RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 JULY 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

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RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 707K; total deaths 10843; tests per 1 million 151K. Russia has done 22 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it's second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. RT reports a survey finding that most Russian physicians are sceptical of the official numbers. Its counting rule is strict; a looser rule would create bigger numbers: I don't take any numbers very seriously. (Vide chaotic UK counting.)

CONSTITUTION. Passed comfortably. The ads I saw varied between happy families and – the one projected on the US Embassy facade – in 1993 we were yours and now we're ours. Sums up the main changes. As to the term reset many argue that it is designed to kill any succession in-fighting (or foreign fiddling): even if Putin quits after this term, he can still come back. I still see it as a cheap trick.

ESPIONAGE. Ivan Safronov was arrested on Tuesday and charged with espionage. The claim is that he passed information on weapons sales to the Middle East and Africa to Czech intelligence which then passed it the the USA. He denies the charges. He had worked for several newspapers covering space and defence and had been hired by RosKosmos in May. The authorities say they had been watching him for several years (from which we can deduce that the information passed on was probably false – the Russians are very very good at this). Meanwhile it has been officially denied that an exchange is been considered for Whelan (which, I guess, means that it either is or isn't).

MH17 TRIAL. Hops along to its pre-ordained conclusion: "'The relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987,' the judge claimed. 'In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Konashenkov] can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located'". So we're not going to look at the provenance of the conveniently discovered missile bits; wouldn't suit the guilty verdict. A farce.

DEJA POO. Let's make up a story that 1) keeps the Russia enemy theme going 2) can be used to harm Trump 3) will stymie negotiations to get out of Afghanistan and 4) fool the simple-minded. Should run for a week or two and then we'll come up with something else. Meanwhile, in the real world, survivors or families are suing US companies that paid protection money to Taliban.

ICEBREAKERS. Russia starts an even bigger one. Russia dominates the icebreaker business.

WADA YA KNOW. Der Spiegel dares to question the US/Canadian Russia mass doping story.

MORE SANCTIONS. The UK has just revealed new sanctions against Russians (and others). Moscow says it will retaliate.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Shrinks or slammer. Once the West's darling. Do you think HRW will get excited about this "sinister reminder of the Soviet legacy of punitive psychiatry"?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Every time I think the insanity has reached the top, somebody shoves it up another notch, the "Lincoln Project" with this absurdity. But then that is surpassed by some Democrat politician: "Wakes up every morning, goes to be every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy." And these people are spectacularly ignorant: Russia is bulging with new infrastructure; even the Moscow Times reports it. Americans get in a tizzy over their enemy du jour but when they kill him (Qaddafi, Hussein) or jail him (Milosevic) they calm down. How much more frenzied can they get?

NEW NWO. Interesting poll about COVID: about half the Europeans polled thought the EU had been irrelevant; 60% said they thought less of the US than before. The pollster concluded that "Europeans have lost faith in the United States in its power and competence to lead the world".

BIO-LABORATORY. In Tbilisi. What's the story? Russian Foreign Ministry expresses concern. Russian disinformation. Perfectly OK says Washington. Sinister purposes say other Americans. Even creepier says investigative reporter. I don't know, but if the purposes are benign, why can't they be done at home? Fauci-funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan?? USAF admits to collecting Russian genetic material?? Some serious questions here, I think. Certainly one could understand Moscow and Beijing taking a mistrustful view.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Nordstream advances. Washington contemplates sanctions, Berlin, committed to it, bites back. Merkel says Europe has to prepare for a future in which USA not a world power. Schroeder says the sanctions would mark the "definite termination of the Transatlantic partnership". Copenhagen gives approval for the final bits. An important defiance of Washington's diktat.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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23 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 JULY 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. A.I.S. says:

    As far as the bounty thing is concerned, there are now several different takes I am aware of in Russia.
    1: Nothing whatsorever actually happened.
    2: Wire transfer to the Talebs was part of a cunning GRU plan to set the Talebs against ISIS.
    3: Wire transfer wasnt actually to Talebs, but to some more local actors, and wasnt from GRU but from FSB counter narcotics. Goal of it was to make said local actor burn some poppy fields.
    4: Wire transfer was not from GRU but from Russian Vory, Goal was to set some local actor into destroying poppy fields whose distribution endpoints in the CIS were not under the control of this Vory faction.
    5: Same as 4 but not actual poppy distruction happened, wire transfer was so that the Afghan poppy owners, who also pay protection money to the Taleban which is why the US thinks their account is Taleban linked, would use Vory aligned distribution channels instead.
    6: Fucking noone believes that GRU pays Taleban bounties for US deaths. If GRU wants dead americans in Afghanistan, the casulty counts would look quite different.

