RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 MAY 2019 (by Patrick Armstrong)

Russian flag

THE LIE. The Mueller report kills half of the lie (Trump colluded) but the other half (Russia interfered) is still alive. But things are happening. One well-informed reporter says Trump told AG Barr to "find out what happened"; Barr ran into resistance; went back to Trump who gave him the authority to declassify everything. The Trump conspiracy began with several entrapment efforts (mostly done in the UK so as to create a bogus "intelligence trail"); one of the innocents is suing. She was supposed to be "Putin's honeytrap" for Flynn: details here. Flynn was an important target because, as former head of US military intelligence (DIA), he knew where many bodies were buried. George Papadopoulos, victim of another entrapment attempt, has been speaking out. Details occasionally make it into the corporate media.

VICTORY DAY. Immortal Regiment. Moscow parade. I say Western media hacks should lose the snark.

CHURCH. There's a kerfuffle about re-building a church in Yekaterinburg. Some want The Boss to decide; the Boss wisely said it's a local issue and perhaps a poll should be taken.

BUTINA. Her show trial is over: "jailed for the crime of being Russian".

PATIENCE AND THE LONG GAME. Russia's voting rights have been restored in the Council of Europe. I don't know how significant that is, but it's a change from the pattern. After all, Moscow's not going anywhere but Washington might be.

AVIATION. The Prosecutor-General says the recent jet crash exposed the serious lack of proper standards and enforcement in the Russian aviation industry.

RAND. Has published a study on how to defeat Russia. And it's…. drumroll… more sanctions! More pressure on allies not to buy Russian gas! Usual rubbish about Russia being a weak state, over-dependent on oil and gas, tiny economy, with many fault lines. Russia should be encouraged to over-extend itself militarily. (That's projection; but whatever, the authors were paid.) A more intelligent consideration would look at 1) how and where the sanctions have strengthened Russia's economy 2) how Russia has managed to checkmate US military superiority by focussing on its weak points and 3) how it is that Russia constantly surprises people like the authors of pieces like this one. Leading to an understanding that the the "US government has a very shallow bench on Russia".

BAD DAYS FOR THE FABRICATORS. In a puff piece about how difficult it is for the CIA Director to deliver "facts and assessments" to her attention-deficit (blah blah blah, etc etc), boss, the NYT made a major slip-up: she only got Trump to go along with the story when she showed him photos of dead ducks and sick children. But there were no such things. Her lies or British lies, but lies they were. And then somebody leaked the suppressed engineer report: no, not through the roof, placed there. A corporate media outlet finally mentions it. OPCW squirms unconvincingly.

WESTERN VALUES™ I guess the famous "Rules-Based International Order" doesn't include the Vienna Convention any more. (Second time, BTW.) Wait until somebody does it to a US embassy.

NEOCONFUSION. Justin Raimondo suggests Trump may appointed Bolton and Pompeo to humiliate the neocons. If so, it's working. After Washington sanctioned Venezuelan oil, imports of sanctioned Russian oil imports rose dramatically. Flop after flop in the Venezuelan regime change operation. The Pentagon boasts it deterred Iran from doing something it hadn't done and wasn't about to. Charging Assange may be backfiring. Now Bolton boasts that the US will have a year-round presence in the Arctic; "soon". In the real world, the US Coast Guard dares not go there and Russia just launched its third monster icebreaker.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. "Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists."

SATIRE IS IMPOSSIBLE. I publish this, this appears: eyes down, trust BB, Putinbots everywhere!

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. A Beluga whale that hangs around people; exactly the behaviour you'd expect from one of Putin's spy whales! The NYT, welded to the lie, opines that Barr's inquiry might expose a "person close to Mr. Putin". Oops! NYT, you just did (shows that they don't even read the handouts they re-type). English needs a new vocabulary for the concept of "stupid".

UKRAINE ELECTION. He was invited everywhere, pressed the flesh with everyone, has a whole wall of ego pictures; in the end he was defeated by Anybody-At-All. I have no idea what Zelensky will turn out to be and I doubt anyone else does either. But the conclusion is that the entire "revolution of dignity" fiasco has been rejected: whatever Ukraine the voters want, it's not the one Nuland & Co gave them.

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25 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 MAY 2019 (by Patrick Armstrong)

  1. rho says:

    Did you hear about the “Ibiza video scandal” that took down the government coalition in Austria and appears to be a successful entrapment operation carried out by, presumably, a Western secret service? What is your take on it?

  2. Doggrotter says:

    Will that woke me up this morning, great piece. “US government has a very shallow bench on Russia”. Great link

  3. Clearly what you said it was. And my bet is that it will backfire.

  4. Timothy Hagios says:

    Speaking of impossible satire, the Rand document is notable in that it claims that Russian fears of foreign sabotage are exaggerated–while literally being a blueprint for destroying the country.

  5. Thank you very much for putting together that summary. I always find them most valuable. A vivid image of the “Immortal Regiment” march a few years ago sticks in my mind from something I read. Thousands marching, as in the video. In the luxury apartments above, bored young “Atlanticists” sitting around drinking coffee and chatting, deliberately ignoring the spectacle outside.
    Was that an allegorical vignette that I came across, or real? And does it show the split in Russian society?

  6. Good one! I don’t usually read this tripe very carefully because it’s — well — tripe but I missed that classic.
    On the good side the authors understand that a military approach isn’t really viable and that destabilising another big country might not be a good idea either.
    I am contemplating a paper arguing that the mistake the Sovs made was to try compete with the USA in every military category; Putin & Co are smarter — they just go for the US weak spots.

  7. Tom Wonacott says:

    He was invited everywhere, pressed the flesh with everyone, has a whole wall of ego pictures; in the end he was defeated by Anybody-At-All. I have no idea what Zelensky will turn out to be and I doubt anyone else does either. But the conclusion is that the entire “revolution of dignity” fiasco has been rejected: whatever Ukraine the voters want, it’s not the one Nuland & Co gave them

    Zelenskiy summed up the state of affairs between Russia and Ukraine fairly nicely in my opinion (Ukraine president offers Russians citizenship in snub to Putin

    “.……Zelenskiy, who takes office in June, responded to Putin’s offer by releasing a statement on Facebook late on Saturday that pledged to “give citizenship to representatives of all nations that suffer from authoritarian and corrupt regimes, but first and foremost to the Russian people who suffer most of all”.
    “We know perfectly well what a Russian passport provides,” he wrote, “the right to be arrested for a peaceful protest” and “the right not to have free and competitive elections”.
    He said one of the differences between Ukraine and Russia was that “we Ukrainians have freedom of speech, freedom of the media and the internet in our country”……..”

    Ukraine has real elections. According to Zalenskiy, Ukrainians are fighting two wars – one against Russia, the other against corruption. Certainly he is right about that (especially the corruption), and this could be one of the main reasons he was elected. He was a populous candidate.
    The coup of 2014 was obviously a revolution of dignity based on one hundred years of Russian domination of Ukraine. In 2006, the Verkhovna Rada passed a law recognizing the Holodomor as a genocide against Ukrainians. Russian intelligence apparently couldn’t connect the dots and when Yanukovych turned down the EU economic offer in favor of the Russian offer in late 2013, this led to the protests that led to the coup. Ukraine was in a recession in 2013 when Yanukovych made the decision after meeting with Putin. The violence was initiated by the Yanukovych government on November 30, 2013 bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets.
    Additionally, while the Russians have been sanctioned for various reasons by the US, Russia is conducting an economic war against Ukraine by invading and illegally annexing Crimea; invading and running a war in Eastern Ukraine – the industrial center for Ukraine; and (illegally) cutting off shipping in the Kerch Straight which has cost Ukraine an estimated $400 million (Russia’s Crimean Annexation Cost Ukrainian Ports $400M – FT

    Ukrainian ports have lost $400 million in potential revenue from Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its chokehold on a key shipping passage with a bridge that connects the peninsula to mainland Russia, The Financial Times reported.

    To blame the coup on the US and/or neo Nazis feeds into the propaganda of RT. A look at the history tells a different story. No country in Eastern Europe wants to be dominated by Russia (the same way that Latin and South American countries rightfully rebelled against the US). Belarus could be an interesting case study in the future.

  8. joanna says:

    I doubt it somewhat, Patric, b offered the BND as culprit.
    But you are the expert. No doubt the protectors of our constitution may be prevented from working outside? Who exactly would be in charge in Austria?

  9. jsn says:

    Off topic, so I apologize in advance. Does anyone know a really good Russian authored history of World War 2 that’s been translated to english?
    Thank you in advance!

  10. jsn says:

    I have no basis to judge the quality of this link, but the argument proposed, supposedly based on declassified Soviet documents, is much like what appears to have happened here in the US in recent decades: the Soviet MIC cemented it’s prestige securely enough with the Soviet apparatchiks that they got every little thing they wanted.
    Turns out they didn’t know what to want any better than our own MIC and the military Keynesianism the Soviets embarked on was just as epic in mal-investment as our own. Turns out the commies were precocious and our apparatchiks are walking in their footsteps.
    Of course, I have not checked primary sources so this could be BS:

  11. When you visit, they give you this.
    Received one, but never read it, I’m ashamed to say.
    My biggy, when I realised things were different from what we had been told, was this one

  12. jsn says:

    Thank you Sir!
    Last year I read Diana Johnstone’s “Fool’s Crusade” about the recent Balkan wars and it was quite an eye opener!

  13. Tom Wonacott says:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I will get back to you when I read your link.

  14. johnf says:

    Vassili Grossman’s wartime novel “The People Immortal” is well worth reading (but very difficult to come by) for Grossman’s stunning reporting on the war. He was a great journalist, despite the fact at that time he was a loyal supporter of the regime. I think its a far better than his later Life and Fate which I find long and obscure.
    Likewise his actual wartime journalism has been published “A writer at War.” The journalism is superb, including the first ever report from inside a concentration camp. Grossman knew his mother had died in one, he had only a few hours to write it in. It is written with virtually no emotion or “colour” but is in fact a cold-blooded description and analysis of precisely how this marder machine worked, enabling the Germans to kill thousands of people within 30 minutes of their arrival at the station. He leaves the emotion and the horror to the reader.
    The drawback to the book is that it is edited incredibly heavily by Anthony Beevor, so you not only have to allow for Grossman’s (fairly light) pro-communist propaganda, but then wade through the incredibly crude Cold War anti-Russian propaganda which weighs down every page.
    It is ludicrously bad and a textbook example of how not to write propaganda.

  15. johnf says:

    Also worth reading Cathy Merridale’s Ivan’s War and “Stalingrad: How the Red Army Triumphed” by Michael K Jones, both based on interviews with the Russian military survivors of The Great Patriotic War.

  16. joanna says:

    I wasn’t aware of Paul Robinson’s discovery of another archetype: the self-hating Russian. I love his humor.
    Interestingly the Alexandrov Ensemble on YouTube raised the awareness of someone who’s interest is not easily raised. Sounds Russian he called even before he arrived. He hadn’t really been able to distinguish the language from afar.
    But yes, something about it is wonderfully Russian. I love the sound of the Russian language too, a lot.
    Putin is not invited this year to the D-Day celebrations, but Germany is of course.
    There is this interesting Ukrainian nationalist comment. Black is White and White is Black of course:
    veth • a day ago
    Nazzies are not welcome.

  17. joanna says:

    ok, before I forget and move on.
    I love Comrade Beluga. Beautiful animal.
    But niggling nitpicker that I am, why don’t they show us the specific camera appliance on the belt, like in a close up?

  18. Tom Wonacott says:

    Mr. Armstrong
    Here is a link which you may have already read which is a detailed research in support of the Holodomor as a genocide directed at ethnic Ukrainians by Stalin (
    Thanks for the enlightening link to the Katchanovski research paper. Ivan Katchanovski makes a very strong case that the Maidan Massacre was a false flag operation conducted by the Right Sector and other far right and/or neo-Nazi organizations in Ukraine. I have no problem accepting his conclusion. The method was brutal, but effective in overthrowing the Yanukovych government.
    The violent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine was the culmination of the crisis in Ukraine, albeit a very important political event in its history. The current war in Ukraine is about sovereignty versus the Medvedev Doctrine (a sphere of influence) – and it’s especially about Ukraine’s history (recent as well as the history of the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution). The protests and the coup were a culmination of these factors. In a separate article about the war in Eastern Ukraine, Katchanovski cites John Mearsheimer (Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault via @ForeignAffairs). Mearsheimer writes:

    One also hears the claim that Ukraine has the right to determine whom it wants to ally with and the Russians have no right to prevent Kiev from joining the West. This is a dangerous way for Ukraine to think about its foreign policy choices. The sad truth is that might often makes right when great-power politics are at play. Abstract rights such as self-determination are largely meaningless when powerful states get into brawls with weaker states

    Would Mearsheimer come out in support of a US coup in Venezuela under his “might makes right” doctrine? The US has an unflattering history in Central and South America in the same way as Russia does in Eastern Europe. By promoting that this was simply a neo-Nazi coup (i.e., RT), the long history of relations between Ukraine and Russia which brought us to this point is ignored.
    It’s also important to point out that the far right in Ukraine does not have a great deal of public support (for example, see the 2014 parliamentary elections in Ukraine), but they are a strong paramilitary force and wield power on that basis (much like Hezbollah in Lebanon). Additionally, Ukraine elected a Jewish President with 75% of the vote. That means that the President and Prime Minister of Ukraine are Jewish which is hardly a rousing endorsement of the far right, the white nationalists and the neo-Nazis in Ukraine!

  19. So it doesn’t bother you that the “heavenly hundred” story is based on a lie?

  20. Tom Wonacott,
    For a perhaps slightly more nuanced view of the ‘Holodomor’, you might read a review of Anne Applebaum’s 2017 ‘Red Famine’ study by the British historian Christopher Gilley.
    (See .)
    Another interesting aspect of this has to do with the recently released film ‘Mr Jones’, with a script written by one of the members of the Chalupa clan, Andrea.
    As I have not seen it, I cannot be sure that it restates the narrative ‘Holodomor’ as an attempted genocide by Russians against Ukrainians, but it seems to me likely.
    What I can say for certain is that Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who what I think is the only, or virtually the only, on-the-ground reporting of the famine, on whose life the film is based, emphatically did not endorse this narrative.
    On the website set up by niece, which reproduces all his reporting from this time, one will find among other things a report of his work by the great American foreign correspondent Edgar Ansel Mowrer, then based in Berlin, dated 29 March 1933.
    (See .)
    An extract:
    ‘Jones saw famine on a huge scale and the revival of murderous terror. The Russians are thoroughly alarmed over this situation and, he explains, the arrest of the British engineers recently as a maniac measure following the shooting by the government of thirty-five prominent Russian agricultural workers, including a vice-commissar in the ministry of agriculture.
    ‘“I walked through the country visiting villages and investigating twelve collective farms,” Jones today told the correspondent of The Chicago Daily News.
    ‘“Everywhere I heard the cry, ‘there is no bread, we are dying.’
    “This cry is rising from all parts of Russia; from the Volga district, from Siberia, from White Russia and from the Ukraine black dirt country. I saw a peasant fish out a crust of bread and an orange peel which I had thrown into a cuspidor in the train.
    (See .)
    Note that: ‘from all parts of Russia.’ I doubt you will see that quoted in Ms. Chalupa’s script, but perhaps I am wrong.
    Meanwhile, on the wider political implications.
    A rather important one relates to your country’s domestic politics.
    Having encouraged ‘Banderistas’ to think they could take the kind of reckless gambles of which the Maidan ‘false flag’ was the culmination, a not very surprising result is that they will stop at nothing to ensure that there is no chance of a President who might display some concern for American interests being elected.
    While ‘Russiagate’ is patent nonsense, ‘Ukrainegate’, as reporting by John Solomon in ‘The Hill’ has brought out, is very much a live issue – and Andrea’s sister Alexandra is at the heart of it.
    (See .)
    Meanwhile, that incompetent Polish ‘gepolitician’ Zbigniew Brzezinski held the – deluded – view that wresting the whole of Ukraine entirely away from Russian influence was the key to preventing a revival of Russian power.
    In fact, as should have been evident to him had he not been in the grip of hysterical Russophobia, it was the last stage in a process which has seen the Russian élite move away from the dream of reintegration into a ‘global Europe’, which would include North America, Europe proper, and Russia, which had been central to the Gorbachev ‘new thinking.’
    As the Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitri Trenin chronicled in his 2016 discussion of ‘Russia’s Post-Soviet Journey’, this vision survived, if increasingly battered, through until 2012.
    Since then, it has been decisively abandoned. In common with a number of other commentators who are in no sense instinctive ‘Eurasianists’, such as Sergei Karaganov, Trenin is now suggesting, in essence, that we have seen the end of the ‘Petrine’ epoch in Russian history.
    (See .)
    On the implications, Trenin’s article – originally published in ‘Foreign Affairs’ – was blunt:
