With talk of political change in the air, Vladimir Putin heads to Kazakhstan today on the first leg of a trip that will also take him to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
On today's Power Vertical Briefing, we look at Putin's efforts to protect Russia's interests in a region where it increasingly is forced to compete with a resurgent China.
Joining me is RFE/RL's News Editor Steve Gutterman.
Also on The Briefing, Steve and I discuss the second anniversary of Boris Nemtsov's assassination and the state of the Minsk peace process for Ukraine as the contact group prepares to meet this week.
NOTE: The Power Vertical Briefing is a short look ahead to the stories expected to make news in Russia in the coming week. It is hosted by Brian Whitmore, author of The Power Vertical blog, and appears on Mondays.