Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 379K; total deaths 4142; tests per 1 million 66K. Russia has done 9.7 million tests (second after USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s fourth in tests per million and of those over 100M first. The vaccines tests are reported to be going well. Peskov is out of hospital. Karlin thinks that it’s out of control in Dagestan. Doctorow argues that Russia has learned from China the value of segregating COVID sufferers in special hospitals leaving the others free for other problems. Restrictions continue to be lifted.
OIL WARS. Russian gas shipments are down and US LNG isn’t looking good. US oil production is falling and a shale oil company has gone bust. Saudi Arabia has cut its production. Oil futures are below $40. The guessimates are that US shale needs about $60, Saudi Arabia about $80 while Russia is OK at $45 and can get by on $25 for some time. So Moscow’s still smiling, even if a little grimly.
PAUL WHELAN. A man of somewhat mysterious background, was arrested in Russia a year and a half ago, charged with spying and has been in jail since. Finally he’s been tried in a closed session; the prosecution wants him put away for 18 years, he insists he’s innocent. What I find interesting – and very singular – is that the several countries of which he is a citizen aren’t making much of a fuss. Which they usually do, even when they’re economical with the truth; vide spy rock and Bellona.
OPEN SKIES. In 1955 President Eisenhower suggested the idea; Moscow rejected it because it was an "espionage plot”. It finally happened in 2002 and 35 countries signed on to it. Given that 26 of the 35 are NATO members it could hardly be said to advantage Russia. Nevertheless Washington is dropping out: Russia of course is at fault: it’s using it to "collect information”. (To someone who’s been in the business since the Soviet days, this reversal of positions is a continual and amusing fascination.)
MORE RUSSIANS. Moscow has granted citizenship to nearly 216 thousand people in the first quarter of 2020; about two thirds of them from Ukraine. It’s a little known fact that Russia gets a lot of migrants: in 2019 it was fourth-largest (but does KSA really qualify?); second ten years earlier.
INFRASTRUCTURE. Sapsan trip. Always fascinated how clean and shiny everything is nowadays.
LAWSUITS. He said it was a joke, Putin disagreed and fired him. Now the former head of Chuvashia, Mikhail Ignatiev, says he’s going to court. Good luck with that. The lawyer representing Sturgess and Rowley wants the Skripals to be brought to court to testify. Good luck with that.
FOOD. Putin recently said that Russia was now self-sufficient in "basic food products”. I take that to mean that, while there may not be as many bananas as you might want, Russia produces enough calories in the right balance. I have no difficult believing him: it’s been coming. A stunning achievement – when I lived there about half the food was imported and farming was in a desperate state. The Russian counter-sanctions on food were a brilliant move. Thought they were. (Got RI wrong, though.)
FAKE NEWS. Something or other nefarious Russian thingee alleged in Czechia. Rubbish I say and I don’t bother to pay attention. Korybko does and here’s his take. Something or other in Germany. I’ve given up taking these accusations even partly seriously after Skripal, Russiagate, Litvinenko, MH-17 and all the rest. The burden of proof is on the West doubly so because it’s lied so often.
NEW NWO. A German poll on the post-COVID world gives a very interesting result: 37% consider close relations with the US more important than close relations with China; 36% see it the other way round. Almost exactly balanced and after all the anti-China propaganda too. The wheels are coming off the wagon.
NOT ON YOUR "NEWS” OUTLET. A UN study finds that 81% of civilians killed in east Ukraine were killed by Kiev forces shelling them. Peculiar "Russian invasion” isn’t it?
BIDEN-UKRAINE. Remember this photo of Biden at the head of the table? the guy sixth on his left is the so-called President of Ukraine. A recording of Biden giving Poroshenko his marching orders has appeared. Not as if we didn’t already know this from Biden’s own lips. A Ukrainian judge has ordered he be listed as alleged perpetrator of crime in Prosecutor’s firing. No mention of Hunter B though. So far.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer