Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
SYRIA. So the West doing it again, intervening in a fight by trying to pick the right side on the foolish assumption that if Assad is wrong the others must be less wrong; this will lead to more involvement because mere arming won’t do the job. It will, as before, wind up giving aid and comfort to the very people it’s fighting elsewhere in the world. Especially as they are strengthening their position in Syria. The triumph of hope over experience. Even such a reflexive supporter of the present US Administration as the NYT can see this. And, somehow, it’s all Putin’s fault. Incredible. The CW excuse is not believable as Ron Paul explains. I rarely agree withBrzezinski but he’s right to call it propaganda. And what you hear about Russia is part of the information "battlespace preparation”. And it’s been a successful distraction campaign: the S-300 fuss covered up the deployment of Patriots and today’s headlines read "Putin opposes West” rather than "Another military adventure to benefit our enemies”.
G8 MEETING. Much abuse of Putin at the G8 meeting over Syria. But as to Harper’s "G-7 plus one” I would be surprised if Japan supported this new "humanitarian intervention” and Germany hasn’t in the past. Maybe Italy’s not too enthusiastic either so I suspect it’s more like G4 ½ plus 3½ . Interventions were once legitimised by the UN (1stGulf War); then by NATO (Kosovo); now by some of NATO (Libya). Apparently there is still supposed to be an effort to be led by Moscow and Washington to produce some sort of political solution.
TRIAL. A protest last year against Putin’s re-appearance led to violence. All my sources agree it was started by a small band of protesters; the police may or may not have over-reacted. (BTW one of the best pieces of evidence that it was pre-planned is Ksenia Sobchak’s live journal entry in which she says she will not be attending because she knows an incident is planned.)The trial of the alleged ringleaders has begun ("Bolotnaya Case”). By the way, contrary to what you hear in the West, Putin’s support rating, according to Levada, while perhaps declining a bit, remains at levels most other politicians can only dream of.
NGO LAW. Putin says it can be improved. He doesn’t mention them, but I hope he means that polling companies like Levada and VTsIOM will be clearly exempted. They’re not NGOs; they’re companies which do occasional work for foreigners. BTW, for those of you who wonder if the US FARA law is active, here’s the evidence. Concerning, oddly enough, John McCain’s foreign policy advisorRandy Scheunemannand Saakashvili’s government. (Hyperlinks for PDF copies). We are indeed all Georgians (or were, see below).
GOODBYE RUSSIA. A prominent economist has stated that he is frightened to return to Russia and Garri Kasparov says he won’t either. I know nothing of the first (a sympathetic view of his plight) but I can’t help the suspicion that the latter may be motivated by the fact that he has been superseded by Navalniy (coverage of his trial for embezzlement here) as the West’s approved opposition leader.
ENERGY. If theUS Energy Information Administration is correct that Russia has the world’s largest shale oil resources then, given its known enormous oil and gas reserves, it looks as if Russia Inc will be making money out of energy production for years to come.
DIVORCE. The Putins are divorcing. The official line is that with Putin’s work hours they have hardly seen each other for years and that there is no one else. Some Western reactions erecting the usuals tructures on the head of this pin. Orthodoxy permits divorce and remarriage in some circumstances.
CORRUPTION. A couplemore cases have been begun but the reporting has grown quiet of late. Two possibilities: the investigations are proceeding (these things can take a long time) or the investigators have bitten off more than they can chew and digest. We will see.
AT LAST. Medvedev says theBaikal Pulp and Paper Mill will finally be closed down. It has been polluting this pristine area since 1966.
GEORGIA-RUSSIA. Two good steps. Tbilisi was invited to participate on security for the Sochi Olympics and has accepted and the first Georgian wine has finally arrived in Russia and will be followed by much more.
GEORGIA. And now it transpires that in Saakashvili’s "democratic Georgia” thousands of phone taps and secret recordings of his opponents were made. The Western view is crashing fast.