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ON MY MIND

In his annual state-of-the nation speech, Vladimir Putin said that "the battle against corruption isn't a show." The Kremlin leader also said it was necessary to eliminate censorship in the "global information space." He said that Russia "is not seeking and has never sought enemies." And he accused the West of using "targeted disinformation campaigns and propaganda" against Russia, adding that "we are tired of it."

What he didn't say was that anticorruption campaigns in Russia have long been little more than shows. He didn't mention that Russia is the one of the world's biggest censors.He failed to note that Russia has been busy making enemies and launching targeted disinformation campaigns for the past several years.

Putin's big speech was an interesting bit of verbal jujitsu. But it was unclear what kind of message he was trying to send to Russia and to the world -- other than that we should all expect more of the same.

IN THE NEWS

Vladimir Putin has delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address.

The U.S. House of Representatives has backed a proposal to set up a high-level panel to counter Russian political interference around the world. A similar measure is expected to be voted on by the Senate before the end of next month.

Ukraine says it has started two days of missile tests in the Black Sea, as Russia reportedly put its air-defense forces on high alert on the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Putin has named Maksim Oreshkin as Russia's new economic development minister, Russian news agencies report.

Russian border guards say they have detained two Ukrainian soldiers who deserted from the Ukrainian armed forces and crossed the border into Russia.

Russia has criticized Norway's decision to extradite a Russian citizen suspected of committing cybercrimes to the United States.

The Czech lawyer for Yevgeny Nikulin, the 29-year-old Russian citizen arrested in Prague two months ago on U.S. charges of hacking and data theft, claims his client is innocent.

An EU court has partly upheld sanctions imposed on Arkady Rotenberg, a Russian businessman and close associate of President Putin.

The European Union has condemned the executions of two convicts in Belarus.

WHAT I'M READING

Putin's Allies

In Politico, Cynthia Kroet looks at "the new Putin coalition" of pro-Moscow leaders in the West.

And a couple of caveats. In a piece for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Andrew Wilson argues that Moldova's newly elected President Igor Dodon won't rush into Moscow's embrace.

And in OpenDemocracy, Tom Junes pushes back on the notion that Bulgaria's new president, Rumen Radev, is a pro-Moscow figure.

The Internet Weapon

Bloomberg has a couple pieces looking at how the Kremlin has turned cyberspace into a political tool both at home and abroad. According to a piece by Chris Strohm citing the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc., Russia "didn’t just hack and leak documents from U.S. political groups during the presidential campaign: It used social media as a weapon to influence perceptions about the election."

And Ashlee Vance takes a look at how Russia's "been building walls around its web and packing it with tech oligarchs, startup cities, face-finding algorithms, hacker hunters, and, of course, a few bears."

Post-Truth Trade

In another piece on the ECFR website, Andrew Wilson calls Russia's campaign to restore normal economic relations with Ukraine another example of post-truth politics.

The Baltic Front

On The Atlantic Council's website, Jakub Janda of the Prague-based European Values think tank asks, Is It Prudent Or Paranoid To Worry About Russia's Influence In The Baltics?

Corruption As A Tool And Corruption As A Crime

Maksim Trudolyubov, a senior fellow at the Kennan Institute, has a piece on The Russia Files blog looking at the case of former Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev and what it says about anticorruption campaigns in Russia.

Bad Science

Moscow-based journalist Maria Antonova has a piece in Foreign Policy looking at the Kremlin's embrace of pseudo-science.

A New World Order?

Ian Buruma, a professor at Bard College and author of the book Their Promised Land, has an insightful piece in The New York Times on The End Of The Anglo-American Order.

Upcoming Report On Effectiveness Of Sanctions

The Atlantic Council will release a new report, Evaluating Western Sanctions On Russia, on December 6.

According to the Atlantic Council, the report will examine "the impact of the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. The report assesses the goals of the sanctions, whether they worked, how they influenced Russia’s foreign policy and economy, and what comes next."

It will be presented in Washington on December 6 at 4 pm EST.

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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