Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
TWENTY YEARS. Putin & Co have been running the place for two decades. I assess how well they accomplished his 1999 program and discuss the one thing he forgot about then but has since been forced to remember. The verdict has to be that they have achieved their goals extremely well. Twenty years ago Russia had a collapsed economy, was falling apart, lawless from top to bottom and insignificant in the world. Not any more. The propagandists at RFE-RL do their best to belittle the achievement. (USA and EU 20 years ago and now; Russia and China 20 years ago and now. You decide which management team you’d like.)
RUSSIA INC. Reasonable quickie on the economy in 2019: de-dollarisation, turning eastwards, consolidation but still rather flat living conditions. Moscow is planning for the future. I still say that we are going to discover what Russia, freed from autocracy serfdom and bolsheviks, can do.
INFRASTRUCTURE. It’s hard to keep up. Some videos for those who believe Russia is a stagnant mess. Local trains. New highway. Grozniy. Shopping in a Moscow region town. Don’t need a freezer in Yakutsk. Aurus car factory. Trefoil Arctic base. Floating NPP. Beef farm. Farm in Voronezh. Maternity hospital. Fancy hotel in Crimea. Medium range passenger plane. Grocery store. Village shop. Restaurants in Irkutsk. ATOM tram. Siberian cities. Big changes – in my time it was more like this grocery store.
CRIMEA BRIDGE. Last week the railway part was formally opened and the first trains have crossed; the road part opened in May 2018. 63 months from decision to now; 46 from start of construction.
INTERNET TEST. Last week Russia tested the independence of its internet from world connections. The test was said to be successful. Not Russia cutting itself off but defending itself in case it is cut off.
HISTORY WARS. Putin displayed a number of documents relating to the start of the Second World War, thereby giving the fantods to many. But it’s true, even if most people in the West are ignorant: Moscow did all it could to create an anti-Hitler alliance and only gave up at the very last moment. That having been said, my advice to Putin would be to stop trying to defend the USSR’s territorial grabs – they were a cold-blooded attempt to gain strategic depth for the attack Stalin knew was coming.
NEW NWO. A Russia-China-Iran naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Not big but very symbolic.
NORD STREAM 2. Nearly finished and Washington is infuriated. Tucked into a gigantic military spending bill are sanctions against companies working on it; one company has already quit. The Russians say they can finish the job and Berlin remains determined to do so. So what will the net effect be? A few months’ delay and Washington’s allies even more irritated. Which, I speculate, might be the point.
FAKE NEWS. Russia bombs hospitals says NYT. But, if you look closely, you’ll find, deep down, the admission that many of the given locations are wrong. That they are fakes doesn’t occur to the NYT.
OPCW. More leaks (good summary). Corporate media pretty quiet: in UK, Hitchens then Fisk yesterday; only Carlson in the USA. I guess exposing the lies that support attacks on Syria aren’t really real news.
NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. "Its economy, already smaller than Italy’s, may be sputtering… ". Two howlers and he hasn’t even finished the sentence.
US EXPERTISE. Somebody said that the USA has a shallow bench on Russia and so it does. Here’s a rather brutal exposure of the "expert” who is presumably Biden’s main advisor. Ten predictions about Russia in 2019, all assuming a malevolent expansionist lawless Russia. Result: no wins, many miserable misses. Has any US government "expert” got anything right about Russia? (Of course I exclude Cohen, Hahn et al; but they’re not official. Unfortunately.) An echo chamber of complacent ignorance.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Horowitz put a few nails in the conspiracy coffin, but only on the FBI part.
IMPEACHMENT. Who imagined that a little regime change to weaken Russia and get a naval base in Crimea would have such reverberations at home? And not, by any means, done yet.
UKRAINE. More encouraging steps. Another prisoner exchange (again most were, from Kiev’s POV, Ukrainian citizens). And finally a gas deal that ensures transit through Ukraine and supply to Ukrainian users at a discounted price. All issues settled says Medvedev and Zelensky is also happy. (So miserable is Ukraine’s economy that the transit fees will be 8% or more of Kiev’s revenue.)
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer