Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Love Thy Neighbor

Neighborly relations.
Neighborly relations.
It was the U-Turn heard around Eastern Europe.

For months, Ukraine appeared ready to face down pressure from Russia and sign an association agreement and free trade pact with the European Union at its upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. And polls showed that public opinion -- albeit by a small margin -- as well as much of the country's business elite, supported this course.

And then, at the 11th hour, after President Viktor Yanukovych made a trip to Moscow for closed-door meetings with Vladimir Putin, they flip-flopped, illustrating Moscow's continued sway over its neighbors.

In the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," we discuss Russia's policy toward its neighbors in advance of the EU's Vilnius summit. 

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 special guest Edward Lucas, international editor for "The Economist" and author of the book "Deception: Spies, Lies, and How Russia Deceives the West."


Power Vertical Podcast -- November 22, 2013
Power Vertical Podcast -- November 22, 2013i
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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 22, 2013 18:57
I wonder what exactly EU officials are going to do in Vilnius the next week: Belarus has never had an intention of signing anything at all, Armenia declined the idea of an Association with the EU and preferred to join the Russo-Kazakh-Belarus-led Customs Union, and now the Ukraine decided to suspend the process of joining the Association. So, what else is there to discuss in Vilnius? I guess, they will spend some time taking about the tough life of Nadejda Tolokonnikova, as long as there is nothing else they can do...
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
November 23, 2013 00:24
You wouldn't have to wonder if you read up a little on the topic. Look around the internet, go to the EU summit website, read a little more... You'll soon find out the answer to the questions that trouble you so.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 23, 2013 13:46
Aha, I am just so damn curious: some EU guys coming to Vilnius to sign an Association Agreement with the Ukraine and Armenia, whereas the leaderships of the latter two countries have no intentions of signing anything - those who write for the EU summit website will have to be very creative in order to write up an agenda for this kind of "event" :-)).
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 23, 2013 20:10
Eugenio gloats again about new victory of expanding Russia,
That made EU betray Ukraine: "only them or us, the Prussia".
To be sure, he silenced in advance any related comments.
Eugenio destroys speech, while expanding and robbing!
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
November 27, 2013 04:05
Well, be curious then. It's always better to be curious than to be so fully convinced of something that curiosity is no longer even a dreamlike possibility, wouldn't you agree? :-) Where there is curiosity, there is hope of change... Let me wish you a lot of curiosity, now and in the future.
In Response

by: Mike
November 24, 2013 06:16
Lucas and Galeotti with Whitmore moderating is like the above overly twisted piece.

Ditto the venues that Whitmore chooses to promote.

In actuality, Ukraine has chosen a more pragmatic path of not bowing to any pressure. Instead, buying time to review the options it has.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 23, 2013 19:59

Russian folk stories about "Ivan the Stupid" being smart,
Often end-up on a crossroad of three roads. As for West,
Europe, created by Iberian-Caucasians settlements, first,
Was busted by betrayers of Rome and Reme - than arts,
As Roman Empire falling, eaten by Normans and the rest.

Fighting Europe ended in Democratic, but Imperial modes,
Some rise of new revival - only rearm for the larger battles,
As barbarians were opening big mouth again to eat in fold
Prospering again Iberian-Caucasians Civilizations, Europe,
Revolution's Host and restored freedoms in Eastern World.

There are always two entities - the creator and the usurper,
Trying enslave and plagiarize the first, threatening with war.
There are always three roads - divide Europe, for Russians,
As they did once forging and using second empire, Prussia,
One choice for East and Central Europe, to be enslaved hor.

It is only two roads, be a colony of forged as "Union" Prussia,
Or a colony of new "Union" Russia? Only one of two choices?
Why not a third choice - be free and trade with both - Russia
And European Union? In order to prevent it, denying speech,
Russia got silenced me again, blackmailing Ukraine as leech.

They using secret pacts with the barbarians, restore empires,
And Ivan's canning luring, like division of East Europe before,
As Molotov lured Robentroph, as Ivanov lured NATO, saying:
"This part is for me, that part is for you" - dancing with a lure.
Is Germany-Austria owns EU to force Ukraine to the ordeal?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 23, 2013 21:07
It looks like for this coming Sunday (24.11) the EU with the support of RFE/RL is planning to organize another "revolution" in the Ukraine with the purpose of finally getting the Ukrainian govt sign a free-trade agreement with the EU. I have just had a look at some Ukrainian web-sites: the RFE/RL is helping them to organize a live transmission of the "revolution" from the Kiev's Maidan. Let's see if you, guys, are going to be any more successful in the Ukraine than you have been in Syria in September :-)).
In Response

by: Asehpe from: the Netherlands
November 27, 2013 04:07
Yes, because it's truly impossible that people in Ukraine might actually want something that you don't agree with. Now that would be too much to believe in, now wouldn't it?

The foreign enemies! The horror! Ah, if only there were no foreigners in this world...
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 27, 2013 09:44
Aha, good luck with this new "revolution" - it will be just as successful as you, guys, trying to remove Bashar from Syria for the last 2,5 years.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 28, 2013 07:03
Eugenio pretend, or indeed do not understand, your meaning.
Netherland as Eastern Europe, fought for Freedom from Nazis,
Before it fought many, like Inquisition, than British encroaching,
As they helped Brits, later Peter with artillery and navy, seeing
Later Russia-Prussia destroying part by part Europe's East.

The natural instinct of Netherland is Prudent Independence,
In East and Central Europe, specially Ukraine that is largest
Country in the region. You simply say that Ukraine has right
To go strait, not to be enslaved-repopulated by the Russians
And by logical parallels, not be enslaved also by the Prussia.

Eugenio trying, as usual, just opposite, weather "CIA plotted"
And "Helena participated", Ukraine forge brake another "wall",
Like Berlin Wall - grabbed by Germany-Austria amalgamated,
Or "KGB, Russia-shtaby, ethnic Russia plotted" another hole
Made by Russia invaders, like Moldova or Georgia, truncated.

by: Jack from: US
November 24, 2013 03:54
the Ukraine decided to avoid fate of NATO minions - being controlled by Washington mafia

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 24, 2013 20:12
Aha, it looks like the Beavuses are getting compeletely desperate and have tried to organize "revoluations" in two countries where pro-US govts have been kicked out of power and replaces by anti-US/EU forces over the last several years:
(a) in Venezuela, a professional US-financed loser Capriles woke up after several months of having no idea what to do about having being defeated in the presidential election last Spring and organized a massive "protest" demonstration:
(b) and in Ukraine the traditional politically bankrupt political forces that have misgoverened the country between 2005 and 2010 have tried to repeat the coup d'etat that they had successfully staged back in 2004:
It looks like however in both cases, those pro-US bacnkrupt losers are just as inpet as their bosses from Washington DC: they are good at making noise, but are completely unable to achieve any of their policy goals :-).
In Response

by: Ivanushka the Fool from: Bear Cave
November 25, 2013 09:08
Comrades Eugenio and Jackgb are right as always although they are left/overs/from the USSR.Nobody,but nobody,man wants those bloody Europeans-all the Ukrainians want is another Holodomor and we all want the soviet-Russian Teddy Bear to take good care of us-as nobody else can-no we must not forget to give EU genio and Jack the Joke extra rations of 100 gramms of vodka and they can also share a tin of selyodka and a Xmass copy of the russian edition of Playboy.Keep up the Rott/en Red Front rebyata-you`re on your right way to the fiery red-hot furnace!!! Ei,ukhnyem!!!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 25, 2013 19:02
Dear Camel, irrespectively of what you might want, just look at what has been happening in and around Syria and Iran the last several months, and this will give you an idea of which way the wind on the intl arena is blowing. The above cited Ukraine and Venezuela are two further example to support this point.
Cheers from Vienna!
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 28, 2013 18:38
Eugenio again, trying sunk us into bubbling about scores
That Russia made against the West, as imperial spheres
Of influence to be created, while "Ivan the Fool" is fooling
Around same approach - like "Common Wealth" restoring
Not "Independent States", but "left-overs" of former USSR,
Be sold to Prussia of Sweden and Polls, or Russian Czars.

by: La Russophobe from: USA
November 25, 2013 13:05
A massive crowd of between 50,000 to 100,000 people poured into the streets of Kiev to protest this decision. Putin and Yanukovich are just playing for time, no rational young person in Ukraine today would want better relations with Russia than with the EU. Europe has so much more to offer that Russia simple pales into invisibility by comparison. Ukraine reject Russia long ago, and there is no turning back.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 25, 2013 19:10
You are saying: "Europe has so much more to offer" :-)). Aha, Europe is offering a lot to its memeber states: 25 % unemployment rate to Greece and Spain, 3 years in a row of shrinking economy to Italy, -8,9 % of GDP "growth" to Cyprus this year, cutting salaries of workers and increasing bonuses of banksters - all of which leads to daily protests AGAINST the EU in most EU member states ever since the outbreak of the crisis in 2008.
You have for sure never heard of those things - no wonder, you get "informed" from the sources close to RFE/RL :-)). Will you even find Europe on the map of the world, La Russ from the USA :-))?
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 27, 2013 04:10
No, laddie. Europe is offering money. Russia, too, by the way, nothing more than that, despite all the "we're one people/orthodox christendom" mumbo-jumbo. It's just that Europe has a lot more money (plus know-how; Russia is still all about mineral resources and weapons).

But you know that. After all, you choose to live in Vienna, not in Moscow...
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 27, 2013 09:43
Anonymous is saying: "Europe is offering money". Europe is offering money??? Really??? What money and why is it that Yanoukovitsch is not taking it???
You know, it's funny to see someone thinking that the EU can offer any money to anyone at all, given that here in the EU they have been cutting spending and closing enterprises ever since the outbreak of the never-ending Euro-crisis in 2008. Someone who - like the EU - is simpy bankrupt can hardly offer anyone any money.
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
December 01, 2013 03:06
Because Putin won't let him, silly. Ask the Armenians...
In Response

by: Mike
November 26, 2013 06:15
In your idiotically sticky dreams perhaps.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 29, 2013 22:36
CIS, including Ukraine, are independent nations!
It is sick to see on all forums, media and press,
Children of Quislings of Russian occupation
Try create Russian colonial empire of serfs,
As children of Quislings of Nazi's invasions
Try old dream, US of Europe, ran by Germ.

Both spitting against river of World History,
But they have armies - telepaths and spies
That pushing Ukraine and CIS, by hysteria
Of crafting rules to repossess - take or die!

Sure, Ukrainian people shouldn't be fooled
By Yanukovich promise - Russia has ways,
Forging rules - enslave-repossess as gulls.
Same is ran by Germs EU - chipping away
By set of rules independence of members...

Ukraine have stay firm, by free trade rules,
It can take its time - but people have know,
Exactly how much the Russia-Prussia gulls
Might snick at their back, absorbing Europe.

The Power Vertical Feed

In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

17:49 October 24, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of escalating conflicts around the world by imposing what he called a "unilateral diktat."

Putin made the remarks in a combative speech to political experts at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin said the United States has been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

He said risks of serious conflicts involving major countries have risen, as well as risks of arms treaties being violated.

He also dismissed international sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "mistake," saying they aimed at pushing Russia into isolation and would end up "hurting everyone."

We did not start this," he added, referring to rising tensions between Russia and the West.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, TASS)


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call to push for a quick resolution of the ongoing gas dispute with Ukraine as winter looms.

The call by Merkel to Putin on October 24 comes as representatives of the EU, Russia, and Ukraine are due to meet again next week in EU brokered talks aimed at solving the gas dispute between Kyiv and Moscow.

Merkel also underlined that upcoming elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists must respect Ukrainian national law.

Pro-Russian insurgent leaders are boycotting a parliamentary snap poll on October 26 in Ukraine and are holding their own election in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, home to nearly three million people, on the same day instead.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)



The United Nations says the conflict in Ukraine has forced more than 800,000 people from their homes.

Around 95 percent of displaced people come from eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, told a briefing in Geneva that an estimated 430,000 people were currently displaced within Ukraine -- 170,000 more than at the start of September.

It said at least 387,000 other people have asked for refugee status, temporary asylum, or other forms of residency permits in Russia.

Another 6,600 have applied for asylum in the European Union and 581 in Belarus.

The agency said it was "racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people" as winter approaches.

It also said the number of displaced people is expected to rise further due to ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine.


Three alleged militants have been killed by security forces in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee says that two suspects were killed in the village of Charoda in Daghestan on October 24 after they refused to leave an apartment and opened fire at police and security troops.

One police officer was wounded.

Also on October 24, police in another North Caucasus region, Kabardino-Balkaria, killed a suspected militant after he refused to identify himself, threw a grenade towards police, and opened fire with a pistol.

A police officer was wounded in that incident.

Violence is common in Russia's North Caucasus region, which includes the restive republics of Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Chechnya.

Islamic militants and criminal groups routinely target Russian military personnel and local officials.

(Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS)


A lawyer, who represented an alleged victim of the notorious Orekhovo criminal group in Moscow, has been assassinated.

Police in the Russian capital say that Vitaly Moiseyev and his wife were found dead with gunshot wounds in a car near Moscow on October 24.

Moiseyev was representing Sergei Zhurba, an alleged victim of the Orekhovo gang and a key witness in a case against one of the gang's leaders Dmitry Belkin.

Belkin was sentenced to life in prison on October 23 for multiple murders and extortion.

Last month, another of Zhurba's lawyers, Tatyana Akimtseva (eds: a woman), was shot dead by unknown individuals.

The Orekhovo group was one of the most powerful crime gangs of the Moscow region and in Russia in the 1990s. Its members are believed to be responsible for dozens of murders.

(Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax)

17:27 October 24, 2014


17:26 October 24, 2014


17:00 October 24, 2014
08:29 October 24, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge -- to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 policemen on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

It that percentage holds on election day it would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax)



Moscow has denied claims of an incursion by a Russian military plane into Estonia's airspace.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency on October 23 that the Ilyushin-20 took off from Khrabrovo airfield in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on October 21.

The spokesman said the reconnaissance plane flew "over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea" while on a training flight.

On October 22, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Tallinn, Yury Merzlakov, after the Estonian military said the Russian plane had entered its air space.

In a statement, NATO said the Ilyushin-20 was first intercepted by Danish jets when it approached Denmark, before flying toward non-NATO member Sweden.

Intercepted by Swedish planes, the alliance said the Ilyushin entered Estonian airspace for “less than one minute” and was escorted out by Portuguese jets.

NATO has stepped up its Baltic air patrols and Moscow has been accused of several recent border violations in the region amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.

Last month, Estonia accused Russia of abducting one of its police officers on the border.

Russia claims Eston Kohver was seized inside Russia on September 5, while Estonian officials say he was captured at gunpoint in Estonia near the border and taken to Russia.

The European Union and United States have called for the immediate release of the Estonian security official, who is facing espionage charges in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Navy has been searching for a suspected submarine sighted six days ago some 50 kilometers from the capital, Stockholm, although it said on October 22 it was pulling back some of its ships.

Swedish officials have not linked any particular country to the suspected intrusion and Moscow has denied involvement.

(With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and the BBC)


A Moscow court postponed to next week a ruling on a move to take control of Bashneft, an oil company from tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The judge said on October 23 that the next hearing will take place on October 30 after the prosecution requested more time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors filed the suit in September to regain state ownership of Bashneft, citing alleged violations in the privatization and subsequent sale of the company to AFK Sistema investment group.

Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder of the conglomerate, is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition in 2009.

Yevtushenkov, 66, was arrested on September 16.

He is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

11:11 October 23, 2014


According to a report in the pro-Kremlin daily "Izvestia," deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Western politicians "do not understand the essence of Russia."

"Volodin stated the key thesis about the current state of our country: As long as there is Putin there is Russia. If there is no Putin, there is no Russia," Konstantin Kostin, head of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, told "Izvestia."

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers 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