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The Morning Vertical, August 28, 2017


Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban are useful to each other.

Putin, who today is making his second visit to Hungary this year, can use Orban to show that he is not completely isolated from Europe.

And Orban, who is increasingly isolated inside the European Union, can use Putin to issue an implicit threat to his critics in Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. By meeting Putin so often, Orban is sending a not-so-subtle message that if the EU continues to ostracize him for his rollback of democratic norms in Hungary, he has other options.

On today's Power Vertical Briefing (featured below), we look ahead to the Putin-Orban meeting -- their eighth overall and their fourth in the past two years.

So be sure to have a listen.


Vladimir Putin visits Hungary today for a judo competition and talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Russian authorities say a construction worker who was injured when a bus packed with laborers plunged off a pier on a peninsula near Crimea has died.

Donald Trump's company was pursuing a Moscow real-estate deal while he was campaigning to be U.S. president in late 2015 and early 2016, according to The Washington Post.

Adelina Sotnikova, the Olympic figure-skating champion, will not be able to defend her title at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, because of an injury, her coach says.

Putin has ordered a detailed investigation into a massive fire that broke out in the center of Rostov-on-Don on August 21.

Several people have reportedly been detained in Moscow at a sanctioned demonstration in support of Internet freedom.

Moldova marked the 26th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union on August 27 with celebrations that included a folk-costume parade, speeches by political leaders, wreath-laying ceremonies at monuments, and a concert in the capital, Chisinau.

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine, says he believes that Kyiv can carry out the reforms necessary to join NATO, but that the country is not yet ready to join the alliance.


In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast, A Midsummer Night's Crackdown, looks at the criminal case against film and theater director Kirill Serebrennikov.


And on this week's Power Vertical Briefing, Judo And Geopolitics, we look ahead to Vladimir Putin's visit to Budapest.


No Fifth Column

Vedomosti has a piece on why Estonia's ethnic Russians are not becoming a "fifth column" for Moscow.

Is Moscow Losing The Information War?

In The Moscow Times, Maria Snegovaya argues that Russia is losing the information war.

The Case Against Arming Ukraine

In The New York Times, military analyst Michael Kofman of the Kenan Institute makes the case against arming Ukraine.

VPOTUS In Europe Through Moscow's Eyes

Urve Eslas has a piece on the CEPA website on how the Russian media viewed U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's recent visit to Estonia.

Is Sechin Losing Power?

In a column for Novaya Gazeta, Kirill Martinov looks at Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin's role in the Russian elite and asks whether his is losing power.

Russia's Drones

In The National Interest, Dave Majumdar looks at recent Russian advances in drone technology.

Life After Putin

Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague has a video commentary on why there has been so much speculation in the Russian media about life after Putin.

Ukrainian Civil Society

Kateryna Smagliy, the Kennan Institute's Ukraine director, has a new piece looking at the state of Ukrainian civil society.

When A NATO Member Goes Authoritarian

Lisa Sawyer Samp of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has a piece in War On The Rocks on How To Deal With Authoritarianism Inside NATO.

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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