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He claimed the worst was over in Russia's economic crisis. He tacitly admitted the presence of Russian military personnel in eastern Ukraine. And in one of his more colorful lines, he suggested that Turkey wants to lick the Americans in a certain unmentionable place.

Vladimir Putin's marathon year-end press conference is an annual ritual that is never short of pithy one-liners.

And in the midst of all the spin, theatrics, and bluster, it is also an event rich in messaging about the Kremlin's current thinking and its priorities for the year ahead.

On the year-end edition of The Power Vertical Podcast, we try to separate the signals from the noise.

Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russia's security services, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; and Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, author of Sean's Russia Blog, and host of the SRB Podcast.

Also on the podcast, Mark, Sean, and I take a look back at 2015 -- and ahead to 2016.

Enjoy ...

Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to The Power Vertical Podcast on iTunes.​

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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