by Patrick Armstrong
Russia Observer (February 9)

Interview with Belarus Radio International 8 February 2022

Grigory Mityusnikov: ". . . it is obvious that Russia's security concerns are still being ignored at the same time French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Moscow stressed that he hoped to avoid a war and build elements of confidence, stability and visibility for everyone. Whether a peaceful resolution to the conflic is possible we are going to discuss now with political analyst Patrick Armstrong."

"Patrick, let me start with Washington's history about Russia's alleged invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin repeatedly rejected its aggressive ambitions and even the White House says that their threat is not imminent. Are there any dissembled intentions of this information campaign?"

[1:21] Patrick Armstrong - political analyst (Canada): "Russia is not going to invade Ukraine. I've been saying this for years. I wrote a piece about way back about five, six, seven years ago. The reason Russia is not going to invade Ukraine is the same reason why it is wrong to basically invade countries that don't want you to be there. So while the Russian troops would be welcomed somewhere in the East, there would be a point when they got to the center where they weren't welcomed and in the west they'd be fought against. And now, seven or eight years later, Ukraine is in such a mess. Nobody knows how badly off Ukraine is; how many have left Ukraine. A quarter of the population? Nobody knows. Nobody is keeping track. Russia doesn't want to pay for it.

[2:10] "But, if the Nazis invade LDNR [the Donbass], Russia will smash them. And that smashing could be quite intensive and go for quite some distance and depth into Ukraine. But Russia doesn't have to put a single soldier across the border. It can all be done with stand-off weapons. The Russian buildup is just American nonsense propaganda. These are Russian troops moving around, doing their normal stuff."

"Now, the Russians, I think, are amusing themselves. It would be interesting to know what those landing ships are doing which have just arrived in Tartus (Syria) the other day. Interesting to know what they're doing with them. They're loaded with stuff. So, it could be quite intersting. But Russia is not going to invade Ukraine. [And] Russia is not going to permit the Ukrainians to attack LDNR."

[3:05] Grigory Mityusnikov: "And what about Europe's role in this conflict. As you wrote not long ago, germany in particular and Europe in general, are being forced to face a problem that they don't want to face. Are Washington's initiatives becoming more toxic for Europe, as for example [U.S. President] Biden threatened to cut off Nord Stream 2, a project which could affect Germany's economy."

[3:31] Patrick Armstrong: "I don't know what Europe is going to do. The Russian ultimatum has confronted Europe with a problem that thoughtful Europeans have known was there but they never wanted to face it, and that is: that doing what the Americans want them to do is going to cost Europe tremendously. Ruin it. "

"Russia, you know, obviously would like Nordstream pipeline to start operating, but it's not that vital to Russia. Russia can sell all the gas it wants to China. Nordstream, to have it go down, would cost Russia money, but Russia has got two-thirds of a trillion dollars in the bank in foreign currency and gold. So Russia can write off that cost. Germany, however, cannot. American LNG will never be able to replace Russian gas."

[4:31] "Now there are those, Michael Hudson wrote a very interesting piece which was picked up by The Saker in which he says that's essentially what all this is really about is getting Europe to become completely subservient to the United States. So the Americans, the smarter guys in the U.S. realize that China, Russia, Iran, and many other countries -- Eurasia, well, Aisa -- is going to form a block. So the Americans need the Europeans subservient to them to have some kind of market and some kind of power. A very interesting argument."

[5:11] "Europe has got to make that choice. It has got to cut itself free from the United States. The United States is not its friend. We in Canada, much harder for us."

[5:26] Grigory Mityusnikov:"Let's go back to China-Russia agreements made in Beijing opposing the further expansion of NATO and calling upon the alliance to abandon its ideological rhetoric, or cold war. Is the strategic partnership between Russia and China which has come from strength to strength is becoming even more closer."

[5:48] Patrick Armstrong: "... This is a grand strategic layout of a new version of the world. It's open to anyone who wants to sign on to it. Basically, what China and Russia are offering is a world that is based on co-operation and getting rich. Development. You see the word "Development" in there al lot. Development is the key. Countries ahve to be developed."

"Another thing that struck me was ... It's using a definition of "Democracy" that is based on results, not on process. If you look at what the West ever says about democracy, it's always talking about the process. 'Were the elections free and fair?' 'Did we have enough candidates?' 'Did we have this?' 'Did we have that?' They never talk about was the end result any better for anybody?"

[7:01] "And, of course, what we have in the West now, in the last 20-30 years, is 'No. The result is actually worse for most people.'"

"So, what China and russia are talking about is a democracy in which the people are better off at the end of the day. Never mind how many elections we had or whether we changed the guy at the top. A very interesting definition that I think will have a lot of appeal to a lot of people."

"The process thing, I suppose you could argue that 50-60 years ago that the process did produce the correct result. But I don't think you can say that in the West anymore. The graph that I can't get out of my head is set in the United States, but it would apply, I think, to many places in Europe, too -- Canada and The West -- it's a curve that shows productivity and wealth. And the two curves are very close together till about 1975-76 somewhere where the productivity curve keeps rising, and the wealth curve starts to flatten. What happened in there was that the rich guys got control of the system and started stealing stuff. And that I guess is a great weakness. You can have all the process you want. But if you're choosing between two guys who are owned, basically, by the same people, the result is not going to be any different, is it?"

[8:29] "So, that struck me right off on the Russian Chinese document, but mainly it's the grand strategy. ... a lot of vagueness in it, the big, big, big, picture. ... Something different than an alliance, a complete commonality of interest in constructing a new way of doing things. ..."

[9:22] Grigory Mityusnikov: " ... detente? ... "

[9:46] Patrick Armstrong: "I think the Americans are going to have to be defeated in some way. Hopefully not militarily because the United States still has a huge amount of military power. I don't think the Americans have clued in to reality. And I don't think many people in the West have, either. The world has changed. This doesn't mean that the Chinese are going to be putting jackboots to us."

"Another point I'd like to emphasize is that Russia in the Soviet days was an exceptionalist power. It had the world's first socialist state, the great future of mankind, all this crap in the Soviet constitution. And then, when all that went down, Russia found itself absolutely alone. And the Russians, I think, were beginning to realize in the late Soviet period that, in fact, Russia was financing the whole operation. Most people, I don't think, realized that. And at the end of the day, the Soviet Union had nothing. It had no allies. People owed it money but they couldn't pay it back. But it owed real debts. Exceptionalism was a complete bust. I think the Russians completely understand that now."

"I think the Chinese have observed from the Russian example, which, of course, they were a bit exceptionalist themselves for a time, they've realized that exceptionalism is just a bust. It doesn't work. It just ruins you. You get more and more stuck into stupider and stupider things and eventually, at the end of the day, you have no friends and no money."

[11:28] "The United States has to learn that. And that's going to be a whil. 20 years in Afghanistan, which left them with nothing. [The withdrwal from Afghanistan] ... only about six or eight months ago. And here they are: Let's have a war with Russia and China. There's a pretty flat learning curve there, isn't it. So, they've learned nothing from their defeats in this whole War on Terror business, that they've been killing people and glowing up money for 20-25 years now. I don't know if they can ever learn."