Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
PLUG. Don't forget to check out Russia Observer: I amuse myself posting samples from my 25-year quotations collection. To whet your appetites, The Economistin 1993 predicted the military would get a big say in running Russia. The WSJ explained that Russia dids poorly in the Vancouver Olympics because it's not a "free market democracy". No end to anti-Russia nonsense and claptrap, folks!
SYRIA, TURKEY, RUSSIA. Things are getting very tense. Ankara's, or perhaps I should say Erdoğan's, hopes are failing badly in Syria. Syrian forces have cut off the Daesh supply routes from Turkey and are poised to liberate – the correct word: look at this video – Aleppo. Russian aircraft are pounding the oil convoys that fund Daesh via safe passage through Turkey. The ambush of the Russian fighter and murder of the pilot has generated enormous losses to the economy: 1300 hotels for sale as one example. Erdoğan's getting little support from Washington; indeed the two are embroiled in a dispute over Washington's support of Kurdish fighters. Moscow has said thatTurkish artillery has been firing into Syria to cover the retreat of fighters and that Turkish troops are massing in the border as if planning to invade. Erdoğan's latest stupidity is to refuse an Open Skies Russian flight, as if the Russians can't see perfectly well by other means. One answer from Moscow is yesterday's opening of a Syrian Kurdish representative office, but the real answer is this: "forces of the Southern military district, separate formations of Airborne troops and military transport aviation have been put on 'Full' combat alert". Many other forces in the SMD are also being activated. If Erdoğan takes the hint, it's exercises; if not... You should know that Russian airborne formations are not light infantry like NATO ones but something rather heavier. These formations, invited by the legitimate government, supported by cruise missiles, Iskanders and aircraft would hand Turkey a swift defeat. I very much doubt NATO will get involved. Description and analysis of the current state of the battle for Aleppo here. The three best sources that I know of are MoA, SST and SF. The WMSM, as usual, re-types propaganda handouts when it's not actually lying. (See below).
MORE SYRIA. No one should be surprised that the Russians are supplying the Syrian Arab Army with weapons at a good price –"preferential terms". T-90A tanks are reported in use near Aleppo. The Geneva peace talks were dead before they started: the battlefield will decide.
MORE TURKEY. We have a report that Erdoğan tried to blackmail Eurocrats at the G-20 meeting: "We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses".
LET'S LIE AGAIN, LIKE WE DID LAST SUMMER... TV channel France 2 is caught passing off Russian strikes as the work of the US coalition. And, to make it worse, did so while gassing on about how inaccurate Russian bombing is as compared with the exquisite precision of the US coalition.
NONSENSE ABOUT RUSSIA. Jon Hellevig enumerates the now-abandoned staples of anti-Russian propaganda. For example: the USA is actually now deadlier for reporters than Russia; the murder rate in Washington is six times Moscow's. Read it; refutation is much, much harder than eructation.
INNOVATION. A company in the Skolkovo Innovation Centre is said to have made an artificial thyroid gland using a 3D printer and successfully implanted it into a live mouse. Not, I think, an absolute first, but pretty cutting edge.
FOOD. The USDA expects Russia to export more grain than any other country this year. Some of it is because the low ruble makes it more attractive but it's another indication of the stunning rebirth of Russian agriculture. I can easily see Russia becoming the food power that Putin wants it to be in another decade or so. An intelligent piece on the boost that the Russian food counter sanctions are giving.
NEW NWO. The first freight train arrived in Kaluga on the "New Silk Road".
UKRAINE MISCELLANY. Russian authorities say over 1.36 million Ukrainian citizens have arrived in Russia since Maidan. An EU court overturned an earlier decision to sanction 5 former officials because Kiev never presented any evidence. Canal+ has twice broadcast "Les Masques de la Revolution" despite objections by Kiev. The film-maker was attracted by all the "revolution of dignity" stuff but not so impressed when he got there. One of the foreigners in the cabinet has resigned over corruption. And a pro-Kiev Tatar learns that there isn't much room for Tatars in the Azov racial pantheon. The Jerusalem Post notices some historical revisionismand is not pleased. Corruption rules.