by Larry Johnson
I am following up on my previous posts about the failure of the U.S. intelligence community, the CIA in particular, in providing an accurate, objective assessment of the war in Ukraine and what is happening in Russia. I no longer hold clearances and have not had access to the classified intelligence assessments. However, I have heard that the finished intelligence being supplied to U.S. policymakers continues to declare that that Russia is on the ropes and their economy is crumbling. Also, analysts insist that the Ukrainians are beating the Russians.
How can this be? The explanation is simple and shocking — the analysts are ignoring valid open source reporting and they are relying on liaison reports, i.e. intelligence provided by “friendly foreign” intelligence agencies without seeking corroboration. Specifically, it appears the United States intel analysts are accepting information from Ukraine and the United Kingdom as “pure gold” without realizing that it is fool’s gold.
“Fool’s gold” is a common nickname for pyrite. Pyrite received that nickname because it is worth virtually nothing, but has an appearance that “fools” people into believing that it is gold. With a little practice, there are many easy tests that anyone can use to quickly tell the difference between pyrite and gold.
Let us consider some relevant open source reporting. According to the IMF:
The Russian economy is predicted to grow 0.3% in 2023 despite setbacks from unprecedented Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion, according to data released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday.
Russia’s projected economic growth stands in sharp contrast with the 2.3% contraction forecast by the IMF in October and marks an improvement from the 2.2% decline recorded by the sanctions-hit economy in 2022.
If the 2023 projection is realized, it would put Russia ahead of Germany and the U.K., whose economies are projected to grow by 0.1% and shrink by 0.6%, respectively.
The IMF is not beholden to Russia. It remains part of the U.S. controlled international economic order. Yet, it has concluded that the Russia economy will grow rather than shrink. Certainly does not conform to the dire prediction of U.S. intel analysts about a crumbling Russian economy languishing because of international sanctions. Why are the analysts ignoring this data point?
It is true that exiled Russians who oppose Putin continue to insist that the sanctions will work, we just have to give it more time before Russians scream. Vladimir Milov, a former Russian deputy energy minister and author of a Martens Centre report on sanctions insists that:
it may be more instructive to track a dozen or so “soft indicators” such as alcohol sales, divorce rates, shoplifting, spending on food, opinion polls, bank customer sentiment or tax revenues.
“Don’t look at the watch every five minutes to see if sanctions are working. Exercise strategic patience,” said Milov, who is also an ally of the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Well, here is one of those “impoverished” Russian citizens doing a magnificent job of trolling:
The truth is simple — Russia stands atop the world in being the major supplier of critical agricultural, energy and mineral resources that the West and countries in the so-called third world need. The only way the West could seriously damage the Russian economy would require it to destroy itself economically. Looks like Germany is discovering this fact with each passing month.
Then there is the tired meme of Russia being handed its ass in Ukraine. Although both Ukrainian and British officials insist that Russia is running out of weapons and ammunition, the war in Ukraine has revealed that the U.S. and Europe, not Russia, no longer have the ability to produce artillery shells, rockets and missiles on a scale that permits them to supply Ukraine while maintaining robust stocks at home:
“The first thing on the list was, everywhere, the ammunition,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said.
“If you have the equipment and you don’t have the ammunition, then it’s no use,” the Estonian leader told reporters on Friday.
And while Ukraine is in dire need of vast amounts of ammo to keep fighting, Western countries’ own stocks are running low.
“It’s a very real concern,” said Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe. “None of us, including the United States, is producing enough ammunition right now,” he said in a phone interview on Sunday.
I will reiterate a point I have made in previous articles — Russia is not dependent on Western resources to produce its weapons and Russia has a robust, intact defense industry that is working 24-7 to produce ammunition, shells, rockets, tanks, vehicles for its military forces.
Here is a data point, not specifically military in nature, that underscores the fact that Russia can chew gum and walk at the same time:
The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, which is supposed to return cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitry Petelin and astronaut Frank Rubio to Earth instead of the damaged Soyuz MS-22, has docked with the Poisk small research module of the Russian segment of the ISS, our correspondent from the Center reports flight control.
Docking took place automatically. From the Earth, it was controlled by specialists from the Moscow Region Mission Control Center, from the ISS – by cosmonauts.
Even though Russia is at war with the United States and NATO, it is still capable of sending, on an emergency basis with little prior warning, an unmanned space craft to the International Space Station to rescue two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut. The United States still indulges the fantasy that it is the technological leader of the world but it does not have the ability to do what the Russians accomplished this week. Just saying.
There are two major factors that explain why the U.S. intelligence analysts are so out of touch with reality. First, the CIA no longer has the ability to recruit Russian assets that have genuine access to Russia’s decision makers in Putin’s government and in the military. What senior Russian military officer worth a damn would want to commit treason to serve a country like the United States, whose military is focused on providing gender affirming policies, embracing the lie that men can have babies and lowering recruiting standards to accept people who can barely read? Yeah, let’s give those CAT 4 non-qualified swimmers and shooters the keys to a Patriot battery or M1 Ambrams tank.
Instead of snagging spies with real access, U.S. intelligence officers are content to recruit Russian malcontents who live outside Russia in hopes they can dish dirt on Putin and his supposedly incompetent military. There was a time when the culture and system of justice in the United States provided an incentive for Russians under the Soviet system to take such a risk. But those days are over. The United States is locking up political opponents, quashing independent media and attacking conservative religious organizations in ways that bear an uncanny resemblance to the former Soviet Union. I believe the Russians are now in a stronger position to recruit spies from America’s military and intelligence community because of the crazy woke policies that are prevalent in the United States. We have created a counter intelligence nightmare for our Republic, or what is left of it.