Vladimir Putin’s Long Run

Uncle Volodya says, “Your enemies are not to be destroyed, grant them longevity to witness your success.”

Who can go the distance? We’ll find out
in the long run…

Eagles, from “The Long Run”

The substance of this post appeared as a comment to the last post, but I was having so much fun with it that I decided to expand upon it a little. Contrary to what the title might suggest, it is not my intent to discuss pending Russian legislation which might see Putin remain President of the Russian Federation for an additional term or perhaps even more than one – the positions on that issue are both far apart and clearly defined. The west blanches at the idea, and would have been happy to see him gone long since, and at least half the electorate in Russia would vote for him probably so long as he lives.

No, what I wanted to talk about for a little bit more – and hopefully to a wider audience – is the statistically improbable, and therefore incredible, run of luck enjoyed by the Russian leader since the west first soured on him and decided Russia could never be a friend and partner, and that it must therefore be shunned. Left to its own devices, it could not but destroy itself without western advice, know-how, initiative and wealth.

Well. About that.

Washington has tried for as long as the Russian Federation has existed, and before that when it was the Soviet Union, to alternately destroy it and subordinate it to Washington’s will. There was a brief window during the Bill Clinton presidency in which it appeared the United States was actually trying to come to terms with a great-power Russia co-existing with western power led by a great-power United States. But it lasted only until Clinton had gotten an agreement on a united Germany, whereupon the United States promptly reneged on its part of the bargain and began adding countries to NATO like an international charm bracelet. That notwithstanding, I’d like to look at US-Russia relations just including and since the George W. Bush presidency; this is both so that our scope does not broaden until it’s too unwieldy, and so that we restrict ourselves to those relations while Vladimir Putin has been in an influential political position, either as President or Prime Minister.

What I think will become clearer is that either (1) Putin has enjoyed an incredible run of good fortune which has permitted his country to dodge repeated attempts to smash it like a walnut, simultaneously remaining at the helm despite western machinations to drive him from office whose stubbornness is matched only by their incompetence, or (2) the whole thing has been a ballet of consummate skill, in which the blundering United States has been outmaneuvered by Russia at every turn.

The two principal drivers for this post were Mark ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ Galeotti’s frustrated fuming that Putin enjoys ‘the luck of the devil’ – what he actually said was “Putin has the luck of the devil. He can just sit back and watch this richer, more powerful and legitimate values-based bloc tear itself apart” – and this more recent post, which muses that American-engineered sanctions designed to crash Russia’s economy have actually helped prepare it for the current pandemic chaos and insulate it from its damage.

So without further ado, let’s go back in time, and have a look at the George W. Bush administration’s tilting at the Russian windmill.

In this, George W. Bush himself was very much a secondary character, if not even further down the marquee. While he was the President of the United States at the time, that office is long past attracting America’s actual best and brightest – one hopes – and as the lackadaisical scion of a political family, Bush was a dullard who would have had a difficult time manipulating the manager of a roadside lemonade stand. God knows there’s no shame in not having what it takes to manipulate people, but it does require a certain skill set. No, the Russophobe in the rockpile at Team Bush was his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

Ms. Rice may have appeared at first blush to have been just another tiresome flag-waver for democracy and freedom; two of the most overused words in American English, considering they are customarily just boilerplate for the latest plan to take over someone else’s resources for the benefit of wealthy investors. Ms. Rice frequently expressed the opinionImage result for oil needs some freedom that the USA was perfectly happy with a strong leader in Russia, just so long as that leader (a) was not Vladimir Putin, and (b) exercised that strength of leadership in pursuit of ‘democracy’ as an export model, which is to say in support of US-approved goals. She was fond of saying ‘Putinism’ and Russia were two different things from one another, but apparently did not notice that ‘democracy’ as practiced in countries the USA has recently ‘liberated’ has little resemblance to the democracy practiced in the United States, except that both have a bias toward income inequity.

It was fairly clear that the United States under George W. Bush maneuvered Mikhail Saakashvili – a colourful character, to say the least, in light of his subsequent nation-hopping – into hurling Georgia at Russia in 2008, in a failed bid to restore breakaway republics South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Tbilisi’s control. To characterize the operation as a disaster, from the western perspective, does not do it justice. Saakashvili, normally a dramatic speaker, excelled himself, and nearly burst into tears at the joint press conference (Rice/Saakashvili) in which he had to allow that Georgia had fallen a little short of total victory. Rice looked on, her face as expressionless as a frying pan.

“And, Madame Secretary, as we were standing here last time a few weeks ago, there was intrusion of the Georgian – of Russian planes into Georgian airspace, just exactly in the lines of South Ossetia. And you remember as well as I do that then we downplayed it. I downplayed it myself. I said, well, they are here just to salute Secretary Rice. And normally, in the past, Russians would deny that. But that time they said, yes, this is us, we flew there, implying that there was intent to bomb against Georgians. And again, they watched the European reactions. No European country said anything about it.

So who invited the trouble here? Who invited this arrogance here? Who invited these innocent deaths here? Who is – not only those people who perpetrate them are responsible, but also those people who failed to stop it. And who is trying now to look for every excuse, saying, oh, you know, Georgians might have started it. Excuse me? Twelve-hundred tanks came into Georgia within few hours. There is no way you can mobilize those tanks in such a fast period unless you were ready. There were Russian pensioners taken off the streets of Moscow to fly the planes several days before the invasion. There was no way they were not preparing invasion. Why would they call back the pensioners? There were all these movements on the ground all around the place.

You know when it all started? I want the world to know. I was gone for holidays. My Defense Minister was gone for holidays. When the thing started, I had to rush back, cut my holiday short when the tensions started to raise. I had to summon back my – our Defense Minister. But most of our officials were gone. Most of decision-makers I tried to reach were gone for vacations. It was brilliantly selected timing for this intervention.”

Ahh….it never gets old; I want to laugh even now. The subsequent UN Report, commissioned by the European Union and overseen by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, found that Georgia started the conflict by launching an artillery barrage at Tskhinvali during the night of 7/8 August, 2008. So either the Artillery Corps of the Georgian forces was celebrating the Georgian government’s departure on vacation, apparently leaving the palace janitor in charge, with an ordnance show – the kind of insubordinate behavior you would think would result at least in a reprimand – or President Saakashvili was actually in attendance and in charge of the operation, something he would most certainly have claimed had Georgia been victorious. For her part, Ms. Rice looked on stone-faced, and did not contradict any of the mercurial Georgian president’s simple-minded prevarications. I don’t know if you have a favourite yourself, but I crack up every time I read that the Russian Air Force scoured the streets of Moscow to dragnet experienced pensioners into fighter cockpits, oh, dear God.

Ms. Rice was a stalwart supporter of ‘democratic institutions’ in Russia, as you might expect of the assembly-line from which all earthly freedom issues. For the record, as they apply to Russia ‘democratic institutions’ are the non-governmental organizations (NGO) which the US Department of State likes to use to funnel aid and support to opposition parties in countries where America does not like the government, and wishes to implement regime change. Therefore unsurprisingly, Ms. Rice regularly called down thunderbolts on Putin’s head for supposedly ‘dismantling democratic institutions’ in Russia.  In reality, only organizations which engaged in political activities and received funding from foreign countries were required to register as foreign agents; a stipulation which closely parallels the US Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.

In part owing to the political divides which continue to worsen in America, but still amazingly, George W. Bush reappeared for a second term as president. At that point, the entire world had enjoyed as much of Bush and the US Republican party as it could stand, and he was succeeded by the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.

This was supposed to usher in a sea-change in American politics, and at first it seemed as if that would actually happen. But Obama blew his entire first term striving uselessly for ‘bipartisanship’ even after the Republicans had let it be known they would oppose any initiative which had his name on it. The Democrats’ foreign policy looked suspiciously like it had been written by the Republicans, and except for more lofty rhetoric about freedom and democracy in place of the Big Stick, it might have been. The objectives differed not a jot. Under Obama’s leadership, the USA hurled Ukraine against Russia, and it worked out just about as well militarily as using Georgia did. America invested a degree of diplomatic support for the hapless grifter Alexei Navalny that was nearly masochistic in its stubborn determination, actually arguing for positive recognition of his status as a political dissident in the same article which demanded Russia hand over Edward Snowden to face American justice.

As well, Obama’s administration drafted, implemented and strong-armed European cooperation in the very sanctions against Russia which are now being credited with preparing it for and insulating it against the global catastrophe of the COVID-19 ‘pandemic’. I put ‘pandemic’ in quotes like that because the WHO itself admitted it designated the Coronavirus a pandemic because it was unsatisfied with the lethargic response of some countries, and wished to galvanize global effort. The designation of a coronavirus as a pandemic is unprecedented.

So let’s take a look at what the latest failure of US-led western effort to push Russia off the scoreboard looks like. Let’s recall that the sanctions were originally purpose-built to wreck the Russian economy by making things so difficult for the Russian people that they would swell into the streets in wrath, and throw Putin out. It amuses me now to cruise the net for bellicose, overconfident statements on how Captain America was going to kick Putin’s ass; here’s an example;

“What many people don’t realize is just how pervasive the US financial system is.  If, for example, Mr. Yakunin wanted to buy a nice vacation house in Dubai.  He’d have to pay for it somehow.  Yet to transfer the money, he would need to use a bank and that’s where things get difficult.  Every financial institution needs a correspondent banking relationship with a US entity in order to do business.

The penalties for defying US Treasury designations can be quite severe—HSBC was fined $1.9 billion—and if the offending bank wants to continue to do business in the US, it complies.  In effect, once you are designated, you are cut off from the international financial system.”

I realize that is an opinion column; however, it very much personifies the swaggering braggadocio which accompanied the implementation of the American sanctions – Putin was toast, by God! But as it turns out, the confidence that no bank or business could survive without a correspondent banking relationship with a US entity was a little misplaced.

“Perhaps most importantly, it’s hard to see how Putin will prevail.  Ukraine is a big place and occupying it would take hundreds of thousands of troops—something Russia can’t afford financially or militarily.   There is, in fact, very little he can do besides make threatening noises while Obama’s sanctions erode the Russian economy.”

Yet prevail he has. And so here we are, at the point of Trump just printing up another Trillion dollars to hump into circulation – which money either has to be paid back or is purely notional and does not exist – while Russia has actual savings of around $600 Billion in gold and hard-currency reserves; savings which, according to western sources, could enable it to survive the other looming crisis of the Saudi oil-price war for a decade.

“Six years ago, the United States and the European Union slammed the door on Western bank loans for Russian companies, starving the country’s oil and banking industries of financing. The harsh measures were intended to punish Russia for military interventions in Ukraine and Syria and for meddling in the 2016 American election to help Donald J. Trump.

Paradoxically, however, those sanctions and the policies Russia enacted in response prepared the Kremlin for what came this month: a universal dislocation of the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war that led to a collapse in oil prices and the revenues that Russia relies upon to support social spending.

Far from being a basket case, Russia enters the crisis with bulging financial reserves, its big companies nearly free of debt and all but self-sufficient in agriculture. After Russia was hit with the sanctions, President Vladimir V. Putin’s government and companies adapted to isolation and were virtually forced to prepare for economic shocks like the one hammering the global economy today.

Damn the bad luck! Steady on, though – perhaps there’s still hope that disease will decimate their lucky ranks.

“For now, Russia is relying on quarantines of individuals and contact tracking without major lockdowns. But measures to halt the virus’s spread will most likely bring Russia’s economy to a halt, as they have elsewhere, as companies send employees home. At that point, Russia’s treasure chest of hard currency will be of little help.”

Do tell. How does that thinking square with this preceding paragraph?

“Take, for example, a 2014 sanction limiting loans from Western financial institutions to a maximum of three months. Russian companies responded by paying down their debt so that total government and corporate foreign debt in Russia fell to $455 billion at the start of this year from $713 billion in 2014. By contrast, Western companies have taken advantage of low interest rates to run up trillions of dollars in debt in the past decade.”

The author’s judgment must have been addled by frustration and baffled fury; no virus ever kills 100% of the hosts it infects, and even if we take the WHO’s on-the-fly estimate of a 3% fatality rate, those contracting COVID-19 have about a 97% chance of recovering unless they are elderly or have a compromised immune system from an underlying medical condition. The ‘pandemic’ will eventually burn itself out. And when it does, who is going to be better off – a country which financed its operations with savings it prudently accumulated, or a country which simply printed its way out of the crisis by running up trillions in debt?

The west’s US-led efforts to wrestle Russia to the ground and get a knee on its throat have failed on almost a biblical level; each such mean-spirited attempt sees the country emerge stronger and more resourceful. By way of contrast, if the USA had made a friend of Russia and lured it through ‘soft power’ to adopt more western practices and policies, it probably would be a wreck today. Funny old world, innit? As Jane Austen reminds us, it is always so; those who do not complain are never pitied.

I think we’re done here; why not let the catchy tune that led us in also take us out?

People talkin’ about us
They got nothin’ else to do;
When it all comes down we will
Still come through:
In the long run
Ooh, I want to tell you, it’s a long run…



418 thoughts on “Vladimir Putin’s Long Run

  1. I propose a title for a book: NATO in the time of Cornonavirus: Fucking Useless

    While the world faces the real consequences of globalization such as epidemics etc., events that actually require good and effective coordination between nations, NATO like an aged asthmatic and knackered old fox can only bark weakly ‘Beware China! Beware Russia!‘ It has no successor, preferring to eak out its further existence in the form of injections of young, healthy blood (aka idiots), and oh cash $$$€€€ for fools. Even old vampires have to die sometime. Who will rid us of this meddlesome beast?*

    * Answers on a postcard please.


    1. Politico.com: NATO names panel to find its brain

      The secretary-general appoints a group to help ponder NATO’s future.

      BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg named a panel of 10 experts on Tuesday to help ensure the alliance isn’t brain dead.

      Stoltenberg had agreed to seek expert advice on NATO’s future after French President Emmanuel Macron declared that the alliance was experiencing “brain death” in a controversial interview with The Economist last autumn….

      It’s not true, but we’ll have a meeting about it!

      NATO hasn’t had a viable mission for the last 30 years apart from putting on weight that has made it mentally obese.


  2. Groaning Man headline: UK coronavirus live: death toll sees sharp rise; Home Office extends NHS worker visas

    Home Office confirms visas will be automatically extended..

    Is fear of being overrun by foreigners being overrun by coronavirus for the British tabloids?

    Cue more “It’s China’s fault!” or whomever the spindoctors can think of to blame rather than a decade of underinvestment by policy of the Conservative Party. Don’t blame CummingBorisHancock either.


  3. Россия окажет гуманитарную помощь США в связи с коронавирусом
    Любое использование материалов допускается только при наличии гиперссылки на ИА REGNUM.

    Russia will provide humanitarian assistance to the United States as regards coronavirus
    MOSCOW, 31 March 2020, 21:13 — REGNUM ,
    Moscow has offered Washington humanitarian aid against the backdrop of the severe epidemiological coronavirus situation in the United States, which the US leader Donald trump “has acknowledged”, said Kremlin press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, March 31.

    According to him, Russian aircraft with the medical equipment and means of protection may fly to the United States before the end of the day.

    The grammar of the above article is ambiguous in that I cannot determine whether Trump has acknowledged the offer of aid or the fact that there is an epidemic in the USA or that Russia has offered aid: I think the former.

    The offer, I am sure, will be spurned.


    1. The offer, I am sure, will be spurned.

      That’s quite likely, as the offer of a Cuban medical team was spurned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, although the Cubans have some of the best doctors and medical care on the planet. The United States will never acknowledge that a socialist system can produce excellent public services.

      That’s not so much the case with Russia, which isn’t truly ‘socialist’ any more, although there are socialist elements to its policies. However, while I’m confident Russia has teams and logistics ready to roll if the offer should be accepted, I imagine the real intent of the offer is to push the Americans to take a public position of “No thanks, Bud; we’ve got everything under control” when they demonstrably have not, and to highlight that the only help the USA has offered Russia is help with choosing its next government as soon as possible.


      1. I am sure that is the reasoning behind the offer, which simply displays the absence of morality in Mordor, whereas the USA always acts for the greater good of mankind in its promotion of freedom and democracy and the American way of life that so many unfortunate nations so much yearn for.


    2. They won’t be grateful and they wouldn’t reciprocate even if they could.

      Take a look at American twitter says about this, and just try to imagine what they would be saying if positions were reversed. That’s the real voice of the American people, not useless nobodies like Max Blumenthal or Ben Norton. There’s nothing noble about rescuing a rabid animal from a trap that it was dumb enough to step into.


        1. Its an AN-124 no less. Showing off you Russkis.


          The twitter reactions per the article are amusingly nuts:

          Not to mention that while Putin is sending supplies here, Russia has also “received more than a million face masks and 200,000 coronavirus testing kits as a gift from Jack Ma”. So what exactly is Russia sending to the US?https://t.co/oYMNfiQv1n

          Is Putin regifting? How low class!

          This is absolutely disgusting and Putin will use this as propaganda just like he does w Italy with media showing Russian tanks rolling through Italy. What else will be on this plane besides their faulty supplies while Putin ignores the pandemic spreading in Russia w his coverup? pic.twitter.com/A2molT6upv
          — Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) March 31, 2020

          All leading to this and whatever else is on the plane that will most likely have to do w elections https://t.co/2YygG94NfQ
          — Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) March 31, 2020

          Seriously what is this? “Hopefully someone will tell Trump that he’s playing right into a propaganda ploy” He damn straight KNOWS he’s doing Putin’s bidding as he has since he first joined the Russian mob. This is Twitter & not a NYTimes lede.
          — Rita🌊@🏠 (@RitaOldLadyDem_) March 31, 2020

          Kinda reminds me when the We took the land from the Indians & pretended to make peace with them and offered the Indians Blankets that were infected w Smallpox To kill them off..
          — 🎀🌹🌸MOOKS🌸🌹🎀 (@GhostOfLuv3) March 31, 2020

          I wonder if they will turn down medicine from Russia if they or their families needed it? Actually, i think they would being true believers.


  4. Al-Beeb s’Allah’s Stever Rosenturd has got a boner on his twatter thread, reporting that the number of Russians infected by Coronavirus has gone from 500 to 2,337. He seems to be unaware of something called ‘mass testing’, but we must cut him some slack as it is an alien concept in his native UK that cannot even organize a cockup in a brothel.


    1. According to the Moscow Times piece, this is because they now only count a single positive test in Moscow rather than wait for a second test (now discontinued – I posted this above somewhere already) as sufficient proof to count as proof of having coronavirus.


      1. He is joined by his fellow plum-in-the-mouth British correspondent Sarah Rainsford, who wants to tell you all about the latest ‘crackdown’ in Moscow; the modification of public-safety laws discussed earlier to enforce quarantine. Here’s an assignment for anyone who wants it – try and find the stiffening of public-safety laws described as a ‘crackdown’ in any other country.


        She breathlessly describes these ‘tough laws’ being ‘rushed through in record time’ – because, you know, they don’t have a legislative process in Russia. You just put the law on Putin’s desk, along with a clinking bag of money, and say respectfully, “Couldja sign this, Boss?”

        I wonder what she made of the Canadian liberals’ proposal to give the Finance Minister the power to increase taxes without parliamentary discussion, and to spend as he saw fit to counter the ‘pandemic’. And similar gestapo posturing in other countries, enacting laws to limit citizens’ movements and threats to jail or fine them, are uniformly prevented as fatherly concern for their well-being.


      2. In infectiology … a traditional distinction is made between infection and disease. An illness requires a clinical manifestation. Therefore, only patients with symptoms such as fever or cough should be included in the statistics as new cases.

        In other words, a new infection – as measured by the COVID-19 test – does not necessarily mean that we are dealing with a newly ill patient who needs a hospital bed. However, it is currently assumed that five percent of all infected people become seriously ill and require ventilation. Projections based on this estimate suggest that the healthcare system could be overburdened.

        My question: Did the projections make a distinction between symptom-free infected people and actual, sick patients – i.e. people who develop symptoms?

        The above is from an open letter from Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, to the German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel.


        One can be tested HIV positive, for example, but that does mean that one’s death will be from AIDs: one could be HIV positive and be, for example, run over by a bus.

        Last week, it was announced by the UK press that a 19-year-old covid-19 positive patient had died in hospital. The “journalists” went into overdrive as regards that story.

        It turned out later, that the unfortunate young woman had died of a heart attack.

        I was told today by a UK correspondent of mine on the Internet that a doctor commented on the BBC that death certificates are being issued there with cause of death stated as “possible Corona Virus”.

        No post mortem.

        If someone dies at home and tells the doctor they had a temperature or a cough it seems that the death has been caused by this corona virus.

        Same as those in hospital who are tested positive for corona and then die. It is assumed that the corona virus is the cause of death, these unfortunates may have had a stroke or heart attack or other life terminating condition, and indeed, a vast majority of “coronavirus victims” are people who already had serious terminal health problems.


        1. If someone dies at home, they will not be able to tell the doctor anything. They are dead.

          The National Post claimed today that ‘scientific studies’ have proved the virus spreads easily between asymptomatic people. That being the case, it is completely hopeless to try and stop it – it will be waiting for you when you emerge from quarantine, and strike you down. However, I suggest that is horseshit. Supposedly the virus spreads by infected people coughing or sneezing droplets of infection which others breathe in, or pick up on hard surfaces with their hands and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose. People who have no symptoms are not coughing or sneezing. The virus allegedly cannot penetrate skin; it must be ingested or transferred to mucous membranes through touch. So how is it transmitted between asymptomatic people who are not generating virus particles?


          1. “If someone dies at home, they will not be able to tell the doctor anything. They are dead.”

            As a matter of fact, I just cut and pasted what my correspondent wrote to me in an email.

            I should have enclosed what he wrote in quotation marks thus:

            “If someone dies at home and tells the doctor they had a temperature or a cough it seems that the death has been caused by this corona virus.

            Same as those in hospital who are tested positive for corona and then die. It is assumed that the corona virus is the cause of death, these unfortunates may have had a stroke or heart attack or other life terminating condition, and indeed, a vast majority of “coronavirus victims” are people who already had serious terminal health problems”.

            The bellend should have written at the beginning: “If someone dies at home and a doctor is told that the deceased had a temperature or a cough, it seems that the cause of death is attributed to corona virus”.

            Either my correspondent cannot use the passive voice correctly or Microsoft Word has put the passive into the active voice, as it invariably does if you are not careful.

            More than likely he is just semi-literate.

            For some reason, prescriptive grammarians at Microsoft eschew the passive voice.

            Russians get screwed up with the passive, which is used nowhere as near as often in their tongue as it is in English.

            The following really blows their fuses:

            The report had not been written before I went for lunch.
            It has been written by someone since I left the office,
            It must have been written while I was having lunch.


      1. I don’t know. What I do know is that both The Netherlands and Belgium survived perfectly well without any government for six months.


        1. In Belgium’s case, that country survived for at least 18 months without a government from mid-2010 to near the end of 2011. And this is supposed to be a country where there are serious conflict issues over language, religion and other things between French-speaking Walloons and Flemish speakers.


          1. Thanks for the correction Jen! Yes, the Belgians were pleased with themselves for breaking record of The Netherlands… which then beat the Belgian record to take titile for longest time without government back. As the football quote goes: “It was a game of two halves.” except a) it’s not a game; b) it doesn’t have two halves; c) politics isn’t officially a sport! 😉


        2. Russia has also survived very well for 29 years without a government; at least, that is how the MSM portrays Russia: it is a “regime”, a “dictatorship” in which a tyrant and his clique control everything whilst looting the state.


  5. A Facebook post tragically announces that in Italy there is no more room in hospital wards …

    This is Italy. No rooms left in the hospital

    In reality, this photo was taken in Zagreb after an earthquake there had damaged a maternity hospital and the mothers with their new-born were being evacuated.

    But first impressions count — witness Lick-My-Hairy-Balls’ wonderful Buk video clips.


    1. Indeed, and Germany is taking in critical Italian & French cases, the latter two special TGVs transporting patients…


  6. Isn’t it typical that the US in #1 in everything except when it actually is put to the test? This particular list, prepared just last year, showed the US to be by far the most prepared country to handle a pandemic.


    Just last year, the US topped a list of the countries best equipped to deal with a pandemic. But the experts have egg on their face as America spirals into Covid-19 catastrophe. What went wrong?

    Soon they will overtake China’s number of deaths from Covid-19. Their figures now stand at almost 165,000 people infected, and having doubled in three days, the death toll has surpassed 3,000 people. President Trump has had to quickly recant his rhetoric about the lockdown being lifted and the country being put back to work by Easter. It now appears that the US, and its economy, is in for a long dark summer.

    The list shows the US way out in front of the world with a 83.5 (damn near perfect). Russia (44.3) and China (48.2) were far down the list sharing ranking with India (46.5).


    Is not that amazing? Russia is garbage by default. Just as its military was junk until it blew away the West in Syria. I suppose it is better to be underrated than overrated.


    1. I read today that China, with a population of around 1.4 Billion (I did not check that for accuracy) had just 69 new cases today, all people who had returned from abroad. But documents obtained from a government source by the National Post claimed the Canadian government’s ‘best-case scenario’ was that the restrictions which currently prevail in Canada would last until July. And the amount of money being thrown at the problem just goes up and up, now that there have been 1.6 million unemployment-insurance claims this week and the government is trying to finance the economy while hardly anyone is working. And it hopes to be able to support that through July? Better lube up the printing presses, and start printing more money. Weimar papiermarks, anyone?

      The reckoning for this is going to be dreadful, I think it will cause far more damage than the stupid pandemic itself.


  7. Contrary to my expectations:

    Самолёт ВКС России с медоборудованием вылетел в США

    An aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces has flown with medical equipment to the USA
    04: 32

    An aeroplane of the Russian Aerospace Forces has flown with medical masks and medical equipment to the United States.

    This has been reported by RIA Novosti with reference to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

    Earlier, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian leader, said that against the backdrop of a difficult epidemiological situation in the United States, Russia had offered Washington support. Aircraft with aid for combatting the coronavirus infection COVID-19 would fly to the United States before the end of the day.

    On March 30, a telephone conversation took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and American leader Donald Trump, during which the coronavirus pandemic and the situation on the world oil market were discussed.


        1. Except that the USA was capable of overthrowing Chavez. And did. And it’s very hard for western media to portray free assistance (in this case; in Venezuela’s case it was merely cheap, not free) as a nefarious plot to subvert freedom and democratic values. It’s also a very effective way to suggest that Putin – and Chavez before him – bears the ordinary American people no ill will, and sees them as distinctly different from their government and ideologues among them.

          However, I would not be surprised to see stories that the American intelligence services found listening devices concealed in the medical equipment delivered, or to see a doctor or two arrested for spying. Without some sort of scandal, the situation will look kind of embarrassing for the Last Superpower.


      1. Why of why?

        Why oh why.

        Perhaps it would be better that Russia put the boot in whilst the USA appears to be down at the moment, just to show that Russia — strong.

        Or nuke Washington even, whilst they’re all coughing and sneezing there?


  8. General Winter still working wonders here!

    Bright sunshine and minus 7 Celsius here as I write at 08:00 Moskva time.

    Most of Moskva still abed, it seems, looking out of my kitchen window, anyway, at the 1st April snowscape.

    Bear in mind, I well remember mostly spending the 1st May 1998 holidays in bed at a sanatorium with my then quite recently newly wedded wife, because it started snowing heavily (on 27 April if I rightly recall), so we couldn’t play tennis or badminton there (we had brought our racquets with us to do so), and therefore indulged in alternative strenuous activities.


  9. Hurry, hurry, hurry! An FT article that is free to read! Don’t miss this rare opportunity to read without charge an article published by this propaganda organ stalwart of the the Western MSM!

    Got it this morning from my firm for use with classes. My firm pumps my inbox full of propaganda shite, such as TED talks. My students see straight through it all.

    Here it is:

    Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus

    Harari wrote “Sapiens’, “Homo Deus” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, copies of which I have and never fully read because they are bollocks, but I ain’t no professor.

    Note the spin in this paragraph from the above article:

    In order to stop the epidemic, entire populations need to comply with certain guidelines. There are two main ways of achieving this. One method is for the government to monitor people, and punish those who break the rules. Today, for the first time in human history, technology makes it possible to monitor everyone all the time. Fifty years ago, the KGB couldn’t follow 240m Soviet citizens 24 hours a day, nor could the KGB hope to effectively process all the information gathered. The KGB relied on human agents and analysts, and it just couldn’t place a human agent to follow every citizen. But now governments can rely on ubiquitous sensors and powerful algorithms instead of flesh-and-blood spooks.

    That’s probably true, Noah old chum — I mean what you wrote about the KGB in the Evil Empire. Now how about the CIA? What do you think of that august organization’s surveillance capabilities 50 years ago?


    1. Just listen to the bragging about government’s surveillance and monitoring capabilities! Which western governments would never use, of course,
      ‘coz privacy. I wish I could find that National Post article again; I read it on board in the hard-copy newspaper (which one of the trucks who is a regular, carrying the papers, gives us for free). The National Post is a fiercely conservative paper whose columnists are uniformly of the opinion that Canada died a little when Stephen Harper was ousted, and there has never been his like since. They’re half right. There has never been his like since. Anyway, one of them was crowing about the government coming down heavy with threats of fines and jail (fines, I have been told, which have now gone up to $800.00 – gotta pay back all that free cash they’re slinging about somehow), and that we certainly didn’t need to hear any “chirping about privacy”. ‘Cause we’re all in this together, ain’t we? We all have our part to play, our sacrifices to make, and it’s all in the name of survival.

      Governments will blather, later, after it’s all over, about how we can now return to freedom and all our rights are magically restored. But those governments will never forget the heady rush of taking them all away and seizing absolute power over their subjects.

      The Globe & Mail carried an interesting story about how there have been instances of over-zealousness in BloJo’s UK, such as workers traveling to essential services who were sent home by the cops, and never got to their jobs because they could not convince the plods of their credentials. But I think my favourite was the one about police in a pharmacy removing items from shoppers’ baskets that they considered non-essential. Several people were quoted as remarking Britain is becoming a police state, while some members of law enforcement organizations pointed out that this kind of behavior would be remembered for a long time after the pandemic is over.


      1. In my experience, British plods’ usual reaction to complaints about the curtailment of liberties is advice to move to Russia or North Korea if one finds one’s circumstances no longer tenable.

        As I have recounted before, in 1984, one such law officer advised me to go to Russia if I was apparently so discontented with my lot in Merry England. His actual words were, in fact: “Why don’t you fuck off to Russia and join your Communist mates there?”

        I replied that I would, when circumstances that I then seriously disagreed with in the UK had changed.

        Should have kept my big fat mouth shut!


  10. The lowdown on Navalny’s doctor chum:

    Фейковый профсоюз и “Анастасия два процента”: что скрывает Альянс врачей Навального
    31 марта 2020, 12:22

    The fake professional association “Anastasia Two Percent”: What is the Navalny “Alliance of Doctors” hiding?

    [Note the folded arms-semi-sideways-view of Nastya (Anastasia — Nasty Nastya indeed!) staring directly at the camera, a much favoured PR pose that is meant to give an “I-am-a-professional-and-know-what-I-am-talking about” impression.]

    Against the backdrop of the coronavirus epidemic, there have been activated people who have begun to accuse the government of ineffective measures in combatting the disease and to disperse fake and panic news, which has then been picked up by the Western media. Among these activists there have been people with a medical education — for example, Anastasia Vasilyeva, a colleague of Alexei Navalny and the head of the so-called “Alliance of Doctors”. Member of the Public Chamber of Russia Ilya Remeslo has studied the career and activities of Vasilyeva, who has recently become known to the public, and has found out what was wrong with her thesis and the financial reports of the “Alliance of Doctors”.

    I shall state right away: I have nothing against workers defending their rights, let alone those of doctors. It is hard to deny that the situation for physicians in our country is far from ideal. The point is that doctors are being used by various figures disguised as a “medical union”, which is working not to improve the welfare of doctors, but for the replication fake stories and social destabilization.

    Glamorous ophthalmologist

    Until 2018, few people knew about Anastasia Vasilyeva when she was working as an ophthalmologist. Her name and phone number (taken from the old “Alliance of Doctors” website) can be seen, for example, in an old announcement about hiring a housekeeper for a 4-room apartment in Moscow.

    Later, somebody using Vasilyeva’s phone number was again looking for a housekeeper — this time in the Istra district of Moscow suburbs, in the elite cottage village “Nile”.

    [Note: the meaning of “cottage” in Russian certainly does not correlate to that of “cottage” used by native speakers of English; a Russian ““kottedzh” is usually a palatial country house — ME.]

    The media has also reported that Vasilyeva owns a plot and a house worth 50 million rubles in this village:

    In general, it should be noted that Vasilyeva looks very flamboyant, wears expensive things and carries around gadgets and does not look like a regular doctor on a low salary.

    Anastasia Vasilyeva in the centre

    If we look at the old entries on Vasilyeva’s VKontakte pages, we will not find anything there that would be related to her social position or to human rights. Instead, there are re-posts from various popular groups on her pages. Some of the information (from 2015 to 2018) has been cleared, and some of the old posts show a discrepancy between Vasilyeva’s political views and her current activities:

    [There is shown in the original a Vasilyeva vKontakte page of 25 February 2014. Cannot provide a link, but the page shows a repost of a gag posted by a Ukrainian speaking Ukrainian (check his vKontakte page — ME:

    Putin: But we have gas in Russia! And you?
    Yanukovich: Well, we have a coup, so there.
    Lukashenko: And our people will not be allowed to have a coup!
    Putin: And we’ve got the Olympics. What else is there to be happy about? And all the people are rejoicing. So there!
    Yanukovich: Well, we have a coup. So there…
    Lukashenko: But in our country, thanks to me, of course, there are no poor or rich, everyone lives only on wages.
    Putin: And on our skis in Sochi, everyone, officials and a workers, can relax. What an act of grace that is!
    Yanukovich: Well, we have a coup… So there.
    Obama: Well, all countries send me potatoes, gas, bananas. Who does not send me bananas, well, they have a coup as well. So there …]

    To be continued, otherwise, if I post the full translation, it will go down the censorship hole for its having too many links ….


    1. continued …

      Doctors’ Alliance as a fake factory

      After the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Vasilyeva and her “Alliance of Doctors” dramatically increased their activity, speculating on the topic of infection. Vasilyeva regularly publishes on her pages on social networks “messages from doctors” from various regions — though without specifying their names and even places of work. Ostensibly for their safety. It remains only to believe the word of Vasilyeva: she factors in nothing else.

      So, on March 29, Vasilyeva wrote on Twitter that she had allegedly been contacted by a nurse working in a Moscow hospital intensive care unit, where “doctors walk around for eight hours wearing ‘Pampers'”. Of course, no evidence was given concerning such an insane version of events.

      Vasilyeva has regularly published letters sent to her “from doctors” at various institutions, also without any evidence that the senders of the letters were actually doctors and that the statements that they had made were true.

      Vasilyeva has published links to materials from the opposition media that talk about “falsification of coronavirus tests”.

      If you carefully read the material itself, it turns out that the text does not contain real facts, and in the documents uploaded there were no signatures or the name of the patient. Moreover, even if you believe the documents laid out, the rest of the text is just the assumptions of an anonymous girl. Nevertheless, the title of the article claims to falsify tests for coronavirus as a fait accompli.

      Anastasia Two Percent: Fake Ph.D.

      Over the past 2 years, Alexei Navalny and the entire FBK [“Fund for the Struggle gainst Corruption”, Navalny’s nice little earner — ME] Internet network have been actively promoting Vasilyev. Navalny met her in 2017-2018, when he turned to doctors because of his eyesight problems. In fact, the “Alliance of Doctors’ is totally a Navalny team project and controlled by him.

      The Alliance website has been designed identically as has that of the FBK website. When you try to switch to the old version of the “Alliance of Doctors” website alyansvrachey.org, you are redirected to the Navalny website.

      Alexei Anatolyevich does not like people who fake dissertations. At one time, Navalny did not miss the chance to accuse Pavel Astakhov, ex-ombudsman for children’s right, of incorrect borrowing. Let us check the integrity of Navalny when it comes to his close associates.

      Since 2014, Anastasia Vasilyeva has been a candidate of medical sciences. [Not a Ph.D, but often used in the English-speaking world to mean that — ME] Here is a link to her dissertation, “Features of orbital and intracranial venous blood flow in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma”.

      I found the full text of Vasilyeva’s dissertation and passed it through an Anti-Plagiarism resource that identifies stolen dissertations. This resource is also used by the Dissernet community, which is led by Sergei Parkhomenko, host “Echo of Moscow” [which is a nest of vermin, in my humble opinion — ME].

      Here is what the verification of Vasilyeva’s dissertation showed: its originality is only 2 (!) percent, and incorrect borrowing [i/e. plagiarism — ME] is more than 82%.

      To be continued …


  11. continued …

    Anticipating emerging issues made by Navalny supporters, if we look at the sources of borrowing, then some of them are a dissertation by Vasilyeva herself, and there should be no questions asked. But the rest consists of links to other scientific articles and other sources, with which Vasilyeva has certainly not been involved with. There are dozens of such cases in her dissertation, for example:

    There are also references to Vasilyeva’s own abstract, which does not give originality to the scientific work. Technically, in terms of Antiplagiarism, the originality of Vasilyeva’s text is 2%. And if we exclude her own sources as much as possible, then in aggregate, all this gives a percentage of borrowings of around 15-20%. So grounds for proceedings at the Higher Attestation Commission are clearly present.

    Anyone who wishes to do so can follow the link to the page where the detailed report is saved and check the results himself. I emphasize that I have not invented anything, but only uploaded the text of Vasilyeva’s thesis to the automated system of text analysis on plagiarism.

    I hope that Alexey Navalny, “Dissernet” Andrei Zayakin and Sergei Parkhomenko, impartial fighters against the theft of dissertations, will apply to the Higher Attestation Commission with a statement on the verification of Vasilyeva’s dissertation for plagiarism and deprivation of her candidate status. Or is this case different?

    So far the question arises: is it possible to believe Vasilyeva as a source of information about coronavirus and whether she, unlike the thousands of ordinary doctors throughout Russia who have honestly received candidate degrees, has falsified her dissertation?

    Fake “Alliance of Doctors”: lies about sponsors and falsified reports to the Ministry of Justice

    Having dealt with Vasilyeva, we shall find out what the “Alliance of Doctors” is and who finances it. According to the “Alliance of Doctors” website, this organization is an all-Russian union of medical workers with branches in 31 regions of Russia. But documents on the establishment of regional branches (representative offices) of the “Alliance of Doctors” could not be found on the site. They are absent in the register too. The total number of members of the “union” is not indicated.

    Judging by the activity of Vasilyeva and her constant trips to various regions of Russia, the maintenance of such a large organization as is the “Alliance of Doctors” would require significant expenses. According to Vasilyeva herself, the union exists solely on contributions from its members and donations.

    [Who finances the “Alliance of Doctors”?]

    We shall check if this is so by looking at the official reports on the “Alliance of Doctors” at the Ministry of Justice. As follows from the register and the information on the site, the professional association was created in August 2018. Thus, for almost half a year in 2018, there must have existed an organizational apparatus, transportation and other expenses, such as creating a site, renting premises etc..

    But here’s what the 2018 “Alliance of Doctors” financial statements tell us about the money it spent:

    In 2018, only 17 thousand rubles were spent. So for what reason and for what money wasthe alliance working for in the course of almost half a year? Vasilyeva does not report anything about this in a report to the Justice Ministry. It becomes obvious that the “alliance” is conducting double-entry bookkeeping, existing at the expense of money, which is not officially reported.

    To be continued …


  12. continued …

    We go further and look at the report on received funds for 2018.

    In the section “sources of property formation” we see that certain fields are ticked off. It irrefutably follows from the report that Vasilyeva’s “alliance” received money not only from individual donors (as she has tried to assure us), but also from commercial and non-profit organizations. At the same time, the amount of funding received is not indicated in the report. Vasilyeva directly lied about the sources of financing the “Alliance of Doctors”, as well as about the money spent on its maintenance.

    Both Vasilyev and the “Alliance of Doctors” prefer not to talk about all these oddities; there are no reports on donations collected and spent on the alliance website. Potential donors have noticed this, but they have never received any answers from Vasilyeva.

    There is another similarity between Vasilyeva and Navalny: he is not going to make a report about the hundreds of millions collected for the “work of the headquarters” (not to be confused with the reports for the FBK).

    To Sum Up

    1. Vasilyev and the “Alliance of Doctors” distribute unverified and, frankly, fake information about coronavirus.

    2. Vasilyeva has been found to have fraudulently defended her dissertation, as confirmed by the independent anti-plagiarism verification system and deserves an unbiased assessment by Dissernet activists.

    3. The Alliance of Doctors lies about the sources of its financing and does not report on monies spent, despite questions about this from supporters.

    In short, she has latched onto a nice little earner with another thief, Navalny, not to mention the funding she no doubt receives from that noble bastion of freedom and democracy, the USA.


  13. (above) She’s in a derelict hospital in the centre of Moscow. The people in hazmat gear are actors, filmed whilst strolling around the ruin. She suggests that this is the state of all Russian hospitals.

    She’s making money out of all of this — because she is so concerned about the parlous state of the Russian health service.

    Central Clinical Hospital, Moskva, near where Stalin’s dacha is at Kuntsevo

    Moscow Department of health

    A Google search with “Hospitals Russia” gives lists of links to reports of Orcs bombing hospitals!

    I use Yandex search.

    Also, on Google search you find enquiries, mostly from Americans, asking which is the best private clinic for treatment.

    Hi, I have just been here in Moscow for 3 months.
    Anybody who know what is the best hospital for foreigners in Moscow?

    Some say AMC (American Medical Center or MEDSI),
    Others say EMC (European Medical Center.)

    Any idea?


    Most Westerners whom I have become acquainted with over the years here blanch at the very thought of receiving treatment at a Russian clinic/hospital. They have always been gobsmacked when I have told them that I have been hospitalized 3 times here and have lived to tell the tale.

    They have also been dumbfounded to learn that all my children were born in Russian state hospitals. My youngest, born 2008, was delivered at a maternity hospital that was only 2 years old when she first saw the light of the world.


    1. The absence of any patients, beds, linens, equipment is kind of a giveaway. She had best watch her ass; one of the new laws just passed imposed a significant penalty for spreading ‘fake news’ about the coronavirus.


    2. I visited a couple of clinics in Vladivostok during my visits there, and they were both in old buildings which were very run-down; the equipment looked modern enough and the medical personnel seemed very professional – bearing in mind that I might have spoken a dozen words in Russian at the time, and no way they could all have fit in a single sentence. But the state of the common areas was pretty bad, with large pieces of lino missing in the hallway floors and in some places a clear path right down to the wood where it had all been worn away from the passage of feet. The missus (who was not quite the missus at the time) warned me not to touch the banisters while descending the stairs, because sick people have touched them, but I since learned that was just her typical abundance of caution (I mean, who washes a banana? You don’t eat the skin. I’ll tell you who washes a banana before eating it) and not a suggestion that they are never cleaned or sanitized. The facilities didn’t look dirty at all – just at the end of their lives. And I’m sure there are, and were, modern hospitals in Vladivostok. I just never visited one. And truth to tell, my experience with most state structures in Vladivostok was the same – run-down and barely adequate for the purpose. The airport in Vladivostok, for example, at least the last time I visited, was more like a reclaimed warehouse, and the baggage-reclamation area looked like it might have been lifted straight out of Chad or Zaire. That’s not a condemnation – I still had a wonderful time in Russia and can’t wait for an opportunity to go back, but at the time those facilities described were far below even a country hospital or airport in Canada or the USA.

      That’s also not to suggest Vasiliyeva is telling even a little bit of truth – she has an obvious political agenda, and she and Navalny are playing the opportunity for all it’s worth; I just saw a news item last night in which Navalny affected to be perplexed that Putin has been so rarely seen in public lately, and drew a straight line from that bemusement to reports that the guy who showed him around the hospital in Moscow has tested positive for COVID-19. QED – Putin has coronavirus, and is fighting for his life in a sweaty bed somewhere, probably being bled with leeches by his medieval doctors.


      1. You would think that they would both be a bit cautious, you know, in case they themselves have to go in to self-isolation because they have tested postive for COVID-19. Not very clever at all.

        As for Pootie-Poot, I’d be surprised (on balance) if he hasn’t got it. If anything, leading a healthy lifestyle should be commended. If I was him, I’d go public to prove that everyone is equal. Working together (even with enemies – and unlike the US), protecting the vulnerable should be of prime concern (if only for votes), as well as good f(((ing practice for when the inevitable and quite deadly epidemic does break out in future.

        Regardless of the aftermath, of wether it is actually quite ‘mild’ or whatever, the world is already globalized and that has been a boon for many negative things. Who’s going to roll this back? No-one. Thus, we need to be prepared and ready. What more warning do we need? I suspect that us peasants will do the best in future regardless of our generally useless politicians. I just hope it will be enough.


  14. Hospital № 29 Moscow, in the foreground, the maternity unit where my Sasha was born:

    The blocks behind are also Hospital 29, but built much earlier than the Stork Clinic was.

    Hospital № 1 Moscow, where my two eldest were born:

    Built 1837, the year Pushkin bit the dust.


  15. The National Interest via Antiwar.com: Kurds and White Helmets Spar Over Coronavirus Sanctions Relief in Syria

    …The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, called for the international community to reject any demands for sanctions relief. The search-and-rescue group, which operates in the rebel-held northwest, warned that “any economic aid provided to the Syrian regime will be used to support the regime itself and its networks of corruption.” …


  16. Antiwar.com: Animal Rights Groups Slam Saudis for ‘Horse Massacre’ in Yemen

    Saudi airstrikes killed an estimated 70 horses

    Animal rights groups issued statements on Tuesday condemning Saudi Arabia’s Monday airstrikes against the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, and in particular, the strikes against the horse stable at the military college…

    F***ing animals. The Saudis that is…


    1. Yes, you can’t get anyone to notice while they’re starving families with children to death through blockades and making it impossible for them to grow or obtain food. But kill some animals, and look the fuck out.


  17. The curious thoughts of a British Army officer knobhead Colonel Ashleigh Boreham :

    Troops compare coronavirus fight to ‘Battle of the Somme’ as NHS ExCeL hospital completed

    Colonel Boreham said: “It’s the biggest job I’ve ever done. But you know what, I’ve spent 27 years on a journey to this moment.

    “Myself and my team [“Myself and my team” — what kind of bloody commissioned officer’s English is that?], and all the other parts of the army, the NHS, everybody here has got the skillset and ability to do it.

    “I’ve got the experience, I’m the right person at the right time, maybe, for this particular project.

    “I’ve come from a family that served in the past. My grandfather was at the Somme, this is no different. I’m just at a different battle.”

    No different from the Battle of the Somme, the first day of which battle having been the worst day in the history of the British Army, which suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 killed in action?

    Just like coronavirus, innit?

    (above) Poor buggers waiting to go into action, July 1st, 1916. Belfast regiment, if I rightly remember.

    Just reminded me: the other day, Mrs. Exile was watching a BBC World Service video, in which health workers from all over the UK were giving dire warnings about disobeying the restrictions imposed upon the public by Bojo the Clown and his Westminster Circus chums. She called me into the kitchen to explain to her what one of the NHS employees was saying. She hadn’t a clue what he was jabbering on about.

    On entering the kitchen, I heard the dulcet tones of Belfast, Northern Ireland. This ambulance bloke was saying: “I work for the Belfast respiratory unit and I’m telling you all, this is a very serious situation”.

    “What kind of English is that?” she said.

    “It isn’t”, I replied, it’s Nornirish, and then proceeded to give her my impersonation of the late Reverend
    Ian Paisley ranting on about “Popery” and the “Scarlet Woman of Rome”.

    She said: “Are ye havin’ a laugh? Away ta fuck!”

    She’s shit hot at picking up twangs.


    1. If you would just calm down for a moment, and think, you would see that it is indeed just like the Somme – if British soldiers had practiced social distancing at the time and stood six feet apart one from the other, casualties would have been much lighter.


  18. Rt.com: How disinformation really works: Activists linked to pro-NATO think tank smear Russian Covid-19 aid to Italy

    With over 11,000 deaths and more than 100,000 cases of Covid-19, Italy is currently a country which feels under siege. But this is no impediment to the think tank racket twisting an offer of support for its propaganda purposes.

    Here’s what happened. The weekend before last, Vladimir Putin called Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. During the conversation, Conte asked for help, in fighting coronavirus, according to the Kremlin readout which hasn’t been contradicted by Italian officials.

    Let’s be clear from the outset, there was undoubtably a strong PR, as well as practical, element to Russia’s assistance. However, there were also advantages to Rome from this approach, as the move may have helped to concentrate a few minds among its traditional allies….

    More at the link, including the usual suspects ‘look over there!’ rather than ‘look over here and what we’ve done!’


    1. Simultaneously despicable and unsurprising. It kind of reminds me of the stories circulating when I was a young man, how Soviet citizens were told Americans had collapsed and died of hunger against the walls of storehouses bulging with food, because the capitalist oligarchs were so selfish. The missus grew up in the Soviet Union, and was in her mid-teens when the collapse occurred. She never heard any such stories, and school-aged children are the reliable targets of propagandists.


  19. John Helmer provides a nice choronology:


    The US satellite images proving that a BUK missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, have existed for twenty-three days – between July 20 and August 12, 2014. Since then they ceased to exist. Since then too, for almost six years, no US Government official has claimed in public, nor told Dutch police, prosecutors, or military intelligence officials in secret, that the images can be viewed with the naked eye….

    Plenty more at the link.

    Once again, I will add a link to the piece by the late, great Robert Parry (who highlighted the ‘dog that didn’t bark*’):

    ConsortiumNews.com: Airline Horror Spurs New Rush to Judgment

    July 19, 2014

    Exclusive: President Obama and the State Department’s “anti-diplomats” are fanning flames of anger against Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. But some U.S. intelligence analysts doubt the popular “blame-the-Russians” scenario, reports Robert Parry.

    By Robert Parry

    Despite doubts within the U.S. intelligence community, the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. news media are charging off toward another rush to judgment blaming Ukrainian rebels and the Russian government for the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane, much as occurred last summer regarding a still-mysterious sarin gas attack in Syria…

    …Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22.

    According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility….

    …The Russian Defense Ministry stated that “The Russian equipment detected throughout July 17 the activity of a Kupol radar, deployed as part of a Buk-M1 battery near Styla [a village some 30 kilometers south of Donetsk],” according to an RT report http://rt.com/news/173784-ukraine-plane-malaysian-russia/ .

    So, the other alternative remains in play, that a Ukrainian military unit possibly a poorly supervised bunch fired the missile intentionally or by accident. Why the Ukrainian military would intentionally have aimed at a plane flying eastward toward Russia is hard to comprehend, however.

    Note the date of the piece above.

    * https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/17/mh-17-two-years-of-anti-russian-propaganda/


    1. I never bought that story that satellite imagery showed troops in Ukrainian uniforms with what appeared to be beer bottles scattered about – that was just intelligence folk having a laugh. I’m pretty sure we have never seen satellite imagery with that kind of resolution or definition, and if the Americans had it and it proved what they say it proves, we would have seen it many times over. Instead, what we see are grainy images of fields in Ukraine, with formation-rows of little rectangles we were told was a Russian armored column in Ukraine but was later explained to have been combine harvesters. I believe the kind of satellite photography we usually see in declassified intelligence briefings – in which you pretty much have to take their word you’re looking at a bus and not a loaf of bread – are typical of the results; why would you need specialized photo-int personnel if you could just read the side-number off a tank from space? It’s certainly bigger than a beer bottle.

      However, it is very possible that satellite evidence DOES exist, but implicates Ukraine. The west was at great pains, through layers of analysts, to build a scenario in which the missile came from HERE, not from THERE, when here would have implicated Donbas forces and there would have been Ukrainian positions. Russian evidence and analysis – naturally – contradicted the positioning completely, suggesting it would have been impossible for the Boeing to have been hit from THIS direction and fall where it did, and the Russian evidence was – naturally – scorned as just desperate scrambling and ass-covering.

      I think that a little time followed by western narratives falling apart, such as occurred with the Russia-doping frame-up and Magnitsky The Dead Saint, has actually predisposed the world to be a little more skeptical, and the west kind of shot itself in the foot when it refused to even attend displays like the Almaz-Antey test. If you could discredit theories without even breaking a sweat, why wouldn’t you? Their position now looks like No, no; the Russians are just trying to change our minds and yours – and we’re afraid they might.


      1. If the satellite “imagery” is from an early warning satellite in a geosynchronous orbit 20,000+ miles away, I would be surprised in it could pin down the missile exhaust flare location to within 20 – 30 miles.

        I agree that the claimed satellite evidence was likely used like in a police interrogation where they lie about “overwhelming evidence” hoping to get a plea bargain out of an innocent suspect.


        1. I have never seen satellite photography from any altitude which would qualify as ‘space’ or even orbital which could discern a beer bottle by its shape and size. I suspect that ‘news item’ was leaked just to see if the Russia-defender crowd would run with it.


          1. SBIRS* was active at that time, not to mention there was an AWACS in the air and almost certainly other airborne ELINT equipment.

            What we do know is that the intelligence community is happy to share data but does not like it to be known where it comes from. The FBI, for example, has been caught laundering intelligence information and constructing false chains of evidence that it has then presented in court.

            It is quite possible that a) the photos do not actually come from satellites, but; b) comes from another unnamed source.

            What is more than likely is that they detected the missile plume and drew in all their other ELINT which would have included the current positions of UKROP BUK units, maybe even from Ukranian tv showing a dozen or so of their BUKs on exercise in the region (as seen on youtube), i.e. all the stuff that is not said.

            Even then, Parry is quite careful with his words and it is heavily qualified. He’s no newbie. That someone would try to pull the wool over such a seasoned reporter with his background out of curiousity is also a little bit odd, but you never know.

            * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-Based_Infrared_System


            1. “What is more than likely is that they detected the missile plume and drew in all their other ELINT which would have included the current positions of UKROP BUK units, maybe even from Ukrainian tv showing a dozen or so of their BUKs on exercise in the region (as seen on youtube), i.e. all the stuff that is not said.”

              That’s entirely possible – however, I submit that whenever US information on the disposition of Ukrainian units conflicted with the Ukrainians’ declaration of where their units were, the Ukrainian version was allowed to prevail. I don’t know how much clearer that could have been made than by the establishment, almost before the figurative ink on the makeup of the JIT was dry, of an escape clause whereby any participating nation could veto the publication of any part or all of the conclusions. I suggest that was unprecedented, considering one of the participants was a suspect.


  20. The beat goes on:


    Whiting Petroleum filed for bankruptcy protection, while Saudi Arabia ignores President Donald Trump and moves ahead to push oil prices down further. Oil prices came under additional pressure Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported domestic oil stockpiles soared by 13.8 million barrels, more than triple the estimate for an increase of 4 million. Gasoline stockpiles surged by 7.5 million barrels as demand dived 25% to the lowest level since 1993.


  21. I’m just watching how UKGov is PR managing their self-made clusterf*ck.

    They have daily COVID-19 news briefings. Their strategy seems to be presenting a moving target, having a different minister each day, ergo spreading the blame in little bits rather than having one minister there day after day getting harder and harder questions.

    I know that most of the media is very sympathetic to the Conservative party, but even then they know that they cannot provide complete insurance to it and keep their readers happy, which is why in the last week they have become a little bit more critical about the government’s pathetic and delayed response.

    This spread’em out strategy may work in the short term, but if all ministers go through this cycle, none of them can claim that they were not involved. It’s all recorded. Yet again, if you want a masterclass in slippery PR, you cannot do much better than the British political establishment.


    1. I’m not sure.

      The Ministers being put on duty during Boris’s indisposition have mainly been of Indian backgrounds. And they’ve been left to peddle increasingly bad news.

      When the tide turns, my guess is that Boris will be available to take credit.


      1. In review, it seems most convenient for BoJo to have been coronavized just when he was, as the UK’s entire approach to isolation is being criticized and complaints that the police are acting like Schutzstaffel are rolling in. Much better to peruse those over a dram in the company of the significant other than to endure pressers in which it is not even necessary to mess one’s hair up before taking the podium, as one would surely wrench it out by the handful. Trudeau showed him the way – he does a daily presser on his front steps, since he is most likely infected; his missus has it. No messy answering to Parliament, even in their diminutive six-feet-apart numbers.


        1. What’s the reckoning that BoJo will suddenly arise, Lazarus Skripal-like, from his coronavirus state just before Easter and start boring the hell out of people about his valiant struggle with the insidious little bugs?


          1. I would much prefer if he was more like Icarus, thus falling to his (political) death due to his flying too close to the Sun (newspaper) despite warnings given…


            1. Yes but I more easily imagine Boris Johnson as a zombie risen from the dead, his hair even more askew than usual, his eyes bloodshot and deranged, and his lower jaw hanging from one side of his face.


            2. Good one. He is already so far above his demonstrated level of competence that his fall would be meteoric, and his actually being voted into his present position remains unexplained by anything other than some sort of simple-mindedness hypnotic injected into the domestic water system.


  22. https://www.rt.com/news/484705-russian-coronavirus-aid-plane/

    A Russian military aircraft, carrying supplies needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak, has landed in New York. The haul was sent after President Trump accepted an offer of assistance from Vladimir Putin.

    The plane, that took off for its some 8,000-kilometer trek early overnight, has landed in the worst coronavirus-affected US city. The cargo contains protective face masks, as well as other medical equipment.

    The delivery was agreed upon by the Russian and US presidents during a phone call. Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discussed the fast-spreading Covid-19 pandemic as well as major shortages of protective gear in the US, according to the Kremlin press service.

    Moscow said it decided to help since the coronavirus pandemic “affects everyone without exception and is of a global nature.” Trump, for his part, described the aid as a “nice” and a “very, very large planeload” of help from Russia.

    Watch for adjectives like “lumbering aircraft”, “low-tech”, “Trojan horse”, “hypocritical”,”propaganda”…


  23. Moon of Alabama: China Did Not Deceive Us – Counting Death During An Epidemic Is Really Difficult

    The anti-China campaign, which the Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger is running, presented its first of April joke. It leaked to Bloomberg that a secret U.S. Intelligence Report claims that China concealed the real numbers of its Covid-19 cases:…

    I’m find it hard to believe his prediction that millions of Americans will die. Yes, they have very high rates of obesity/heart problems etc., but the USA is a huge country made out of 50 huge country sized states. That heavily populated costal states are deeply affected is not much of a surprise, but a blanket application to the rest and the interior is one step (possibly two) beyond.

    Either way, it will be horrific and certainly outnumber the rest of the world because of its alleged health ‘system’. The emperor has no clothes, so I suppose the question will be whether all the emperor’s enforcers can keep the population in line, and I’m not just talking about Republicans here. That’s what the whole Blame China thing is about.

    I suppose stage two is to start a war (when things go to sh*t at home its traditional, innit?), as t-Rump just warned i-Ran – Plumpeo already having primed the world press over the last week or so already – not to provoke US force in i-Rack that the i-Rackis have already told they do not want and are no longer welcome. If stage one doesn’t work, then it probably will be war and one that will drag in i-Srael and quite possibly their nukes.


      1. No, I am completely wrong. “It will reach a total number of several dozens of millions and will have several hundreds of thousands of dead caused by the covid-19 disease.


        1. I don’t find the infection numbers difficult to believe, worldwide, especially if they don’t get a better handle on it – it’s so difficult to tell, because you’re always working with numbers from two weeks ago, thanks to the lengthy incubation period. So what we’re doing right now might be devastatingly effective against the virus, but we won’t know for two weeks. But I find the fatality rate like Hunter Thompson – way, way high. SARS (also a coronavirus), according to current researchers, had a fatality rate of about 10%, and the current infection is reckoned to be milder. Initial studies which formed the basis of the Lancet article put it at 15%, but that was when they were working only with a small pool of infections, all from industrial China, many of them probably with weakened respiratory systems due to pollution. It will probably settle out at a mortality rate about the same as a bad year of the seasonal flu, about 2%, maybe a little higher. So far as I am aware, SARS was stopped cold, and there was nothing like the reaction to it we are seeing now, with the entire global economy shut down. I remember the SARS scare fairly well; it was mostly concentrated in Toronto where it affected Canada, and local hospitals in BC, including the military hospital, had hand-sanitizer dispensers at the door and signs directing anyone presenting with severe respiratory problems or other flu-like symptoms to a review section before proceeding into the hospital proper.


  24. Every once in awhile, I like to read over old posts in which I made a prediction, and then look for items which might suggest it is coming true (or not). I did one a long time ago in which I forecast the cost of electricity was going to go up significantly in Lithuania, because it was proudly decoupling from the Russian power grid in favour of the EU.

    I did a quick search for electricity prices in Lithuania, and promptly got sidelined by this interesting article.

    It didn’t actually discuss electricity prices in Lithuania. In fact – funny story – Lithuania was only mentioned peripherally as the country right next door to the new Belarus reactor, and (predictably) is so horrified that it legislatively forbade purchase of any electricity from the plant (interestingly, it will supply far more than Belarus needs) and has instituted emergency nuclear-accident drills. Completely Lithuanian response, it always has to show how anti-Russian it is.

    Anyway, some other interesting bits in there, between the NYT boilerplate about corruption and Russian enslavement. (1) Rosatom has secured more than 30 reactor-supply deals, and claims a portfolio of over $202.4 Billion in international sales; (2) since Putin came to power in 1999, Russia has sold more nuclear technology abroad than the United States, France, China, South Korea and Japan combined. I smell envy. (3) Russian state support and business loans to the purchasing country combine to blow western competition into the weeds – Westinghouse lost out in Hungary because of a $11 Billion loan. (4) The USA fights back with regime change – the Bolivian government of Evo Morales had a reactor deal going, and the western-imposed elite promptly scuppered it.


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