    ‘This shift in thinking came with a change in strategy. Russia, which is one of the few states in the world with a truly global reach, sought to rebalance its Western-oriented policies with a broader strategic vision. Moscow turned south to the Middle East and North Africa, intervening in Syria and deepening its ties with Egypt. It looked east, upgrading its energy and military partnerships with China. And to the north, in the Arctic, it began to expand the Northern Sea Route, claim vast areas of the region’s continental shelf, and rebuild some Soviet-era military installations. Europe, having ceased to be a mentor and a model, is now just another neighbor, part of a Greater Eurasia stretching from Ireland to Japan.’
    Note who are, by implication, definitively excluded from this ‘Greater Eurasia.’
    It should, one would have thought, have been reasonably clear for a rather long time to anyone with any pretensions to ‘geopolitical’ insight that, if there was to be a major great power competitor to the United States, it was going to be China.
    The degree of ineptitude in strategic thinking involved in allowing the ‘revanchist’ aspirations of the ‘insulted and injured’ of the erstwhile Soviet and Russian Empires to push today’s Russia into the hands of China frankly beggars belief.
    An interesting coda comes in a recent piece by a very fine analyst of both Chinese and Russian military strategy, Lyle J. Goldstein, a professor at the Naval War College.
    He appears to be proficient in the languages of both countries, and regularly discusses interesting commentaries from the technical military press, alike from China and Russia, in, among other places, the ‘National Interest.’
    His most recent piece in that journal is entitled ‘Chinese Nuclear Armed Submarines in Russian Arctic Ports? It Could Happen: What once seemed completely farfetched has now evidently become a topic of semi-serious discussion.’
    (See .)
    It was already amply clear that Russian planners have been working on low cost ways of turning the ocean, which has a guarantor of invulnerability for most of the history of the United States, into a point of maximum vulnerability, with submarines positioned just outside the the Exclusive Economic Zone which can implement a range of escalation options against both seaboards of the country.
    What the Russian strategist whose article Goldstein discusses is suggesting is that his country could help the Chinese overcome their problems in developing a capacity for ‘strategic’ nuclear attacks on the United States – as positioning SSBNs in the Arctic would both drastically reduce their vulnerability and also greatly reduce flight times.
    His discussion of this Russian strategist’s views ends with a nuanced conclusion, involving a warning which people might do well to heed:
    ‘In closing, it must be emphasized that this article’s importance should not be exaggerated. The musings of a single Russian strategist do not equal a new approach to Russia-China strategic cooperation, let alone a concrete bilateral military cooperation agreement on the deployment of the most prized, nuclear assets. Neither Moscow nor Beijing have given anything close to an official imprimatur to such eccentric ideas. And yet there is a small possibility that this one vision of the future could reach fruition in coming decades if current trends toward cold war are not reversed. Moscow would have its fully built out Arctic infrastructure (both military and commercial) with ample Chinese capital and engineering assistance. In return, Beijing would gain a reliable way to strike America and thus enhance its nuclear deterrent.’
    It really is time that the policy of the United States was once again run – as it once was – by people whose prime loyalty is to their own country, and whose thinking is not distorted by traumatic experiences in the countries from which they sought refuge.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I realize you’re angry. And I’m on your side. But this just comes off as a rant. And very little of it is new, either in facts or in analysis. I’ve learned to tune out the rants, just like I tune out the “trust the plan” hopium.
    Still have big interest in thoughtful analysis or in new facts. Granted latter is rare, but former can still be done. Great crowd sourced detective work.
    But the rants and choir-preaching? Just so wasteful. In many cases, it even comes across as mercencary, from the big media like Russ or Hannity to little grifters like “it’s over” Bongino or “breaking” Sperry.

  22. Tom Wonacott says:

    Did it bother you when the heavenly “298” story by the Kremlin is/was based on a lie(s)? Ukraine is the country that awarded Stepan Bandera the “hero of Ukraine” award despite his terrorist background while fighting with the Germans in WWII (for an independent Ukraine). Did the end justify the means? So ultimately, Ukrainians are going to have to resolve that issue – and it will be a deeply dividing issue for Ukrainians – and that is certainly why they are stonewalling the investigation. In an ideal world, Ukrainians would have voted Yanukovych out of office (IMO).
    Thanks Patrick.

  23. Closing comments: Brownian movement is advanced.

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