Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
KARABAKH. This ceasefire should last. Russian troops have been moved to the points of contact and secure the road link from Karabakh to Armenia proper. (Deployment positions and General Staff briefing). Baku recovered a lot of territory that had been taken in the first war and can justifiably claim to have won. Armenia, which officially was not involved at all, under its present somewhat colour revolution leadership has lost – but avoided a greater defeat – and Pashinyan is now under considerable pressure to quit. Ankara has once again extended itself but come up short. Moscow has demonstrated that it is the indispensable element in the area. However, it is important to recognise that the final status of Karabakh itself remains undecided and this will be a difficult problem to solve. But it will likely be settled with Moscow’s efforts and not that of outsiders.
COVID. A curfew in Moscow at 2300. Phase III trial results of the vaccine are said to be good. To my cynical surprise, Reuters has pretty balanced coverage of the Western reaction to the Sputnik vaccine.
E-VISAS. A quick, easy and cheap visa system goes into effect next year for citizens of 52 countries. None of the "Five Eyes” is included. This move has been in the works since the great success of the quick visas for the World Cup.
ISS. Russia finally loses its taxi monopoly.
RED SEA. It is reported that a small naval logistics base will be constructed in Sudan. Not sure I understand why: I don’t see how this fits into Russia’s defensive posture. Although it might be connected to supporting Iran which is in Moscow’s interest (the enemy of my enemy is my friend).
GUNS. Washington realises its air defence has holes (Tehran’s "black cygnet"). US comms aren’t reliable. Strategic bombers and their weapons loads. Lasers on fighter planes. New nuclear war command bunker. The US State Department fears that the Russian Poseidon weapon underwater nuclear drones could unleash ‘radioactive tsunami’ on US. Well… that’s what they’re designed to do; maybe it’s time to reconsider your policy on Russia. I reiterate – Russia just has to counter.
WESTERN VALUES™. The country that judges other countries’ elections just had an election. Somebody won. One day a court will tell us who. Apparently it’s easy to lose track of votes and takes a long time to find them. There’s a box around here somewhere.
THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Remember all we were told about how weak US election security was and how Russia could easily change results? Well, forget it, Russia was shut out this year and US elections are solid as a rock. (Not that these people would give credit to Trump for the alleged re-securing.) Although those pesky Russians are still busy sowing, won’t congratulate and are disinforming.
WITHDRAWALS. The new US Defence Secretary says US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be reduced to 2500 each by 15 Jan 2021 and that "All wars must end". Good luck with that: we’ve just heard a deep state operative boasting about defying Trump on this issue. And there’s opposition from the usual quarters: "leaving too soon”, Russia will "fill the vacuum” (but hasn’t Moscow been there and done that?). I guess they think doubling the Soviet record isn’t enough – Washington should go for the triple.
NEW NWO. 15 Asia-Pacific nations have signed onto the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: a third of the world economy. And poof goes Obama’s Asian pivot and Trump’s isolate China attempts. The grouping include two of the Five Eyes as well as Japan and South Korea. The world is changing.
UKRAINE. Remember when Putin allegedly told Bush that Ukraine wasn’t even a country? What he meant was that it is a territory assembled out of parts of other countries by Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev (not the people I’d personally pick to design my country) and deeply divided. It still is in the post-Maidan nightmare. A recent poll in "the poorest country in Europe” shows it After all the propaganda, only 41% want to join NATO, 37% want non-alignment, 13% want to join the
Russian-led security grouping. 57% expect relations with Russia to get better, 30% do not. Results vary with location. (Here’s the original). All that suffering and misery to remain where they were and not much change on the "cultural map” either. As I said at the beginning, Ukraine no longer exists: the West broke the First Rule of Ukraine.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer