PUTIN PHONEIN. Russian, English; again I remind you that you don't have to depend on "reliable" reports, you can see for yourself what he says. Putin said (with numbers to prove it) that he thought the economy was "moving in the absolutely right direction" and had "reached a trajectory of sustainable economic growth" albeit "modest". He reiterated that only discussion, negotiations and taking nations' interests into account can succeed in world affairs; he stressed again Russia was willing to talk but would defend its interests. Exactly what he has been saying for years. He couldn't resist pointing out that Washington's allies were finding out for themselves what happens when Washington does whatever it wants; as he had warned in Munich years ago would happen, Washington was "spreading its national jurisdiction to other countries" and Europe and Canada are now tasting the results. For the rest, it was, as usual, mostly domestic concerns with the customary "Batyushka, my roof is leaking" calls. I suppose it is a useful gauge of feeling in the country: several million messages are sent and filed by category so it's a better way of taking the national pulse than polls that depend on pre-selected questions. It's probably orchestrated to some degree but amuse yourself imagining your local leader doing it.
WORLD CUP. Starts today. Will be in 11 cities in European Russia. How will the Lügenpresse avoid reporting that all went well? As you recall, it never had to correct all the brown water, dead dog, doorknob and toilet lies at Sochi because the Ukraine coup occupied subsequent reporting space and the cognitive dissonance that I expected never happened. But I don't see how they can avoid it this time.
WESTERN VALUES™. "'Precision' airstrikes kill civilians. In Raqqa we saw the devastation for ourselves" (Guardian) "US-led strikes on Raqqa may amount to war crimes, Amnesty says" (CNN) "US, Britain and France inflicted worst destruction 'in decades' killing civilians in Isis-held city of Raqqa, report says" (Independent) "Syria: Raqqa in ruins and civilians devastated after US-led 'war of annihilation' Amnesty Report. "Meticulous" says British commander. Photos.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The IG report is finally out. A conspiracy involving, inter alia, the US, British, Baltic and Ukrainian organs of state security to prevent Trump being elected and then, when he was, to bring him down. "We'll stop it." Serious stuff that will reverberate for a long time and lead investigators in many directions. I reiterate: there was no Trump-Russia collusion of any sort and there was no Russian government interference in the election of any sort. If Moscow had wanted to support a candidate it would have been Clinton: it had already bought her once and had plenty of kompromat on her. Mueller's indictment of Concord et al is bunkum as is proven by his desperate manoeuvres to avoid having to show his "evidence".
PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. No conclusive evidence to blame Russia for MH17 says Malaysia Transport Minister; no evidence that Russia poisoned Skripals says German int source. What does Malaysia know? It's been kept out of the inquiry. As to the Skripals, well the G(7-1) says "no plausible alternative explanation". (Once you've dug the hole, I guess you have to plausibly live in it.)
TODAY'S LAUGH. (But not actually very funny). "Today the Atlantic Council launched DisinfoPortal.org, an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad". It says it's "reliable" several times, so I guess it must be.
SIGNS OF CHANGE? Bulgarian PM suggests returning to Turkstream. EU official says "Russia-bashing" must stop. New Italian government wants Russia sanctions ended and Russia into G(7±1). Trump wants Russia into it too. Nonetheless the G(7-1) communique continues to condemn Russia for its "failure to demonstrate complete implementation of its commitments in the Minsk Agreements." (I actually asked the Canadian Minister to tell me what the "commitments" were – the word "Russia" doesn't even appear in the agreement – but got no answer.) But Lexus and Vovan – they strike again!! – get the OSCE Secretary General to admit it's Kiev that blocking it – more seeing what's in plain sight.
UKRAINE. Freedom House notices what has been in plain sight for years: "Far-right extremism represents a threat to the democratic development of Ukrainian society." Does this signify anything? Who knows? Propagandists don't often change their line. But still: both Amnesty and Freedom House committing crimethink! Maybe something is changing.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer