Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
RUSSIA’S "CREDIT CRUNCH”. Remember "Russia faces ‘perfect storm’ as reserves vanish and derivatives flash default warnings” in January 2015?Mercouris explains why it didn’t: he and Jon Hellevig read reality better than the conventional pundits. Actually, Russia has quietly got rid of 30% of its external debt in two years. One more example of the perpetual underestimation of Russia’s strength, creativity and determination. A dangerous and provocative policy is being driven by people who know nothing, think they know everything and live in an echo chamber; they believe it’s safe to threaten Russia because they listen to each other telling each other that Russia is feeble. No, sanctions haven’t changed Moscow’s behaviour and have done more harm to the West; no, the Russian military is not a rusty hulk; no, there’s no opposition ready lead a people rising up against the hated "Putin regime”; no, Russia is not "isolated”. No, no, no: Russia is united, strong and well-managed. But put the headphones back on.
CRIMEAN TATARS. Actually, as Karlin shows, they are happy enough to be in Russian Crimea. I wonder how many of the Westerners suddenly so concerned about them (having never heard of them before) think they are the autochthonous inhabitants? Crimea itself is doing all right.
POWER. Last November "unknown” people (Right Sektor and Tatar activists – they took photos) blew up the power supply from Ukraine to Crimea. Full power has now been restored from Russia. So, water, power and food blockades have been successfully circumvented. All that remains is completion of the bridge; December 2018 is the target.
HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE? Russian jets "threatening Estonian airspace… latest show of aggression…” And further down the page you learn the Russian aircraft were in international air space. OK that’s just theSun, shrieking and stupid. How about this, then? "Britain’s defence secretary, Michael Fallon, described it [an earlier flight] as an ‘act of Russian aggression’".Look at the map: to fly between Kaliningrad (Russia) and St Petersburg (Russia) involves flying pretty close to somebody. The audience is leaving; anti-Russian claptrap doesn’t pay the bills as The Guardian is discovering.
ADMIRED. These polls don’t mean much, but Putin’s No 6 position shows the propaganda isn’t working.
ABE VISIT. The first crack in G7 solidarity about Russia? Japan’s PM Abe Shinzo visited Putin in Sochi. Information about the meetings is slowly dribbling out. Possibly a new approach to the "northern territories” problem with Tokyo giving up territorial claims. Perhaps Tokyo wants to be an intermediary between Washington and Moscow. Maybe extensive cooperation proposals. Japan is hosting the next G7 meeting at the end of this month. It ought now to be apparent that Washington’s attack on Moscow, based as it was on arrogance, ignorance and wishful thinking has failed. We will see what develops.
WHO KNEW? NATO’s not just a centre for "stability generation” but a centre for music criticism too. Do you think it knew who the winner was going to be before it happened?
THE WISDOM OF THE RETIRED. Former US Defense Secretary Hagel says the next US president should make it a priority to talk seriously with Putin: "I’d be very careful with this. Because the centrifugal force of this is so subtle it take you right down into the middle of a situation that you didn’t want to be in.” I hope some day to hear this sort of thing from people who are on the job: it’s as if they take your brain away when you’re working and only give it back as a retirement present. But, some don’t get it back – Russia’s invading Latvia next May. Why Latvia and why next May? Why not all three this weekend? And Ukraine by the end of the month? Note how nervous NATO membership has made some people – wasn’t it supposed to be an assurance of security? "We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.”