Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
MH17. Still nothing from Washington to respond to the Russian briefing 17 days ago. I remind you of the central points because I’ll bet your local media outlet hasn’t: 1. Nearby Ukrainian fighter plane. 2. Ukrainian Buk system in range. 3. The film supposedly showing a Russian Buk TELAR being taken back to Russia is a fake. 4. The US was watching. But maybe there was a reaction: unnamed intelligence people said "we don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality”. Therefore there is only one conclusion that a rational person can come to: the White House andState Department do not have the evidence to back up what they are saying. The "black boxes” arrived in the UK and a spokesman from the Department of Transport said it should take about 2 days to download and decipher their information. That was 2 weeks ago. So who did shoot it down? I don’t know, but here’s some things to read. Ukrainian Buk; not possible from the rebel position at Snizhne. Ukrainian Buk but fired by "rogue elements” without Kiev’s knowledge. A Ukrainian fighter plane. Ukrainian Buk, but maybe an accident (it’s happened before). If you don’t like these alternative sources, see the officials. (Watch the whole video, Dear Reader, if you haven’t seen the State Department spokesteam in action before. Then you can wonder whether she briefs Obama. See below).
YUKOS. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague decided that Russia should pay US$50 billion to former Yukos oil company shareholders. Pretty questionable decision says this man and I agree: for one thing, it would seem to contradict this earlier European verdict. Get ready for another juridical farce: Pussy Riot want €250,000.
SANCTIONS. Are starting to bite. In Europe that is. It’s not that Russia is such a huge market; the important point is that it’s one of the few the EU has that is growing and that’s why investor morale has taken a big dive. Russia has retaliated with a ban of food imports from sanctioners. €12 billion, 1.2 billion USD, 500 million CAD. Rather a clever move, actually – a boost to Russian agriculture and to BRICS exporters; I suspect that, at the end, we will have lost the market for good.
SYRIA. The OPCW reports that almost a third of CW removed earlier from Syria has been destroyed. Remember last August’s headlines?
THE US DOLLAR. "Russia Sanctions Accelerate Risk to Dollar Dominance” say Bloomberg. Russia and India bypass dollar. Likewise Russia and Iran.
THE UNCERTAINTY OF FORMER CERTAINTIES. An investigation group finds evidence of serious war crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Georgia has filed criminal charges against Saakashvili.
UNPREPARED. A British parliamentary committee says that NATO is not prepared for a Russian attack against a member. The world’s largest alliance can’t deal with a attack by a "gas station” that "makes nothing”? NATO outspends Russia 11 to one and has 4 times as many soldiers. Common sense has just gone out the window, hasn’t it? More craziness "How to Solve the Putin Problem”.
UKRAINE. The revolution continues: Communist party (32 seats in 2012) outlawed. Government falls. Poroshenko says the Rada is infiltrated with fifth columnists. Reports of resistance in the west to conscription. 400 soldiers crossed into Russia to surrender; rumours of more coming. Atrocities in the east, stagnation and corruption in Kiev. No hot water in Kiev. Burning tires in the Maidan again. No money. High casualties. Victory is near, but the supply people have just been fired. Nearly three-quarters of a million have fled to Russia. For contrast, here's the news one year ago today.