  2. J says:

    Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said at their ministry’s conference call on Tuesday June 30th that Russian troops will hold over 15,500 military exercises during the summer training period, paying special attention to the preparations for the Kavkaz-2020 (Caucasus-2020) strategic command and staff drills.

  3. JohninMK says:

    Not sure that Reuters got the NordStream2 story quite right.
    The Danes have now allowed anchor bases pipelayers to lay pipes, the impact of which was to let the Russian Baltic based barge Fortuna, which has been in the Baltic the whole time, do the job. This means that the travels of the Academic Cherskiy (which met the earlier Danish requirement of control with no anchors) from the Far East were unnecessary. This will have pissed Moscow off no doubt.
    It looks like they are just about to start laying pipe as suitable transport ships are now positioned at the rail terminal used to load them in Germany.

  4. English Outsider says:

    Patrick Armstrong – there’s quite a lot written at the moment about European defence and European/US defence relationships and the link above is on the same theme –
    Trouble is, it seems to me that a surprising number of people in Europe know very well that the “Russian threat” to Western Europe is fake. I bet Trump does as well.
    Isn’t this in truth all about European defence equipment projects?

  5. Deap says:

    It is okay if Russians and other Europeans think less of the US government (per se). So do we. However, the engine they cannot beat is the US economic system. Because free and unfettered remains the only viable model.
    Russia is correct- US establishment “government” is flabby, weak and self-serving. It needs to be exposed and judged for what it has become post WWII. That in fact was Trump’s iconoclastic mission – drain the flabby US government swamp. Credit where credit is due.
    Of course our “government” is failing; it was never intended, from the days of its founding, to be an oppressive deep state that it has become ever since JFK unionized government employees – that is when it succumbed to the failed soviet model.
    But we ain’t down yet, because while the “US government establishment” no longer represents the vigor ot its people, and people remain strong, resilient and innovative. Not something Russia can claim – Russians are more a pack of opportunistic grifters and malcontents. While curiously hungering for a strong man daddy figure who they expect to rescue them from their dissolute ways.
    What will post-Putin Russia look like – succession is always the problem, post-dictator. DNC expected a perpetual post Obama dictatorship. When this option was cut off for them, they for the first time gave us a taste of what post-dictatorship countries feel like. They inability to accept the 2016 election was Amerca’s darkest 21st century moment.
    There is comfort being underestimated in the world. Have at it Russia. And our EU “friends” as well.

  6. Lytenburgh says:

    Re: Deap
    Oh, wait… you are serious? Let me laugh even harder!
    Well, after an extensive analysis, I consign to this comment of yours a rating of “PG” – “Patriotic Garbage”. That part about “the “US government establishment” no longer represents the vigor ot its people, and people remain strong, resilient and innovative”, is especially butthurty-self deluding. So far (and you can thank the legal definition of term) the most “vigorous, strong, resilient and innovative” so to speak “people” in the US are big companies… Who exemplify their vigor, stronKness, resiliency and innovativeness by, uh… outsourcing jobs to the third world? Relocating to tax-heaven countries? Colouring their logos in a castrated version of the Rainbow?
    As for the claim (by you) “Russians are more a pack of opportunistic grifters and malcontents”, followed by the further claim, that Putin is a dictator, well… Either you are a juvenile īdîøt, or someone of the advanced age suffering (enjoying, perhaps?) from the progressive senility and dementia. Either way, you are a worthy addition to the non-stop freak-show that’s the Internet.

  7. turcopolier says:

    “someone of the advanced age suffering (enjoying, perhaps?)” This is ad hominem abuse. Do it again and I will ban you.

  8. Lytenburgh says:

    “Ad hominem abuse”? Roger that, Sir. No more comments that might be interpreted as some sort of hateful ageism laden speech then.
    Btw, Sir, what’s your attitude towards blanket statements re: the American people and re: the Russian people, expressed by the user “Deap”?

  9. turcopolier says:

    Thank you. I will be more watchful over that . The USG has security cleared my self obsessed memoir for publication if I take out some of their secrets and I have been busy with that and may have missed something. I am generally unhappy with remarks like that unless I make such generalizations.

  10. Deap says:

    Lytenburgh, I travel a lot. I calls them like I sees them. Ad hominem attacks are directed against an individual; without justification when all other argument fails. Sweeping generalizations about larger groups based upon observations, on the other hand, are up for discussion. However, the moderator remains the final arbitrator of any further semantic sniping.

  11. A.I.S. says:

    Well Deap,
    the issue is that American economic might hails mostly from the fact that, in a thing called WW2, other centers of economic power were destroyed by war.
    This resulted in the establishment of a tributary system based on the dollar, as the US was the foremost economical power. However, at some point this changed into a system where dollars created out of thing air would be exchanged for real goods from all over the world, and not just for real goods, but also for the means of production of these goods.
    As long as there was no alternative, as long as Dollars could be freely exchanged between both tributaries and people on the outside of the US system, and as long as the US economy remained that largest on the planet on its own, rather then its tribute affected merits, this went well.
    However, US industrial leaders, I think partly because the US industries were not regulated at a strategic level, engaged in massive outsourcing (partly a tragedy of the commons effect to be seen here. Essentially, an outsourcing US firm will defeat a non outsourcing US firm, even if both firms know that outsourcing is bad long term for the USA) which led to a profound change of where things are being produced.
    China is now, adjusted by purchasing power partiy, a far great economical power then the USA. Secondly, the increasing use of sanctions, which the US throws around at the drop of a hat creates potent incentives to get out of the US dollar system, as anything under this system can be stolen by the US elites for any reason.
    The US, mostly by greed (outsourcing), pride (all the sanctions) of US elites, has spent the last 30ish years actively squandering the advantadges they possesed.
    If you think you will win the cold war with China because you won the cold war with Russia, well, as far as I am concerned, the chief reasons why you won the cold war because in WW2, 1 out of 7 Russians died, compared to 1 out of every 300 US-Americans. Not one American town was destroyed, thousands of towns were destroyed in the USSR. The single individual most responsible for the outcome of the cold war was Adoplh Hitler, due to the Devastation inflicted on the USSR. The next single individual most responsible for the Cold Wars outcome was Joseph Stalin, due to his mistakes that enabled Hitler to destroy as much as he did. One can make quite reasonable claims that Mao did more damage to the USSR (and also to China) then any US president.
    There is no Hitler that will devastate Chinas economy for you.
    There is also the question of leadership. The current leadership of China has been through considerably privation, XI Jingping was semi purged and exiled during the culture revolution. He is someone who knows hardship. Trump does not know hardship, and I dont think Biden remembers if he ever did. Leaders who know hardship are generally better then those who dont, or why do you think do all modern and competent armies subject future leaders to considerable hardship in things like Ranger School/Speznaz course etc. ?
    America can come back, and is still in the running to maintain/regain a super power status, but for this they arguably need a full elite replacement, a clear recognition of its own situation, and a smart policy that effectively makes use of American resources. The Byzantine Empire pre Kommenian restoration was far more fucked then America is now, and bounced back. Russia and China were, at different times in their history, far more fucked then America is now, they bounced back nontheless. Assuming America wont bounce back is a bet I would not be taking.
    The foundations of American power, which are resources, good land, weak neighbours and a great deal of geographical distance from military threatening states, persist and will persist. The sooner the US starts playing to its actual advnatadges (imho adopt a offshore balancing approach, invest the savings from a reduced presence in foreign lands to improve US infrastructure and human capital, meaning healthcare and education, and under no circumstances amplify your current troubles by running a culture revolution for no reason whatsorever), the better for it and arguably everyone else as well.
    Pax Sinica will end up unkind to Russia, but prior to a US elite replacement, the USAs current elites simply arent agreement capable, as such Russia cannot come to an agreement.

  12. Deap & AIS. It seems to me that the US position was based on 4 main things
    1. stupendous manufacturing capacity
    2. great ingenuity and the ability to exploit inventions
    3. political stability
    4. a certain reality to the “American dream”
    How much of any of these are left?

  13. Martin Oline says:

    I am very happy hearing about your memoir. I have always wanted to read your trilogy but lack the coin. Perhaps if there is another stimulus check I can afford all four books. Thank you for all you do to increase understanding for those of us who are (happily) not connected to the U.S. government.

