RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 OCTOBER 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

Russian flag

THE STRUGGLE INTENSIFIES. Stalin: "because they are becoming weaker, they feel that their last days are approaching and are compelled to resist with all the forces and all the means in their power". Navalniy, Belarus, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia-Azerbaijan and another treason arrest. Connected?

SYRIA. Fifth anniversary of Russia's intervention. And successful it has been: a brilliant combination of judiciously applied force, good intelligence, diplomacy and cooperation. And a reminder that, historically, Russians have been pretty good at war. Shoygu sums it up. (Russians like numbers as much as McNamara did – 133K jihadists killed? Let's just say lots.)

SUGGESTION. Putin suggested how to improve Russia-US relations including a formal undertaking not to interfere in each other's internal affairs. VOA coverage sums up the Western (non) reaction. I assume Putin does these things, not because he expects an answer, but for the record and the outside audience.

CHEESE. Among the silliest things ever said about Russia was this by Masha Gessen (one of the silliest purveyor of silliness about Russia): What the Russians Crave: Cheese. Moscow countered the EU sanctions with a food ban; together with a well-planned program of subsidies and grants, it has effected a huge turnaround in Russia's food production. In the 90s it was commonly thought that Russia imported half its food, today it is probably self-sufficient. And so with Gessen's cheese: "it is the third largest producer of cheese after the European Union and the US." Fancy cheeses too. Probably the ur-mistake of the so-called Western experts on Russia is their baked-in conviction that Russia is as they think it is and cannot, ever, change. This despite all the changes in the Putin Team era. But they're paid to believe what they believe to be paid.

MEDIA. Speaking of "Russian experts", RFE/RL six and a half years ago: "The 20 Russian News Outlets You Need To Read Before They Get The Ax". All still there except for No 7. Ah well, change the date and put it out again; no one will notice. Meanwhile, Twitter removes RIA Novosti. A Levada poll shows that, as elsewhere, Russians get less news from TV, newspapers and radio and more from the Net.

WEAPONS. Zircon test. More interesting to see the hit than just the launch, though. New AAMs?

PEOPLE POWER. The protests in Khabarovsk continue. But very weird now: USSR flag, "Sacred War" and current address of the Antichrist. Pretty hard to fit all those into a coherent narrative.

WESTERN VALUES™. "If the necessary information is not provided, then targeted and proportionate sanctions against those responsible on the Russian side will be unavoidable." So much for that sacred Western principle, Russia: if you don't prove you didn't do it, you're guilty. "Freedom, democracy and the rule of law. These values are what define us." Yeah, right.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. Trump says he has declassified everything. OK, let's get on with it. But one has to ask if a tree falls in the forest and the NYT doesn't report it, does it make a sound? Or are those who hear the sound debunked conspiracy theorists? And it's probably too late anyway.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Forget actual evidence: the less there is the more proof there is. "Especially clever is planting tales of supposedly far-reaching influence operations that either don’t actually exist or are having little impact." WaPo of course.

US ELECTION. Putin says he can work with either. Translation: "президенты приходят и уходят, а политика не меняется" (Presidents come and go, but the policies don't change).

OOPS! A Ukrainian TV poll on whether Putin should get the Nobel Peace prize: 76% said yes.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Some more steps along an uncertain path. It is principally the relationship with Russia that is the driver (although China and the Muslim lands are factors too). Whatever may have been the case on the past, I don't see that Europe gets much out of its subservience to Washington these days. But the separation will be slow and painful. I suspect Trump may be pushing it. (Gordian Knot 3).

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. In the early cargo-cult phase of EU/NATO aspirations, no one considered the full package. To a large extent the promised riches have been elusive but the globalist "human rights" package has not. I am amused to see that Budapest and Warsaw, targets both, have decided to fight back. What does this have to do with Russia? Well, Russia is the poster-child of a Westphalian world of independent sovereign states while Brussels is the poster-child of the globalist, one-size-fits-all world. Another tiny step.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

About Patrick Armstrong

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23 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 OCTOBER 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. Paul Damascene says:

    Just blocked by Twitter from RTing your Gordian Knot 3

  2. Well well.
    https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2018/04/07/why-i-am-leaving-facebook/
    Never heard of anybody being censored on VK. I guess it’s time to move to the Russian equivalent of Twitter.
    Curious state of affairs, isn’t it?

  3. Deap says:

    I am still left wondering why Hilary Clinton used Russia, Russia Russia as her dog whistle.

  4. P says:

    Poor, poor Masha. Before the US sanctions, I taught my daughter to make white sauce, and its many variations. Including cheese sauces. In the small town where my daughter lives, there is a milk factory. After sanctions they started to experiment with more varieties of cheese. They are half-way between Tyumen and Yekat. They now make a wonderful Brie, (according to my daughter.) As an Australian I cannot travel there, or afford travel either! USD 7.000 minimum for a return ticket.
    Russia will survive and flourish!

  5. Ghost Ship says:

    “If the necessary information is not provided,….”
    Are UK, Germany and France going to sanction their own officials who have failed to provide to Russia the information requested by the Russian government?

  6. English Outsider says:

    Shoigu’s looks a reasonable summary. Misses out on what seemed to be an important ingredient, the numerous reconciliation teams working all over the country. Also the work of the Military Police in such places as Aleppo after the liberation.
    But as the briefest of brief summaries it’ll do.
    https://tass.com/world/1206679
    The thing that bothers me is that if a casual user of the internet, me, is aware of these things the professionals advising the team in the White House certainly know the score.
    So what was Pence up to during his debate? As far as I recollect there was no mention of the Russian part in defeating IS. Was he deliberately misleading his audience or do the people in the White House really not know what was happening over in Syria?

  7. English O. Debates? US presidential campaign debates on foreign policy are all about how the USA is the world’s leader and exemplar and has so many enemies that it must spend even more on guns

  8. Deap. One wonders what would have happened if Trump had never mentioned the words “Russia” or “Putin” in his campaign.

  9. PRC90 says:

    Patrick, if he had not then Hillary or one of her acolytes would have mentioned it for him. There would have been some Trump Tower Moscow aspect to talk about, and the inevitable antenna farm on the roof (of any high building) would have probably carried some FSB comms (along with at least two TV stations and terrabytes of cell phone traffic).
    A Russian-based concoction would have been too good to pass up.

  10. ISL says:

    Dear Patrick,
    always appreciate these updates (lame stream media antidote ), yet I am shocked that you update us on cheese without mentioning its best friend, wine!
    which is a mixed story. For example, since 2014 vineyard hectares have only increased from 90,000 to 95,000 when a plan was made to increase to 140,000 by 2020. Still production is up (but so are Italian imports).
    https://vineandwine.vin/en/articles/russian-wine-industry-2020/
    so, while cheese (and other Ag products) have been a clear success story (unacknowledged over here), wine less so.
    (Actually, to be fair to Russian farmers and viticulture enthusiasts, the industry remains tethered by regulations developed to fight the scourge of alcoholism a few decades ago).
    Re: Putin ready to work with anyone, I assume that is for Western consumption, as it is not possible to work with those who are not agreement capable

  11. ISL. Thanks for this. I didn’t know anything about Russian wine making. Sounds as if Georgia’s done itself more damage by its NATO/EU cargo cult.

  12. Deap says:

    There was a cheesy vanity moment in Early Trump where Putin was quoted as saying “Trump was brilliant”. Which Trump preened over to no end.
    However, my first gues was this was the British use of the word “brilliant” not the American translation of the word “brilliant”, since at that point there was no known contact between the two.
    UK brilliant – as in shiny new object, something special versus US brilliant as in rocket science smart. However in the final analysis today, I am ready to conclude both translations just might apply when describing Trump as “brilliant”: rocket science smart and shiny and distracting.
    Shame if that early mis-translation led to Russiagate, since Trump did love talking about Putin early on describing him as “brilliant”.

