RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 JUNE 2019 by Patrick Armstrong

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PUTIN DIRECT LINE. (Eng) (Rus) Deep in the weeds, this one: trash (apparently piling up since Soviet times), healthcare, maternity and child care issues, farming, corruption (declining said Putin, it's the inevitability of punishment that matters), over-zealous inspectors, protecting Russia's electronic/internet/cyberspace against attacks (several mentions of Washington's attacks on Huawei), air routes, water supply. "Russia's greatest problem" was to secure "higher labour efficiency". Little on foreign issues other than that Putin & Co stand ready to talk (but I get the impression that they don't expect they'll get much chance to). Sanctions had led to substitution: "Look, if ten years ago I… had been told that we would be exporting agricultural products worth $25.7 billion, like we did last year, I would have laughed… " Suppose Russia gives in? he doubted sanctions would ever stop – Huawei again. Why is he polite to those "slinging mud at us"? he was brought up that way and rudeness isn't useful in negotiations. And we learned a reason why he does these things; "a direct line that is intended to bring the bottlenecks into focus and to find solutions to these problems". A theme this year was how orders from the centre often aren't fulfilled on the ground. He and the producers observed that "Problems end as soon as Direct Line starts". I re-read one of his earlier ones (from 2002) and I would say that today's concerns are smaller, they're more about the uneven implementation of strategic plans or fine tuning some strategy than the need for big solutions for big problems. Which is a sign, of course, of how far things have improved since then. (In those days, Russia was finished.) See below.

STATISTICS. I saw these numbers the other day. Life expectancy steadily climbing. Meat consumption up. Murders down. All reasons why Russians generally believe that Putin & Co are getting the job done. (And, it should always be remembered, half of those who don't like him, don't because he hasn't occupied Ukraine or bombed Tbilisi into obedience. Russian exceptionalists, so to speak.)

PEOPLE POWER. The Boss' advice was taken: referendum, strong opposition discovered, church cancelled. But the Boss' opinion should not have been sought. And, as we see every year in Direct Line, there are still too many people asking Batyushka to fix their roof.

FLOATING NPP. Approved for operation. It is to be towed to isolated places in the Russian north to provide power. Causing, no doubt, more blather like this or this about Russia taking over the Arctic.

FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION. Russia does its bit to ensure ships carrying goods through the Panama Canal can do so; it's the principle of the thing. (Russian ship transits Panama Canal. Now in Cuba.).

MH17. More unsupported allegations from JIT (note that Bellingcat seems to be the source.) Malaysia PM Mahathir (correctly) remains sceptical: "Even before they examined the case, they have already claimed it was done by Russia". As do I (the port air engine intake is an important clue). BTW, what happened to the last "conclusive proof" out of JIT… attentive people remember.

TRUE? FALSE? Who knows? it's the NYT after all. "U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid". Does that sound like a good idea to you? Anyway, it shows that pieces like this from 2017 were projection. All this provocation, baiting and risk because of… see below.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Not only did the FBI never examine the DNC's servers but it never saw an un-redacted final copy of the Crowdstrike report accusing Russia of hacking them. It's all assertion by interested parties. The interference meme is nonsense too – read this.

IRAN. I believe them when they say they will shut it down: they fought Iraq for eight years until they prevailed. Very dangerous indeed.

GEORGIA. The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy meets in Tbilisi; the President, a Russian, gives a speech in Russian. This leads to riots. At the same time Washington and its minions are pushing for a Gay Pride march in a country where there isn't much support for such things. Washington is apparently deeply concerned about this in Georgia but not elsewhere. I agree with Jatras that it sounds like an attempt at a coloured revolution: protesters with signs in foreign languages are hardly grassroots (Russian in Latin script!!??). Moscow has banned flights to Georgia and blocked Georgian airlines: this will hurt their tourism revenue. Remittances are a significant part of Georgia's economy and Russia is the largest source so blocking those may be next on the list. (Worked with Turkey, didn't it?)

UKRAINE. Poroshenko's new church is de-laminating in fights over money.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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8 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 JUNE 2019 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. I like that floating NPP. The “Akademik Lomonosov” is the ultimate expression of the shanty boat concept. Despite the expected anti-nuclear protestations, I think it’s a smart solution for electrical power in the Russian Arctic. It’s far smarter than a couple of coal fired power plants.
    All that whining about Russia’s take over of the arctic is rich. Russia is a large part of the Arctic. Given the fragility of the region, I’m glad Russia intends to manage its use closely. I’m sure they’ll charge transit fees just like Panama charges transit fees for use of the Panama Canal. I see the US is also whining about Canada’s plans to manage use of the Northwest Passage.

  2. Wow! The “Sturgis” was converted into an NPP at Fort Belvoir, just up the road from me. This is the first I heard of it. I’ll have to look for any evidence or commemorative plaque next time I go there.

  3. Avatar Barbara Ann says:

    Much pearl clutching in the Western media over Putin’s FT interview. Inevitable I guess that his comments on the obsolescence of the liberal idea were pretty much the sole focus. Of course if you bother to read the whole thing his message is far more nuanced and right on the money:
    The liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor. That is the point. Please.
    And of course the MSM totally ignored the core theme that ran through the interview; that Russia seeks to promote a return to a global rules-based order. Reporting that would of course lead to awkward questions about what happened to the old system.

  4. As I always say: read him. not about him. The guy’s put millions of words out there since he started.

  5. Avatar Jack says:

    The more you read or listen to first person interviews of Putin the more one comes away with the perception that the man is the only true statesman currently. He gets the zeitgeist.

  6. From transcript –
    “LB: What has the return been like on the risk taken in Syria?
    “VP: I believe that it has been a good and positive return. We have accomplished even more than I had expected. First of all, many militants planning to return to Russia were eliminated. This implies several thousand people. They were planning to return to Russia or neighbouring countries with which we do not maintain any visa regime. Both aspects are equally dangerous for us.
    Unequivocal confirmation of what has often been said (and not just said of the Russians) – that Russia wishes to see the Jihadis killed in Syria, not see them returning home.
    Would this account for the different style of fighting seen from the SAA in Idlib?

  7. Avatar Ken says:

    Yes, Putin’s grasp of the issues puts him head and shoulders over any statesman in the west that comes to mind over the last half century or so. Maybe I am wrong but I sense an individual that actually places the greater good as a high priority. Could you imagine if we had someone of his gravitas in the White House for 8 years at any point in the last 20 years. If my impression is correct, the world would be a different place. Of course, I was badly wrong about both Obama and Trump. Their promises certainly did not match their actions.

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