Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 502K; total deaths 6532; tests per 1 million 95K. Russia has done 13.8 million tests (second after USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. Moscow city lockdown and ID pass system ended on Tuesday. Russian developers register a drug that may help alleviate the worst symptoms.
COVID COUNTING. The usual suspects are convinced that Russia’s lying (the accusation is a pitiful attempt to cover up the failure of the "two best-prepared countries") but I don’t believe anything Western outlets say about Russia. But Moscow city has published numbers that may explain things. 15,713 deaths in Moscow in May; three-year average is 9914; therefore excess of 5799. They calculate 2757 had COVID as the main cause of death but it was present in 5260 deaths. Therefore, as I suspected, it’s a counting issue: died of versus died with. In any case, even at the larger number, the deaths are far fewer than elsewhere. A new theory to add to the others is that there are fewer old people, thanks to high mortality rates in the Soviet days, and Russians don’t generally put them in nursing homes (the source of large proportion of deaths in Western countries.)
CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM. Now set for 1 July. Wikipedia has a summary article and tells us that the vote will be a yes or no on the whole package. Some advertising billboards. Polls suggest the package will pass but not by big numbers.
GENETICS. Putin has told the government to ensure creation of Russian-made laboratory and scientific equipment for research in genetics. Remember the report that the USAF was collecting genetic material of Russians? I think COVID has made Moscow and Beijing rather thoughtful. Teheran too.
OIL WARS. Oil futures are creeping up. OPEC+ has agreed to extend the production cuts to the end of July. So, I guess if there was some attempt by Riyadh to crush US shale and Russian oil, it failed. Who won? Russia did: prices are back in Russia’s comfort zone. The Power of Siberia pipeline has sent 1.58 billion M3 of natural gas to China in the last 6 months. The icebreaker LNG ship is on its way to China via the Northern Sea Route.
MONOPOLY. With Dragon’s successful docking, Russia has lost its monopoly on taxi service to the ISS.
PERSONALLY I think Moscow is commenting with considerable restraint as the USA learns about colour revolutions first hand. Read this from the Atlantic: "The Trump Regime Is Beginning to Topple”. "Regime”. Wow, eh?
START. Russia-US talks will begin in Vienna on the 22nd. Beijing says it won’t be there. The US side is so deluded that I doubt much will happen. (BTW the US "super duper missile” just failed.)
THE DEATH OF IRONY. Russia Sends More Troops West, Challenging U.S.-NATO Presence Near Borders.
NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. "Before Donald Trump, Russia Needed 60 Hours To Beat NATO—Now Moscow Could Win Much Faster” Forbes tells us. The assumption is that Russia would grab the Baltics and stop there. I know the author is just shilling for the weapons makers but, if you assume your audience is really stupid, you become stupider – a race to the bottom of the mine.
MH17. It looks as if all the prosecution has is stuff from Kiev and Bellingcat. So much for Kerry’s "we observed it”. So will the court find the defendants not guilty or continue with the farce? Speaking of "our values and way of life”.
CHINA IS THE NEW RUSSIA. You’d think NATO would be busy enough but it’s time to add China to the enemy list: the threat posed by China to "our values and way of life”.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. A Republican caucus group from the legislature of "the greatest force for good the world has ever known” has decided that Russia should be named a "state sponsor of terrorism” and hit with "the toughest sanctions ever imposed". But it doesn’t accuse Moscow of fiddling elections; I guess that particular sector of the delusion is reserved for the other side of the aisle.
PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Sure, we don’t need evidence – there’s the "playbook”.
EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Germany rejects US extraterritorial sanctions against Nord Stream 2; a German politician suggests Berlin may respond with counter-sanctions. Trump orders a troop pull-out (would be about a quarter of the US troops in Germany).
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer