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The Morning Vertical, December 15, 2016


One announcement came from Berlin. Another announcement came from Washington.

And the announcements came just weeks apart.

Late last month, German intelligence warned that Russia had launched a campaign to meddle in upcoming elections to the Bundestag. And earlier this month, the CIA said Moscow had already interfered in the U.S. presidential election.

Now think about this. In any other year, either of these claims would have been astonishing, sensational, and even mind-blowing.

Not in 2016. This was the year the Kremlin took the gloves off in its nonkinetic and asymmetrical guerrilla war with the West.

And as 2017 approaches, the West still hasn't figured out how to fight back. In a piece featured below, Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague proposed some common-sense steps that are worth considering.


NBC News is reporting that U.S. intelligence officials now believe with "a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Reuters is reporting that Russia has prevented the United Nations Security Council from thanking outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon specifically for promoting LGBT rights during his decade in office.

Forbes names Putin the world's most powerful person for 2016.

Russian President Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet today seeking progress on a territorial dispute that has prevented their countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II.

EU heads of state and government are meeting in Brussels today for a one-day summit to discuss what a senior official called a "minefield" of issues -- including Ukraine and Syria -- faced by the European Union.

Lindsey Graham, a senior U.S. Republican senator, took issue with President-elect Donald Trump on Russian interference in the U.S. elections and disclosed that Moscow had hacked his campaign.

Officials on the strategic Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea said they likely will turn down a Russian request to rent harbor space out of concern it could harm the country's security.

Banks in Russia's Tatarstan region have limited cash services for their clients as one of the leading banks in Russia's Volga region, Tatfondbank, tries to avoid insolvency.

An American man whom U.S. prosecutors have accused of organizing the largest known cyberattack on Wall Street has been deported from Russia to the United States.

Putin's spokesman criticized a decision to move next year's bobsled and skeleton world championships out of Russia, saying the Kremlin believed it was politically motivated.

A Dutch court has ruled that a priceless collection of gold artifacts from Crimea that were on loan to a Dutch museum when Russia occupied the peninsula must be returned to Ukraine.


In the latest Power Vertical blog post -- "Can Navalny Trump Putin?" --
I look at anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny's plans to run for president in the context of the antiestablishment wave sweeping the West.


Navalny Plays The Trump Card

Not sure if it was cовпадение or a mind meld, but political commentator Leonid Bershidsky penned a column for Bloomberg on the Navalny-Trump thing that hit the web right around the same time as my blog post on the subject.

Navalny's Program

In, Sergei Aleksashenko takes a look at Navalny's economic program.

Ideological Soulmates

Ishaan Tharoor has a column in The Washington Post on "Putin, Trump and the West’s new ideological alliance."

Ivan The Not So Terrible?

Yekaterina Ponomareva has a piece in Coda on how Ivan the Terrible became Ivan the Terrific in Moscow. "The historical records that have earned Ivan the Terrible a place among the country’s cruelest rulers are now being rewritten," Ponomareva writes.

Borders Are Back!

Thomas de Waal, a senior associate with Carnegie Europe, has a piece in New Eastern Europe on "The Revenge of the Border" in the former Soviet space.

Aleppo's Agony, And Russia's Responsibility

Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Open Wall web portal has a post up arguing that Aleppo's suffering will forever be associated with Russia.

Countering The Info War

Power Vertical Podcast co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, has an op-ed in The New York Times on how the West can push back on Russia's information warfare.

McFaul And RT

Over at Global Voices, Kevin Rothrock has a piece about an odd conversation on Twitter between Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, and Margarita Simonyan, the editor in chief of RT.

What If It Happened To Somebody Else?

Zack Beauchamp at Vox has a tongue-in-cheek piece about how the U.S. media might cover the story about Russia's alleged hacking of the U.S. election had it happened to another country.

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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