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The Morning Vertical, April 7, 2017


The week began with a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. And it ended with U.S. missile strikes against Syria that were condemned by Russia. In between, a chemical-weapons attack in Syria shocked the world.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll try to sort this all out and look ahead to what happens next.

Will Vladimir Putin's regime be able to use this week's bombing in the St. Petersburg subway to shift attention away from growing anger about official corruption?

And will the Kremlin be able to use the attack to restore relations with the West and forge an international coalition against terrorism?

Or will this be negated by growing tension between Russia and the West over Syria, highlighted by this week's chemical-weapons attack and ensuing U.S. missile strikes.

Joining me on the podcast will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; and veteran Kremlin-watcher Donald Jensen, a former State Department official, a fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

So be sure to tune in later today!


The United States struck a Syrian air base with dozens of cruise missiles on April 7, responding to a deadly chemical-weapons attack against civilians earlier this week that Washington blamed on the Syrian government. The Kremlin called the U.S. strike a violation of international law.

The United Nations Security Council on April 6 postponed voting on a resolution condemning a deadly chemical-weapons attack in northern Syria as negotiators wrangled over the wording.

Hillary Clinton said she is "deeply concerned" about allegations of Russian interference in last year's U.S. presidential election and called for an independent investigation and action to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Devin Nunes, the head of the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, has said he will temporarily step aside from his role leading the committee’s investigation of Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russian investigators have searched a St. Petersburg apartment where a number of citizens of unspecified Central Asian countries who reportedly had been in contact with subway bombing suspect Akbarjon Jalilov lived.

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for the "immediate release and dropping of all charges" against Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny "and all the peaceful protesters and journalists detained after the recent demonstrations in Russia."

In what is being hailed by Israeli media as an "unexpected, unprecedented, and curious move," Russia has said it envisions West Jerusalem as the future capital of Israel and East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The government of Moldova has condemned a recent appeal by the de facto authorities in the country's breakaway Trandniester region asking Russia to recognize the region's travel documents.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the head of the Mari El region.

The European Parliament has approved visa liberalization for Ukraine, a crucial step toward enabling Ukrainians to travel to the European Union without obtaining visas.

Three Ukrainian Evangelical Christian activists who served 15 days in a Belarusian jail are being deported to Ukraine.


Showdown In Syria

Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague weighs in with a hot take on the U.S. missile strikes on Syria and the Russian response.

In, Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov looks at the fallout for Russia from the chemical-weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

Son Of Sputnik

In its latest installment on Russian active measures in the Baltic states, the Riga-based investigative journalism site Re:Baltica exposes the Russian-language Baltnews as a Kremlin propaganda project.

Disinformation Front Lines

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Christian Caryl also looks at Russian disinformation in the Baltics.

The Attack On American Democracy

In Politico, John P. Carlin, former assistant attorney general for national security and chair of the Aspen Institute’s Cybersecurity and Technology Program, argues that "Russian meddling poses a dire threat to American democracy."

Economic Lessons Of Putinism

In The Guardian, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that Putin's illiberal stagnation should provide a lesson for the West.

How To Get Tough On Crimea

On the Atlantic Council's website, Taras Kuzio, a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, outlines three ways the West can get tough on Russia over Crimea.

Russia's Asian Dreams

In Intersection magazine, the University of Warsaw's Marcin Kaczmarski argues that in East Asia, Russia's ambitions fall short of reality.

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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