Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
MH17. The preliminary report is here. It wasn’t pilot error (but who thought it was?); nor a problem with the aircraft (ditto). "The aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft” (already knew that). So: cannon rounds, AAM or SAM, or some mixture thereof are all possible. Transmissions stopped at 1320:03 UTC and the "black boxes” had not been tampered with. Not much is it? For what it’s worth, the Russian military briefing shows a fighter jet just in front of MH17 at 1320 UTC (1720 Moscow time); MH17 disappeared from the radar at 1323 UTC.
CEASEFIRE. There is a ceasefire, there have been violations. I doubt it will last; the issue is not yet settled.
WHERE DO THE WEAPONS COME FROM? Cyberberkut claim to have hacked Kiev’s records: the rebels have captured, between 20 Jun and 23 Aug, 79 T-64 MBTs, 94 IFVs, 57 APCs, 24 Grad MLRS. This site attempts to record them. Another source is Soviet-era depots. (Said to be a large one at Slavyansk).
NEO-NAZIS. Remember when Ukrainian neo-nazis were just another of Moscow’s tall tales and Putin was the real fascist? Not so much any more: the MSM has finally noticed: Guardian, Telegraph, New York Times (but only at the very end of the piece),Newsweek, German TV. (But caution is advised: this may be reported only so the WMSM can pretend to be "objective”). Given the mighty Ukrainian warrior tradition, how could they be defeated? Only by betrayal; and that has to be in Kiev. Will these people return to Kiev determined to punish the "traitors”? Stay tuned. (Incidentally, Dear Reader, as far as I know, theNY Books piece is the first time the Western MSM has described what we who follow the Saker and Cassad have seen for months: shattered vehicles and corpses. The slaughter is stunning).
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. Here's a report that vaguely accuses both sides and claims Russian involvement (usual satellite photos of weapons supposedly from Russia – but much better photos than NATO’s interestingly – and reports). But more significant, and more detailed, a report on crimes of one of the neo-nazi "volunteer” forces on the Kiev side – the Aidar battalion.
SO WHAT’S GOING ON? I have always said that all Moscow ever wanted from Ukraine is a country 1. that paid its gas bills 2. wasn’t a NATO launch pad and 3. didn't have a political crisis every 5 years that kept everybody in Moscow up all night. In short: prosperous, neutral and stable. But that possibility is gone now. So how about a fractional Ukraine (Crimea is not/not going to be a US Navy base – check out this if you think I exaggerate) that’s neutral but broke? But is this still possible? But I don’t think Moscow is all that happy about an independent (or incorporated) Novorossiya with an indeterminate and contested border on the other side of which is a neo-nazi entity, stuffed full of missiles and NATO (ie US) bases. Tough one for Moscow to figure out and, I hear, much argument there and attempted pulling of strings. But, contrary to Brussels/Washington/Kiev assumptions, Moscow does not control the fighters in Novorossiya; they have a vote too and they want out (you would tooafter this).
THEN. Ukraine news broadcast, one year ago today: pretty trivial stuff, eh? Bet a lot of Ukrainians wish it was the same today instead of the spreading catastrophe.
FOREWARNED IS... NOTHING, APPARENTLY. Report from US Embassy in Kiev 2008. "Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war.”
INTELLIGENCE. I have been pretty contemptuous of the "evidence” presented by Washington and NATO. I’m not alone: here are some former intelligence professionals equally scornful. Indeed, so pathetic is the "evidence” that it suggests the whole Ukraine thing is being run out of State and the White House with minimal involvement from Langley or the Pentagon. By the way, the OSCE monitors on the scene report none of the things NATO and Washington are saying.
CONFUSED. Is the Mistral sale cancelled, deferred, or what? You figure it out. What about more EU sanctions? Coming tomorrow; they’re tied to the the ceasefire; some members say "no”. Moscow has retaliation ready. Astute observers notice that Russia is shrewdly helping its domestic production and that of the BRICS. And Russian GDP is still growing. On the other hand, Europe is hurting.