Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
PUTIN PRESS CONFERENCE. Here. COVID-19 a big theme – he lists what has been done – 277,000 beds, 40 purpose-built hospitals, over 500,000 medical staff deployed.
ECONOMY. Numbers from Putin: GDP down 3.6%, industrial production down 3%, agricultural industry up 1.8%, real incomes down 3%, unemployment up to 6.3%, national debt lowest ever at US$70 billion, international reserves up to US$587.7 billion, National Wealth Fund up to ₽13.5 trillion (about US$180 billion), 70% of federal budget comes from non-oil and gas revenues.
POLITICAL PARTY STANDINGS. I am not much surprised by the latest from Levada (question: for which would you vote this Sunday?). United Russia is 29%, Zhirinovskiy’s party 11%. KPRF 7%, Fair Russia 5% and the rest in the weeds. A ranking that you would have had pretty much any time in the last 20 years (but Zhirinovskiy and the KPRF often switch positions because they share some base). Pretty stagnant: and Zhirinovskiy and Zyuganov go back to the beginning. One big change though: Yabloko gets 1%. Once it was a contender; I think it died partly because the pedestal party stole a lot of its program but mainly because it always refused to unite with other like-minded parties. Putin says about 16 parties are now qualified to run without needing to collect signatures but most of them are no-hopers.
CHOOSE YOUR HEADLINE "Russia’s economy ‘recovered’ quicker than most of industrialised world” or "Russia in retreat as the Soviet collapse continues".
KALININGRAD. In another triumph for NATO’s policy, Moscow has announced that a motorised rifle division has been formed there. This formation far outmatches NATO’s puny multi-national battlegroups in the Baltics and Poland. Poking the bear has consequences.
WATER. Crimea has always had a water supply problem and in 1950 it was decided to build a canal connecting springs in the Ukrainian SSR with the Crimean Oblast, then part of the RSFSR. The project was completed in 1965 by which time the Crimean Oblast had been transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. After incorporation into the Russian Federation in 2014, Kiev began to reduce the water supply. Rationing was imposed in parts of Crimea a couple of weeks ago as water supplies got low. Moscow is spending money to improve the situation. The Western media is full of stuff about how Crimea is costing Moscow more than it’s worth. Nonsense and wishful thinking of course – no wonder the West is always surprised by Moscow. Planning and realism always beats fantasists muttering in echo chambers.
DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. On Sunday four Bulava missiles fired from an SSBN and successful test of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile. On Monday successful test launch of Angara-A5 heavy-class carrier rocket and excellent test results from Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday successful test flight of MC-21-310 airliner equipped with Russian-made engines.
THE ARCTIC IS A RUSSIAN LAKE. It was only when I researched this piece that I realised just how far ahead of the other Arctic powers Russia was: the race is over, Russia won.
NAVALNIY. Stupid gets stupider. The stuff they think they can make us believe. Incredible.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE. Washington sanctions Turkey over the S-400 purchase.
SANCTIONS. A German report estimates Europe loses €21 billion annually because of Russian sanctions. For comparison, that’s what Berlin plans to spend on COVID aid in the first half of 2021.
US ELECTION. Putin has sent congratulations to Biden. But it’s not over yet – several states have sent competing Electors. Polls show a lot of doubt: Daily Kos finds only 51% feel the election was fairly conducted (Q3); Fox finds 36% think it was stolen; Politico says 32% don’t trust the results (POL7).
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Now they think Trump gone, it’s coming out "Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services".
NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. "How Vladimir Putin’s anti-vaxxers are trying to use Covid to kill us as surely as his agents did in Salisbury"
BELARUS. Lukashenka has approved plans for new power-sharing arrangement.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer