February 20, 2017


Putin may be watching his brilliant American plan go 'poof' (George Friedman, Feb 17, 2017, Market Watch)

If all of this is true, the president now may be hesitant to make any concessions to the Russians. All other Americans involved in the conspiracy will be identified and fired at the very least. The Russian intelligence apparatus in the U.S. and the Moscow directorate dealing with the U.S. will be identified and dismantled as forensics are carried out on the failed operation. A generation of Russian operatives will be suspected by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) of having been compromised by the Americans. All of these people will be looking for exciting careers in the food service industry -- if they are lucky. When an operation of this scope fails, everyone is blamed except the big guy, and who knows what suspicions will fall on him. [...]

For the Russians, life returns to grim reality. The price of oil is still well below the minimum needed to maintain Russia's national budget. There are reports from areas outside Moscow and St. Petersburg that salaries are not being paid, banks are failing or being closed by the government in an attempt to create a sustainable system, and the first indicators of unrest are showing.

A newspaper in Vladivostok, for example, has reported small anti-government demonstrations gaining in popularity in a region where oil activities play a large role in the local economy. Last week, five cities in Primorsky region -- Ussuriysk, Artyom, Arsenyev, Nakhodka and Vladivostok -- saw people participating in "protest walks." These walks consist of participants circulating in public areas, discussing politics and calling for a cleansing of political ranks. The decline in oil prices is not going away and is playing out its painful hand.

In Syria, the city of Aleppo has been taken, and the Russian government is trying to figure out what comes next, as well as remember why it went there in the first place. Sanctions on Russia are in place, and Ukraine, the site of the last Russian intelligence calamity, remains beyond Russian control. Russia has made a gesture at being a major power. Having made the gesture, it must now figure out how to sustain it.

This is about the result you'd expect from a joint Donald/Vlad operation.

Will Republicans Break With Trump Over Russia? : So says Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, who predicts his GOP colleagues will come around to his way of thinking. (SUSAN B. GLASSER February 20, 2017, Politico)

President Donald Trump is "dangerously naïve."

He has a "pathological unwillingness to criticize anything the Kremlin does." He is discrediting U.S. intelligence agencies and "telling the world they can't be believed."

As for Trump's refusal to disavow Russian President Vladimir Putin and the murders and poisonings of Putin critics in recent years because, as Trump put it, America has "killers" too? "I don't think we've ever had a more harmful statement come out of the Oval Office than that one," says Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House intelligence committee, in an extensive interview for our new podcast, The Global Politico. [...]

Throughout our conversation, Schiff described Russia under Putin in terms I've rarely heard over nearly two decades of covering U.S. relations with the Kremlin, and almost never from a Democrat in recent years, when it was largely Republicans who criticized Putin and what they saw as President Barack Obama's reluctance to confront Russian aggression. "Russia is a major threat to the country," Schiff says. "They are doing their best to dismantle democratic institutions in Europe, just as they did in Russia itself. And just as they tried to do in our own country, in the election.... There's a real confrontation with a real malignant power."

Posted by at February 20, 2017 6:38 AM