  14. Deap says:

    A.I.S: private industry union demands made US products non-competitive in the changing post WWII global economy – not just in price; but in quality as well.
    Private sector unions left a trail of destruction across previously dominant US economic sectors. Losing the emerging global auto market was the worst example. I mark this decline from the day the “tell all” book “Wheels” was published; then a further US auto industry coffin nail was pounded in when “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors’ also crept into public consciousness. Not only did the US auto industry lose out to effiicient foreign competition; but they lost faith with the US car buyer as well.
    There was no give or take for US industry and labor to reach accommodations – hence the movement off shore – not a cause, but the effect of intransigent US labor bosses. Labor relations and unionized work forces, curiously absent in the new high tech sector, needs to be put on the table if we are to turn the corner economically and especially governmentally in this country.
    How can you write your entire piece and not even hint at the need for labor union reform – the fundamental power base of the Democrat party pitted in this current cage match with private industry and now future taxpayers – the Millennials who now inherit the massive public pension debt they played no role in creating.
    Trump simply tried to rebalance this power struggle, particularly between the deep state public employee unions and the tax-generating governed; let alone finding ways to put American industry and the American private sector worker whole again.

  15. A.I.S. says:

    US private sector Unions are cuddly teddybears compared to some of their European comrades. Yet still, Germanys manufactoring capacity is far less hollowed out then the USAs. Why? In part because German Unions tried, sometimes with success, to block or Limit Outsourcing, and partly because German elites are a bit more longterm oriented then US elites. There are also far more employee protection which make Outsourcing less financially rewarding.
    There is also the fact that some Pretty large german firm are owned by families, not by shareholders, and that those families think more Long term then US “Managers”.
    You better bet that the economic planners in China think a lot more Long term then US Managers as well. The more “Right wing and free market” a western Country was, the more they outsourced. The stronger the trade unions, Workers councils etc. in a Country were, the less it outsourced. Outsourcing is something that is done by greedy short term thinking Managers, it is something that is opposed by rank and file patriotic blue and White collar Workers. The US had/has a Union Problem, American Unions, perhaps expecting the teachers, are simply too weak.
    The Problem in the US is that owners were replaced by Managers, a Problem that was exerbated because US Unions are far too weak to offer any meaningfull resistance to Outsourcing.
    US manufactoring capability is down, US stability is down, US innovativeness is currently stiffled due to political correctness bullcrap. Luckil for the USA, Mexico is still a Pretty weak Nation, the Missisipi is still a Pretty navigateable river, and the Overall real estate is still Pretty damn good.

  16. Ummm… guys…. isn’t this turning into a discussion about why the USA is circling the drain and Russia is not?
    Just askin’.

  17. Deap says:

    Good question – which came first out-sourcing by sheer brand perversity or out-sourcing for brand survival?
    Germany did a heck of a job marketing their country as a brand first, which then became linked to their products, as markets in Asia were opening up. They created an entire TV channel in Vietnam, devoted to branding all aspect of life in Germany with I assume the intent to make their later introduced products more desirable.
    Just like Buicks in China were recently desirable only as a storied brand, even though GM was failing everywhere else, coat-tailing their 1930’s brand allure among the wealthy in Shanghai. Did the US auto industry miss the beat when Japan also took over the rest of the world’s car market and were were still building inefficient boats for US freeways? But i digress
    . I remember in the 1970’s, Ford put out a very nimble, fun to drive and thrifty small compact for use as rental car in Europe, but it was never made available in the US when similar Japanese models started eating Detroit’s lunch. Ford had the car; but they did not have the “branding” for it in the US to sell it in competition with the Japanese entries.
    Germany did not market any one product on their Vietnam TV channel -they marketed quality, design, precision engineering, affluent lifestyle, happy people, lovely scenery, and the image of industrial success stories across the spectrum., They did not market just a VW. Consequently, the very first wave of Chinese car buying was virtually 100% the VW brand.
    I expected to see China go through the process from bikes to motorcycles to put-puts to finally cars that I had observed in other parts of SEA – instead during an early visit in in the 1990’s when China barely had a network of paved roads- China had moved directly from bikes in one step to mainly VW Santanas.
    BMW was to have its moment later. Germany indirectly had planted the national branding, either as a government or as an industrial consortium- and the Chinese liked the imagery of the brand when they finally had private cash to spend.
    I would rather we sell the world autos (made in the USA) than Coca Cola. We missed the boat on that one. Was shipping from Germany any cheaper than shipping cars from the US at that time?
    Who would be making those types of American branding decisions in our business structure, like Germany pulled off? Does Hollywood make more money globally than our US industrial base? Do we still dominate high tech? Who is still beating a path to the door for our US industrial factory products? If not, why not?
    Once this damn isolation is over, I will be “wondering” about any of this on this outlet lot less. But right now, such ruminations do become a favorite indoor sport.

  18. J says:

    Tis better to have butter on the table, or missiles in the shed?
    Such is the question that there are claims that Russia is facing, between food on the table or missiles in the shed.
    It’s no question that NATO building on Russia’s borders have increased pressure on the Kremlin in their actions to keep Russia safe from the NATO monster. Materials and supplies that could benefit the average Russian’s daily living. The same could be said of our U.S. spending down the rabbit hole to support the Military Industrial Complex, especially in light of the number of jobless and growing hunger ever expanding with no end in sight.
    Putin to his credit is in many ways a modern day Joseph who had forethought to amass food stores for both Russia today and for Russia’s future
    Here’s a look at Russian defense spending

  19. Putin says Russia is now self-sufficient in food and I believe him. The food counter-sanctions were a brilliant move.
    On the guns subject, it’s the USA that’s over-stretched

  20. J says:

    Oh how I miss the old days, well er not so old, but recent old days. I’m referring to a Russian TV Series that became the theme to my early Saturday mornings for 5 years.
    субботний вечер, oh how I miss that series airing every Saturday evening on Russian TV. As it was approaching their on the air time in Russia, I was perking a pot of java, and fresh cinnamon buns baking in the oven. When they were done, I would turn on my TV, curl up in my study and anticipate the forthcoming show. While my beautiful SWMBO was sleeping peacefully, I was going to and fro between our kitchen and my study. Once the goodies were all in place, some Saturday mornings I would grace my java with a whiff of fine Bourbon in all their amber drops into my cup-o-java. One might even think of it as a boilermaker without the beer, sort of.
    Now back to my tale, субботний вечер a musical with skits throughout with so many beautiful voices in Russian Radio and TV singing on my TV. The sounds of their music and singing made my little study feel like a large amphitheater full of musical notes and chords printed on all the walls circling and circling in pure enjoyment. Alas, this little sphere of heaven in my little world had its time as all things, eventually they ended the series.
    But there is still hope and a ray of sunshine on the horizon, I amassed a library of every program they made, and in addition it is also on YouTube for me to watch whenever I feel the hankering for the ‘old days’ of Saturday mornings.
    Have an enjoyable Saturday morning everyone, now…back to my cup of java and my субботний вечер.
    There are perks to retirement, and becoming an old fart.

  21. J says:

    Putin orders a ‘snap combat readiness’ check that encompasses about 150,000 Russian troops.
    The surprise combat readiness check for the troops of the Southern and Western Military Districts, Marine Infantry of their Northern and Pacific Fleets, and some units of their Central Command, to include their Airborne Force commenced on orders from Russia’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief President Putin.
    Roughly 150,000 troops, combining over 26,000 weapon systems, 414 aircraft, and 106 warships, are involved in a snap combat readiness check that kicked off for Russia’s Southern and Western Military Districts, their Airborne Force, and Marine Infantry of their Northern and Pacific Fleets, Russia’s Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu announced on Friday.
    The drills are meant to assess their ability to provide military security in Russia’s southwest where serious terrorist threats persist, and to prepare for the Kavkaz-2020 Strategic Command and Staff Exercise.
    Almost sounds like a No-Notice Operation Readiness Inspection that our U.S. combat assets frequently went through during the Cold War period.

  22. blum says:

    Ummm… guys…. isn’t this turning into a discussion about why the USA is circling the drain and Russia is not?
    Just askin’.
    Posted by: Patrick Armstrong | 12 July 2020 at 08:01 PM ou
    Patrick, didn’t our semi-Canadian host suggest somewhere in the comment section recently the US should maybe erect a second border North? May make sense. Maybe next term?

  23. J says:

    Looks like in addition to NATO, now Russia has to worry about another festering problem, Germany. Germany’s intelligence units both internal and external have been watching closely the growing ‘extremists’, in their country. The problem is IMO they’re watching them instead of taking a pro-active approach and quietly neutralizing their leaderships and cutting off the head of the snake. Germany (like U.S.) because it’s politically correct, will allow this growing fester to continue to grow and grow until it gets to a point of eruption. That eruption will lead to a German civil war.
    One of Germany’s crack troop outfit KSK as well as their regular army aka Federal Defense Forces recently had some of their ammo come up ‘missing’. Pray tell where did the ammo go?
    Which begs the 64 dollar question, what ‘else’ do the German have ‘missing’ they don’t want the world to know about?
    I’m quite sure the Kremlin has been watching this with intense interest. The Kremlin got Germany wrong one time, and it cost them dearly it was called WWII, Moscow can’t afford to make the same mistake twice.

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