Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
EID AL-FITR. Interesting video that shows Russia is also a rather Muslim country. The Chief Mufti supports Putin, by the way. (For those of you who think it's some evil scheme cooked up by Orthodoxy).
MH17. Watch this BBC interview. Shootdown by Buk "most credible scenario" but also looking at Buk fired "from another region, another place" and scenario of "an air-to-air missile." Can only mean 2) Buk fired from the Kiev side or 3) Kiev aircraft shot it down.Somebody's lost control of the narrative. We are told by a Ukrainian official that the report will be published 10 August but not made public. (If scenarios 2 and 3 are really being considered, why is Ukraine even part of the investigation?) Retired US int professionals again call on Washington to release what it has. Simply put, here's all you need to know: the absence of evidence is the evidence.
UKRAINE: THE WAR. The rebels have announced a pull-back of weapons under 100mm calibre (Minsk II requires 100mm+ weapons moved out of range). Why? I think the Saker is correct: to show they are abiding by Minsk II; but it's also a trap. OSCE observers corroborate that at least some weapons have been withdrawn and they are off to confirm full withdrawal. But they have also said – I don't recall this before – that Kiev forces are shelling civilians: "In both cases, the SMM was able to conclude the direction of fire to have been from the area of government-controlled Pisky (11km north-west of Donetsk) and Pervomaiske (17km north-west of Donetsk)." So much for the US Ambassador's retort "How do you know? Were you personally present for this?". Or RL's reprinting Kiev claims that the rebels are shelling themselves.
UKRAINE: TRANSCARPATHIA. Ethnically mixed, many former owners, little enthusiasm for Kiev regime. Smuggling: tobacco and borders. Right Sector people got into a fight in Mukachevo; Poroshenko ordered the Interior Ministry to restore order (perhaps a regime split on how to handle it? Certainly no one is very popular in Ukraine today.) Right Sector ran for cover and now the place is full of Interior Ministry forces and small-scale fighting. Stay tuned. (Of course, maybe Putindunnit.)
UKRAINE: RIGHT SECTOR. A headline to remember: "Kiev Forced to Fight Its Own Fascist Militias". After Mukachevo, Right Sector declared mobilisation, demanded resignations all round and set up blockposts here and there. There was a sizeable demonstration in Kiev on Tuesday; Yarosh demanded a referendum on confidence in the government and an end to obedience to it. Analyses of the situation from Gordon Hahn, Alexander Mercouris and Nikolai Petro. BBC actually notices. Many of us have been awaiting the next stage of the Ukrainian demolution (a new word coined by Miquel Puertas: demolition + revolution) – Nazi Spring, as it were. We are a step closer. But it's extremely fluid: witness what Yarosh is saying now. A weak government to be sure but Right Sector may not have the street power it thinks it has.
UKRAINE: NEIGHBOURS. Very interesting article by a Polish writer who contemplates where the burning fuse is going: a Ukrainian "Banderland" is not in Poland's interests and (so much for NATO and the EU) "if the West needs Poland, it's only as a battlefield for a possible conflict with Russia"; maybe better if Ukraine were partitioned. Other Poles are concerned about the glorification of Bandera and the OUN; and a movie is on the way. Hungary has cleared its throat, so to speak, about Hungarians living in Transcarpathia. The violence in Transcarpathia has made neighbouring countries strengthen their borders – after all the armed Right Sector people are hiding somewhere nearby. Meanwhile, Schengen members are cutting down on issuing visas to Ukrainians. Remember "the end of history"? Neither do they.
KYRGYZ REPUBLIC. Several people have suspected an American attempt to start a "colour revolution" there – to many thechoice of mission head is diagnostic. In this respect the announcement of a "human rights" award to a dissident was protested by the government. When the US did nothing, the PM denounced the 1993 assistance agreement with the USA.
IRAN DEAL. We'll see. Many in the USA want to denounce it and that may happen. In which case who will follow Washington and who won't? It's good (and proper) that Obama thanked Russia, but I don't expect much. As to European missile defence being cancelled, let's ask Putin. But undeniably a major event.