Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
PUTIN'S Q&A SESSION. Here. Rather boring this year I thought: a lot of minutiae about small farmers' problems, medicines, local train services and so on; much agreement that things must be improved. Something important on the Western sanctions; "we must benefit from the situation with the sanctions to reach new development frontiers. Otherwise, we probably would not have done it. This goes for import substitution policies, which we are now forced to implement." Many of the people whom I talk to (with, I might say, a much better track record of assessment than the usual "experts" that fill the MSM: Kraus, Auckland) agree that import substitution will be of great benefit. Nothing on foreign matters that he hasn't said many times before: open for cooperation, but won't be pushed around. When asked why he does these sessions he said they were a sociological poll: "Millions of questions have arrived though different channels and they offer an opportunity to see what people are really concerned about." 3 million phonecalls and SMS messages, in fact. It is a window into concerns.
NEW NWO. Putin lifted the ban on the sale of the effective S-300 AD system to Iran. The Lausanne talks are expected to bear fruit; Iran will probably be soon welcomed into the SCO joining a security alliance with China and Russia. India is also expected to formally join. Another piece in the new order.
OLYMPICS. The Russian Audit Chamber says 324.9 billion rubles (US$6.2 billion) was spent on the Olympics and Paralympics with revenues of 85.4 billion rubles (US$1.6 billion) in revenues. That's about what I said at the time. Hostile Western media confused the other large sums spent on developing the Sochi-Adler complex altogether. Here are some reports of what's happening there now.
JIHADISM. It is reliably reported that the leader of the Caucasus Emirate amir was killed in a special operation in Dagestan. Here's Gordon Hahn's informed take.
INTELLIGENCE. One of my long-held suspicions is that this whole sorry mess is being run by the amateurs of the State Departmentand White House. People who actually know very little and think they can BS their way out of trouble. We already have evidence thatGerman intelligence does not confirm what NATO says. We have the strong clue that the US intelligence service actually has no information on MH17. The latest is the head of French military intelligence who said there never has been any evidence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Instead we have social media, "mountains of evidence" blurry satellite photos taken somewhere and fake photos. This is, to put it mildly, dangerously vapid.
WESTERN VALUES™. The Wiesenthal Center condemns the rehabilitation of the OUN. A Polish general has "completely withdrawn” his previous support of military assistance; his uncle was murdered by them. Unlike most of the WMSM, La Repubblicanoticed the rash of deaths of government opponents. The "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" claims responsibility. A Ukrainian security official helpfully advises "Ukrainophobes" to keep quiet. A Polish politician says the Maidan snipers were trained in Poland.
TRAINING. US, British and Canadian soldiers are now training Kiev forces in Ukraine. Canada's Defence Minister answering the question about whether they will be training neo-nazis naively answered: "We will only be training units of the Ukrainian National Guard and army recognized by the government of Ukraine." He obviously didn't get the memo about Yarosh joining the MoD.
THE FLEXIBILITY OF TIME. 30 days after the Germanwings crash, we have a theory supported by the black boxes. 280 days after the MH17 crash.....
US MILITARY. More concerns: concerns that US nuclear triad is becoming obsolete; Russian and Chinese military capabilities expanded "faster than we anticipated.” Morale is low, too.
A DEPRESSING READ. "In a sane world it is quite impossible to imagine that a country which lost every single war it fought in the past 70 years would decide to top off this series of defeats by taking on the country which defeated both Napoleon and Hitler."
THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Remember all the Russian submarines in Sweden? Three or four at one time? A civilian boat, but they're still sure there was something at some time, somewhere.