(This, BTW, is the 802nd Sitrep – forgot to count. The first was in March 1997)
WAAAY HARSH! Putin is only worried about catching a cold at the West's funeral.
COVECONOMICS. IMF predictions are out. I am fascinated to see that it predicts Russia will do better (less badly) than anyone in the G7 or Euroland. China is set to grow a bit.
CLUELESS. Paul Robinson reminds us that so many Western "experts" haven't a clue: Putin is popular because Russians think he's doing a good job, not because "state TV" tells them he is.
RUSSIA-EU. I've long wondered when or whether Moscow will decide it isn't worth wasting its time talking to the West. Maybe it's about to start with the EU. A cheap and easy case to make its first step.
ENEMIES. A recent Levada poll shows 82% of respondents think Russia has enemies: 70% name USA, 14% Ukraine, 10% UK, 7% EU, 7% Poland. Only half as many thought it had enemies in 1994.
KARABAKH. A Russian-brokered ceasefire failed immediately. But I get the impression that the fighting has stalemated and sooner or later Moscow will be required. It's one of Stalin's little cartographic jokes that has come back to make trouble. One should be aware that there are three pieces of territory. Armenia proper; the former Nagorniy-Karabakh AO – largely ethnic Armenian; the Azerbaijan territories conquered by NK two decades ago. Moscow is obliged to protect the first if attacked – which it has not been and for that reason likely won't be; the second needs some creative diplomacy to make the inhabitants feel secure (and the involvement of Ankara takes them straight back to the massacres a century ago and reinforces their conviction that their forever enemy are the Turks), the third is unquestionably Azerbaijan territory. (Moscow taught Erdoğan a very sharp lesson in 2015; love to know what discussions are going on in the background.)
CORRUPTION. I've long thought that corruption is a much more complicated subject than it's usually presented as and that we, on our side, might well have more invisible corruption than Russia. Read this and see what you think. And the Pelosis bought a piece of Crowdstrike – well, just… gosh! Of course, if it's not reported by the NYT it didn't happen, did it?
THE WISDOM OF RETIREES. MI6 head told us Russia was a "standing threat" "fundamental threat". Retired, he tells us not to exaggerate. I attempt to explain the appearance of reality upon retirement here.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. "Scrambling their brains", Well…. I guess it does recognise the phenomenon of scrambled brains even if the explanation is a bit of a re-run. Heres' the story from one of the usual sources. Remember the crickets? Of course it's primarily anti-Trump agitprop: "the victims are left wondering why so little is being done by the Trump administration". It's all so idiotically transparent. (And anything you hear about H— B— is Russian disinformation and not really a story).
USA. Sure are a lot of pieces like this: America on cusp of a Civil War. Or this; this; this; and, especially, this. "For those who have followed events outside the United States during the past few decades, much of this sounds familiar. We’ve seen it before – inflicted on other countries". If the US itself is suffering a colour revolution, what happens to the colour revolutions in other places? If the USA is tied up in severe civil strife, secession movements, accusations of election fraud, lawfare and the like, in the background of a faltering economy, COVID and forever wars, it will take a lot of pressure off Russia. (Starting to sound a bit like the USSR in the 1990s, isn't it?)
UKRAINE. Letter from three EU parliamentarians – strong supporters and believers – complain: "We cannot but see that the corruption perception in Ukraine in 2020 fell back to the 2017 mark, the praised reforms are backsliding…". What happens when these people finally realise they've been lied to and played for suckers from the start? Will they do anything or go away and just be replaced by new suckers?
FROM LAPUTA'S KITCHENS TO YOU. Fighting the Russians with slingshots. No, Rudi, complete nonsense: Ukraine started out with a big slice of the USSR's heaps of weapons. Like 1000+ tanks, 1000+ AIFVs and so on: Wikipedia list here. A better question is what happened to them?
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer