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The Morning Vertical, August 2, 2017

Your daily roundup.


It's a time of politically significant anniversaries for Russia.

This year, of course, marks the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. But it's also the 80th anniversary of Josef Stalin's Great Terror.

But next year might be the most significant anniversary of all: the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The end of the First World War in 1918 in many ways marked the end of the age of empire in Europe. It was the death knell for the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires and was the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

Of Europe's great empires, only the Russian Empire successfully reconstituted itself, in the form of the Soviet Union.

And if the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 was supposed to mark the final end of the Russian Empire, somebody forgot to tell Russia's current rulers -- who continue to have designs on Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and Belarus.

In a very insightful piece featured below, Vladislav Inozemtsev succinctly explains the political, geographical, sociological and psychological reasons why Russia can't shake its drive for empire.

Nearly a century ago, Europe's age of empire ended.

Only Russia held on -- and this has been holding Russia back ever since.


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he plans to meet with Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov in Manila during the weekend of August 5-6.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence praised Montenegrin leaders for standing up to "Russian pressure" on his final stop of an Eastern European tour aimed at reassuring U.S. allies in the region.

Pence also reaffirmed Washington's support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity during an earlier visit to Tbilisi and denounced Russia’s "aggression" and "occupation" of Georgian territory.

Three members of a gang accused of highway killings in the Russian capital were killed in a Moscow court after a shoot-out.

Moscow city officials say that some 5,144 Soviet-era apartment buildings will be demolished in the Russian capital in a controversial massive urban renewal project.

A Chechen official has rejected a report by a respected Russian newspaper that 27 Chechens had been executed without trial.

The U.S. Air Force said it is negotiating the purchase of two Boeing 747s that were abandoned by a bankrupt Russian airline with the goal of converting them into the next Air Force One.

The White House acknowledged that U.S. President Donald Trump helped draft a statement about his son's meeting last year with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign.

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and Odesa regional governor who was recently stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, says he intends to return to Ukraine.


Explaining The VPN Ban

In The Moscow Times, Andrei Soldatov, co-author of the book The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators And The New Online Revolutionaries, explains how the Kremlin's VPN ban has KGB roots.

Human Rights Watch has also weighed in on the VPN ban.

How Russians Adapt

In Vedomosti, Aleksei Levinson of the Levada Center explains how Russians are adapting to declining living standards.

The Ideological Struggle

Historian Vladimir Pastukhov of St. Antony's College at Oxford University has a piece in outlining the main ideological battle in Russia today and how it was illustrated by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's recent debate with Igor Strelkov.

The Changing Energy War

On The Atlantic Council's website, Mari Dugas of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School explains the energy war between Russia and the West.

Why The New U.S. Sanctions Matter

Former U.S. State Department official Edward Fishman, a nonresident research fellow at the Atlantic Council, explains why the Russia sanctions bill passed by Congress "is a decisive moment for U.S. policy."

The Persistent Empire

Economist and political commentator Vladislav Inozemtsev has a piece explaining three characteristics of the Russian Empire that persist in contemporary Russia.

Shootout In A Courthouse

In, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin weighs in on yesterday's shootout at the Moscow City Court that killed three members of the so-called GTA gang.

Putin's Pals

A new report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project explains how a firm linked to a friend of Vladimir Putin helped smooth the path for BP in Russia.

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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