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The Morning Vertical, April 11, 2016


In many ways, corruption is the new communism. The Soviet Union sought to spread communism and establish a bloc of nations loyal to Moscow. Vladimir Putin's Russia seeks to spread its corrupt business model to establish a bloc of nations dependent upon Moscow. The Soviet Union tried to co-opt Westerners with the power of an idea. Putin's Russia is seeking to corrupt them with the allure of easy money, by using shady financial flows to ensnare foreign elites. The Soviet Union first concentrated on its immediate neighborhood, Eastern Europe, before seeking to spread its model outward. Putin's Russia is also concentrating on its immediate neighborhood, the ex-U.S.S.R., but has also set its sights farther afield. Corruption isn't just a matter of good governance anymore. It's now a national security issue and should be treated as such.


Suicide bombers have attacked a police station in a Russian town in the Stavropol region.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has resigned, paving the way for a new government.

The European Union has criticized an outbreak of violence in Eastern Ukraine after OSCE monitors were attacked near Donetsk.

Reuters is reporting that the European Union go ahead with visa-free travel for Ukrainians despite a Dutch referendum that rejected the EU's Association Agreement with Kyiv.

Russia's state-run Rossia-1 television station is advertising a "documentary" film, which will be aired on April 13, depicting opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny as a paid foreign agent engaged in espionage.

Navalny has called for a criminal investigation to be opened into the TV station.


The Nonlinear-Hybrid-Reflexive-Control War

Eerik-Niles Kross, an Estonian parliamentary deputy who previously served as the country's intelligence chief has a piece in Politico looking at "Putin's War of Smoke and Mirrors."

"Success in Ukraine and Syria will not be defined by military victory in either country. It will be defined by whether or not America and NATO decide to fight, and whether or not Europe confronts Russia over its values," Kross writes.

How The Kremlin Sees The U.S.

Sergei Karaganov, honorary chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, gives his take on U.S.-Russian relations in Izvestia. It's a useful read as it sheds light on the thinking of the Kremlin elite.

The Kremlin's Balance Sheet

The Financial Times looks at Putin's balance sheet, arguing that "sanctions and a falling oil price threaten to derail economic progress amid fears of a return to the chaos of the 1990s."

What's Next For EU-Ukraine Pact?

The Center for European Policy Studies looks at the legal options for the EU Association Agreement in the aftermath of the Dutch referendum

What The Dutch Referendum Taught Us

Writing in The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Applebaum argues that the Dutch referendum showed the world how Russia influences Western European elections.

"In a vague sort of way, many people are aware that the Russian government provides material and moral support to extremist political groups in Europe. But until last week's Dutch referendum, we hadn’t seen a good example of how Russian influence actually works in a Western European election," Applebaum writes.

The Kremlin's Alternative Model

Juliet Johnson and Seckin Kostem of McGill University have a paper out, "Frustrated Leadership: Russia’s Economic Alternative to the West."

"The Kremlin is doomed to frustration in its quest to assert international economic leadership," the authors argue. "The Russian government has the ability to shake up the existing international order but lacks the credibility, stability, or economic clout to lead the creation of a new one. This has troubling implications for the future of international economic cooperation and reform, as Russia's frustrations have increasingly turned it in reactive and confrontational directions."

Zolotov, Kadyrov, And the National Guard

Open Russia has a profile of Viktor Zolotov, a former Putin bodyguard who has been tapped to head Russia's new national guard.

Novaya Gazeta, meanwhile, has an article claiming that the creation of a National Guard is blow to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Open Russia has also unearthed footage of Russian police training to put down a popular uprising.

A Spring Offensive?

Is Russia planning a spring offensive in Ukraine? Former special operations pilot Nolan Peterson takes a look.

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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