  13. Deap says:

    Love the book “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: a Memoir of Food and Longing.
    Blurb:
    ” Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West.
    It was a life by turns absurd, naively joyous, and melancholy—and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return.
    Now Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past.
    To bring that past to life, Anya and her mother decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience. Through these meals, and through the tales of three generations of her family, Anya tells the intimate yet epic story of life in the USSR.
    Wildly inventive and slyly witty, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses.”

  14. Deap. The actual word used was яркий (yarkiy) which could mean brilliant but also bright on the surface. So you’re right: it has the same double meaning that English has. As I recall it was a quick response VVP made to a question after some meeting and at the time I took it to mean something like he’s very colourful. VVP also said he was leading in the Repub race which he was at the time.
    Much was made of these comments by DJT but also by the Dems who seized upon them as endorsements.
    No wonder VVP looks a little bemused at times.

  15. J says:

    Is former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder a Russian Asset (aka Putin’s errand boy)? It seems that some think so. One being the almost-dead Putin adversary Alexi Navalny. Navalny castigated Schroder for casting doubt about Navalny’s purported poisoning by the Kremlin. Navalny has alleged that Schroder received hidden payments from Russia. And now Schroder is suing the German magazine BILD who printed Navalny’s allegations of being Putin’s errand boy.
    Russia has denied from get-go that it was involved in the Navalny affair.
    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6719549682353233920/

  16. J says:

    Now to my 64 dollar question……….With the demise of the former Soviet Union, who is now running Directorate V?

  17. rho says:

    J,
    why would Gerhard Schröder take *secret* payments from Russia? He is the head of the supervisory boards of Nord Stream AG (the corporation that operates the first pipline) and Rosneft. Navalny is throwing around some mud, it makes you wonder whether he acts independently or whether he is somebody’s asset.
    As usual with anything Russia-related, there is a lot of hysteria about it originating from parties that don’t want Germany to import Russian natural gas directly. (Either because they want to sell their own natural gas to Germany or because they want to get transit fees from pipelines running Russian gas through their own territory into Germany.)
    I am glad that Schröder pushed for these pipeline projects, it is in our national strategic interest to get cheap natural gas from a diverse array of different sources. We need cheap, reliable energy supplies for our German industry.

  18. Igor says:

    Actually, VK.com (Vkontakte) is the russian equivalent of Facebook, the closest russian equivalent to Twitter is probably Telegram which is where most up-to-date and political commentary moved in Russia. Almost no censorship or at least I have not heard of any. There is also Livejournal where most of the russian online political commentary started.

  19. PRC90 says:

    J, slightly off topic but on the subject of Russian assets, I’m wondering whatever happened to Angela Merkel’s STASI file. She did quite well in the DDR, was well connected in academic circles, and was permitted to travel abroad in a reliable way.

  20. JamesT says:

    Igor,
    I was just on the Telegram website and they boast “Our apps are open source and support reproducible builds”. Wow. That is a big deal. This means that anyone can take a look at the source code and see how it works. This is a level of transparency that other apps would never provide to their users.

  21. J says:

    Putin was interviewed recently, and as always U.S. political and media hacks are taking what he says out of context and interjecting their own diatribes.
    Putin interview
    http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/64171
    U.S. political hacks
    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/10/vladimir-putin-ties-democrats-soviet-communists-says-happy-work-joe-biden/

  22. J says:

    Who is paying for this one, the U.S., or is the U.K. citizenry picking up the bill?
    ‘Strategic partnership’ worth $1.6 billion: Ukraine to ink agreement with London for eight British fast attack missile boats
    https://www.rt.com/russia/502835-ukraine-british-missile-boats-purchase/

  23. J says:

    #10 Downing is creating cow patties all over the place and stepping in them. They are accusing the Russian GU.
    UK claims Russian hackers tried to derail Tokyo Olympics
    https://tass.com/world/1214011

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