Russian flag

FOREIGN MEDIA. I don't know what Sputnik's and RT's audiences actually are in the USA or elsewhere but indications are that they are small or even tiny. But this hasn't affected the year's conniption fit and so we must be protected from their influence by Google, Twitter and now the US government. Well, apart from the mockery this makes of common-sense, proportionality and those Western values they're always boasting about, Moscow has reacted. And, as usual, in a much more powerful way. Putin signed the amendment; now "foreign media outlet distributing printed, audio, video and other messages and materials designed for an unlimited number of people may be recognised (может быть признано) as a foreign agent." Quid quo pro. Whining has begun: the BBG, HRW, State Department.

CORRUPTION. According to Transparency International's 2017 report, a third of Russians say they had to pay a bribe for some public service. Like Karlin, I can believe this (plus or minus – there is some tradition of giving gifts there) because, unlike the easily cooked perception scores, this is a yes or no question. But, as I argue here, this is the lowest and least important form of corruption: the worst forms aren't even detected by the little guy because the service was stolen long before he tried to buy some of it. And I would further observe that, whatever you may say about the Duma, you can't say it's run by "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests": it pretty much does what the popular and elected government tells it to do. In short, not all corruptions are equally bad.

RUSSIAN STATE DOPING. I don't believe it: it's a "Gish Gallop". Counter arguments here and here. PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Aspergers, gunslinger, now tired. The website – you decide.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. It's not working. 52% believe it's better to have Russia on "our side" than not; 76% of Republicans and 51% of independents agree but only 29% of Democrats. (I presume Dems find it easier to believe that Trump won because Putindunnit than that he beat their candidate fair and square). It's not working in Europe either: another poll show large majorities in Germany, Poland, France and UK would like better relations with Russia. But the effluent is still pumped out: "weaponised information". (As a readers' guide to this sort of thing, you won't go wrong assuming that whatever US/NATO accuse Russia of doing, they are actually doing. For example, the Pentagon "weaponised information" years ago: "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media".)

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. "FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier." The collapse of the Fusion GPS operation will unravel the whole construction. And it's coming. (And don't forget Awan.) All this because the Dems fixed their nomination and then lost anyway.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. There has been some kind of coup or prevented coup in Lugansk. The head of State, Igor Plotnitsky, has resigned and is said to be in Moscow. The official story is that a "criminal group" controlled from Kiev has been arrested and a coup averted. A group of Ukrainian saboteurs have been arrested. No doubt, more information will trickle out.

PAPER TIGER. Further to my suggestion that NATO is a paper tiger we learn that half of Germany's tanks are not ready for action. Less belligerent behaviour might be prudent: Moscow doesn't get the joke: "We need to plan and undertake measures that will help us to respond to such a scenario quickly…".

SYRIA. Lots of action. Trump has cut off arms supplies to Kurds in Syria (but, as always, can a mere POTUS make them do it?). Putin has been talking to everyone in and around the neighbourhood and lots of meetings. Patrick Lang, a connected observer, thinks it's about over.

MAIDAN SNIPERS. One of the founding myths of the "Revolution of Dignity" was the massacre on the Maidan. Ivan Katchanovski has proved, to anyone with the capacity for objective thought, that it was a false flag operation; here is his paper; here is a summary. Two Georgian snipers have come forward to confess; here is a summary of what they said with links to the original. The story continues to develop and Katchanovski is following it.

UKRAINE. A country put together out of bits and pieces of other countries should worry as it fails further: "Poland does not hide its ambiguous intentions towards western Ukraine. First, create positions of influence, then formulate territorial claims". Meanwhile, Maidan II seems to be going nowhere (no support from outside, I guess).

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer


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  1. On this side of the water, my prediction that Tillerson would be gone by end of year appears to be coming true.
    Reports say Trump is going to throw Tillerson under the bus – like all his other supporters – and replace him with CIA’s Mike Pompeo. Senator Cotter – a torture and drone advocate – will replace Pompeo at CIA.
    So now we’ll have a CIA head in charge at State. I’m totally sure that will improve US diplomacy with North Korea, Russia, China, etc…
    Those people who kept saying Trump had some master plan to save us were right – it entails throwing out anyone NOT advocating war with most of the nuclear powers on the planet.

