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The Morning Vertical, August 3, 2017

Your daily roundup.


Dmitry Medvedev's remarks about new U.S. sanctions against Russia were telling for a number of reasons.

First, the Russian prime minister said that by imposing additional punitive sanctions, Washington has declared a "full-scale trade war" on Moscow.

But a trade war assumes that there is some level of trade to speak of. And in fact, U.S. exports to Russia account for less than 0.1 percent of America's GDP and U.S. imports from Russia are less than 0.2 percent of America's GDP.

But it wasn't just a lack of knowledge of the U.S.-Russian trade relationship that Medvedev demonstrated in his comments.

Medvedev said that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration "has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way."

This remark betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the separation of powers and of how U.S. democracy works.

As the Kennan Institute's Maxim Trudolyubov writes in a piece featured below, a "key to understanding Moscow’s approach" is the Kremlin's "assumption that the executive is by far the most important force in any government."

Trudolyubov adds that "Russia is realizing that the constellation of forces it has to deal with in the U.S. includes Congress, the intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and the media -- not just the executive."


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sharply denounced the sanctions bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on August 2, saying it ends hope for improving relations and ignites "an all-out trade war with Russia."

Russia is disputing a report by the Reuters news agency that shows higher Russian casualties in Syria than has been officially reported.

A member of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's campaign staff in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan has been sentenced to 15 days for "violating laws on public gatherings."

Russian opposition activist Vladimir Yegorov has been extradited from Belarus to Russia, his lawyer says.

A court in Moscow has ruled that a correspondent for Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Ali Feruz, must be deported to Uzbekistan.

The Moldovan government has declared Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to be persona non grata.

A Ukrainian judge has adjourned the in-absentia treason trial of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Russian-appointed judges at a court in Ukraine's occupied Crimea region are scheduled to conduct a new hearing today in the trial of journalist Mykola Semena, who is fighting what he says is a politically motivated separatism charge.

Two Russian citizens were killed by explosions that ripped through a munitions depot in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia on August 2.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili says his country's territorial integrity and its eventual membership in NATO were "clearly defined" during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's July 31-August 1 visit to the South Caucasus country.


New ECFR Report On Russia's Fellow Travelers In Europe

Gustav Gressel has a new report for the European Council on Foreign Relations: Fellow Travelers: Russia, Anti-Westernism, and Europe’s Political Parties.

The Moscow-Washington Standoff

In, Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov examines relations between Moscow and Washington in the aftermath of new U.S. sanctions and Russia's expulsion of American diplomats.

And on The Russia Files blog, Kennan Institute Senior Fellow Maxim Trudolyubov explains how and why Vladimir Putin fails to understand how the U.S. political system works.

Notes From The Cyberwars

TechRepublic looks at what the cybersecurity elite is doing to prevent a digital apocalypse."

The Digital Forensics Research Lab looks at the online evidence to assess whether there will be more hacking and document dumps ahead of the German elections.

The Trouble With 'Patriots'

In, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya looks at how and why the Kremlin is having trouble managing it's "patriotic" wing.

Arming Ukraine

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky argues against sending weapons to Ukraine.

Russia's Libya Game

Mattia Toaldo of the European Council on Foreign Relations has a piece looking at Russia's policy in Libya.

Myths About Stalin

In an op-ed for Vedomosti, economist Oleg Vyugin takes on two myths about Josef Stalin: that he was an "effective manager and an outstanding historical personality."

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

In Intersection magazine, political analyst Fyodor Krasheninnikov looks at the options for opposition-minded voters in Russia's uncompetitive elections. The article is available in both Russian and English.

How To Combat Propaganda

The EU's Disinformation Review spells out 25 ways to combat propaganda without doing counterpropaganda.

Navalny And The Russian Left

On his blog, Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies looks at the dilemma Aleksei Navalny poses for the Russian left.

About That 'End Of History' Thing

European Western Balkans talks to Francis Fukuyama about Russia, the West, the current state of the world, and, of course, the end of history.

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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