Putin hacks British homes: Russian cyber agents set to cripple laptops, phones and 'critical' infrastructure after secretly accessing millions of computers". But it's not selling: the best rated comment by 10 to 1 is "Would you stop with this fake news please? No one can take it anymore." The others are equally scornful.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer