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The Morning Vertical, December 8, 2017


They were getting hacked by Russia before it was cool.

They were the target of Kremlin information attacks before it became trendy.

They had their territory occupied by pro-Moscow proxies before we ever heard of "little green men."

In many ways, Georgia was a testing ground for -- and a harbinger of -- what we now call hybrid warfare.

And this week in Tbilisi, officials, security analysts, and policy experts gathered to discuss the lessons learned and the way forward.

So in the face of Russian revanchism and given the fact that NATO membership is clearly not in the cards anytime soon, how do you provide security in an insecure zone?

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, I discuss this issue with David Rakviashvili, secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, and Michael Carpenter, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense and currently the director of the Penn Biden Center.

With guests like that, how can you go wrong? So be sure to tune in later today.


Russia says it is prepared to hold talks with the United States to maintain a landmark arms-control treaty signed between U.S. and Soviet leaders in 1987.

The head of Moldova's ruling party has accused Russian authorities of harassing him and other party officials with bogus lawsuits.

Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Egypt on December 11 to discuss expanding ties between the two countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the biggest problem preventing a warming of U.S.-Russian relations is Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

Moscow has accused U.S. intelligence services of trying to recruit Russian journalists working in the United States.

Hungarian prosecutors have filed charges against a Hungarian member of the European Parliament for allegedly spying for Russia.

Vladimir Putin has said that Islamic State has suffered a "complete defeat” along the Euphrates River in eastern Syria.

The U.S. capital's city council took up legislation to rename a public square located in front of Russia's Embassy in memory of the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Donald Trump Jr. has refused to tell U.S. lawmakers about conversations he had with his father regarding a 2016 meeting he held with several Russians at Trump Tower, a top congressional Democrat said.

Ukrainian activists and reformist lawmakers worked overnight to remove a bill from parliamentary consideration that they say would "destroy"the country's only independent investigative body by dismissing its chief.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy, and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov will testify as witnesses for prosecution at the treason trial in absentia of former President Viktor Yanukovych.


Reax To Putin's Big Announcement

In, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin looks at the ritualistic nature of Putin's announcement that he will seek a fourth term in the Kremlin and what this reveals about the Russian political system.

In Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Darya Garmonenko and Ivan Rodin look at the significance of the fact that Putin made his announcement before a working class audience.

In his column for, political commentator and opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at five possible scenarios for Putin's next term.

And in his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky argues (as I did in today's Daily Vertical) that Putin has effectively opened the curtain on the final act of the post-Putin era.

Standing Up To The Kremlin

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter have an essay in Foreign Affairs on how to stand up to the Kremlin and defend democracy.

How To Lose A Cold War

In a piece for, economist and political analyst Vladislav Inozemtsev argues that if we are indeed in a new Cold War, then Moscow will lose again.

New GLOBSEC Report

The Bratislava-based GLOBSEC think tank has released its NATO Adaptation Initiative, a report and series of policy papers on the future of the Western alliance.

Postcards For Prisoners

To mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, the Ukrainian World Congress is launching a "Postcards for Prisoners" campaign to draw attention to Ukrainian citizens imprisoned in Russia.

U.S. Voters And The Russia Investigation

The Pew Research Center has released a new poll on the attitudes of U.S. voters toward the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The Olympics And War

Masha Gessen, author of the recently published book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, has a piece in The New Yorker explaining why the Kremlin will view the Olympic ban as an act of war.

NOTE TO POWER VERTICALISTAS: I will be speaking at the Winter Security Workshop in Podgorica, Montenegro from Monday, December 11, until Wednesday, December 13. No Power Vertical products will appear on those days. The regular schedule resumes on Thursday, December 14.

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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