Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
FAKE NEWS I. Navalniy applies for a permit to hold a demonstration on Russia Day. City grants him a permit for Akademik Sakharov Avenue, a large reasonably central area that has been used before. Navalniy decides that’s not good enough and moves his rally to Tverskaya Street which is filled with historical re-enactors. The cops move in, the Western media laps it up and pundits pontificate about what This All Means for Putin. Some demos in other cities, but nothing much. A flop, actually, says Karlin (who prefers evidence to the clairvoyance of the Western journo – see this idiotic example). (What do you suppose would happen if Occupy Wall Street moved a licensed demo – yes, you need a permit there too – to the Mall on July 4? This and this of course. Russia’s no different.)
FAKE NEWS II. Oh, and lots of the stories you read about Russiagate were, according to Comey, "dead wrong” (as in "NYT Scrambles To Fix ‘Almost Entirely Wrong’ Russia Scoop After Comey Testimony"). In short, Dear Readers, if it’s about Russia, it’s probably fake.
WHO YA GONNA BELIEVE? Macron e-mail dump. "The NSA Confirms It: Russia Hacked French Election ‘Infrastructure‘” or "French Cyber Security Leader: No Trace of Russian Hacking Group in Emmanuel Macron Campaign Leaks".
RUSSIA-US RELATIONS. As plenty of us suspected: "In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia… ". A lot is invested in bad relations: to do otherwise would be to betray democracy, apparently.
RUSSIA INC. The Governor of the Bank of Russia said that the influence of Western sanctions on economy had been exaggerated and their effect was practically over; she also said that the economy had adapted to the lower oil prices in the last two years.
POLITKOVSKAYA. The man convicted of organising her murder has died in a penal colony.
QATAR BLOCKADE. Moscow is involved in two ways: it sent food there and it is diplomatically involved: the Presidential Website mentions calls with Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. However it ends, Moscow will come out stronger with a better reputation.
SYRIA. Apparently talks between Washington and Moscow are quietly going on in Jordan. Meanwhile the Syrian Army has advanced to the Iraq border cutting off the US-supported "moderate rebels” from their base of supply. Tillerson is quoted as saying that the US has no authorisation to use force against the Syrian Army. Meanwhile the USAF attacks the Syrian Army. Paul Robinson looks for, but is unable to find, Washington’s strategy. So, same-same. 1) Damascus with its allies from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah is winning slowly but steadily; 2) Washington remains incapable of either keeping its word or controlling its people. And, for once, the UN notices and the Guardian publishes something about the "‘staggering loss of civilian life’ caused by the US-backed campaign to reclaim Raqqa".
WESTERN VALUES™. Of the ten least peaceful countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index, Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine, Sudan and Libya have all had US/NATO interventions or involvements. Syria, Ukraine and Libya, in particular, were far more peaceful before: Syria 163rd today, 99th in 2008; Ukraine 156/101 and Libya 154/85. The USA itself dropped 11 places in the last year. Still they boast: "America has guaranteed freedom, security and peace for a larger share of humanity than any other nation in all of history". NATO is about "Projecting Stability Beyond Our Borders".
SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANISATION. India and Pakistan are now members. The new world is forming quickly; China and Russia will big players in it and I don’t think there will be much room for the USA. Martin Jacques suggests Europe had better get on board soon. I recommend his book.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer