Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
MILITARY SPENDING. SIPRI says that Russia’s defence budget has been cut by 20%, the first decrease since 1998. The reason, I believe, is not the "economic problems” they suggest (always exaggerated by Western sources) but that the very big post-Soviet lag has been overcome. Modernisation and development certainly hasn’t stopped: here are the latest AD improvements. By the way, Russia seems to be the only country in the world that has cut spending.
TECHNOLOGY. The Akademik Lomonosov, a floating nuclear power plant, has left St Petersburg for Murmansk where it will be fuelled. This is not the very first floating NPP, but it is by far the biggest. It will move to Kamchatka and provide power to settlements there. There will likely be more of them built.
SANCTIONS. Anti-Russia sanctions are partly based on the absurd assumption that Putin is a sort of criminal-in-chief surrounded by lesser criminals and if these lesser criminals can be hurt enough by sanctions, they will overthrow him. And so the attack on Oleg Deripaska and his Rusal company. Which is the second-largest aluminum producer in the world. With a lot of customers who won’t be happy if it’s driven out of business. Bloomberg is scornful: "a lack of expertise”. Two things are happening: Deripaska is trying to sell some of the company and Washington has backed off a bit. So far Moscow hasn’t reacted to the latest sanctions which, it should be clear, are hostile acts that have nothing to do with the ostensible reasons: Moscow is really being punished because it resists. Moscow did not interfere in the US election (and if it had, Clinton would have been the one: it had bought her once, why not again?); the Minsk agreement doesn’t even mention Russia and no one in the West cares what really happened in Crimea. I expect that, as usual, Moscow’s reaction, when it comes, will surprise the West. John Helmer suggests EW in Syria. And when is Europe going to react to the fact that the anti-Russian sanctions hurt them more than either Russia or the USA? Some murmurings in Germany, but we’ve heard them before and they eventually knuckle down. But, given the unending torrent of anti-Trump propaganda, it may become more acceptable to question Washington’s diktat. And, if Washington does pull out of the Iran agreement, the split could become very wide. Moscow may be waiting to see what happens then and tailor its response to widen the gap.
TELEGRAM STUPIDITY. Just gets worse and worse. And it’s not working.
WADA YA KNOW. The sole source of the doping accusation backtracks. But that’s OK: the purpose of propaganda is to leave a bad impression when the details have been forgotten.
PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Russia says it has a complete Tomahawk and that only 22/105 missiles hit anything, Pentagon denies. Russia brings the actual victims of the so-called CW attack to the Hague, FUKUS covers their eyes and ears.
SKRIPALS. Not news any more. Believing the government story requires an enormous amount of doublethink. Murray believes there’s a connection to Steele, Orbis and the Dossier. Oh: it’s apparently OK to leave this incredibly dangerous stuff around for 51 days before cleaning it up. Wearing your full protective suits. Well, some of you wearing them. Still more doublethink and crimestop required.
ARMENIA. What appears to be a colour revolution triggered by the long-time President’s re-treading himself as Prime Minister continues. And you can’t have a "peaceful” colour revolution without a little mysterious gunfire. Unlikely to have a happy ending for anybody in Armenia.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Do you think the Democrats are going to win the mid-term elections on a platform of "Because Putin stole the last election from us, you owe us this one"?
PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Metastasises: "Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn".
NEW NWO. "the erosion of U.S. military advantage in relation to China and Russia.” US Defense Secretary. Not very PNAC, is it? And, in Yalta, the International Economic Forum attended by people from 71 countries (last year 26 countries, the year before 13.) A somewhat larger chunk of the "international community” that we hear so much of from FUKUS and friends, isn’t it?
UKRAINE. The first US Javelin MAWs have been delivered. I don’t expect them to make a battlefield difference (Russia is not actually attacking Ukraine with armoured formations) but it may encourage Kiev to think it has the green light to attack (it will be another defeat for Kiev). And morale is terrible – at least 554 suicides since the start of the war. (8.4K WIA and 3.7K KIA).
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer