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ON MY MIND

Since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russia's intervention in the Donbas, and the ensuing confrontation with the West, bellicose rhetoric coming out of the Kremlin has become fairly commonplace.

But as I noted on yesterday's Daily Vertical, even by the high bar of recent years, the past couple weeks have stood out.

Siberian schools have been instructed to prepare for wartime conditions, Vladimir Putin has ordered increased armament production, and Patriarch Kirill has warned of a looming apocalypse.

Moves to restrict Western media and calls for a "BRICS Internet" have added to the atmosphere of Fortress Russia.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll take a closer look at all this and what it means as Russia gears up for elections.

Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its Center for European Security, and author of the forthcoming book Vory: Russia's Super Mafia.

So be sure to tune in later today!

IN THE NEWS

A leading Democrat in the U.S. Congress says Attorney General Jeff Sessions is refusing to say whether President Donald Trump ever asked him to hinder the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

Russia has approved a draft agreement with Egypt for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, in a move allowing Moscow to increase its military presence in the Middle East.

The son of a Russian lawmaker who pleaded guilty in U.S. court to participating in a $50 million cybertheft ring has been sentenced for a second time to prison in the United States.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the United States of seeking to provoke North Korea into stepping up its nuclear missile program.

The Kremlin has accused the United States of trying to set the Russian business elite against President Vladimir Putin ahead of a March 2018 election that is expected to hand him a new six-year term.

Russian individuals and groups are being persecuted for posting hyperlinks to websites of foreign organizations declared "undesirable" under legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2015, Human Rights Watch says.

Police say a man detonated two grenades during a murder trial in the Ukrainian town of Nikopol on November 30, killing himself and a defendant and injuring nine other people as shrapnel sprayed through the courtroom.

WHAT I'M READING

After Putin: Lessons From History

In a piece for Snob.ru, economist and political analyst Vladislav Inozemtsev looks to history -- particularly China after the death of Mao Zedong and the Soviet Union after the death of Josef Stalin -- for hints about what a post-Putin Russia might look like.

Rehabilitating Medvedev

In his column for Republic.ru, opposition journalist and political commentator Oleg Kashin looks at the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's revival of fortunes and explains why "it is impossible to spoil Medvedev's reputation."

24-Hour Putin People

Tim Dowling has a piece in The Guardian about what it is like to watch RT for a week.

Russia's Other Syria Offensive

Coda has a piece on the effectiveness of Russia's information campaign inside Syria.

The Yuan To The Rescue?

Bloomberg is reporting that Russia "has hired banks to organize its first-ever sale of yuan bonds as the government braces for possible U.S. sanctions on its sovereign debt markets."

Hide The Football

Vedomosti has a piece on a new decree signed by Prime Minister Medvedev that allows Russian state companies to not disclose information about procurements, in an apparent effort to circumvent sanctions.

Exporting Cynicism

In a piece in Agentura.ru, Andrei Soldatov, co-author of the book Red Web, looks at Russia's online campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. election and asks, "How did the Kremlin, which apparently understands so little about the nature of Internet communications in its own domestic market, find a way to leverage communications platforms so effectively beyond its borders?"

The View From Moscow

The Economist has a leader looking at how the U.S. investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election looks from Moscow and arguing that the probe has resulted in a better Western policy toward Russia.

SRB Podcast

The new SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, features Yuri Slezkine, a history professor at the University of California-Berkeley and author of the recently published book The House Of Government: A Saga Of The Russian Revolution.

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 Follow @PowerVertical

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