Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 942K; total deaths 16,099; tests per 1 million 229K. Russia has done 33.5 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s done the most tests per million.
SPUTNIK VACCINE. Bernhard covers the meretricious headlines in the Western media. CNN’s deduction is especially irrelevant "Putin and his interests are routinely supported by an unbelievable three quarters of voters. Three-quarters of Americans don’t agree on much of anything". The foundation the vaccine is built on. Production photos. Official website so you can see for yourself what they claim.
WARNING. In what we must assume an official statement, two senior officers state that any incoming ballistic missile will be assumed to be a nuclear attack. So this is where we are after low-yield nukes, Obama’s modernisation program and killing arms control treaties. Balance of terror and MAD return.
PRISONS. Russia has a large prison population, but has been gradually reducing it. It has fallen below 500K which is about half what it was twenty years ago. But still high by European standards.
MEDIA. "There is more diversity of thought – and criticism of government foreign policy – in the Russian mainstream print media than the American equivalent. That’s a fact.” (Brian MacDonald, an Irish reporter working for RT and living in Russia.)
US TROOP WITHDRAWAL. 12K out of Germany, half to USA, 1000 to Poland, rest stay in Europe.
THE DEATH OF IRONY. Twitter has decided to label "state media” starting with the P5. Amazingly enough, only two of the five qualify to be labelled. RFE/RL ("funded by the U.S. Congress") is not. BBC World Service (government-funded) is not. And so on. Gaslighting.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. "Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem". Everything on Russian media is controlled by Putin. Everything Rachel Maddow says about Putin is true. Anyone who questions this is a dupe or puppet. Repeat for 77 pages. Senate report: ditto but take 1000 pages.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. "Russia is backing Donald Trump, China is supporting Joe Biden and Iran is seeking to sow chaos in the U.S. presidential election…”. I guess that means that Russia and China will cancel each other out and Iran will choose the winner.
BELARUS. Obviously another colour revolution directed from outside. Lukashenka won the election (not by 80% – my guesstimate – 60% or so) but a lot of people are tired of him. He tried to play both sides but now understands that the West wants him dead or gone and only Putin can save him; that is why he has invoked the Union Treaty. And there is the military alliance. So, if Belarus’s independence is threatened from the outside (as it is) Moscow can intervene on request. The Russian mercenary story was a (typically incompetent) SBU plot; all are back in Russia. The West sternly warns Lukashenka not to shoot protesters in the eye with rubber bullets or kneel on their necks. (Pompeo, when asked if it’s hypocrisy: "Even your question is insulting.”) I expect the colour revolution to fail but Lukashenka will, as they used to say, "retire at his own request for health reasons”. Putin told Merkel and Macron outside interference was "unacceptable” (strong language for him). Lukashenka has told the Interior Ministry to restore order. Two facts you may not know: Lukashenka says he was offered a World Bank loan if he did a COVID lockdown and Belarus is important for OBOR. A third: the white-red-white flag the protesters all seem to have (another sign of a colour revolution – where do they all come from so suddenly?) was used by nazi collaborators. (The conductors of these performances really have no idea, do they? Belarus lost a quarter of its population in the war).
MOSCOW AND BELARUS. Moscow doesn’t care what kind of government Belarus has. Become part of Russia? Nice, maybe, someday; but not if its economy is a drain. What Moscow will not permit (and the treaties give it the entry) are Belarus becoming 1) a hostile military alliance base 2) a constant source of problems. Moscow would have been perfectly happy with a neutral, independent and prosperous Ukraine. (And in retrospect, I’ll bet most of the supporters of Maidan would prefer it too).
BELARUS AND ITS NEIGHBOURS. Not leaking population like the Baltics. Much better off than Ukraine. No wars like Russia. OK there’s Poland, but it got enormous help from the EU (and still does). Not such a paltry record, is it?
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer