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The Morning Vertical, December 13, 2016

  • Brian Whitmore

ON MY MIND

Intelligence officials recently announced that a Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear launched a series of cyberattacks targeting political parties and government officials that were aimed at manipulating an election.

And if you think you know what I'm talking about, you're probably wrong.

Because I'm not talking about the CIA's allegations that Moscow attempted to influence the U.S. election through a series of hacks and leaks.

No, what I'm talking about is Germany, which will hold federal elections late next year and which is clearly Vladimir Putin's next target.

Germany, of course, knows what is coming.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned about it. The country's intelligence services have warned about it. And the German media has warned about it.
But the question remains: Will it matter? Will a Kremlin attempt to meddle in an election succeed even when the target sees the attack coming a year in advance?

We'll soon see.

IN THE NEWS

Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny has announced that he plans to run for president in 2018. Navalny made his announcement in a video statement and on his newly opened campaign website.

Some of the U.S. electors who are charged with determining the next president in a vote next week have called for a briefing to detail evidence behind a finding that Russia intervened to help Donald Trump win the November 8 popular vote.

The top Republican in the U.S. Senate has said Congress will investigate the CIA's conclusions that the Russian government used computer hackers to help President-elect Donald Trump win the election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman has praised Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as a professional and shrugged off suggestions that Tillerson’s ties with Russia and Putin might affect his conduct if he becomes U.S. secretary of state.

Vladimir Putin has suggested that he is unlikely to meet with Donald Trump before the U.S. president-elect is inaugurated on January 20.

Russia and the United States traded blame over Syria's loss of Palmyra to the Islamic State extremist group for a second time over the weekend.

Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko has confirmed that she met with the leadership of Russia-backed separatists for consultations on prisoner swaps. The move triggered rebukes from her party for what it called "negotiating with terrorists."

Election results from Moldova’s breakaway Transdniester region show the head of the region’s self-styled parliament has won the de facto presidency by easily winning more than 50 percent of the first-round vote.

Two former officers of the Belarusian KGB and a former police officer are among 17 people convicted and sentenced to prison in a high-profile drug case.

WHAT I'M READING

Russia And The U.S. Election

David Frum has a piece in The Atlantic that asks "five questions about Russia's election hacking."

Max Fischer has a thorough piece in The New York Times on "what we know and don't know" about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Also in The Atlantic, Peter Beinart tackles the question of why many in Donald Trump's Republican Party are now embracing Russia.

And NPR's International Editor Greg Myre has a piece on how Russia went from uniting the United States to dividing it.

The View From Estonia

Benjamin Oreskes has a piece in Politico on Estonia's fears about what a Trump presidency and U.S.-Russian rapprochement might mean for them.

Meanwhile, according to a new poll, 81 percent of Estonians consider armed resistance necessary in the event of an invasion and 89 support NATO membership.

Russian Assassins In Turkey

In an in-depth feature, the BBC asks: Have Russian Hitmen Been Killing With Impunity In Turkey?

The 1917 Centennial

In a piece in The Spectator, British author and historian Max Hastings argues that the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution should be mourned, not celebrated.

Rosneft And Putin's Retirement Plan

Karina Orlova argues in The American Interest that the recent sell-off of shares in the state-controlled oil giant Rosneft deal could form the basis for "Putin's retirement plan."

Russia's New Economy Minister

MIkhail Khodorkovsky's Open Wall web portal has a post looking at the appointment of Maksim Oreshkin, Russia's new economic development minister.

Lessons Learned From Dictatorships

Writing in Republic.ru, political scientist Olga Malinova looks at what the experiences of Germany, Spain, and Latin America can teach Russians about how to overcome the trauma of living in a dictatorship.

Sovereignty In Former Soviet Space

Chatham House has published commentaries by James Nixey and Richard Sakwa on "sovereignty and legitimacy in post-Soviet Eurasia."

Saving Transatlanticism

In Foreign Affairs, Josef Joffe, editor of Die Zeit, a fellow of the Hoover Institution, and the author of the book The Myth Of America’s Decline, argues that if the United States abandons Europe it would be a gift to Russia and China.

Saving Europe

Francisco de Borja Lasheras, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations' Madrid office, has published a Letter To A Besieged Europe.

New SRB Podcast

The new SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, takes a look at post-Soviet Ukraine. Sean's guest is Sophie Pinkham, author of the book Black Square: Adventures In Post-Soviet Ukraine.

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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