Soviet Afghan War Memorial in Yekaterinburg

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. Annual marathon Q&A Rus, Eng. A sort of durbar; you can’t imagine any Western leader daring to or capable of doing it. Much on COVID: it’s clear he believes it’s real and he encourages people to get vaccinated. Most of it was minutiae: the price of things, infrastructure, garbage collection and disposal again and so on. “Naturally, the time will come when I hope I will be able to say that a certain person deserves to lead such a wonderful country as our Motherland – Russia”. Ukraine-Russia: Ukrainians and Russians are one people; the Kiev government is hostile but its decisions are mostly made in Washington. (In short, Moscow will patiently wait.) Foreign social media must follow Russian law. US-Russia relations: “I really hope that an awareness that the world is changing and a rethinking of their own interests and priorities in this changing world will lead to a more attractive world order, and our relations with the United States will get back on track.”

PUTIN AMUSES HIMSELF. What you think you learned was what we wanted you to think you learned.

PROBLEMS OF THE NEW RUSSIA. Having been in the business so long, I can’t resist mentioning this new Russian problem: “Mr President, please tell me why is it more expensive to spend a vacation at a Russian resort than abroad?”. Infrastructure, Putin replied and they’re working on it.

FAVOURITE FAIRYTALE. Kolobok: “I want all my colleagues in high offices to pay attention to this story. Why? Because as soon as you, my dear colleagues, begin to take flattery for the truth and sink into this atmosphere under the influence of what they are telling you, you risk being eaten”.

DOOMED RUSSIA. Still doomed.

COVID. I was certainly wrong last Sitrep. But, they say, people are rushing to be vaccinated.

UNDESIRABLE ORGANISATIONS. Moscow has been steadily clamping down on these colour-revolution “NG”Os; Here is a list from RFE/RL: USA 19, UK 8, others (all NATO) 12.

AFGHANISTAN. USA/NATO, defeated, is getting out and Taliban, victorious, is taking over. I think we can assume that a majority of Afghans are willing to give Taliban their support as the only force capable of uniting – as far as it is possible – the country and that much quiet negotiating has happened. Washington has dreams of leaving something; if it does it will be helicopters off the Embassy roof. Taliban will likely be in control everywhere soon, probably without much fighting. Then what? Will Ankara’s ambitions allow Afghanistan to add the neo-Ottomans to its collection of scalps? What about northern neighbours? Tajikistan is concerned and Moscow has promised to help. What about the Belt and Road Initiative? I don’t know and neither does anyone else – my bet is that Taliban will meet general acceptance, China will do business and the area will be reasonably quiet. We’ll see. It’s not the end of two decades of US involvement, it’s the end of four. Another Brzezinski/neocon/PNAC disaster. For amusement, here’s NATO’s spin: “We have denied terrorists a safe haven… We will now open a new chapter… hard-won gains of the last 20 years… training and financial support…”.

BELARUS/RUSSIA. Newton’s Third Law of Geopolitics holds: Minsk suspended its membership in the EU Eastern Partnership initiative and announced closer links with Russia.

RUSSIA/CHINA. The two presidents spoke and renewed the treaty.

FAKE NEWS. Something to watch – will anti-China propaganda become more idiotic than anti-Russia propaganda? China weaponises elephants while Russia weaponises humour. The race is on!

MH17. The Dutch trial hops along: no you can’t ask any questions.

TABAQUIS WIN ANOTHER. Berlin, Paris and Vienna think an EU-Russia summit is a good idea, Balts and Warsaw say no. The problem with consensus organisations is that otherwise insignificant players get their way on Their One Big Obsession. And so we move a little closer to the end of the EU.

NATO EXERCISE. So far so good, nothing foolish. Of course, the lack of foolishness might have something to do with Moscow’s statements (I do think Moscow will do something next time – black holes? EW? Cripple the ship?). And there are two MiG-31Ks in Syria.

WESTERN VALUES™. Tired of Western moral sanctimony, Beijing and Moscow call for an “impartial investigation” into Canadian aboriginal residential schools; the truth is terrible: “TB incubators and superspreaders.” Trudeau tries to deflect. (Speaking of Uyghers – read this or this.)

NOT ON YOUR “NEWS” OUTLET. Julian Assange Case: Key Witness Admits He Lied.

CYBERATTACKS. Highly reliable experts (in an opposite sense) say Putindunnit, “reportedly” “believed” is good enough for the WaPo, but at least Biden holds back.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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  1. Fred says:


    “(IMF) estimates that sanctions have shaved 0.2% off Russia’s growth every year between 2014 and 2018.”

    In other words the sanctions on Russia accomplished nothing. While I congradulate Buhtan and Kirabati (Tarawa atol) and Palau for, ah, ‘beating’ Russia in “Gross Capital Formation” as a percentage of GDP, is this banker in Finland supposed to be taken seriously? Those comparisons are completely asinine.

    “…anger over mass-grave discovery rages….”
    You mean the ones the “Truth and Reconciliation” people addressed six years ago?
    “Tuberculosis was the major cause of death, influenza is listed as the second highest cause in the report – notably during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. ”
    What did dear leader Justin do about it since his election? Why yes, yes China and Russia are right on the money. ” moral sanctimony” indeed.

    • different clue says:

      Sometimes an action can accomplish the opposite of what it was intended to accomplish. It is not what the action taker wanted, but it is still something.

      The amount the Western sanctions “shaved off” of Russia’s growth is nothing as an overall amount. But the sanctions have acted as a kind of ” imposed Protectionism” against foreign product flooding the Russian market. The vacuum created by these sanctions has given Russian producers a chance to fill that vacuum with Russian product.

      So from a Russian point of view, these sanctions may well have given Russia the space and impetus to increase the diversity and quality of its own internal economic product. If so, that would be a good thing for Russia, which is not what the sanctioneers intended, but is certainly something.

      And for us non-Establishment mere-citizen Americans watching from a distance, it provides a real-world demonstration that Protectionism works, and it might inspire a movement to restore Protectionism to America.

  2. Deap says:

    If only illegals would stop flooding across our US borders, we could give up our “moral sanctimony” that we must still be doing something right, wittingly or unwittingly. If we could only become police state despots, border crashers would look for far more sympathetic climes. I am not saying that option would be a negative.

  3. Well, well, goodness gracious me: look who just appeared in Moscow
    Delegation from the political office of Taliban, visit to last 2 days.

  4. JerseyJeffersonian says:


    Regarding Julian Assange, here is another link from MediaLens that I read on July 4. It has a lot more details on the particulars than the one from The Wire, making this a useful supplement. Also, as the name of the website, MediaLens, should make unsurprising, they focus on the malfeasance of the western MSM’s clearly concerted silence about this story. Operation Mockingbird Version 2.0.

  5. J says:

    There’s another word for the color revolution N*GOs really are, they’re called – hooligans.

    Me thinks that the Taliban see Putin for the man that he is — a man not to be played with. That in part is the way that Putin and the General Staff ran their Syria Op. Also they may not like you, but they do respect those who have faith in God. And Putin has shown that on many occasions.

  6. ISL says:

    Interestingly, S-500 has passed combat tests

    and can take out LEO objects

    Part of the reason Putin argues that sinking a Nato vessel would not start WW3.

  7. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Who is telling the truth about the HMS Defender episode in the Black Sea?
    for a non-Russian account.

    See lots more if you Google
    spoofing Crimea odessa hms defender

  8. Keith Harbaugh says:

    A June 23 eye-witness account from a BBC reporter who was on-board the Defender is here:
    which backs up Russian claims:

    Our correspondent, who had been invited on board the ship before the incident happened, saw more than 20 aircraft overhead and two Russian coastguard boats which at times were just 100m (328ft) away.

    This is at odds with statements from both the British prime minister’s office and defence ministry, which denied any confrontation.

    (Exactly where the Defender was at the time is unclear, to me at least.)

    • English Outsider says:

      You’re talking about my boat, Mr Harbaugh. HMS Tethered Goat as one of Colonel Lang’s contributors happily termed it not long back. If reports are correct a Dutch ship had been intending to run the same gauntlet but in the end didn’t. If reports are correct.

      I’d thought that the reasoning behind it all was clear. If the Russians dent or, God forbid, sink an American ship that’s getting up to such antics then presumably we’re on the brink of WW3. So send in one of Biden’s poodles in to test the water. If they get dented or sunk, sad, but it won’t end up in uncontrollable escalation.

      • Barbara Ann says:


        It had to be the Brits. After all, on closest approach the hills around Балаклáва would have been clearly visible from the bridge.

        Half a league, half a league,
        Half a league onward,

        • English Outsider says:

          I’m not up on military hardware but if, as I suspect, there was some anti-ship missile radar lighting up HMS Defender, the Captain must have been thinking half a league onward indeed, and let’s get the hell out of here. At least he didn’t get my ship dented.

          I don’t know, Barbara Ann. It’s not just us courageously charging the Russian guns. The whole of Europe’s at it. Put “Arafel ” in the search bar here and you’ll see even the Spanish are shoulder to shoulder with us –

          Apparently Sanchez was using his fighter planes as a backdrop and they had to scramble the backdrop. Frankly, it looked like a put-up job to me. The proud Spaniard telling Lithuania, we have your six.

          Operation “Sea Breeze”. Operation “Defender Europe 21”. Operation “Poodle Waltz” more like. Mind you, you have to give it to the Spanish. Half a dozen fighters operational! Last I heard the Germans only had a couple.

          So what’s it all about? The whole of Europe breathing fire and fury with the Americans providing the muscle. Looks like we’re all geared up for Operation Barbarossa only this time, unlike the last entrepreneur in that line, Sleepy Joe’s got all his ducks in a row. Even got the Spanish to come along.

          Dunno what the Russians think of it all. Must be irritating, rebuilding a shattered country with half the planet fooling around on your doorstep.

          I pinched “HMS Tethered Goat” from you. As you will recollect. Barefaced theft but it sums it all up.

  9. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Patrick, and all,

    Certainly, on the evidence, we have learned that the West is not, as the Russians are wont to say, “agreement capable”, and hence not a trustworthy partner (another famous word for Putin, and increasingly as an ironic usage), but what about China.

    As ISL reports, the technical viability of the S-500 has been demonstrated, and this shows Russia’s competency with weapons systems is quite advanced, and this is attractive to China, making an alliance with Russia something to value.

    But the Chinese may have their own agenda, and caution is warranted for Russia in leaning too trustingly on China’s good intents. China appears to be moving toward increasing their population. As Stalin observed, quantity has its own quality, and it were well to be mindful of the downstream effects of such a policy on their geopolitical strategies in areas such as resource acquisitions needed to support this decision. I know that this worry is commonly pooh poohed as alarmist, but what if it is not?

    Here is a link to a Reuters article on China’s collaborative venture between a corporation called BGI which has increasingly global collection of genetic (read, DNA) information and the PLA. The possibilities for nefarious uses of this information in biological warfare are certainly there, alongside the positive uses in lifesaving medical advances. In other words, careful who you climb into bed with. Who knows what they might be hiding up those silken sleeves (h/t the Rolling Stones for that phrase…)?

    Thank you, Patrick, for your yeoman work in providing information and interpretation concerning Russia both domestically and internationally. This little old man is in your debt.


    • I’d be suspicious of the China/DNA story if I were you. Smells of projection to me.
      I remember this

      • JerseyJeffersonian says:


        I am aware.of that, but two can play at that game, and it is a very bad direction for any “arms race” to take, no matter the player. But the tension between those who would use it for good, versus those who would use it for self-aggrandizing power is too obvious for one to ignore it.

        Remember that Wernher von Braun wanted to use the emerging technology of rocketry for scientific advancement, and to get to space and forward exploration of the solar system. But, operating within the reality of the National Socialist regime, these ambitions were turned to the development of weapons in the service of that ideology. Now, ultimately, the original aspirations were given scope to be realized; communications satellites, weather monitoring, remote sensing from LEO of the oceans, LIDAR revealing past civilizations and past geological history were all salutary outcomes, not to mention astronomical instruments and interplanetary/solar explorations which were all wonderous developments.

        But intercivilizational military competitions still reared their ugly head, and questionable forces were empowered through these very technologies. Can you doubt that this was the evil, apparently inseparable twin of the humane goals also served by these technical advancements? It seems that we can’t have one without the other, and pollyannaish dismissal of the potential for willfully destructive use of the technologies employed in that way must be avoided. Merely because China or Russia may stand in opposition to the ofttimes unhelpful West does not thereby automatically confer an angelic, life-serving status upon them. Human nature, for good or ill, is still in operation.

        This is one of the fundamental insights of the Founding Fathers, something that they were led to through their knowledge of the histories of differing political systems in various cultural traditions. They detested unbridled autocracy above all, and sought to institute a counterforce, namely republicanism. As Mr. Franklin foresaw, this is difficult to keep, and here we are in imminent danger of centralizing autocracy, as all our institutions are rotten. Chalk it up to human nature? You can make an argument that liberal representative republicanism conduces to this outcome, but maybe not inevitably. But what can one say of a political system that begins from the standpoint of centralized autocracy, say China? All institutions must by definition serve the State, because the State is all. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? That is the point.

  10. Leith says:

    Keith Harbaugh – The prime minister and defence ministry statements denials were correct in the fact that HMS Defender did not engage in the confrontation.

    EO – You Brits did it on your own and NOT as a US poodle. Reason being that your Admiralty knew that the Russian Navy would never jeopardize their own passage through the Straits of Dover. ‘Innocent Passage’ in a recognized sea lane applies in both cases.

    HMS Defender clearly was in a state of innocent passage as described in UNCLOS. She did not engage in anything that could be considered prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of Russia during her passage. She did not threaten or use force against Russian sovereignty. She did not engage in any military exercise or practice with weapons of any kind. She did not collect information prejudicial to Russian defense or security. She did not broadcast any propaganda. She did not launch, land or take on board any aircraft or drone any other military device. She did not load or unload any commodity, currency or person contrary to Russian customs or other regulations. She did not dump garbage or any other pollution. She did not do any fishing. She did not carry out research or surveying. She did not interfere with any Russian comms or radars or any other facilities/installations. Seems to me the Royal Navy was well within international norms.

    Barbara Ann – Great catch! But didn’t that calamitous episode in the history of the British military turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Tsars? What I could never figure out was why Sardinian Bersaglieri were there in the Crimea, what was in it for them?

    • TTG says:

      The HMS Defender incident was just a nation-state version of doing the dozens. Both sides wanted to make their respective statement and score points. I was surprised the FSB released their video. It graphically showed the reality of what was reported as a Russian ship firing at a British ship. Firing a burst from a 30mm Gatling gun when the supposed target was damned near on the horizon was the equivalent of shaking one’s fist at someone. Both the Brits and the Russkies knew their parts and performed them well.

    • English Outsider says:

      Thanks Leith. Assuming there was no “spoofing” (can that be assumed now?) this seems to meet the case –

      “But if the aim of the passage was to underline the UK view that the Crimea belongs to Ukraine and not Russia, given the reference in the Ministry of Defence statement to HMS Defender being in Ukrainian territorial waters, this is misconceived, as it cannot possibly advance Ukraine’s claim. It might even be counterproductive, by giving an opening to an argument that the passage, if undertaken predominantly for propaganda purposes, becomes non-innocent under Article 19.”

      It’d be interesting to see what lawyers make of it. The mere act of making the assertion that this was innocent passage almost makes it seem that those waters are de facto recognised to be Russian. After all, there’s no need to assert the right of UK warships to innocent passage through Ukrainian waters.

      Or to put it another way, It’s only if those waters are recognised to be Russian that innocent passage need be asserted.

      I can’t make out HMG’s position. Is it telling the Russians to shut up because those are Ukrainian waters and no business of the Russians? Or is it stating that it was in the right because it was exercising the right to innocent passage through Russian territorial waters.

      The written parliamentary answer seems to leave it open. At one point is says flatly that these were Ukrainian waters and that’s it. But then it goes on to say “This is a right the United Kingdom affords to Russia and other states in the context of the UK’s territorial waters, including the Dover TSS in the English Channel.” – that’s a comparison that only works if the MOD is treating the passage as if through Russian territorial waters.

      As said, need a lawyer. Urgently.

      Because just as the UK position is that those waters are Ukrainian, the UK position is that the Crimea itself is Ukrainian. So, provided the Ukraine gave us permission, we’d be in the right to land a tank regiment in the Ukraine. Don’t think we will, though. Just as I doubt the Argentineans would land one in the Falklands. Or the Russians would take one through Kosovo, Serbian permission assumed.

      Several lawyers, perhaps.

      Also don’t understand the position with Operation Poodle Waltz in its entirety. We kicked up a hell of a fuss when the Russians moved large forces inside Russia recently. That in itself was called “aggressive”.

      Now we’re moving large forces ourselves, far along the Russian border. Why should that not be regarded as “aggressive” too?

      So what’s it all for? The European poodles, backed up by the most powerful military force on the planet, are poking the Russian bear any way we can. Half of us are bust and the rest not looking too solvent. Real problems in every European country. No indication that the Russians do intend to pour through the Suwalki gap. So what the devil are we playing around at?

      And what’s the President’s intention with all this? Does anyone know?

  11. Leith says:

    EO –

    The article you link to was written by a lawyer, who is also a professor of international maritime law. Did you read the comments section. Passions were high, they accused him of being a hack and on the payroll of US propagandists. I don’t believe that. He puts up a logical argument for innocent passage, but then he is Australian. I’d like to hear his insights on the South China Sea. Some of the irate trolls used a bit of profanity including some nasty comments about another commenter’s mother and her reproductive organs. It is good we have a moderator here in Pat Lang who will not allow personal attacks.

    Strange that neither Professor Serdy nor any of the commenters mentioned the RC-135 nearby. That could raise the question of whether the Defender was a stalking horse for the 135 spy-plane to audit Russian comms and radars. But that would be hard to prove. And it seems most likely to me the 135 would have been there to monitor AIS spoofing such as what had happened earlier that week; or simply to make a record of the event just in case it was needed later. I assume that if the Russians specifically accuse HMS Defender of spying or propaganda in violation of Article 19.2[c] and [d] that it would have to be addressed at the UNCLOS Tribunal in Hamburg. If so perhaps the author, Professor Serdy, or one of his former students will represent the Royal Navy. Has Russia filed a complaint with the UN?

    Again, I don’t believe the RN are poodles for US foreign policy. If anything it’s the other way around. You Brits were being provocative while betting that Uncle Sam would bail you out of trouble. Kind of like a small feisty kid threatening to get his bigger brother to beat someone up. Remember Libya and Syria. Our politicians here get sucked in every time by either Western Europe or Israel or the Oil Sheikhs. We are the worlds biggest suckers.

    • English Outsider says:

      Leith – many thanks again. On the HMS Defender incursion the document dump or find referred to here –

      – and all over the British press could well confirm the view that this was an HMG initiative. Also gossip of a Cabinet split on whether the incursion should go ahead at all. There again, no indication of joint planning with the US. On the other hand that surveillance plane flying nearby does indicate HMS Defender’s intended course was known about. Was this therefore, or did it end up as, a joint exercise for harvesting Intelligence on Russian defensive systems?

      But it’s impossible to guess who takes the lead in joint UK/US or joint European/US initiatives. I’m still wondering about the Steele/Dearlove affair. That must have been approved at high level in the UK before it went ahead. Part of a US initiative or initiated by the UK? I still remember Dearlove’s comment in the one TV interview he gave. “Trump will be gone in four years”. Our establishment certainly wanted him gone, as did your Democrats. Is it possible to guess which party first dreamed up Steele/Dearlove?

      Same with MENA interventions. President Obama stated he was pushed into that by the Europeans. The Blumenthal emails detailing French arguments for intervention confirm that. On the other hand there are assertions to the contrary –

      So in many other cases. It’s impossible to state whence, in the joint European/US actions we see, the primary impulse derives.

      But the results are clear enough. Most European countries, able only to so act because they are backed by American muscle, are pursuing actively Russophobic policies entirely against their own national interests and lacking entirely any justification in military reality.

  12. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Patrick Buchanan has written a helpful discussion of the rivaling claims about what happened:

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government and the Royal Navy have declared it to be their right to use warships to
    send a message to Moscow that Crimea belongs to Kyiv.
    Moscow has responded:
    Send that message again, and you may find your warship at the bottom of the Black Sea.

    To me, to say that
    who controls Crimea, Russia or Ukraine,
    affects U.S. national security is absurd.
    I would think the same applies to the UK.
    My advice:
    The West should stop interfering in Russia/Ukraine relations.

    • What I would say is that the UK owns the Falklands because it is in possession and that’s what the population wants which is exactly the same as the Russian claim to Crimea. The rest is politics

    • Pat Lang says:


      The British seem sure that they ,as “tail” can “steer” the American dog no matter how small they actually are in world affairs.

  13. Leith says:

    EO –

    Thanks for the links. Both your inews link and the Buchanan link posted by KH tend to reinforce my belief that the US was the poodle in this case and many others. Colonel Lang seems to agree as well.

    My view on Crimea is that it was, is, and will be Russian and not Ukrainian. The US needs to stop being such a patsy in world affairs. The UK still believes that we owe them a debt and must submit to the mother country.

    But even so I still maintain that HMS Defender was within her rights to conduct an innocent passage in an international sea lane. Russian Coast Guard and Russian air assets had no business threatening her. They could have escorted her peacefully just as the Royal Navy escorted the Kuznetsov through the Channel several years ago without resorting to firing shots or dropping bombs.

  14. English Outsider says:

    Leith – Yes, escorting peacefully would have been more stylish.

    As for the poodle business, I don’t think it’s much to do with us. Whether it’s LibLabCon here or the equivalents abroad the influence the respective electorates have on foreign policy is not great. So whichever is lead poodle, none of the brutes are on any leash that we have hold of.

    I’m sure you’re right about the Crimea. My view since ’14/’15 has been that if the Right Sektor had got in there in any force there would have been mayhem. What infuriates our Russophobes here, and presumably yours in the States, is that Putin pre-empted that so deftly.

    And unless the destabilisation of the RF currently being attempted succeeds, it’ll remain Russian unless we fancy some MAD.

    But Leith, whatever games our masters play, I can assure you that we in the UK have long since got used to 1776. Some time in the 1780’s I believe. Though WIKI says this of the Treaty of Paris – ” It was a highly favorable treaty for the United States, and deliberately so from the British point of view. Prime Minister Shelburne foresaw highly profitable two-way trade between Britain and the rapidly growing United States, as indeed came to pass.[10]”

    “Highly favourable” eh? Er, might I have a word? Boris Johnson wants a trade deal with your lot. Doesn’t matter what sort but for internal political reasons he needs a trophy to brandish. Time to return old favours?

  15. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Ukraine and U.S. are cohosting the [Sea Breeze 2021] exercise in the Black Sea with participation and support coming from 32 countries in total: Albania, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.

    Black Sea nations, in concert with NATO Allies and partners, improve their ability to conduct the full range of naval and land operations by participating in exercises like Sea Breeze 2021.

    If during the Cold War the Warsaw Pact had held an exercise such as this in the Gulf of Mexico, jointly with all the nations other than the U.S. which border the Gulf, you can imagine how horrified Washington would have been over that fact.
    Yet we do the analogus thing to Russia?
    Something very wrong fhere.
    Time to stop baiting the bear.

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