  2. Kooshy says:

    Zizi controlled US media, like the NYT and CNN really want Rex Tillerson out, they are paving the way for him to leave, and have decided who they like to replace him, both candidates for the state and CIA are supper neocon protectors of Zionism in US, and totally anti Iran.

  3. Fred says:

    This is the second, or perhaps third, report of Tillerson getting “thrown under the bus”. I would say the borg are having thieir policy narrative systematicly destroyed by Trump and they are desperate to at least create, or at least maintain, an immage of turmoil in the exectutive branch.

  4. JamesT says:

    Do you think that POTUS ordered CENTCOM to cut off arms supplies to the Kurds in order to start a war with nuclear powers? It seems to me this action does the complete opposite of that – it dramatically reduces the chance of war with Russia.

  5. One of the great things about this site is that when someone makes a nonsense comment you don’t have to do anything to refute it — plenty of others will.

  6. DemiJohn says:

    Agreed. And Reuters is also In the band.
    It would be sad to see one of the last brains in the cabinet disappear.

  7. Bandit says:

    And your are referring to…..which nonsense comment?

  8. Charles Michael says:

    Yes Sir,
    I would add that here the ”silent majority” don’t have then to debuke nonsense but enjoy their fellow followers clearheaded reactions.
    And many thanks for your reviews, have to dig on the links now.

  9. Yeah, Right says:

    “Those people who kept saying Trump had some master plan to save us were right”
    Maybe not a master plan, but Trump may well be marching to a tune that you can not hear.
    Take his refusal to certify the JCPOA as stipulated by Congress.
    Q: Did he follow that up by tearing up the JCPOA?
    A: No, he didn’t. He threw the problem back to Congress, who look like a deer caught in some headlights.
    He is also expected (either this time or the next) to refuse to sign the waiver regarding moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
    Q: Will he then follow up by actually, you know, moving that embassy?
    A: My guess is he won’t, and he’ll dare Congress to make something of it.
    I really think that there is a pattern to his behaviour, and it isn’t the behaviour of a slave to “the establishment”.
    It looks more like he is throwing that establishment off-balance by saying, in essence, that he isn’t interested in playing their silly games, and by doing so he exposes those games as…. silly.
    Certifying the JCPOA is a burden, and he simply shrugs it off.
    Waiving the Embassy move is a burden, and he’ll just shrug it off.
    Every time he does so he exposes Congressional politicking that are an irrelevance – an instance of Congress sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong – and that’s no bad thing.
    Just my take, but I really don’t think Trump is who you think he is.

  10. Peter AU says:

    I shall have to start posting on how right I have always been. That will allow me to purchase extra large hat and condoms.

  11. Thank you for your valuable summary. Another part of the Colonel’s site that makes SST the place, I think the only place, where it’s all put together.
    On corruption in Russia – it seems to be very bad. Not as bad as Southern Europe maybe, but not pretty.
    A difficult subject to examine. But I remember a while ago talking to a contractor who’d done work in Saudi. He said that working over there was a real breath of fresh air. You paid the money over – there seemed to be some sort of informal tariff – and that was it. You knew where you were.
    Different here, he said. It was all back door and getting to know the right people to swap favours with. You could never tell whether you’d pressed the right buttons or not, not for certain. More work and no cheaper, when you looked at it in the round.
    Corruption at the bottom level here is as far as I know non-existent, not for the man in the street. I’ve never heard of anyone getting off a motoring offence, for example, by making sure there is money for the policeman tucked into his documents before he sets off, though there are many places abroad where that’s a sensible precaution. And bribing the professor to upgrade your degree would be unthinkable here, though not in Italy. I’d be very surprised too if there were suitcases full of cash floating around in more elevated circles. Not for us the breezy free-for-all in Ireland, where a businessman can give a Taoiseach a cheque for a million on the golf course and it’s such an everyday transaction that the Taoiseach can say later that yes, it did happen, but he’d never really noticed.
    It doesn’t happen here because it doesn’t need to happen. There are plenty of legal ways of getting money or favours across so a suitcase merchant would be regarded, I think, as a blundering amateur. The amateurs – the MP trying to cash in by taking money for asking questions in the House and such like – get regularly exposed in the press. The people who know what they’re about, never. Nothing to expose. It’s all legal.
    In my view the fact that we’ve institutionalised our corruption doesn’t entitle us to point the finger. It does seem that there is a deplorable amount of straight bribery and corruption in Russia. But we’re not the pot that can call that kettle black.

  12. Matthew says:

    Fred: It’s assuming that the “professional diplomats” who gave us the Iraq War and the Maiden Demonstrations in Ukraine call Trump irresponsible!
    I think Trump is doing a Gulfies. Besides the Mother of Arms Deals with the Kingdom of Horrors, he’s just got Bahrain to buy another batch of F-16’s they don’t need.
    Trump said he was going to make the Gulfies pay for our protection. And that is what he is doing.
    Now if he could only make the Zionists pay…..

  13. I agree “institutionalised corruption” is what we have a lot of in the West — it’s not illegal, but it sure looks like passing money to get something from someone in power or transforming public money into private money. I don’t see anything like that in Russia (although there was a great deal of it in the 1990s and the perpetrators have been allowed to keep their loot. As long as they keep out of politics).

  14. Matthew says:

    PA: Another great post.
    Any idea how this media registration issue will play out? Will the Western media all start reporting from Riga (about Russia) like the Western correspondents report from Jerusalem (about the Arab World)?

  15. Matthew says:

    “doing a bust-out on the Gulfies.”

  16. Report from Riga? oh har har: they already report from an imaginary planet far, far away from Russia.

  17. SmoothieX12 says:

    Will the Western media all start reporting from Riga (about Russia) like the Western correspondents report from Jerusalem (about the Arab World)?
    They couldn’t do it honestly and right when they were in Moscow and, literally, inside Russia’s political kitchen, changing a venue wouldn’t make any difference in propaganda output. Whitman Bassow left a rather excellent diagnosis of US media in late 1980s. It still stands. Here is a quote: “Thirty years ago as UP correspondent, I met a middle-aged Florida couple in Metropole dining room who were astonished that the average Russian seemed so well dressed. “Why,” exclaimed the woman, “they even wear fur hats!” The American scolded me for not reporting such important news. I countered that I frequently wrote features on women’s styles, clothes, and shopping in Moscow but that not a single editor on the thousands of newspapers served by the agency would print a story, if I did write one, that a quarter million Russians walked down Gorky Street today wearing shoes. Americans, I said, should have learned in high school, not from the pages of their local newspaper, that Russians wear coats and hats.”

  18. Beige Barbaria says:

    Chirac had been for decades a very corrupt politician in France – in the illegal manner that you describe – but was completely acceptable to the Western Fortress.
    The Olympians of the Western Fortress have taken excellent causes such as Human Rights, International Security, Representative Government, Rule-of-Law, and Good Government and turned them into wedges against their enemies; thus gutting them from all their moral purport.
    None of that is any longer worth getting excited about except International Security as it touches upon continued existence of Human Life on this planet.

  19. Beige Barbaria says:

    In regards to JCPOA, in January of 2018, he will have to make a real decision and can no longer punt.
    We shall see.
    So far, he has not brought any jobs back into US although he has slowed down the hemorrhaging.

  20. Annem says:

    I would add to the latest Trump announcements but not actually doing it that statement immediately twisted by the Turks to mean that the US had just ordered a halt to arms shipments to the Kurds. Yeah, sure, in the midst of the stand-off with the SAA and wrap-up in Raqqa! Trump made a seemingly vague comment to Erdogan that could give the Turkish dictator “shade” of “face” but the Turks ruined it by exaggerating it, forcing the USG to clarify. Or more likely, the Turks did not twist anything, but the Administration was forced to do clean up work after Trump said something off the wall. POTUS will have even tougher time getting MATTIS&Co. out of the 13 bases in Syria they now supposedly occupy. These are supposedly meant to be a bargaining chip so that the US gets what it wants out of the Geneva process, whatever that may be at the time.
    All this is happening as Erdogan is going crazy about the testimony being given by Zarrab in the New York trial about Iran sanctions evasions. His response so far has been that Turkey follows its own national interests and did not do anything illegal according to its own laws. If Flynn tells all, the proposed caper to kidnap Gulen from Pa. and ship him to Turkey and other, as yet unknown grand schemes, may come to light. Not that any of it will cause Erdogan to lose support among his true believers but could make it hard for him to repeat his fraudulent razer-thin majority in the 2019 presidential election that will add legality to his sultanic rule.
    In the end, an internationally recognized Syria settlement will have to resolve the seemingly unbridgeable positions: the opposition says that Assad goes and will play no role in deciding the country’s future or discussions about it and the reality that any “opposition” led government would likely deprive Russia of its only Mediterranean base, an intolerable loss. If it comes to elections, it is likely that all expat Syrian citizens who have not renounced their citizenship, refugee or otherwise will be allowed to voter, not just those now in surrounding countries. That means a couple of generations worth of families who fled at one time or another from the Baathist regime.

  21. Amir says:

    Do you recon that This would increase the chances of Assad getting reelected? This might feel counterintuitive to you but you should just look at the Iranian diaspora’s different generations and the successive waves of Cubans in Florida. Each of the generations down the line seem to be even more pragmatic and are more sympathetic to a rational approach as opposed to a Neo-Con line of defending Israel to the last Gentile.

  22. BillWade says:

    send those jobless folks here to SW Florida, we desperately need help. I’m not joking – we are hurting for workers.

  23. Grazhdanochka says:

    Another aspect of Corruption is that Day to Day Corruption (Say paying local DPS for a ‘Immediate Fine’) can be seen by many as a Humanising of Bureaucracy in some cases – looting Public Money for a Bridge or Hospital not so much…
    I am not operating a Business myself so I do not encounter those hurdles Personally but each Year I pay about one ‘Fee’ we can say. This may be for some minor Traffic Infringement that may otherwise for a moments fault or at Times maybe zealous Policing… Encountering someone Face to Face however who may not be exactly well paid and has not always pleasant Job while you drive a new Car reminds me of the differences in Society, the feelings some will have of how unjust is Divisions Economically, Socially – there is a Human Face to much of this Day to Day Corruption and in honesty if I am not being shaken down I do not mind it so much as the rampant theft by Faceless Bureaucrats.
    Whilst coming with Problems of its own some would thus argue on this Level Corruption *can* somewhat eliminate some of the Red Tape that one may Encounter making relatively innocent Problems into Nightmares. Of course however this can be slippery Slope and potentially only encourages more and more abuse of Power.
    To the positive side of this – I notice this Issue less and less over the Years.. Indeed recent Police Reforms in Russia while not perfect have resulted in some serious Improvements overall. I notice less Apathy from Officers I encounter, more efforts at Public Relations and the last Traffic Infringement I had the Officer was happy to pose in a Picture with me as his first ‘Happy Customer’
    (He did everything by the Book and I paid my Fine)..
    This of course is just one Anecdotal Perspective, but I do see positive Improvements in most all regards. Recent Firings/Charges have increased for Corruption and for ever decreasing Quantities of Money…. This to me is a fair Indication of how things have moved.

  24. Yeah, Right says:

    It seems a masterly statement of the very obvious.
    The USA has been through a period of robber barons and institutionalized graft and corruption in the 19th century.
    How did that end?
    Was it a slow and steady cleanup, or do did someone who managed to gain a place of power just decide go to work with a big broom?

  25. I see his badge reads police and MVD. Has the old GAI disappeared or been incorporated into the regular police? I’ll never forget having lunch in a restaurant in Saratov(?) in 1995(?) and seeing a couple of GAI come in having obviously just shaken somebody down for the price of lunch. Or my surprise one day in Moscow seeing a GAIchik actually doing some actual traffic work. (I also remember that part of the BS about Saakashvili the great reformer was that he has eliminated the Georgian GAI. Usually teh only example ver given too.)

  26. Grazhdanochka says:

    In honesty I still try and get my Head around exacts of recent Police Reforms (Most Recent Forming of National Guard and removal of Paramilitary – OMON/SOBR-OMSN from MVD along with VV ) especially as I have lived abroad many Years. DPS or GAI of old has changed over the Years and it still exists as Part of Interior Ministry… I sometimes hang around some Interesting Characters but seldom do those come into Picture.
    You would be amazed to see what they do Today if you were Impressed with Work you saw then! )) Admittedly some is by increased Social Media Presence but there was Case lately – avoid hitting a Cat…. Cat climbed into the Undercarriage of Police Car so they had to lift the whole thing to get it out… They are of course pushing this Naratives – but it is indication that they are increasingly considering Public Perception.
    In general I see DPS working reasonably well (Mostly I am in Moscow but I am from the South). Of course though Russians will do as Russians will do, so most expensive S600 will still cover its Plates parking on the Footpath to avoid paying the most inoffensive of Fines…

  27. I have no opinion whatever on the Kurd arms issue. I do think it has zero effect – far from “dramatically reducing” it – on the current antagonistic situation between the US and Russia.

  28. And when Tillerson goes, I won’t have to say “I told you so.” Of course, by then everyone will be saying how they thought that would happen long ago.

  29. Grazhdanochka says:

    I should clarify somewhat to People not understanding….
    There was a Time when disinterest and disregard by Police in Russia was universal, there was disinterst and contempt of almost highest Level…
    Somewhat understandable if you are irregularly paid or treated in turn like Rubbish. But I think since at least the Police Reforms began (Even with simple Renaming, Uniform Changes, Fitness Requirements etc…. it is slowly worked better

  30. Yeah, Right says:

    BB, I suspect that it isn’t that he “punts the ball” so much as he simply can’t be bothered playing the game.
    He may not care less what Congress says w.r.t. the JCPOA since that amounts to the Congress poking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
    As a consequence he’ll just say that he is under no obligation to do anything when they attempt to throw the ball back to him, and then dare them to say otherwise.
    Again, just my take. But I suspect Trump doesn’t have the patience for Congressional grandstanding, nor is he inclined to pander to their sense of self-importance.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is no game comes January, he will either suspend the US sanctions per JCPOA or he won’t. At which point JCPOA would be dead.

  32. Annem says:

    Yes, I recognize that it might/might increase the chances of Assad getting reelected. However, given that literally millions of recent refugees are still in neighboring countries or Europe, it would be unlikely that election outcomes would have given any credence without these voices. It would not be possible to separate these more recent refugees from those who have left the country in previous weeks, months and years but kept their Syrian nationality. It does raise another problem, however; in the US and perhaps elsewhere, Syrian expats who are seen as anti-regime were denied renewal of their passports by their embassy unless expired passports are considered as well. It is also the case that while the regime DID restore Syrian nationality to SOME Kurds following the onset of civil war, many thousands remain stateless as a result of the very arbitrary manner in which they were stripped of nationality. That would also have to be dealt with. There will also be an attempt on the part of the regime to limit voting inside the country to areas they consider pacified. I’m also sure that they will do everything possible to avoid international monitors.
    In the end, though, elections are a primary demand of the opposition and even if they could be persuaded to leave the regime in place until elections were conducted [highly unlikely given the UN accord] and no “peace” is likely to win approval either by much of the Syrian population, regional parties and the international community, without completing this step. The only other way to settle things is for the regime to declare victory and simply ignore the opposition. That would likely lead to continued conflict at some level, especially within the proxy factor, including the occupation of areas by Turkey and the US and Israel making demanding its own demands.
    Frankly, the Russians don’t want to hang around for that but the Iranians may. I think Putin hopes to get his triumvirate plus the US to agree on what comes next and it will be thus. That, too, is a long shot.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Assad would likely follow in the footsteps of Franco, declare total victory, suppress any and all opposition, and adopt many of opposition’s ideas as his own. He could readmit refugees from Lebanon and Turkey but not from Jordan and EU.

  34. Yeah, Right says:

    Not true, strictly speaking.
    It is the President who is required to “certify” the JCPOA, and Trump has already shrugged that off.
    But it isn’t the President who has to issue the sanction waivers.
    That task has been delegated to the Secretary of State.
    So, yes, Trump can continue to play his game with Congress come January, and if/when Tillerson issues those waivers then Trump can say, in all honesty, that when he gives a job to someone then he lets them get on with that job.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is an immaterial imature silly game for internal US consumption of the Deplorables and the 1%.

  36. I close comments when I think the conversation has wandered too far away. I think that is now. See you in a couple of weeks.

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