Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 613K; total deaths 8605; tests per 1 million 124K. Russia has done 18 million tests (second after USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. Scientists claim to have a vaccine; tests should be complete by end of July. Putin address: improving but still some bad regions; description of what government did; extension of some special payments. GDP fell 12% in April when "holiday” was begun.
OIL WARS. Seem to be pretty much over. But futures are still low for Saudi Arabia and US fracking.
TAX. For two decades Russia has had a flat income tax of 13% . A brilliant move when introduced, it ended widespread tax evasion almost instantly. But in the speech above, Putin said it will be bumped to 15% for people with incomes over 5 million RUR (US$71K). But still simple and pretty flat.
VICTORY PARADE. Held on the 75th anniversary of the first one. Video. Can’t get these numbers out of my head: Germany invades June 1941; three years later Operation Bagration annihilates Army Group Centre; a year later Soviet soldiers sight-see in Berlin. Has there ever been so quick a turnaround? (Well… Napoleon invaded Russia June 1812, the Russian Army entered Paris March 1814 and invented the bistro. Seems to be a historical lesson there…)
VICTORY. A VTsIOM poll shows 95% think that it was the most significant event for Russia of the 20th Century and 69% think the most significant event in Russian history.
A WIN. Two years ago the Russian authorities ordered the social app Telegram to give up its secrets; it refused; the authorities ordered it shut down; people kept using it; the authorities have given up after a sort of compromise.What’s the difference? Well, in our part of the world the social media doesn’t resist. Yet another of the many reversals of behaviour I’ve seen since I started in the business in 1984.
INFRASTRUCTURE. Moscow Metro has got quite a bit bigger in ten years.
WEAPONS. A new Borey-A SSBN Knyaz Vladimir accepted into the Navy. Several new Army weapons shown at the parade. A Ukrainian looked at the equipment on parade and and asked his countrymen how they can believe they’re facing that army in the Donbass; sure would notice one of these things.
GAPS. MacDonald uses a car crash to show the attitude gap between Russian elites and the "little people”. But he has been arrested and could face 12 years. We’ll see.
SKRIPALMANIA. "5 Facts BBC’s ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ Forgot to Mention", "the only word for that is a miracle". Propaganda for stupid people with short attention spans.
LESSONS OF THE WAR. Putin’s piece published in National Interest. Official text English, Russian. Apart from an unwillingness to acknowledge that territorial acquisitions in 1939 and 1940 were made to gain strategic space, I see nothing wrong with it. All of it was mentioned by AJP Taylor years ago.
HACKING. Don’t need cunning Russian hackers when incompetence gets the job done.
START. Talks began in Vienna with a childish stunt by the American side. I wouldn’t expect any results: the Americans are fatally deluded. As for the Russians: "We don’t believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever".Russian has a word for that: недоговороспособны and it’s characterised US behaviour since at least this event (in Obama’s time). Can’t make an agreement with them and, even if you do, they won’t keep it.
PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. From Canada. Short version: everything we say or do is true; Putin the opposite. ("Mueller indicted Mr. Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency for ‘waging information warfare against the United States of America'”. Oopsies! ) From the Baker of the Maidan Don’t waste your time on the original, Mark Chapman has done the work for you.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer