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The Morning Vertical, March 23, 2016

  • Brian Whitmore

IN THE NEWS

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Moscow today for talks on the Syria crisis.

Russia and Finland have reached an agreement to close their common border to migrants.

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko says lawmakers from the unrecognized parliaments in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine are visiting the Russian upper house to gain experience.

After a court in the southern Russian region of Rostov sentenced Ukrainian military pilot Nadia Savchenko to 22 years in prison, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has reportedly offered a prisoner swap.

According to a report in Ukrainskaya Pravda, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon plans to raise the Savchenko case in talks with Russian officials.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has called up 10,000 soldiers in a new mobilization drive.

Speculation is again heating up that Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko could be named prime minister. But Ukrainian media is also reporting that parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Groysman, a close ally of Poroshenko, is the leading candidate to replace Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

WHAT I'M READING

Trading Militants For Oligarchs?

Will Renat Akhmetov and Yury Boiko be put in charge of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions as part of a compromise between Kyiv and Moscow? The idea seems to be getting some traction, as The Jamestown Foundation's Oleg Varfolomeyev reports.

More On The Pullback That Wasn't

Analysts continue to argue that Russia's "pullback" in Syria is largely a fiction. The latest to weigh in are Chatham House's Nikolai Kozhanov and Pavel Baev of The Jamestown Foundation.

Using Marx To Explain Putin

Longtime Kremlin-watcher (and Power Vertical Podcast co-host) Mark Galeotti takes the unusual step of using Karl Marx to explain Vladimir Putin -- and, in my opinion, pulls it off brilliantly. His little essay, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Vladimir Putin," is well worth a read.

Putin's Other Hostages

Nadia Savchenko may be the best known Ukrainian citizen who has been forced to face a show trial in Russian courts. A new report by Crimea's QHA news agency digs into the cases of 28 Ukrainian citizens who it says are victims of fabricated criminal cases.

Thunder On The Right

Alina Polyakova and Anton Shekhovtsov, two of the sharper observers of the European far right, have teamed up on a paper for the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center: "What's Left of Europe If the Far Right Has Its Way?" The paper looks at what led to the rise of far-right parties, how Russia is exploiting the trend, and offers recommendations to counter it.

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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