RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 SEPTEMBER 2021 by Patrick Armstrong

DUMA ELECTION. Official results are that the pedestal party keeps its strong majority but lost a bit; the communists (KPRF) gained a bit. Not too different from four years ago. A new bubble in the stagnant swamp of Russian politics appears: a new party – New People – makes it into the Duma. The KPRF has two main campaign points: the ordinary guy is doing poorly (especially because of the pensions issue) and Moscow isn’t tough enough on the world stage. I am amused that, immediately, Putin spoke to the government and said that Russia’s greatest enemy was poverty; and he held another meeting on socioeconomic development yesterday. The harder foreign policy is happening anyway. As to communist performance, it’s interesting that young Americans view communism and socialism more favourably too. Maybe Marx isn’t as dead as I used to think he was.

FRAUD? Gordon Hahn enumerates the ways in which the ruling party (United Russia aka “pedestal party”) finagles its way to victory. Not precisely cheating I think, more the use of power and position to “persuade” people where their “true interests” lie. But the big issue is that e-voting was used and there is a dramatic difference in Moscow City: before the e-vote was added in, a lot of opposition wins; after, very few. BUT, before we get excited, we’re not talking about a few strategically-distributed e-votes: there were nearly two million e-votes as against 1.7 million paper votes; I believe there are important differences between the two types of voters: I would expect most KPRF voters to prefer paper to e-votes and Establishment supporters the reverse. Anyway, a re-count is promised and the communists (who lost most) are protesting. BBC coverage (essentially pre-written) typical of Western coverage. See below.

WESTERN TAKE. Bernhard shows that the NYT can see some of the failure but still doesn’t get it. Western-sponsored fake liberals won’t sell in Russia. See below for one reason and next one for another.

DEMOCRACY A LA RUSSE. Intelligent piece by Natylie Baldwin on Russian attitudes: social justice is a big requirement. Americans make a big thing about freedom and let the chips fall where they may. Or they used to anyway. For Russians security is more important. As she says, a lot of what you hear about Russian “lack of democracy” is really just saying they’re not as we like to think we are.

NAVALNIY. A probe into the Navalniy organisation’s activities is opened. Closer to a treason charge?

MEETING. Gerasimov and Milley met in Helsinki last week; it is reported that Milley asked for permission to use Russian bases in Central Asia. Can’t see Moscow agreeing: Washington cannot be trusted; maybe occasional use on a case-by-case assessment.

IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Apparently officials in Sakha are looking at a proposal to populate the region with “resurrected” mammoths. Sounds pretty nifty but we have to consider the possibility that, after the oohs and ahs, comes the screaming.

SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION. Long anticipated but highly significant – Iran is now a full member. Without getting too MacKinderish, this is an important piece of the “pivot area“.

SUBMARINES ET AL. Can’t afford them, can’t build them, can’t crew them. And, anyway, they’re years and years away – it will be a different world then. But it does reveal Washington kicking Europe to the curb. Another of Washington’s gifts to Europe are the current energy problems: despite the Guardian’s effort to blame them on Russia, the delays and obstructions of NordStream are one of the causes. Europeans aren’t willing to be dragged into the new cold war with China, either. Europe is talking; but talk is easy and the Europeans never seem to get past the empty grumbling: cutting loose from Washington’s diktat and forging a genuinely independent foreign activity is a very difficult step. But they do keep getting brutal reminders that Washington doesn’t really care. In that respect the new regime is even more blatant than the old: Trump’s line was pay your bills and I’ll maybe listen; Biden/Harris don’t even pretend to listen.

MEETING. Putin and Erdoğan meeting today. Much to discuss.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS TO YOU. China Is a Declining Power and US has to get ready for war. Russia’s a “declining power” too. The philosophers of Laputa don’t seem to have noticed that neither has declined much since 2000, have they? Litvinenko! Skripalmania! Projection and deflection.

WESTERN VALUES™. Plans to kill Assange and the key witness lied: never mind, keep him in jail, Meng released with charges forgotten. CSIS welcomes the “Michaels” back. Hard to keep up.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. And now, after all the damage was done, we discover, what many of us knew, that it was entirely fake. This guy, however, is surprised. But will any others wake up?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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14 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 29 SEPTEMBER 2021 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. LeaNder says:

    NAVALNIY. A probe into the Navalniy organisation’s activities is opened. Closer to a treason charge?

    First, of course, I got the headline. And yes, the easy cooperation between Bellingcat and Navalny looked hyper suspicious. In the documentary Helmer mentioned you lined to in your last SITREP, it definitively looked all super easy. Everyone is a spy now. And the services are easy to trick. 😉

    Especially those super dull members of the Russian intelligence and security forces. Mind you, documentary wise, Navalny claimed he had to phone quite a few till he got his easy answers on Navalny’s underpants from the last one, he contacted. Thus, maybe not all of them. 😉

    Now what was the ultimately incriminating item, the water bottles or the Navalny’s underpants?

  2. ISL says:

    PA, Always enjoyable.

    Given the important role top predators and herbivores play in ecosystem sustainability, bring on the wooly mammoths!! Technologically it seems quite feasible, and it would bring key tourism $$ and jobs to the remote far east!

    Laputa’s kitchen (Loved the Ghibli film) – followed and skimmed half the FP opinion point – highly delusional. For example, on the demographics, a simple solution China could consider is robots. Oh wait, China leads in that area.

    • chris moffatt says:

      It seems that they don’t have a complete DNA for woolly mammoths, so the plan is to use elephant DNA. Expected result: a fat, hairy elephant better adapted to cold climate. Doesn’t sound so attractive a proposition after all. If it was attractive! – maybe time to re-release ‘Jurassic Park’.

  3. Christian J. Chuba says:

    “Another of Washington’s gifts to Europe are the current energy problems: despite the Guardian’s effort to blame them on Russia, the delays and obstructions of NordStream are one of the causes.”

    We in the U.S. have done everything short of blowing up NS2 in order to stop it. How can Guardian think that it’s Russia’s fault. It’s true, prevent delivery creates shortages and increases prices. It happens in the U.S. every time a hurricane interrupts refineries, or pipelines shutdown. Iran has a lot of perfectly good fuel to export, oh wait, never mind. Iran is attacking the EU too.

    U.K. press room: start every sentence … ‘It’s Russia’s fault because _ _ _ _ _ ‘ (fill in rest of line)

    • Fred says:

      Patrick,

      Led me tag along with Christian, though I have a diffent take of some of it, with a comment about “… Europe are the current energy problems”

      “countries across the northern hemisphere, which experienced a long, cold winter in 2020-21 that depleted gas storage levels, have been left scrabbling to secure supplies.”

      I thought Climate Change was settle science and cold winters a thing of the past. What stopped them from buying gas to fill the storage facilities and who bears responsibility for that, certainly not the USA? What happened to that Ukrainian pipeline?How about LNG shipments?

      “Gas prices in the UK have more than quadrupled over the last year to highs of 180 pence per therm, from around 40p/th this time last year. In the last month alone, prices have climbed by 70%.”

      “Around half of the UK’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel in gas-fired power plants, a trend which has become more deeply entrenched over recent months after a string of problems in the UK electricity system.”

      “Ageing nuclear power plants have been forced to undertake unplanned outages for maintenance, a main power cable used to import electricity from France has shut down after a fire, and the UK’s wind turbines have slowed during some of the least windy months since 1961.”

      So America didn’t do the power plant maintenance, the cable maintenance or blow enough hot air across the Atlantic to keep the wind turbines going. The US didn’t make German shut down its nuclear plants, nor Britain go solar/renewable, and the rest of the unsustainable crap they did. Europe is getting what they deserve, good and hard.

      • Peter Williams says:

        It’s pretty hard to get LNG in Europe when all the tankers are going to Asia.The US can’t even buy Russian LNG to sell to Europe as all the Russian tankers are going to Asia – they pay more.

        Europe’s gas problems stem from an EU decision to stop long term contracts and go to spot pricing. Only Germany and Italy kept contract pricing and Hungary has just joined them.

        Gas storage is empty because everyone was waiting for the spot price to fall. It didn’t, it skyrocketed.

      • Pat Lang says:

        KK They told him that with this minimum they could hold things together for a while.

    • JohninMK says:

      Pretty good comments on the energy crisis.

      If the US had stayed out of it and NS2 was in operation at perhaps the start of this year there might have been some small differences to the current situation but not much.

      The EU can be flexible at times. Whilst the single supplier pipelines are only allowed to operate at 50% capacity, to allow others to use it (from Russia???), at the peak this year first the limit was raised to 100%, when the north south OPAL pipeline in Germany was used, then pumped to its real limit of 110% for a while. Even with that flow gas storage was drained due to demand. But that 110% was not maintained, implying that NS2, if in operation, would not have significantly affected gas flows out of Russia.

      Peter Williams puts his finger on it, the EU, or more probably the local gas companies, took a gamble on price and lost. They did it openly as well. Gazprom have said that they supplied all the gas asked for during the summer, which was 20% more than last year.

      To blame either the US or Russia is missing the point. These were local in country decisions that they are trying to bury. Watch out now for the howls of unfair Russian pricing as Germany reaps the benefit of very low contract prices as part of recovering the NS2 pipeline costs, whilst others have to pay at spot. Apart from the cunning Hungarians who have just inked a 15 year Gazprom contract. In general, the success of Gazprom can be measured by the howls from the thieves and con men in Kiev as time marches on towards the 31 Dec 2024 cliff.

      Not an issue for us in the UK. In a crazy, short sighted decision, we closed our major gas storage site a couple of years ago. Plus, whilst we don’t seem to have bought any Russian gas over the past couple of years we do at least use long term contracts.

  4. Leith says:

    What was discussed in that Erdo/Putin meeting other than Idlib and whose antibody count was bigger. You would think there should have been a scolding regarding Turkey’s share of Ukraine’s defense spending for the last several years. Especially with the two dozen new Bayraktar TB2 combat drones going to Ukraine in addition to the ones already there. Some of which were used to attack units of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Donbass earlier this year. I’m sure Putin is not worried. He’ll make it back by selling additional S400 systems to Turkey plus maybe some SU-57s and a couple of Kilo Class attack subs. If it happens Putin should get the cash up front.

    https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2021/09/29/ukraine-is-set-to-buy-24-turkish-drones-so-why-hasnt-russia-pushed-back/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayraktar_TB2#Ukraine

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