Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
Lies. The Western MSM is lying to you about what's happening in Ukraine. Please take the time to read this: "Ukrainian Genocide and its Cheerleaders” by Vera Graziadei. She dispassionately makes the case that the horrors being visited upon the eastern Ukrainians (and that is what they are – they have passports) by the junta in Kiev are no accident. She provides hyperlinks to prove the facts she mentions. As another veracity check, consider the three tanks. We are expected by theWhite House and by NATO to believe that Russia has finally invaded. With, not 30, not 300, but 3 tanks. Here is the stuff put out by NATO; take the large photo, blow up the tiny outlines and see whether you can see in them what NATO claims is there. And finally, after weeks of claiming a proven Russian presence in east Ukraine (8 April: "It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalysts behind the chaos of the last 24 hours.”) Kerry urged Poroshenko to "to provide evidence of Russian involvement with separatists with which to confront Russian officials”. Remember the NYT photos? The "Russian colonel”? The letter to Jews? It's "brown water” again.
Russia, China and the US Dollar. I believe that for Moscow and Beijing, and other capitals as yet unheard from (it is more informative to see the UN vote as 100-93) Washington's behaviour on Ukraine is the last straw. Washington simply cannot be trusted; its actions are disruptive (a view strengthened by ISIS in Iraq). One of the pillars of American power is the position of the US Dollar. It is not a coincidence that one of Putin's advisors has just published a piece arguing that the USD must be undermined (aimed, I believe, at convincing the Europeans that Washington is going to pull them down with it). Russia and China will set up a joint ratings agency to assess common projects and cooperate on monetary policy. But what really struck my attention was the meeting of the Secretary of the Russian Security Council and President Xi in Beijing; it was reported that the Chinese said they would combine with Moscow to "tackle threats, and safeguard their sovereignty, security and development interests”. Pretty close to a military and political alliance isn't it? This is all happening very quickly indeed. Meanwhile, it is reported that Gazprom has concluded agreements with a number of customers to switch payments from USD to Euros.
Poroshenko. He was announced the winner and, as I predicted, Washington, its followers and the OSCE happily accepted the result. Some people are a little surprised that Moscow is calling him "President” but that is because they don't understand. Moscow is well aware that Poroshenko is Washington's nominee and also aware that at the present circumstances, only such could appear. But there's no point in being all high and mighty: if a neighbouring country wishes to toss its constitution (read Art 111), it still has to be dealt with. Will he make any difference? I'm sceptical of his "ceasefire” but we will see.
Gas. According to Gazprom, Ukraine's Naftohaz owes it US$4 billion for gas already received. After numerous extensions, it has now declared that there will no more gas for Ukraine unless it is cash in advance. The problem for European customers is that some of their gas transits Ukraine; as the BBC admitted, "There is a danger for EU nations that Ukraine will start taking the gas Russia had earmarked for its European clients, something it did when it was cut off from Russian gas during previous disputes in 2006 and 2009”. This whole adventure is turning out badly: either Brussels & Co puts up the money Gazprom wants, or they risk their new friends in Kiev stealing their gas. Or blowing up the pipeline. As Yarosh has threatened.
Politkovskaya murder. The court has sentenced the participants to jail terms: life in the case of the organiser and killer. They were tried and acquitted in 2009 but the Supreme Court ordered a re-trial. It is widely believed that the murder was ordered by a "mastermind” who has never been found or named.
Exercises. Busy Baltic: two NATO exercises and a Russian one. As a not-so-subtle hint, in the Russian one, a small ship is reported to have engaged and destroyed a sea target simulating an enemy warship.
BMD. A piece in a US newspaper argues that the US missile defence system is simply not reliable.
Trouble in Paradise. Protests in Abkhaziahave led to the resignation of the President and Prime Minister. I take my lead from George Hewitt who is not happy.