Russian flag

LOST OPPORTUNITY. Karlin reminds us that once the USA was extremely popular in Russia. In the early 90s a high of 80% felt good about the USA. 35% then thought the US was friendly and 3% thought it hostile: today it's 3% and 59% respectively. I'm sure someone will blame Putin for the reversal.

SECURITY. The FSB Director tells us in his annual roundup that 120 foreign and international NGOs, covertly used as tools of foreign intelligence, were stopped and 137 agents of foreign special services were uncovered. 23 terrorist attacks were prevented.

CORRUPTION. The former Economic Development Minister was found guilty of accepting bribes and sentenced to 8 years in a penal colony and a fine of 130 million rubles.

POVERTY. The Labour Minister tells us that about 13% of population lives below the poverty line. Putin has raised the minimum wage and, beginning in 2019, it will be set to the "employable population’s subsistence level for Russia as a whole for the second quarter of the previous year".

COMMUNISTS. The Russian Communist Party (the real opposition in terms of votes, policies and seats) has nominated the head of the Lenin State Farm, Pavel Grudinin, as its presidential candidate. Although not an actual CP member, he runs a successful farm in Moscow on socialist principles. (Google Maps). He may bring in more votes than the charisma-free Zyuganov did in numerous previous runs.

ELECTION. I quote Karlin a lot because he is, in my opinion, one of the best of the best observers on Russia and has the advantage of having lived both here and there. I recommend his discussion of the function of elections in a country when everybody knows the super popular President and his pedestal party will be re-elected. He argues that the political leadership wants to own the broad centre of opinion; the performance of parties on the wings allow course corrections. A species of demos-kratia isn't it?

DEPT OF IRONY. "UK turns to Russian project targeted by sanctions for gas supply".

TARTUS. I was scornful of earlier Western excitement over the "naval base in Syria" which was not a huge facility but just a corner of a small port used as a rest stop. But it will become bigger: Putin just signed the law. Described as a "inventory and logistics support centre" the lease is for 49 years. This will allow the Russian Navy to have a permanent Mediterranean presence. (A tiny voice asks whether Moscow is becoming tempted by its success – does it really need bases here and there? Is that really in its national interest?)

SYRIA WRAPUP. 34 thousand sorties and 215 new weapons systems tested and lots of experience. They say (but the claimed precision is preposterous) 60,318 terrorists killed, 2840 of them Russian-born.

SYRIA. There is still a US military base in Syria, the Russian CGS says it is fully blocked by the Syrian army. Again we wonder who's in charge? Washington has lost in Syria and it's time to leave. But it doesn't: still stories of "moderate rebels" being trained; still stories of Daesh fighters being protected. A much better informed observer than I has a theory: two delegators in the chain create confusion.

S-400. The loan agreement with Turkey has been signed: about US$2.5 billion. Why would Russian sell them and why would Turkey want them? My theory here.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. CNNoids were no doubt shocked or puzzled by this: "Trump is right about the FBI"; video). The London Review of Books unveiled a bit (but not much: the piece could have been written a year ago). "Was the Steele Dossier the FBI’s ‘Insurance Policy’?" moves closer. Even the WaPo starts to doubt. Stay tuned: a big document dump is coming.

TRUMPOLOGY. I put this theory out there for your consideration: "Trump Cuts the Gordian Knot of Foreign Entanglements". Andrew Korybko has something similar here. Certainly plenty of people are saying that he is "isolating" the USA; but they assume it's because he is "incompetent", Korybko and I think he's doing it on purpose. (Trump's alleged incompetence is a prime pillar of the Russia interference panic: for the believers, no one so "dangerously incompetent", unqualified or mentally ill could have beaten the "most qualified presidential candidate in history" on his own.)

POLAND-UKRAINE. Poland, which had something to do with encouraging and assisting the Maidan coup, is increasingly concerned about what it helped stirred up. A lot of Poles were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which is much loved by today's Kiev. A monument to the Volyn massacre is under construction: it shows a baby impaled on a trident. See also the recent movie. History has not stopped in that part of the world.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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57 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20180104

  1. Lincolnite says:

    I had assumed a strong Naval presence at Tartus along with Sevastopol gave Russia strategic cover of the Dardanelles should anyone be tempted to revisit the Montreaux Convention. It may also relate to the development of the gas fields of the Eastern Mediterranean where I believe Gazprom has a presence.

  2. Tom says:

    Poland-Ukraine Having lived in Russia and Poland and knowing both languages I believe that Poland is just opening a can of worms. Or the box of Pandora. To wit: the West of Ukraine was until 1939 part of Poland. The majority was Ukrainian but a significant minority was Polish. The Poles were brutally kicked out after the war. Poland is now reopening old wounds. It is cratching at the scabs. What is worse: the Poles are making (until now subtle but nevertheless) noices about places like Lwiw or Lwow (Lemberg) really being Polish. The people ruling Poland now are no less nationalistic than the rulers of Ukraine. They create the same kind of militaristic atmosphere like in Ukraine. Youth organisations, war propaganda a.s.o. First against Russia but now more and more against Ukraine.
    The really scary part is that that might result in a German reaction. Remember that a third of Poland was German before the war. And the Poles certainly didn´t treat the Germans any better when kicking them out than the Ukrainians treated them.
    I don´t know how signifanct all of that might become but it bears watching.

  3. Peter AU says:

    Good articles on the agent of chaos by yourself and Korybko.
    The down side I see is Trump’s military spending and the team of Iran haters he has chosen to appoint and delegate responsibility to.
    Trump increased military spending when the US already spent more on their military than the next ten countries combined.
    Cutting back on foreign entanglements, retaining just a few closest allies? Israel, I think would be one of the close allies retained. Iran is the main power behind the resistance to Israel. Since watching the US election campaign, and even at my most optimistic, this downside has always been their. I think now that it is very likely that at some point in the not to distant future, there will be US air and missile strikes on Iran. No invasion or occupation, that doesn’t seem Trumps style.

  4. Trump (and not just Trump — all his close military guys and not just them) have a thing about Iran. Let us not forget the frequent statement in the State Dept review on terrorism that al Quaeda/ISIS/whatever is the Number 1 terrorist threat and Iran the Number 1 state sponsor. No one (no one) who knows anything (anything) could possibly see a connection between ibn Taymiyya inspired takfiris and twelver Shiites. IMO it’s entirely a creation of the Israeli/Saudi control over US thinking both in the govt and academia.
    It’s very disturbing.

  5. I agree. Poland is opening a whole box of cans of worms. The curse of Polish history, I think, are all those times Warsaw overestimated its position. Vide 1939 — Warsaw had a deal with Hitler and thought it was OK.
    But also watch Hungary which notices Transcarpathia. And I’m sure others will. As I have said many times, “Ukraine” is an entity created out of bits and pieces of other countries. And it is collapsing.

  6. Reggie says:

    The Ukies are slowing moving troops & equipment into the neutral zones in the Donbass. It seems that it’s just a matter of time before things get “hot” there.

  7. Barbara Ann says:

    Thanks for the update Patrick. I read your linked Gordion knot piece and I must say I am more and more coming around the this point of view; that DJT really does have a strategy to disentangle the US from foreign commitments as part of his MAGA plan. A key part of which I am sure is misleading just about everyone as to his real aims. Or better still fooling them into thinking his actions are aimless, or just plain dumb.
    He has let the military have their missions in Syria, all the while allowing the Russians to be in control. The US will eventually leave, saving billions for MAGA. The slow pace of Assad/Putin’s eventual victory means that the military will not have to live with the disgrace of actually ‘losing’. The Ziocons’ unnecessary war will be over and guess what; he got someone else to pay for a large part of it.
    With Jerusalem he cut the mother of all Gordion knots (strictly from the American perspective) by disentangling the US from mediation in the Palestinian question. He has suggested funds for the Palestinians are at risk and can now simultaneously say to Israel “see what I gave you, you owe me“. Cave in to pro-Israel lobby? I’m not so sure it isn’t just America First (actually before Israel for a change).
    And could it be that he was actually in on the sudden New Year Sunshine Policy (with very Putin-like characteristics) emanating from North Korea? The peninsular sorts itself out, face and more $ billions are saved when the CBG’s & troops come home. Perhaps a stretch too far, but if he really is crazy like a fox, how better to extricate oneself from the mess..
    World domination and bases in Kyrzbekistan don’t help the version of MAGA Trump’s supporters voted for. He’ll disentangle plenty more, but he’s smart enough to know that resistance to his plans would be 10 times worse if the Exceptionals in the swamp and elsewhere really understood what he is up to.
    The Donald may not know what a Gordion Knot is (nor likely care) and in their blind rage the liberal elite think him stupid for not matching up to their intellectual and behavioral standards. This is Trump’s real strength – his ability to be perpetually underestimated. Strategy and not incompetence? Could be.

  8. Peter AU says:

    Trump’s actions in Syria are, I think, part of his Iran strategy. he has held onto eastern Syria and Tanf. There is still a small pocket of ISIS east of the Euphrates at Abu Kamal which makes me think there may be more fighting there for its control. Taking Abu Kamal will cut the only land rout from Iran to Lebanon, so I think it will be a target. Then there are the retrained ISIS and AQ types at Hasaka. Are they to be moved across Iraqi Kurdistan into Iran? or perhaps used to target Hezbollah and so forth through Syria and Lebanon?
    The US war against Syria or to destroy the Syrian government was lost when Russia moved in, Trump admin recognizing this and repositioning assets to face Iran?

  9. Lysander says:

    Having lived in Poland for a number of years myself, I concur. A great country with great people, but a large proportion cultivate a sense of historical victimhood that leads to worsening excesses. The current government is dislike by many, but it has wide support over its antiimmigrants stance. This seems to give it confidence to antagonize both Russia and Germany at the same time. And now, it antagonists the right wing Ukrainians that it helped bring to power 4 years ago.
    The God loves irony I guess.

  10. outthere says:

    Prof. Stephen F Cohen reviews Ukraine.
    Cohen is elder wise man, spent his life knowing Russia.
    He gives factual review and political outlook on the ongoing crisis, including Trump decision to supply new anti tank weapons and Biden warmongering.
    The history of the Ukrainian crisis, which has made everything it affected worse, is distorted by political myths and American media malpractice.
    By Stephen F. Cohen
    Putin and his ministers sought to persuade the EU to make the economic agreement with Ukraine “tripartite,” including Moscow so as not to disadvantage the very substantial trade relationship between Ukraine and Russia. The EU leadership, for whatever reason, refused, telling Kiev it had to choose between Russia and the West. For years, as all sides knew, Washington and other Western actors had been pouring billions of dollars into Ukraine to prepare it for the West’s “civilizational” values. That is, the “march” on Ukraine had long been under way. The EU agreement—purportedly only economic and civilizational—included provisions binding the new “partner” to NATO “military and security” policy. (The intent was clear, with President George W. Bush having proposed to fast-track NATO membership for Ukraine in 2008, only to be vetoed by Germany and France.)
    . . .
    the once-distinguished academic Paul Krugman, who tells his New York Times readers: “There’s really no question about Trump/Putin collusion, and Trump in fact continues to act like Putin’s puppet.” There is every “question” and no “in fact” at all
    . . .
    Vice President Joseph Biden. It has long been known that President Obama put him in charge of the administration’s “Ukrainian project,” in effect making him pro-consul overseeing the increasingly colonized Kiev. In short, Biden, who is clearly already seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, bears a heavy personal responsibility for the 4-year-old Ukrainian crisis. But he shows no sign of rethinking anything and still less any remorse. In an article in Foreign Affairs, Biden and his coauthor Michael Carpenter string together a tsunami of highly questionable, if not false, narratives regarding “How to Stand Up to the Kremlin,” many of them involving the years he was vice president. Along the way, Biden repeatedly berates Putin for meddling in Western elections. This is the same Joe Biden who told Putin not to return to the Russian presidency during Obama’s purported “reset” with Moscow and who, in February 2014, told Ukraine’s democratically elected President Yanukovych to abdicate and flee the country.

  11. Your Gordian Knot theory makes a lot of sense. It certainly fits with most of what he said during the campaign. He has more or less avoided antagonizing moves towards Russia in Syria. I’m pretty sure we’ll be pushed out of there by R+6 negotiations with the Rojava Kurds. His Jerusalem policy knocked the US out of any part of having to oversee any future negotiations in that region. That gives us a reason to walk away there. He’s doing everything he can to piss off Pakistan. They’ll close off our access to Afghanistan and give us reason to leave there. He cares nothing about these places or people and that’s actually a good thing. He has no ideological reason to remain. Maybe his genius lies in his ability to piss off enough people to force us out. That way he can say it’s not his fault when we leave. It’s just too bad he’s got a real hard-on for Iran. Perhaps it’s only because of the Obama connected JCPOA.

  12. Anna says:

    The “liberated” (post-2014) Ukraine is a monumental black eye to the Lobby prudes:
    “…local authorities [in Kiev] recently voted to rename a major street after a former Nazi collaborator and anti-Semite named Roman Shukhevych.”
    “In 2015, Ukraine passed a law honoring the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, (OUN-UPA)”
    “Numerous Holocaust memorial sites – including Babi Yar, where over 33,000 Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis – have been vandalized or desecrated by anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas.”
    “…the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINM) is drafting a law to posthumously exonerate OUN-UPA members convicted of murdering Polish and Jewish civilians during and after the war.”
    “…a Ukrainian official called Ukraine’s SS Galizien division – created with the support of Heinrich Himmler – “heroes”
    A rhetorical questions: Is the US State Department ready stand with Ukrainian neo-Nazi?

  13. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:

    “third of Poland was German before the war.”
    As was polish a third of Belorussia. I’ve spoken with polish people who told me their country was artificially pushed 200 kms westwards after WWII.
    I also heard a possibly fake, but telling story about a polish military officer telling a german one “we have now more Leopard 2 tanks than you”. The answer was allegedly ” but we have the production line”.
    While I also fear that our polish brothers politically-militarily overreach themselves based on their good relations with the US (like in 1939, as already mentioned), it has to be mentioned that Poland is a strong and united country, which is generally overlooked, played for a puppet and left out of calculations by western powers.

  14. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:

    It is not only Hungary, but also the Czech Republic, which ran the place between 1920-1939. And yes the romanians, who are still living the dream of Greater-Romania encompassing everything between the Danube and the Dniestr.
    Real question what does the local strongman Viktor Baloga want. Or to be more precise what does the majority, which is a small, but definitely differenet slavic branch, the ruthenians/rusyns want?

  15. Patrick Armstrong – Thank you very much for that once again wide ranging summary.
    I believe that you might be indicating the possibility that Trump’s actions do show he is seeking to withdraw from foreign entanglements while wrong-footing the pro-Zionists and the neo-cons. What he is doing is at least consistent with that. His vision of MAGA is internal, as shown by the Colonel’s analysis of the recent economic moves.
    At least I hope you are indicating this possibility, and that it will come off. Even if it doesn’t the West is still better off than under an Obama/Clinton type leadership. If nothing else Trump has effectively wrecked an Obama/Clinton type foreign policy by antagonising the Europeans (and Westminster) and also antagonising proxies. Even in the worst case – the intensification of military/proxy action against Iran or against Iranian forces – such action would be less dangerous given that the Europeans no longer seem to be fully on board with neo-con foreign policy as they would have been had there been a Clinton presidency.
    But all this is against the background of worsening financial crisis, particularly in Europe and the UK. If it is the case that Trump, in his “crazy like a fox” way as some commenters on SST describe it, might be pulling off this roundabout way of honouring his election promises, he’d better get a move on.

  16. JohnB says:

    Barbara Ann – I admire your optimism but for me the populism that propelled the Donald into the WH is no more. His, is a traditional republican administration, albeit less stable than most. The draining of the swamp rhetoric, was just that rhetoric.
    I agree Trump isn’t dumb you don’t get to where he has by being an idiot. But as far as FP is concerned is Trump is a wild card and that for me is dangerous. He also see the world in very ‘black and white’ terms which is not to dissimilar to the neo-cons. his latest rhetoric on Iran must be music to the ears of Israel and the Neo-cons.
    As PA has said I think most Russian FP people would have preferred ‘The Devil You Know’ Clinton to Trump.

  17. jld says:

    Indeed I thought it a little bit weird that “populist” Trump was supported by Peter Thiel but what do I know, I am not even American.

  18. Malachy Smyth says:

    As PA has said I think most Russian FP people would have preferred ‘The Devil You Know’ Clinton to Trump.

    Hillary said she would impose a NFZ in Syria and shoot down Russian planes. Trump still says it’s terrible how the Democrats have destroyed any rapprochement* with Russia. In some of these egregious moves (arms to Ukraine, bellicosity toward Iran, etc.) I hope he is doing the bare minimum to placate the neocon establishment forces he has to deal with.
    *he didn’t use this word for it. 😉

  19. SmoothieX12 says:

    I think most Russian FP people would have preferred ‘The Devil You Know’ Clinton to Trump.
    Debatable and is very close to a cliche. I think the consensus in Russia on the US as not treaty-worthy party (nedogovorosposobny) emerged early to mid-2000s. Trump was merely viewed as “let them have another go at it.” Didn’t work out. Fine, life goes on. I personally think that HRC would have unleashed a war at some point (why–is a separate matter) and then would have lost any control over escalation. This is apart from the fact of utter foreign policy incompetence being a MO of current US power elites across political spectrum.

  20. Barbara Ann says:

    Being able to deny culpability is critical to the disentanglement strategy, he knows he can’t just come out and say this stuff. Be interesting to know how many of his inner circle are in on the gag, if any. Also, I suspect you are right re JCPOA and the Obama connection. If Obama had cured cancer he’d want to undo it.

  21. LeaNder says:

    emerged early to mid-2000s.
    my mind circles around the same time, incidentally.
    That said, I found both Armstrong’s and KORYBKO’s usage of metaphors interesting. The Gordian Knot and/or the Chaos The Kraken interesting.
    For whatever reason, I immediately felt I should check “Alex Jones” + Kraken. Beyond the link he provides. You’ll find an Alex Jones interview of 2010, where the Kraken surfaces:
    In 2010 Trump still reflected if there shouldn’t be the death penalty for something like Assange. But now considering the larger context and mood. Assange might have used his chances correctly. 😉
    I had to get interested. The Kraken, over centuries the destructive force turned into a savior symbol that’ll help to drain the swamp, get rid of the shadow government? … Now that’s quite a turn around.
    Pat’s Kali?

  22. Charles Michael says:

    Yes I think you are on to something about DJT way of doing, or rather un-doing things.
    As John B wrote: his latest rhetoric on Iran must be music to the ears of Israel and the Neo-cons.
    It may be a clever trick to placate them, while enflaming the very nationalistic feelings of the Persians, thus shouting the rioters.
    did Obama cured any cancer ? (just jocking)

  23. Ulenspiegel says:

    “The really scary part is that that might result in a German reaction.”
    No real chance that there will any problems. The last people who claimed these former German parts of modern Poland are dead now, the last time I saw interviews of their lobby group was many years ago. Most younger Germans understand that peace is more important than these lost territories. There is no political pressure as almost no Germans live there.

  24. I’m amused at how many people still buy the “Trump has a plan” canard. It reminds me of how many people – even including many so-called “antiwar” types – who continued to believe Obama’s “Change You Can Believe In” nonsense eight years in, no matter how many times he proved there would be no change.
    Not buying it.
    For one thing, a motormouth like Trump can’t possibly conceal his plans. Foreign policy is not a business plan that you can hide from your competitors by printing it on copy-resistant paper. If Trump has any kind of “plan”, we would know it by now because he would be tweeting it daily.
    Instead, everyone is playing psychologist, behavioral psychologist, or forensic psychologist – or maybe reading entrails – trying to figure out what his plan is. If it’s that hard, I submit it’s because there is no plan, not that he is some sort of genius who can conceal it right up to the moment when it stands revealed in all its glory.
    I continue to believe that Trump is merely play-acting at being President and is allowing his “advisers” to run the government until his time runs out and he can go back to making real money by waving the cache of having been President.
    And his advisers suck and intend war with North Korea and Iran.
    If he can’t even fire the bozos who are running an intelligence operation against him, how is he going to stop the rest of these clowns from starting more wars?
    It’s delusional. There is no disentanglement strategy – and if there were, someone would assassinate him to prevent it – or at least make sure it failed, which wouldn’t be hard to do, especially if he really is going against the tide of the rest of the government.
    The other issue I have with all this is the reliance of many otherwise thinking people on the 24-hour news cycle as a predictor of future events. Any time someone in the Administration makes a random statement – that invariably contradicts what they said last week – everyone starts talking like it’s a sea change in policy. Actions speak louder than words and I’ve seen nothing being acted on as any major change in US policy toward anything.
    No where is this clearer than the policy towards Iran. If you want to avoid “foreign entanglement” in the Middle East starting a war with Iran wouldn’t be my first choice in policy. Giving Jerusalem to the Israelis has clearly been refuted as a rational decision by virtually everyone in the world except Trump believers.
    And of course we have yet to see any change in regards to North Korea. The only reason it’s relatively quiet now is: 1) NK hasn’t set off another nuke – yet, or launched another missile – yet; 2) NK and SK may be trying to get negotiations going; and 3) US/SK military drills will resume after the Olympics because no one wants a war in the North Korean winter or in the middle of Olympic games. Wait and see what happens in the spring…before predicting Trump has some “grand plan” to resolve that issue.

  25. Peter AU says:

    I wonder if the Trump strategy on Iran has as much or more to do with MAGA and kick starting the US oil industry than Israel?
    Trump has just opened up most of the US continental shelf for exploration. US out reaching just under ten thousand barrels a day according to a recent Reuters report. High oil prices would kick the US oil industry into top gear and be detrimental to China.

  26. blowback says:

    But it means he can do all the rest while the Washington Borg thinks he’s doing what real men do – going to Tehran.

  27. SmoothieX12 says:

    It may also relate to the development of the gas fields of the Eastern Mediterranean where I believe Gazprom has a presence.
    This too. But nobody in Russia has any illusions on largely Sunni arc of instability across Maghreb either. Pretty much all Southern Med is or may become destabilized and that involves scenarios of large jihadist groups (or even armies) reappearing together with their claims to whatever will be the fad then–Caliphate or whatever else they will come up with. This requires an “emergency” naval force capable to support legitimate governments before “cavalry” (if need be) arrives or legitimate forces properly trained and supplied. Yes, almost Syria scenario. And then, there is an issue of Europe, which still transcends just geopolitical considerations. There are, certainly, a Christian ones at play here in Russia. Putin DID voice a concern about it. In the end, by 2030, Tartus may house a carrier and amphibious battle group of Russian Navy, granted that appropriate decision on construction of an appropriate (I stress this) new carrier will be made. I see no reasons to doubt it. For now, amphibious component will be made of Ivan Gren landing ships once they pass trials.

  28. Cortes says:

    And the Biden family was represented on the board of a Ukrainian gas corporation:

  29. Some where in this photo are the so-called leaders of Ukraine. Can you find them? Does it matter whether you can?

  30. Hunsdon says:

    I am cautiously of the same opinion you hold.
    One of Trump’s strengths is deflection. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem has been official US policy for how long, again? Subject to waivers by the US President. What was the most recent Senate vote on recognizing Jerusalem, something like 90-0? Well, Trump seems to have said, if that’s what you want . . . .
    The cruise missile strikes on Syria really disheartened me . . . for about 24 hours. Then I looked around, noticed it had all the earmarks of a one off, essentially meaningless strike, and started to cheer up.
    The GOP spent seven years saying Obamacare had to go. Trump essentially bounced it back on the establishment and said, “Have at it.” Gee, nothing much changed. The establishment GOP was shown to be all bluff and blather, with no real plan.
    DACA? It sure looks as if he’s slow walking it to nowhere, and now the immigrant lobbies are busily hating on Democrats for not forcing a government shutdown over DACA.
    A lot of awfully smart people disagree with me on this subject, but I really think he’s playing misdirection at a masterful level while accomplishing key objectives under the radar. Who knows?
    In my most secret of hearts I keep thinking, “Only Trump could go to Teheran” but, like I say, I could be a fool.

  31. As to Syria strike see this
    As for Trump’s misdirection, manipulation, control of the discussion see Scott Adam’s blog

  32. Rd says:

    The Twisted Genius said…
    ‘He cares nothing about these places or people and that’s actually a good thing. He has no ideological reason to remain.”
    perhaps as a business man he sees the writing on the wall. dollar hegemony is on the fall. (Pak just switched over to CYN). with the expectation of much higher inflation, the deficit could become the final nail. so why not close down on the over seas mis-adventures before the fan kicks in. “perhaps” even his iran hardline is just to get the ‘crazies’ in DC some appetite to salivate for now.. whilst he gets the zios to open their coffers and provide him the support.

  33. Tom says:

    Just wait. If there is further breakdown in Ukraine, if Poland (and Hungary) start having pretensions towards Ukraine (not unlikely considering the governments) then people in Germany will start to remember what actually happened at the end of the war in these former German territories. It is certainly no coincidence that among the leading lights of the new right in Germany there are disproportionally many who are descendants of expellees. Alice Weidel being the most prominent among them. In her case (and certainly in others) it is this family history which has played a decisive role in her political development. All this is below the surface now but might erupt in the future if things continue to deterioate. Finally let us not forget Kaliningrad, the former Koenigsberg. This issue is not solved as well. Unless and until Russia is truly integrated into a new European security system this problem will continue to fester.

  34. LeaNder says:

    No real chance that there will any problems.
    Well, yes, Ulenspiegel. It’s a funny idea. …
    But from an insider perspective. Semi-irony-alert: What is Erika Steinbach doing lately?

  35. Lyttenburgh says:

    Grudinin is low-key burzhuj, who began his political career in the United Russia, then he became a member of Zhirinovsky’s LDPR, and now – this. He did enough to sank his chances (not high to begin with) by making several statements on the TV and in the press:
    – Admired Mikhail Saakashvili/
    – Called A. Navalny’s brother Oleg a “hostage”
    – Called Kurils “the Japanese islands”
    If anything, Grudinin would underperform, leading to Zhirik – finally! – scoring the second place.
    P.S. Mr. Armstrong, are you aware of the… racial and scientific leaning of one A. Karlin whom you, apparently, hold in so much esteem? Also – do you know of his collaborations with “Sputnik&Pogrom”?

  36. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Finally let us not forget Kaliningrad, the former Koenigsberg. This issue is not solved as well. Unless and until Russia is truly integrated into a new European security system this problem will continue to fester.”
    What a load of BS. The issue was sealed once and for all in 1945 by the old principle of Vae Victis. Germany and, yes, Poland, were the loser states so they had to endure the will of the Winners. No amount of whining will change that, because the post-1945 territorial distribution laid the ground for the whole post-1945 world order. There is literally no desire to unwrap it now. And so – no “Koenigsberg problem”. There is “West vs Russia” problem.

  37. I have met AK, corresponded with him for a long time. I read a lot of what he writes and don’t always agree. On Russia (Russia) that’s Russia, I regard him as in the best of the best.
    I believe in free speech, the exchange of ideas rationally argued and sourced without pre-assigned limits.

  38. A lot of Europe’s present borders are vae victis. Indeed, which are not?
    The other fancy Latin term telling us that war does actually settle things especially borders is “uti possidetis”

  39. Lincolnite says:

    I’m pretty sure the Russians have decided against a US style Carrier Force, they st8ll retain an interest in the two Mistral class currently being operated b6 Egypt and have initiated a home bu8ld programme as per these links.
    Russian MoD: First LHD Amphibious Assault Ship to be Built in Russia by 2022 – Navy Recognition › defence-news
    Russian Large Landing Ship (BDK) – › russia
    6 Aug 2017 · With its new amphibious warship, known as Priboy (“Surf”), the Defense Ministry plans to replace the Mistral-class helicopter carriers that France failed to deliver to Russia. For now, the ship is …

  40. LeaNder says:

    Love your shoutout,
    or maybe reading entrails
    I belong to the category watching entrails. And based on that seem to be pretty bored on both the professional and hobby psychologist.

  41. Tom says:

    There is indeed a Kaliningrad problem. You might not be aware of it but the inhabitants cannot just travel to neighbouring countries anymore without a visa. The territory is accessible only by a thin corridor and steadily losing population. It is not self sustaining in any way. It is a ward of the Russian state and has to be permanently subsidised. Again a not very stable situation. I am not saying that this problem is pressing in any way. But if there is greater instability within Russia for any number of reasons, then problems may arise. Exclaves tend to create exactly such problems. Ironically East Prussia had the same role before the second world war. Again it might stay quiet and nothing happens. But let us hope that Ukraine stabilises. If not IMO all bets are.

  42. Malachy Smyth says:

    I don’t think Karlin’s racial/scientific views are much different than, let’s say, mainstream guys like Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at U. of Toronto and formerly of Harvard. Karlin’s a relatively young guy who went to Cal-Berkeley and was in Silicon Valley. You might not like his views but he’s one of the most scientifically literate and smart guys blogging on HBD, Russia, Europe, et al.

  43. Lyttenburgh says:

    Revising borders drawn by the victors of the WW2 would mean revising the atermath of the WW2. Now, who is willing to conceded to that?

  44. I used to think it was just pedantry that Russians/Sovs referred to their carriers and “aircraft carrying cruisers”. But they are something different: Kuznetsov carries a lot of weaponry in addition to its aircraft so it can, to some extent, operate independently. A US carrier has almost no defence and needs to depend on other ships. These are two quite different approaches to lugging FWA around the oceans.

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Just like Gibraltar, Kaliningrad can be indefinitely supported by the Russian Federation. Ukraine will not survive in its current configuration, there might remain a tiny country called so, entirely based on old Galicia.

  46. SmoothieX12 says:

    Mr. Armstrong, are you aware of the… racial and scientific leaning of one A. Karlin whom you, apparently, hold in so much esteem?
    Karlin is a classic representative of a HBD community–nothing wrong with that. People are free to have their ideological and racial leanings. How much real science is behind this I don’t know. Karlin’s issues are completely from different “field”, especially if one considers his utter ignorance of Russian history and being completely detached from geopolitical and military reality of Russia, which is expected from a product of US West Coast “education” in some “humanities” field. It is also expected from a very young man.

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Nah, it is willful ignorance. Even in Cow Colleges in US, the faculty is of high caliber; if one has any intellectual curiosity, one can learn a lot.

  48. SmoothieX12 says:

    Nah, it is willful ignorance
    I don’t know, Babak. My latest (among very many) communications with Princeton Ph.D in Russian-American Relation, no less, left me scratching my head when he was stunned with the fact that Soviet Air Force of 1945 was the largest tactical-operational air force in history with combat experience to back it up. He thought that if Allies wanted to–they would end up in Moscow in December of 1945.
    if one has any intellectual curiosity, one can learn a lot.
    It depends. My book (which should see the light sometime this year) is precisely on that–curiosity is not enough, one has to have a background, and a serious one. I could be very curious on open heart surgery, it doesn’t mean I can perform one.

  49. Tom says:

    @SmoothieX12 Totally agree on Karlin.

  50. Anna says:

    “…or because his hands are tied?”
    Perhaps he wants to stay alive (and to see his family alive) before the end of his term?

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You seem to be confirming my point, “willful ignorance”.
    On your second point, I disagree. To take your analogy, one may not be a surgeon or wish to be one, but one can obtain and watch such procedure as facial reconstruction purely out of curiosity.

  52. SmoothieX12 says:

    they st8ll retain an interest in the two Mistral class currently being operated b6 Egypt and have initiated a home bu8ld programme as per these links.
    Not really. The core of the issue with Russian Navy’ power projection capability is in economic and sensible compromise on anything aircraft carrying–for Mediterranean, specifically, most likely (I could be wrong, of course) will be approach to something reminiscent of US Navy’s USS America (LHA-6) with Russian twist. Borisov’s recent bomb on Russia working already on new generation of STOVL confirms chosen direction. Russia simply doesn’t need amphibious component of a US Navy’s scale and capability.

  53. fanto says:

    the exchange between Tom, Ulenspiegel and LeaNder reminded me of another exchange on SST last October.
    English Outsider (comment #83) made there a very eloquent exposure about the „special German sin“.
    Now, I sense another twist to the „speciality“ of Germans (maybe I am too suspicious?), this time about their revanchism in the way they do not want to forget the land lost in the East, which is roughly 30% of the entire pre-1939 area. (I am not sure about the percentage of population which was lost).
    Compare that to the French „revanchism“ – losing Alsace Lorraine after 1870-71 war. This province was a tiny fragment of the entire territory of France, nothing to compare with the 30% of what Germany has lost. And there were never ending cries „oublier… Jamais!“, demonstrations, monuments on Place de la Concorde… and in almost every town, songs, flags of Alsace and Lorraine in the french Parlament, the general Boulanger, called „General Revanche“ etc.,
    How does that compare with the image of a few politicians like Erika Steinbach, which LeaNder mentioned (comment #40 above), or Weigel in the AfD? They are very little heard of. Do Steinbach or Weigel prove that Germans are revanchist? Some are, but overwhelming majority is not revanchist – in my opinion. I talked to many Germans, some of whom had their parents or grandparents from East Prussia, West Prussia, Silesia. A very prominent example of how people, who came from the former Prussian lands in the east, was Marion Gräfin Dönhoff. She was for many years in charge of the influential weekly „Die Zeit“ – wrote multiple essays about the problem between Poland and Germany (Polen und Deutsche. Die Schwierige Versöhnung, Luchterhand, 1991). Ms. Dönhoff had much more influence on the public opinion in Germany than Ms. Steinbach. Likewise, Egon Bahr, who was the architect of the policy of „Opening to East“ – one of the culminating points was the state visit of Chancellor Willy Brandt to Warsaw and his famous knee fall at the Ghetto Memorial.
    So, the other end of the spectrum of opinions about the German Revanchism is the fear of some Poles that the Germans are now trying to subjugate Poland by economic means, not militarily. Some of these folks remind me a little of conspiracy theorists who think that Germany is using EU as their way to subjugate Europe. Some kind of „german deep state“? They quote the statistics, how many regional newspapers are in the german hands, how many banks are german owned and so on. That is the about it, people like Steinbach and german money are the biggest threat? Poles are stupid if they fall in for this stoking of germanophobia, which – simultaneously in connection with russophobia – (and, in connection with those two phobias, their reliance on US, british or french support ) is just another recipe for disaster.
    I personally dislike the recurring theme of german revanchism. All nations have their revanchist streaks and the world record in nationalistic revanchism is most likely the zionism, demanding lands lost thousands of years ago. The specter of german revanchism is used by some circles to foment the strife between two wonderful people, the Polish and the Germans.

  54. Chris Chuba says:

    Patrick Armstrong, I don’t know if you mentioned this before but the Russian budgets for 2017 and 2018 is based on $40 a barrel oil, a very conservative estimate with prices well north of that so far.
    Smoothiee, regarding the march on Moscow in 1945, it’s amazing that a flippant remark made by Patton in the 1940’s is still taken as gospel truth in the present day. Patton was a talented field commander but a bit of a war junkie looking for his next fix, it wasn’t based on actual intelligence but on his intuition. It would be an interesting video game, thank God Eisenhower was a big picture guy, we would have gotten bogged down in a stalemate in Eastern Europe with bodies piling up. Anyone who doubts the Red Army’s capabilities at the time should look at what they did to the Japanese Imperial army in Manchuria in August of 1945. They cut through them like butter in some very difficult terrain. These weren’t isolated Island garrisons but a large defensive army close to 900,000 troops.

  55. Closing the comments s we’ve used up the subject. See you in a couple of weeks.

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