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The Morning Vertical, December 5, 2016


The crisis of 2016 was telegraphed three years ago.

Back in February 2013, before Crimea and before Donbas, Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov published his now-famous article in the military journal Voyenno-Promyshlenny Kuryer that became the blueprint for what we now call hybrid war.

And as I note in today's Daily Vertical, in December 2013, before Vladimir Putin began cheering on the likes of Nigel Farage, Norbert Hofer, and Marine Le Pen, the Kremlin-backed Center for Strategic Communications published a report titled Putin: World Conservatism's New Leader. That report was a blueprint for how Russia could weaken the West by supporting far-right figures and weaponizing the democratic process there.

Three years ago all this was just words on a page. Today, they are the new normal.


Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned after conceding what he called the "extraordinarily clear" defeat of his attempt to reform the country's constitution, tipping the eurozone’s third-largest economy into turmoil and sending the common currency briefly downward.

Austrian far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has been defeated in the presidential race by rival candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, who is supported by the Green Party.

Putin says he believes that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump "is a clever person" and will soon realize the level of responsibility his new position entails.

A Russian court has refused to consider a motion by Aleksei Navalny to dismiss a politically charged case in which the prominent foe of Putin is accused of large-scale theft from state companies.

Ukrainian authorities say Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko will personally oversee the probe into what officials are calling a "friendly fire" shoot-out between police and state guards service agents that left at least five law enforcement officers dead.

Geidar Dzhemal, a prominent Islamic philosopher and public figure in Russia, has died in Moscow at the age of 69.

The Siberian city of Nefteyugansk is in mourning after a traffic accident killed 12 people, including 10 members of a children's acrobatics team.

Russian prison service officials say jailed activist Ildar Dadin has been transferred out of the prison in northwestern Russia where he said he had been beaten and tortured.

Russia's FSB security service says it has killed a leader of the Islamic State militant group during a raid in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Daghestan.


In case you missed it, on the latest Power Vertical Podcast, Hybrid War And Peace, I discussed a new report on hybrid war authored by co-host Mark Galeotti.


On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, I discuss Putin's efforts to weaken Europe in light of the results of the Austrian elections and the political crisis resulting from Italian Prime Minister Renzi's failed referendum on constitutional reform. Joining me is RFE/RL Editor Steve Gutterman.


GLOBSEC NATO Adaption Project

The Bratislava-based GLOBSEC think tank has released the first paper in its NATO Adaption Project, which identifies the challenges the alliance needs to overcome.

"The GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Project envisages a series of papers to be released over the next several months which will address the nature of NATO adaptation and the challenges it must overcome if it is to remain a viable and credible alliance for the peace and stability of Europe and North America. The project will culminate at the annual GLOBSEC conference in late May, where the results of this project will frame the conference overall," retired U.S. Marine Corps General John R. Allen, who chairs the project's steering committee, wrote in the introduction.

Extremists Of The World Unite

The New York Times has a piece about how Western far-right extremists are turning to Putin as the defender of their values.

(The Power Vertical was on to this three years ago. Just sayin'.)

From 1917 to 2017

Adrian Wooldridge has a disturbing column in The Economist, Bolshiness Is Back, looking at the eerie parallels between 1917 and 2017.

"The similarities between the collapse of the liberal order in 1917 and today are stark. They start with the fin de siècle atmosphere. The 40 years before the Russian Revolution were years of liberal triumphalism. Free trade (led by the British) brought the world together. Liberal democracy triumphed in Britain and America and looked like the coming thing elsewhere," Wooldridge writes.

The years from 1980 were a similar period of triumphalism. Globalisation (led by America) advanced relentlessly. The number of countries that qualified as democracies multiplied. Politicians of the right and left competed to demonstrate their fealty to the 'Washington consensus.'"

Planning The Resistance

The Guardian has a story on how Lithuania is planning to resist in the event of a Russian invasion.

Fixing The Vote

Novaya Gazeta has published an extensive investigative report alleging falsification in September's Russian State Duma elections.

The 'War On Corruption' (formerly has a piece taking a granular look at recent corruption cases in Russia.

Governing The Governors

Vedomosti has an interesting piece on how the Kremlin is changing the ways it manages regional governors.

Beware The Bear

In an editorial, The Washington Post warns that "the Russian Bear is Getting Bolder."

"Russian intelligence services have been known for meddling in foreign countries since the time of the czars. But veteran analysts say such bold attempts to sow chaos in countries linked to NATO are virtually unprecedented. They reflect a regime that has given free rein to its covert operatives, on the calculation that there will be little or no pushback from a weak and divided West. Until that theory is proved wrong, expect more trouble from Moscow’s agents," the editorial concludes.

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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