Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
CHURCH DISPUTE. I dreaded having to write something because I really don’t know enough. But US Secretary of State Pompeo has saved me much study by proving that those who see the hand of Washington are correct to do so: "We urge Church and government officials to actively promote these values in connection with the move towards the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” Who knew an avowedly secular state like the USA felt competent to make rulings on such esoterica as ethnophyletism or autocephaly? You’ve heard Official Washington’s opinion (swiftly retransmitted by your local news outlet), here are others: one, two, three, four, five. Their argument is that Constantinople has arrogated too much to himself and Orthodoxy will split; Washington & Co talk of "freedom” (but don’t show much understanding of who’s who). This further excuse for violence will increase the misery of Ukraine. (And, ironically, the dominant church in western Ukraine, the home of the Ukrainian nationalism that’s driving things, has nothing to do with this: it’s under Rome.)
NUCLEAR DOCTRINE. At Valdai, Putin made a statement on Russia’s nuclear doctrine. No change, but with a twist that caught people’s attention: "Our concept is based on a reciprocal counter strike… any aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable and they will be annihilated.” The attention-catching part was "And we as the victims of an aggression, we as martyrs would go to paradise while they will simply perish because they won’t even have time to repent their sins”. Don’t forget that American spokesmen have made some stupidly aggressive statements lately.
DRONE ATTACK. The Russian MoD says a US aircraft coordinated the January drone attack on their Syrian bases.
AGRICULTURE. One of the most surprising developments to me, who remembers farms in the 1990s, has been Russia’s agricultural turnaround. This five-minute report gives an introduction.
STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION. Let me put in a plug for this site. It has now acquired quite a stable of writers (myself included) and is a good place to get alternative views to those repeated by the drearily monotonic Western outlets. There may be Russian government money behind it but my bet is that the government’s effort is still in RT (see below). My guess (and another author’s) is that it’s bankrolled by a rich Russian who’s tired of the endless anti-Russia coverage. I have never had anything I have written changed or censored. I recommend you bookmark it.
NATO EXERCISE. NATO bravely shows it won’t be intimidated by Russia’s building up its military on its doorstep by holding an exercise on said doorstep. "NATO is a defensive Alliance… committed to defense and deterrence.” A defensive alliance with a moving doorstep.
INF TREATY. Trump talks of pulling the US out. Is this the loud prelude to re-negotiation that we saw him do with Korea and NAFTA? Or is he clearing the battlespace for the expected damp squib from Mueller or a blue dribble? Tune in in mid-November.
OOPS. Apparently many US weapons are very vulnerable to cyberattacks. Stories of cruise missile attacks, USS Donald Cook, destroyers rammed by container ships make you wonder, don’t they?
UKRAINE. "Entrepreneurs of political violence: the varied interests and strategies of the far-right in Ukraine” In Open Democracy no less. Bit by bit the word is seeping out. IMF rates Ukraine the poorest country in Europe. This piece gives a summary of its problems with Hungary, Poland and Belarus.
GEORGIA. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office says it has a recording that proves Saakashvili sanctioned the murder of Patarkatsishvili. (English) (Georgian) (At the time some UK outlets blamed Putin but when they discovered he was Saakashvili’s enemy they quickly shut up.)
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer