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ON MY MIND

Hold onto your hats because there are more elections on the horizon and Russia will hardly be on the sidelines.

France will hold a presidential election in April and May 2017 -- but the primary campaign season gets under way later this month. And German voters will elect the Bundestag -- and its next chancellor -- sometime between August and October 2017.

Emboldened by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, it is reasonable to expect Russia to actively try to influence the vote in both countries. In France, the Kremlin has openly supported the right-wing National Front's Marine Le Pen, who opposes both the European Union and NATO. Russia would, however, be more than happy with a victory for former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In Germany, the goal is simple: Remove -- or at the least make life very miserable -- for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

So more cyberattacks, more e-mail leaks, and more disinformation campaigns are surely on the way -- this time in Europe.

IN THE NEWS

Russia's Federal Security Service says it has apprehended three suspected members of a Ukrainian "saboteur group" in Russian-annexed Crimea.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry, meanwhile, has issued a statement denying such a group exists.

Russian warships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea drove away a Dutch submarine that Moscow contended was shadowing its squadron in a "dangerous" way.

Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko, a former military aviator who spent nearly two years in Russian custody, has urged U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to "strengthen sanctions" against Russia in an open letter in Facebook.

WHAT I'M READING

U.S. Election Fallout In Russia

Wired's cybersecurity correspondent Andy Greenberg writes that Donald Trump's win in the U.S. election "signals open season for Russia's political hackers."

"After a campaign season marred by the influence of hackers, including some widely believed to be on Vladimir Putin’s payroll, that outcome means more than a mandate for Trump and his coalition. For Russia, it will also be taken as a win for the chaos-injecting tactics of political hacks and leaks that the country’s operatives used to meddle in America’s election -- and an incentive to try them elsewhere," Greenberg writes.

In The Moscow Times, foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov suggests that the Kremlin may not be as thrilled with Trump's victory as many think.

"Trump’s impulsiveness and unpredictability, particularly his penchant for going personal, unnerve the Kremlin," Frolov writes.

"Moscow has used unpredictability as one of its key foreign policy tools, but that was predicated on the rationality of the U.S. response to Russia’s assertiveness. Having an equally unpredictable partner in Washington may actually limit Moscow's freedom of maneuver."

Also in The Moscow Times, columnist Mikhail Fishman argues that Trump's win closes the door to a potential domestic political thaw in Russia.

Meanwhile, in a piece for Rebublic.ru (formerly Slon.ru), journalist Oleg Kashin looks at what Trump's win can teach Russians about the power of populism.

Bloomberg has a reported piece looking at how the Russian elite is really reacting to Trump.

And on his In Moscow's Shadows blog, Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, looks at seven foreign affairs implications of the Trump victory.

U.S. Election Fallout In Ukraine

In a commentary for ECFR, Andrew Wilson argues that "Kyiv's relationship with Washington could get very bumpy, very quickly."

In Politico, David Stern writes that Trump's victory "leaves Ukraine alone and afraid."

Meet Another Putin Bodyguard

Also on his blog, Galeotti takes a look at Yevgeny Zinichev, the former Putin bodyguard who was recently appointed deputy director of the FSB.

Troubled Friendship

In a piece in DefenseNews, Burak Ege Bekdil notes that Russia's rapprochement with Turkey is not going as smoothly as some in Moscow had hoped.

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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