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The Daily Vertical: A Coincidence? I Think Not!

The Daily Vertical: A Coincidence? I Think Not!i
March 17, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
By Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page. 

A transcript of today's Daily Vertical can be found here.

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Comment Sorting
by: John from: Los Angeles
March 17, 2016 17:12
Putin is playing the wrong game here thinking he can bully his way to getting what he wants in Russian Occupied Ukraine.

Hollande and Merkel's personal prestige are on the line since they are the guarantors of Minsk 2. They are ready to place more sanctions on Putin since he's yet to allow Ukraine to have full control of it's borders or allow Ukraine to hold free and fair elections in Donbas under Ukrainian Law. Handing out sham passports and planning to hold sham elections means Minsk 2 is not fulfilled. Sanctions will remain in place until Russia fully complies with Minsk 2.

While Putin sees himself somehow building parity with America and gaining Super Power status the reality is different. Obama will never grant Putin a Grand Meeting of the Russian and American Nations. Any meetings will continue to be on the sidelines or in lunchrooms of the U.N. with the vending machines visible in the background during the photo ops.

Of course this is the best outcome for the world. Putin creating a frozen conflict because he thinks he'll turn Ukraine into a failed state only weakens Russia in the long run. Foreign Direct investment in Russia is near zero. Russia's economy is in worse shape than the 2008 financial crisis and there will be no cooperation from China or the West to help Putin out.

China in fact is more than willing to see it's aggressive, petulant neighbor weakened beyond recovery so it has to exit the B(r)ICS. Putin will have to sell Russia's natural resources to China at bargain basement rates just to keep the lights in the Kremlin on.

Russian GDP in 2013 was $2.1 Trillion. In 2015 it was $1 Trillion. In 2016 we will see Russian GDP fall below $1 Trillion for the first time in a decade. Russia will return to the early 1990's. If Putin and his thugs are still in power there will be no Western aid to help them out of the economic meltdown that is sure to occur as Russia burns through the last of it's reserves of Dollars.

So yes Mr. Putin please proceed. Create a frozen conflict in Donbas. Tear up Minsk 2. It will lead to the best outcome for the World. Russia will collapse and hopefully out of the ashes the decent, long suffering Russian people will rise to build a future filled with hope and prosperity. A Russia will rise that will be eager to diversify its economy, grant freedom to it's citizens, and contribute to the rich tapestry of the peaceful people of the Earth.

It just will take Strategic Patience to get there.

by: kate pomeroy
March 17, 2016 17:16
You people need to open your hearts and minds to the fact that folks of Russian heritage in Donetsk and Lugansk are doing everything they can to live well, in spite of the fact that Kiev is so corrupt its armies are shelling their civilians. Moscow is not involved in this, and never was. The DPR and LPR militias are fighting for their freedom, just as Tibet fought for its freedom in the twentieth century. The Kremlin's only involvement is to try to pressure the DPR/LPR governments to abide by Minsk. As Angela Merkel said: Russia must apply its "considerable influence." Russia did not invade, it is not occupying Donbass. These are people simply fighting for their lives. Have a heart! It is the Kiev government that is shameless. Don't support horrific US policy there. The US has been bombing civilians all over the world. Are YOU human? Please enters these words into your spirit!
In Response

by: Jeff Pluim from: Canada
March 22, 2016 14:31
Everyone here seems to be missing the Big Picture. This entire takeover of Crimea and Donbas was because of the newly found huge oil and gas reserves. Russia's energy reserves are depleting and if Ukraine was able to develop their new huge reserves, then Russia would lose Ukraine as an energy customer, Ukraine would be able to compete with Russia for Europe's energy business, and Russia would not have control over those reserves. So what does Russia do? They invade Crimea and try to do the same thing in Donbas and near Odessa. And guess who will benefit financially from Russia's controlling of Ukraine's energy reserves? That's right, Putin. Through his various holding companies he owns big stakes in Russia's energy giant companies. This whole mess has been about the greed of Putin and his buddies. They don't give a crap about the lives lost in this debacle. That is pure evil.
In Response

by: Peter Riebeek from: Amsterdam
March 23, 2016 11:38
Savushkina 55 Talk.

by: Alan Black from: UK
March 17, 2016 20:17
I'm not sure how this works in Russias favor. If the aim was to peel the Donbass areas away from Ukraine, I could see the point. But to try and integrate them back into a Ukraine ( which seems to be better off without them ) isn't so obvious. Fighting a war in the name of semi-independence is a bit weird? I would love to see the semi,not quite patriotic ' We're Ukraine, but not Ukraine' slogans that's going to throw up.

by: Anonymous
March 17, 2016 21:02
A divided Ukraine in "civil war" will make it impossible for Ukraine to join NATO. The conflict also makes Ukraine a unstable transit nation for Russian gas to Europe. Germany is dependent on Russian gas and will therefor opt for North Stream II to secure its energy needs. Ukraine will diminish in importance as a transit nation and in the end in importance as a nation.

by: Tr from: Berlin
March 18, 2016 00:23
Well, my only opinion is that ukranian top officials must stop being corrupt (fantasy number 1) and start to build a 1 million soldier army, or even 1.5 million soldier army (fantasy numer 2). Only so, plus all the other measures , like blocking Crimea, like mobilizing diplomacy at all levels and everywherea would make this an unbearable conflict to Moscow. A massive onslaught in Donbass, in a year or two, coupled with another in Crimea that will certainly spill lots of blood, will cost Ukraine billions and will require Kiev to purchase the best weapons it can pay. A massive attack, that Moscow could foresee, but not stop unless it wants another "patriotic war", that russians, today's russians, not the amenable non persons under total control from 1941, will never accept, finance and suffer.

Make the cost of his adventure unbearable and devastating for Russia, and for russians, like in Afganistan, while sanctions would stay in place and the russian economy would spiral down, and eventually crumble.

But of course, for that, you need leadership, honesty, higher taxes, prestige among your countrypeople, professionalism, real will to proceed and an army even Putin will fear. Everything ukranian leadership, too worried about keeping its ill-gotten billions lacks. And ukraine should just resist any fear from a "russian nuclear attack that would turn Kiev into ashes". Because if that ever happened, Ukraine would crumble, but Russia would go down with it, and would spend the whole XXIst century in total isolation, contention, control and contempt.

Yeah, that is what it is to go down in these times. Well, it may sound like a horror history, but Russia doesn't speak russian, in fact it speaks the language of force, violence, brutality and power. If necessary, they will have to get a massive dose of that all. Because Ukraine must only look to neighbour Moldova to see what does it mean to have a 24 year old frozen conflict, and a dying economy and society. That is Russia for any poor soul falling under the Kremlin's boot.

And after the horror, a new Ukraine, with its territory recovered and in reconstruction, armed to the teeth and with a big number of permanent nuclear weapons on its territory pointing at Moscow. And of course, no russian presence or influence of any kind in its economy, culture, politics or society.

Now that would be a huge Good bye Lenin, good bye Putin!!

by: Vladimir Putin from: Kremlin
March 18, 2016 05:26
Ukraine should just abandon Donbass for now, in a couple decades reunion may be possible but with the current regime in russia reunion is not even desirable.
Let russia pay for this broken economy and let the remaining people there get a good taste of the foul "russian world", meanwhile Ukrainian elections and finances need not be saddled by this russia dominated region. Once Ukraine built a sufficient contrast in terms of economy and democratic freedoms, then the people left there may feel motivated enough to fight for freedom by themselves, at that time Ukraine can get the region back on its own terms.

by: Anonymous
March 18, 2016 09:43
you have no idea about how are used passports in former soviet country They have 2 passports, was so also in Ukr since 2015

1th is internal passport & is equivalent to our identity card
2nd is the international passport that is good for travel abroad

by: Daniel Goyette from: Canada
March 22, 2016 15:19
My dream coming true.

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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