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The Morning Vertical, August 30, 2016


For Vladimir Putin, next week's G20 summit in China will be a sequel to last year's UN General Assembly in New York.

He'll get another chance to make his pitch to Western leaders to see things his way -- and let him have his way.

In September 2015, Putin used his speech at the General Assembly and a meeting on the sidelines with U.S. President Barack Obama to end Russia's international isolation, shift the West's attention away from Ukraine and toward Syria, and to push for a grand alliance against Islamic State.

The subtext was, we'll be helpful in the Middle East if you let us have our way in Ukraine.

Next week, when Putin meets with Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of the G20 summit, he will probably try more of the same.

But this time, with a massive troop buildup on Ukraine's borders and an escalating conflict in the Donbas, it will also come with an implicit "or else."


U.S. President Barack Obama is likely to have an informal talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in China next week, the White House said.

The FBI has found that two U.S. states' online voting systems were hacked and is urging all states to increase computer security ahead of the November presidential election.

Russia has conducted large-scale unannounced military exercises "with increasing frequency," straining its relationship with NATO, the alliance's No. 2 official has said.

Russia, already suspended from next month's Rio Paralympics, has been banned from the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea as well, the Russian Paralympic Committee announced.

A group of Russian Olympians has visited a Russian air base in Syria that has been used by Moscow for nearly a year to launch air strikes in the war-torn country.

Scores of Roma have fled from a southern Ukrainian village after residents torched one Romany home and demanded authorities evict all Romany families from the area following the killing of a 9-year-old girl.

The OSCE's media freedom advocate has called on Ukrainian authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the death of journalist Aleksandr Shchetinin.


Hackers, Hackers, Everywhere!

Don't look now but cyberattacks are back in the news again.

Yahoo News's chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff has a widely circulated and highly detailed piece reporting that "the FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems." Cyberexperts suspect that Kremlin-backed Russian hackers were behind the attacks.

Defense News, meanwhile, has a report claiming that several Washington D.C.-based think tanks that focus heavily on Russian affairs were recently hacked.

Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, has an op-ed in The New York Times warning that the U.S. election could be hacked.

And The Atlantic, meanwhile, has a piece laying out the available evidence pointing to Russia in the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee's email servers.

Vanguard Of The Revolution

Joshuah Jaffa has a widely circulated piece in The New Yorker profiling two muckraking journalists, Serhiy Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayyem, who were catapulted into politics by the Euromaidan revolution.

The Costs Of Escalation

Bloomberg has a revealing piece adding up what Moscow's recent escalation in Ukraine is costing the Russian economy.

Ground Zero

Anna Nemtsova has a report in The Daily Beast from the Russian-Lithuanian border, "Ground Zero In The New Cold War."

Russia's New History Textbooks

As the teaching of history becomes increasingly politicized, Znak has a piece looking at how Russia's new textbooks are different from the old ones.

Children Of The Kremlin Court

NIkolai Petrov has a piece in that asks: what happens to the elite's children when the regime changes?

Russian Soft Power In Georgia

According to prominent Georgian activist Temur Kobalia, Russia is stepping up anti-EU and pro-Eurasian Union efforts in Georgia.

Oil Games

Bloomberg has a report on the latest efforts by Igor Sechin, CEO of the state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, to acquire a controlling stake in Bashneft.

Khodorkovsky Talks Elections has an interview with Mikhail Khodorkovsky on how the exiled former oil magnate's Open Russia movement is approaching next month's elections to the State Duma.

Monitoring The Vote

On Khodorkovsky's Open Wall web portal, meanwhile, Sergei Orlov takes a look at how independent monitors are approaching the elections

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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