Happy Christmas, so to speak, as it were, sort of. Let’s hope.
ULTIMATUM. Moscow has had enough. “Do they really think we do not see these threats [угроз]? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat“. Excellent backgrounder from Doctorow. Here they are: draft USA/Russia treaty and draft Russia/NATO agreement. Short summary: after enumerating all the agreements these people have signed up to (remember all the stuff about “Rules-Based International Order”?) the drafts flesh out the principle that security is mutual. Neither should make the other nervous; if one party feels threatened, the issue will be resolved by negotiation. Neither is to station nuclear weapons outside its territory (which means the USA will have to pull back); no further expansion of NATO. Or to put it another way, USA/NATO must formally commit in writing to what they promised back then: “U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous ‘not one inch eastward’… was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders… according to declassified documents…”. Maybe Washington hears. USN seems to get it. We stand at the edge.
OR ELSE. All ultimatums have an “Or Else” – possibilities that I see. Two points – Russia will not “invade” Ukraine – it is a huge decaying, lawless, collapsed, unstable liability and Russia doesn’t want to rescue it, pay for it or police it. (This has been clear to me for years.) But it will respond powerfully to any foolishness from the Ukronazis. Second, stopping Nord Stream only costs Moscow money (it has plenty: USD620 billion-worth) but it will cost Germany much more.
TREATIES. There were four key Cold War arms control treaties, negotiated with much effort. The CFE Treaty controlled conventional weapons. The INF Treaty banned medium range nuclear weapons. START regulated the big nuclear weapons. Open Skies, the least of the four, allowed inspection flights (Moscow withdrew Saturday). All that remains is a feeble version of START. For all their deficiencies they kept the lid on things and created a level of trust and interaction. All were killed by Washington (blaming Moscow of course). This is part of Moscow’s motive to force a re-start.
KENNAN saw it all coming a quarter of a century ago: “a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs”.
CORRUPTION. University report suggests extensive kickbacks in state contracts.
RUSSIA/CHINA. The two presidents talk (Kremlin) (Beijing). Xi: “China and Russia need to launch more joint actions to uphold the security interests of the two sides more effectively. China and Russia need to step up coordination and collaboration in international affairs, be more vocal on global governance”. Washington should understand that Beijing is a co-signer of Moscow’s ultimatum.
WESTERN VALUES™. CSIS comes to call. Knowing what my American colleagues went through, and knowing that when Shere Khan growls, Tabaqui obeys, I informed SCF that I would stop writing for them and thanked them – always published what I sent, never tried to shape it, never changed a word and always treated me right. More from Ron Paul’s site.
NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. This takes the cake – boy oh boy when we do a whole bunch of stuff that there’s no way we ever will, you’ll be sorry then, you nasty people!
RUSSIA-UKRAINE RELATIONS. A Levada poll shows some interesting results. (Googlish) To me the most important finding is that about half of each think relations should be those of separate countries but without visa and customs barriers. (I suspect the Kremlin gets its views about Ukraine from sources like this rather than opeds in the WaPo or Guardian. Where does the White House get its do you suppose?)
UKRAINE. Zelensky likes to live dangerously – he’s shutting down the largest opposition party, attacked one of the plutocrats and decided to charge his predecessor with treason. Whole thing will probably blow up soon. In the cold.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer