Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
TURKEY. As everyone knows, Ankara-Washington relations are bad and getting worse. There are many factors involved in Turkey’s economic problemsbut Washington’s pressure is exacerbating them and it is using the opportunity/excuse to force Erdoğan back into line. The situation creates, to put it mildly, a tremendous opportunity for Russia and China to offer a better deal, thereby weakening NATO and strengthening their own "Eurasian bloc”. Erdoğan spoke to Putin on Friday and Lavrov has just been in Ankara, possibly presenting the bill. Erdoğan is changeable and could go either way, but it’s a major decision point: going Washington’s way would be a big surrender whereas a deal for Chinese and Russian investment in return for leaving NATO and getting out of Syria could be a big win. Turkey’s value to NATO was never the "common values” tripe we hear so much about today but instead its large army and important real estate. Possibly a huge development in the new New World Order coming.
DEFENCE. More steps to protect against what Medvedev calls "economic warfare". Putin has signed a law allowing Russian-owned foreign operating companies to be re-registered in two areas in Russia. The Finance Minister speculates about abandoning the USD in oil trade. An argument that Russia didn’t sell as many US Treasuries as thought but moved some elsewhere.
VISAS. Many complain that the cumbrous Russian visa system is a deterrent to tourism. The World Cup was a great victory for Russia in the information war, and it’s interesting that they have decided to extend visa-free entry for holders of fan IDs until the end of the year. I think people saying what a good time they had there is a powerful counter to anti-Russian propaganda.
CASPIAN. After years and years the Caspian Sea Convention has been signed by the five littoral countries. Not every last detail is nailed down but the generality is clear: local economic zones, relatively free use and no foreigners. This is essentially what I foresaw in 1998 although it has taken much longer than I anticipated. We are reminded that, thanks to the Kalibr, Russia’s Caspian Flotilla has a greater significance than Washington ever suspected.
MAGNITSKIY MOVIE. An authorised version is available on Vimeo here. I urge you to watch it: not only does it complete destroy Browder’s case, it is an interesting detective process as the film-maker gradually perceives the inconsistencies and manipulations. Browder’s story has been extremely important at setting up the anti-Russia dancing mania: if it’s a lie, then what?
EUROPEAN REVOLT? Well, will they defy Washington? Tough talk from Mogherini, also Britain, France and Germany. The "blocking statute” is being activated. Meanwhile a reminder of the cost of Washington’s last sanctions effort: food exports to Russia cut in half. (And China just snapped up France’s business in a gas project in Iran.) In short, there must be more than a few Europeans realising that the cost of joining Washington’s crusades is too high. But it’s rather hard to imagine Europe’s current rulers daring to think outside the "Atlanticist” box let alone acting on such thoughts.
WESTERN VALUES™. In the Cold War the USSR undertook an enormous (but futile) exertion to block our news and propaganda; we, confident that we were in the right, didn’t bother. Today Facebook, advised by Atlantic Council people, is blocking "Russian propaganda”. To defend against this attempt to impurify our precious bodily fluids, a US Senator (Dem of course) is floating a proposal for more government-imposed controls. Those who are mostly telling the truth don’t do this. Maybe NATO could buy old Soviet jamming equipment.
SYRIA. More endgame. UN observers, with assistance from Russian Military Police, return to the Golan Heights. China may participate "in some way” in the battles around Idlib. The Russians and the UN say there are about 6.6 million Syrian refugees in foreign countries of whom 1.7 million say they are ready to return. So far this month 16 UAVs have been shot down at the Russian airbase. Apparently the YPG has switched sides. Peter Ford’s assessment. Pat Lang’s.
NEW NWO. Not there yet, but more steps: Turkey, Caspian and EU defiance. (I haven’t stopped thinking that this may be just what Trump intends.)
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer