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Russia embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Alexander Mercouris

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The year 2017 has been in economic terms a year of stabilisation in Russia.

The economy has finally put behind it the recession and high inflation it experienced following the 2014 oil shock.

That 2014 oil shock, and the sanctions the West also imposed on Russia that year, came for Russia at a difficult time, when Russia was already remodelling its economy in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis.

That crisis hit Russia especially badly, as Russia’s very high growth rate before 2008 had become increasingly dependent on a consumption led investment boom funded by heavy borrowing in the West’s financial markets.

The sudden interruption of Western credit in 2008, and the massive repatriation of funds from Russia orchestrated in the last quarter of that year by the West’s central banks, threw the economy into a tailspin from which it was only rescued by vigorous government action.

This however brought home to the Russian authorities that an economic model that depended on investment based on external borrowing backed by high oil prices was unsustainable.

Accordingly, following the recovery from the 2008 crisis, steps began to be taken – with the impetus markedly accelerating after the 2012 election – to strengthen the country’s domestic financial system so as to make Russia less reliant on foreign borrowing for its future growth.  This is what led to the priority for policy makers switching from GDP growth towards inflation targeting after 2012, with the tough monetary policy Russia has known since being initiated during this period.

The 2014 oil shock and the sanctions delayed this adjustment.  However they failed to throw it off course the measures Russia had already taken after the 2008 crisis meant that the economy had already been consciously moved away from an economic model which made it dependent on foreign borrowing and high oil prices.

With inflation now at an annual rate of 2.4%, and with prices in Russia probably having risen by less than 1% since late July, the end of the transition period which began in 2012 is now close.

President Putin made precisely this point at an investment conference on 24th October 2017, when he explained the purpose of the policy and defended the tough monetary conditions imposed by the Central Bank

……….we reached a record low inflation rate in the history of Russia. As of October 16, it was 2.7 percent in annual terms. This allows us to expect that by the end of the year inflation will be below the benchmark of 4 percent.

I know, of course, that some experts are concerned about such a low level of inflation, low for our economy, for the economy with such a structure. And some experts see in these dynamics a deflationary threat to the economy.

Here is what I would like to draw attention to. Almost all central banks, all regulators in all countries that do inflation targeting, show such excessive, at first glance, caution. I think it is to some extent justified, because there are still a lot of risks. There are still a lot of threats for an economy with a structure like ours that depends on the world’s raw materials market.

Therefore, I fully understand and generally approve of the Central Bank’s policies, which are based on caution. But at the same time I want to emphasise that price stability, no one ever denies this, plays an important role both in terms of interest rates and in general for macroeconomic stability.

Here I think we are achieving good results, including thanks to a responsible budget policy and strict line of the Central Bank, as I said.

Though these words show President Putin’s support for the actions of the Central Bank – and his awareness of the criticisms which are made of its actions – they also show that he is optimistic that Russia’s long period of high inflation is over, and that monetary policy will start to ease soon.

In the natural course falling interests should lead to higher investment, and President Putin’s words at this same investment conference shows that for the Russian authorities this is now the priority

According to preliminary estimates, investment in fixed assets of enterprises and organisations have grown by 4.2 percent over three quarters. This is twice as high as the GDP growth rate for the same period.

Such soaring rates lay the foundation for further growth.

The Russian authorities however are not solely focused on raising the rate of investment in the economy.

In meeting after meeting this autumn President Putin has made it very clear where he wants to see this investment go.  The focus is in the range of industries and products that taken together are the hallmark of what is sometimes called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution“.

This is essentially a concept of applying the enormous technological advances which have already taken place in communications, artificial intelligence, electronics, robotics, 3D printing, biology etc to create a wholly new type of economy, different from that which exists now.

In a sign of the importance the Russian leadership attaches to this concept, President Putin has been hammering away at the importance of developing exactly this sort of economy for Russia.

President Putin’s comments on this subject which have attracted the greatest amount of international attention were the ones he gave to a meeting of young students on 1st September 2017.

Inevitably the international media focused on that part of these comments which discussed the military and Great Power implications of these new technologies.

Thus we have seen articles with colourful titles such as this one: ‘Putin says the nation that leads in AI ‘will be the ruler of the world’’ 

However Russia’s Presidential website shows that President Putin’s actual comments were far more interesting and much more nuanced, and that his primary focus was not on the military and Great Power implications of these new technologies (though he obviously touched on them) but on the sort of economy and society Russia should want to become

Look at how the world is developing. There are countries which are incomparably larger than our country in terms of population. There are countries where technology and modern administrative tools are much more effective than ours…..

You, who are now entering active life, need to bear this in mind, be aware of it and not just do better than previous generations, but do better on a new level, and not only in comparison with what was done in our country, but in comparison with our competitors all over the world. I am not talking about enemies of every stripe. Now is not the time to talk about sad things. I am referring to competitors, and the competition is always strong.

We have another overused phrase about how we did no worse than someone else. We should always do better precisely because of the circumstances that I just mentioned. There are countries with larger populations and with more advanced technology and administrative tools. For us to be able to maintain our sovereignty, and to make the lives of our people and future generations, your children and grandchildren, better than today, it is imperative to make qualitatively new advances…..

They include space exploration, innovative energy sources, transport, biology, and cognitive science. They are about the synergy of various areas of knowledge and technology that produce the maximum effect, nature-like technologies, and so on. Medicine and education, too, by the way.

(bold italics added)

Just three weeks after making these comments President Putin visited the company office of the Yandex IT company, which operates Russia’s primary search engine and which is Russia rough equivalent to Google.  There we learn from Russia’s Presidential website that he was briefed on

…..the main areas of the company’s operation, such as Yandex.Search, the most popular search engine in Russia, artificial intelligence projects and the company’s online services in telemedicine, education, business and transportation.

One of the company’s latest projects is voice assistant called Alice, which provides weather updates and answers questions about city routes. You can use voice commands or type in your questions. Alice is a unique device: unlike other voice assistants, it can simply chat. Alice is not based on the keyword recognition principle but analyses large volumes of information before providing an answer. Alice will be available on October 10.

Vladimir Putin was also shown a working prototype of a driverless car that uses Yandex software. The President watched the car drive in the company’s yard.

The day after – having seen Yandex’s prototype of Russia’s first driverless car – President Putin chaired a State Council Presidium meeting in Ulyanovsk to discuss passenger transportation during which he said the following

……we need common, systemic approaches to the comprehensive development of regional passenger transport, so that each village and every residential area in a region can be linked by permanent routes. We know that there are a lot of problems so far, and you can see this, as you tour your regions and understand what I am talking about……

We need to create modern, convenient infrastructure and remove bottlenecks that have existed for decades We certainly need a strategic vision of how passenger transport in our country should develop – for the medium and longer term. We need to know the trends – including global trends – emerging in this industry, which will determine the development of public transport for the next 10–15 years. First of all, I mean the development of more environmentally friendly and economically viable technologies, the use of new energy sources and the spread of driverless vehicles.

Today we have seen very good models; we certainly need more, so that they could be commercialised and people could use them.

I also suggest discussing the prospects for the development of so-called multimodal transport, where a passenger could buy one ticket using non-cash payment and reach the destination using two or more types of transport. I must say, this practice was widespread even in Soviet times ‒ I remember, I actually travelled this way. But with modern facilities and technologies, this could be done more efficiently, more conveniently for people.

It is extremely important here that connections are as convenient as possible, or, as experts say, “seamless,” within special interchange hubs. These innovative hubs should also be among the priorities for passenger transportation development. Relevant regulations need to be adopted, at the legislative level, as well as technical arrangements with the use of modern automated systems.

On the whole, digital technology should be more widely used in passenger transportation record keeping, planning, and operations oversight, in settling accounts with carriers and cracking down on illegal businesses that seriously damage this sector of the economy.

I would also like to note that modern technology makes it possible to conduct medical monitoring of drivers and technical monitoring of vehicles remotely.

Yesterday I visited Yandex (once again, congratulations on their anniversary). Their developers are working on very efficient modern software to operate unmanned vehicles and to monitor drivers’ physical condition.

Three weeks later, at a meeting in Sochi, President Putin was discussing the use of digital technologies in Russia’s banking industry again.  Once more it was his comments about cryptocurrencies which attracted international and media attention, but it is clear from the report on Russia’s Presidential website that the discussion went much further.

Shortly after President Putin attended a major education conference also in Sochi under the theme Youth 2030 in which he again returned to these same themes whilst however emphasising in a way that is typical of him the importance of avoiding bad investments by keeping tight control of costs, and the ethical dimensions involved in the new genetic research.

Possibly the most interesting meeting of all was however one which President Putin had on 23rd September 2017 with Economics Minister Oreshkin and Industry Minister Manturov, the two ministers most concerned with developing Russia’s civilian manufacturing base.

During this meeting President Putin spoke of using the lessons learnt in  Russia’s Military Industrial Complex to raise productivity and the technological level in Russia’s civilian industries

Recently at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission we said that military industrial complex enterprises show remarkable labour productivity growth, which is certainly a positive development. But we also have another task – to diversify that part of our economy. We have to ensure that labour productivity does not grow through military goods output alone, but also during transition to civilian produce. I would like to hear about what is being done in this area.

Overall, as we all know, no qualitative breakthrough in labour productivity growth has occurred, unfortunately. I know that the Government has drafted a programme on labour productivity growth. I would like to hear from Mr Oreshkin how this work will be organised, since it is basically your job, to a considerable degree, at any rate.

Next, to boost high technology development, a decision was made to establish investment-technology partnerships. To do that, it was agreed to radically upgrade the special capital investment contract (SPIC). I would like you to report as what specific agreements have been reached.

I hope that both ministries, as you work in close contact, will also keep giving the necessary attention to the support of high-tech exports. We have set up relevant mechanisms but I know that there is occasionally a lack of financial backup, so let us discuss this topic as well today.

Drawing on the experience of the Military Industrial Complex in order to upgrade the country’s civilian manufacturing base makes a great deal of sense given the extent to which many of the new technologies which taken together make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution originate in military industries in which Russia is an acknowledged leader.

Here it should be said that what President Putin is talking about is something completely different from the misconceived programme to convert military industries to civilian production which was a hallmark of the Gorbachev era.

Rather what President Putin wants is the technological and management practices of the Military Industrial Complex to be disseminated to the country’s civilian industries so as to bring them up to the same level of productivity.

In summary, though President Putin did not to my knowledge use the expression “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in any of his comments this autumn, it is abundantly clear from his comments and from the sort of people he has been choosing to meet (who include the newly elected President of Russia’s Academy of Sciences) that this is the direction he wants Russia to take.

The heavy emphasis on President Putin in this article is somewhat misleading since it may give the impression that embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution is his personal priority rather than that of the whole Russian government.

That view would however be wrong.  On the contrary, with the long period of economic stabilisation and restructuring of the Russian financial system which began in the years after the 2008 crisis drawing to a close, and as the hard work carried out during this period starts to bear fruit, it is clear that embracing the set of technologies which taken together make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution and building up Russia’s future economy around them is now the priority of the whole government.

By way of example, the economic plan which former Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin recently presented to President Putin is known to put heavy emphasis on education and health spending and developing Russia’s infrastructure, precisely the areas which need to be upgraded in order to make Russia’s society and economy better adapted for the wider introduction of the new technologies which are to come.

Behind this heavy focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution one senses two factors.

Firstly, there is a strong awareness that Russia needs to embrace this Revolution if it is to maximise both the well-being of its people and retain relevance in the twenty first century as a world power.

However there also appears to be a sense that the various elements which taken together make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution play strongly to Russia’s traditional strengths.

After all the country has experience in precisely the sort of industries which generate the technologies which are being spoken about, whilst the country’s acknowledged mathematical skills  and the depth of its education and science base along with its relatively administrative system and its unrivalled experience in long range inter-sectoral planning ought to make it perfectly suited to developing a new economy in this way.

Indeed one gets the sense that Russia’s leaders believe that Russia ought not only to succeed in creating this sort of society and economy, but that it is well within its capabilities to be a world leader in it.

That doubtless explains both the optimism and the urgency which can be clearly heard in President Putin’s words when he discusses these questions.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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