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The Morning Vertical, November 18, 2016


The Kremlin has been appealing to the far right in the West for years. But until recently, this looked like trolling, like an attempt to be disruptive.

Now, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that Russia's support for and encouragement of antiestablishment forces has very concrete goals -- the dissolution of NATO and the EU and a shattering of transatlantic unity.

Two reports that came out this week, The Kremlin's Trojan Horses from the Atlantic Council, and The Kremlin Playbook by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, illustrate Moscow's strategy.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we will unpack Vladimir Putin's attempt to create a "Nationalist International" and what it portends.

Joining me will be the co-author of one of those reports, Alina Polyakova, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, and author of the book The Dark Side Of European Integration.

Also joining us will be Anton Shekhovtsov, a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences and author of the forthcoming book Russia and the Western Far Right.

So be sure to tune in later today!


Hans-Georg Maassen, Germany's domestic intelligence chief, says he is alarmed about the potential for Russia to interfere in the country's elections next year.

Prime Minister Theresa May and other European leaders plan to warn U.S. President-elect Donald Trump against weakening sanctions on Russia, the BBC reported.

The United States joined Ukraine in voting against a United Nations resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism, citing freedom of speech concerns and saying Russia sponsored the measure as a political attack against Ukraine.

Ten more athletes, mostly weightlifters and wrestlers from Russia and former Soviet states, have been stripped of medals they won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after failing doping retests.

Donald Trump sought out the advice of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on China, Russia, Iran, and Europe, his office said on November 17.

Trump also offered former military intelligence chief Michael Flynn the job of national security adviser, U.S. news media reported on November 17.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he discussed Ukraine and "all aspects" of Aleppo, including renewed bombing in the Syrian city, in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov denied that Russia's military was carrying out air strikes in Aleppo this week.

Russia's Foreign Ministry reacted angrily to an encounter between a Russian TV reporter and a U.S. State Department spokesman who criticized the journalist's state-run employer.

U.S. President Barack Obama called on his successor, Donald Trump, to push back against Russia when it deviates "from our values and international norms."

Yury Ushakov, a top Kremlin aide has accused Obama's administration of trying to damage ties with Moscow ahead of the upcoming presidency of Donald Trump.

Lithuania pulled a Russian state-run television station off the air after a Russian lawmaker was shown criticizing U.S. policy in remarks regulators deemed were an "incitement to war, discord, and hatred."

EU member states moved a step closer to giving Ukraine visa-free access after ambassadors gave the bloc's executive authority the green light for new talks on easing the rules.


The Kremlin's Trojan Horses

Don't miss The Atlantic Council's new report, The Kremlin's Trojan Horses, which looks at Russia's influence networks in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

"Since Putin’s return to power in 2012, the Kremlin has accelerated its efforts to resurrect the arsenal of “active measures”-- tools of political warfare once used by the Soviet Union that aimed to influence world events through the manipulation of media, society, and politics," Alina Polyakova, deputy director of the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, writes in the report's introduction.

"Russia seeks to infiltrate politics, influence policy, and inculcate an alternative, pro-Russian view of the international order. Whereas the ultimate goal in the near abroad is to control the government or ensure the failure of a pro-Western leadership, in Europe, the goal is to weaken NATO and the EU."

You can watch a panel discussion with the report's authors launching the report here.

Still More Trump-Russia Stuff

In a column for Bloomberg, Eli Lake looks at what a Trump reset with Russia might look like.

Russia Matters surveyed experts about what they expect from U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump presidency.

In Politico, James Kitfield has a profile of General Michael Flynn, the man believed to be the front-runner to be Trump's National Security Adviser.

In Vox, meanwhile, Yochi Dreazen looks at Flynn's rise and his views on Russia.

And in Esquire, Charles Pierce argues that evidence Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election is "growing by the day."

The Spy Who Friended Me

Bloomberg has a profile of Evgeny Buryakov, who plead guilty to spying on the United States for Russia.

Words Of Warning

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, argues that "the United States needs to hold Russia accountable for its aggression."

And in an op-ed for The Washington Post, former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt argues that "it's the end of the West as we know it."

The Kremlin's New Ideologist

Bloomberg's Stepan Kravchenko and Evgenia Pismennaya have a piece looking at the role of the Kremlin's new deputy chief of staff and top political manager Sergei Kiriyenko.

The Putin Effect

Julia Ioffe has a piece in National Geographic looking at why so many young Russians see a hero in Putin.

Exit Interview

Wired spoke to outgoing U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper about Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, Russia, and China.

Russian Stereotypes

Kevin Rothrock has a piece up at Global Voices looking at the most common stereotypes Russians have about foreigners.

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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