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The Morning Vertical, December 19, 2016


From fake news to disinformation to hacking, the bag of tricks Vladimir Putin's Russia is now unleashing on the West were all road tested and fine tuned in the former Soviet space.

As Anni Piiparinen and Geysha Gonzalez of The Atlantic Council explain in a piece featured below, they were deployed in the Baltics, the Caucasus, and in Ukraine.

And, as NBC News shows in a helpful list also featured below, Russia has been launching cyberattacks since at least 2007, hitting Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

And when the Kremlin saw they could get away with it, they expanded their operations westward.

The West is now getting a taste of what Russia's neighbors have been experiencing for a decade.


U.S. Senator John McCain has called for a single, unified committee to investigate the depth of possible Russian hacking during the U.S. election campaign.

The leader of Russia's troubled Chechnya region says security forces have killed 11 suspected militants in two clashes near the capital, Grozny.

Authorities in Chechnya region say they have determined that the alleged leader of the group of suspected militants involved in the gunbattles with police in Grozny over the weekend had ties to the extremist group Islamic State.

Russian authorities say at least 33 people in a Siberian community have died in the past few days after drinking body lotion that contained methyl alcohol, or methanol.

The Russian Defense Ministry says one of its planes has crash-landed in northern Siberia.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO says envoys from the alliance may raise the issue of what he called Moscow's "malign influence" on the internal affairs of NATO countries when they meet their Russian counterpart in Brussels today.

The Ukrainian government says it will nationalize the country's largest bank in an effort to avoid a financial collapse in the former Soviet republic that is locked in a military and political standoff with neighboring Russia.

Ukraine says five of its troops have been killed in clashes with pro-Russia separatists in some of the worst fighting to hit the eastern Donbas region in months.


On the latest Power Vertical Podcast, Rage Against The Machine, we discuss Aleksei Navalny and the possibility of antiestablishment populism striking Russia.

Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior policy fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations; and journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.


On today's Power Vertical Briefing, we preview Vladimir Putin's marathon end-of-year news conference, which is scheduled for December 22. Joining me is RFE/RL Editor Steve Gutterman.


The Navalny Campaign

In an interview with RFE/RL's Current Time, Aleksei Navalny explains how he will finance his possible presidential campaign.

Putin's Bag Of Tricks

Anni Piiparinen and Geysha Gonzalez of The Atlantic Council have a piece on how Putin's Russia is using old tricks against new targets.

"While Russia’s interference in the presidential election shocked many in the United States, hacking and the spreading of fake news -- or "disinformation," [...] have been part of the Kremlin’s arsenal for decades in Russia’s "near-abroad," in countries that gained their independence after the fall of the Soviet Union," Piiparinen and Gonzalez write.

Russia's Attack On Washington

In his column for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof looks at allegations that Moscow interfered in the U.S. presidential election and calls Donald Trump "The Russian Poodle."

"Let’s be clear: This was an attack on America, less lethal than a missile but still profoundly damaging to our system," Kristof writes.

And Then We Take Berlin

Politico has a piece looking at Russia's efforts to influence Germany's federal elections.

Putin's Revenge

Michael Crowley has a piece in Politico on Putin's revenge

"Humiliated by the 1990s, Russia’s strongman is determined to win Cold War 2.0. He may be succeeding," Crowley writes.

A New World Order

In a column in The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria looks at Putin's quest to establish a new international order.

"Russia has found a way to assert itself geopolitically, despite its economic weakness," Zakaria writes.

"It has done so by using effectively what strength it has, such as its still-formidable military and intelligence services as well as its veto in the UN Security Council. Most ambitiously and devastatingly, it has found a way to leverage its strength dramatically using cyberwarfare."

A Decade Of Cyberattacks

NBC News has compiled a list of Russian cyberattacks on other nations dating back to 2007.

The Dangerous Philosopher

Paul Ratner has a piece in Big Think on Aleksandr Dugin, "The Most Dangerous Philosopher In The World."

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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