Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
The Future of Ukraine. The Ukraine of six months ago no longer exists; it has been destroyed by the scheming of Brussels and Washington. If there is to be something on the map named "Ukraine” at the end of the year that in anyway resembles what was there six months ago, Moscow’s plan must be adopted. Autonomy for the regions so that one half can’t bully the other half; minority language rights; neutrality, neither NATO nor Russia. As to Crimea, it is part of Russia; that is done. If it offends you to call this the Moscow plan, you may call it the Kissinger plan. If these principles are not accepted, and fairly soon, then by the end of the year south and east Ukraine (known as Novorossiya – New Russia – for two centuries) will be independent or part of Russia while rump Ukraine will be in full economic collapse and even civil war (and eventual absorption by Poland?). The only thing left undetermined will be the border of Novorossiya and rump Ukraine. None of this was necessary; all of it was predictable. (Here I am in December. But I claim no special prescience: everyone who knew anything about Ukraine knew it was fatal to the project to force an all-or-nothing choice. The West did this twice: ten years ago with NATO and now with an exclusive EU trade relationship, with NATO in the background). So here we are: hard times ahead for the citizens of any conceivable future Ukraine.
Russia’s invisible army. Much about how Russia is "massing” its army along the Ukrainian border. These reports are so confused as to be valueless – read this one carefully for example, noting contradictions; note the rag-bag elements tossed together of this one. No "massing Russian troops” were found in a 200 mile trip by Daily Telegraph reporters; nor in a 500-mile trip by NBC reporters. But it’s still hyped by NATO. (Once upon a time I believed NATO over Moscow. No more. Kosovo wounded it; Libya killed it; Ukraine has buried it. From now on my base assumption is that NATO is lying.) There is no need for "massing”: Russian troops in Crimea (already there, which is why US int couldn’t find them) were welcomed by an enormous majority and 90% of the Ukrainian forces either joined them or quit. There is every reason to expect that the reception of the Russians would be the same in Novorossiya, as we should perhaps get used to calling it.
UN vote. A General Assembly vote saying the Crimea referendum was unlawful passed 100-11 allowing various organs to trumpet that Russia was isolated. But closer scrutiny adds 58 abstentions and 24 who didn’t vote at all to the 11: a total of 93. Given that established states strongly disapprove of secession, a 50-50 split is a sign that Russia is not isolated at all. By now many know they might be on the list for a "humanitarian intervention” and they are happy to see the West humbled in an attempt.
Longer term effects. I think this will prove to be pretty big; maybe even the moment when the EU and NATO will be seen to have begun their slide to oblivion. The final effects are of course contingent on many factors but some can be seen on the horizon. I think Putin (and most Russians) feel that they have been lied to by the West for the last time. (Just what did happen to the21 February agreement, by the way?) China has taken sides in an occidental squabble for the first time I can recall. Most of the opposition groups in Russia so loved by the West are revealed to be sock puppets. All intelligent observers now know that Western N"G”Os have hostile intent (Nuland’s $5 billion). The BRICS have moved closer to becoming a political entity. NATO is further weakened (Poland would not want foreign troops stationed on it if it trusted Article 5). The EU has taken another step towards irrelevance (notice that the discussions now are Kerry-Lavrov; Ashton doesn’t exist). As a reminder, listen to Nuland’s speech in December: not at all the landslide she thought she was starting.
Boston bombing. "In September 2011, Russia’s FSB sent a cable to the CIA restating their initial warning, and a second note on Tsarnaev was entered on the TECS system, but his name was misspelled ‘Tsarnayev’”. Umpteen billion dollars’ worth of NSA communications capture and storage goes for naught because the Russians have their own alphabet. Who knew? No one at State apparently.
The "Putin Mystery”. Read what he says, watch what he does, think about it (hint: the fact that people are asking who he is after 15 years shows they haven’t been paying attention). Start with the idea of patriotic Russian. As a indication, what does Putin find so funny here? the interviewer hasn’t a clue.
NASA. Has severed relations with Russia. Except for the International Space Station. Which is prudent, given that Russian rockets are the only way to get there. Washington had better hope that Moscow doesn’t get really angry – Afghanistan is the other location Washington depends on Moscow to get to.