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The Morning Vertical, February 3, 2017


Hybrid warfare. Nonlinear warfare. New generation warfare. Cross-domain coercion. Active measures. Reflexive control. And the Gerasimov doctrine.

There is certainly no shortage of terminology or jargon to describe Russian military tactics and strategy.
And on today's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll try to move beyond the catchphrases and take a closer look at Russia's strategic doctrine, strategy, and capabilities.

What is Moscow actually doing? What is it trying to do? What are the Kremlin's goals? How is it mixing kinetic and nonkinetic tactics? And what does this portend?

Joining me will be military analyst Michael Kofman, a fellow at the Wilson Institute's Kennan Institute and a research scientist at the CNA Corporation; and Johan Norberg, a senior analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

Also on the podcast, Michael, Johan, and I will take a close look at Russia's force posture and military strategy in the Baltics.

So be sure to tune in later today!


The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has expressed "strong condemnation of Russia's actions" in eastern Ukraine and warned that Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia will not be lifted until Crimea is returned to Kyiv.

European Council President Donald Tusk is calling on Russia to use its influence with separatists in eastern Ukraine to end an upsurge of fighting that has caused many casualties and aggravated the humanitarian situation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the Ukrainian government of provoking this week's flare-up in fighting with Russia-backed separatists in the Donbas.

Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry says the co-sponsors of the Syrian peace talks will meet in Astana on February 6 to monitor implementation of the cease-fire in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he hopes relations between the European Union and Russia will improve in the near future and encouraged all parties to increase cooperation.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says the former Soviet republic must resist what he called efforts to sow "chaos and conflict" and must avoid tension with neighbors.

Belarus is lashing out at Moscow after Russia said it had established a security zone on the border between the closely linked neighbors.

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to approve visa liberalization for Georgia, paving the way for Georgians to travel to the European Union's Schengen zone without obtaining visas.


Why Ukraine Matters

Adrian Karatnycky has a piece on The Atlantic Council's website on why Trump cannot ignore Ukraine.

"For all the discussion about renewed U.S.-Russia cooperation, Trump would be wise to reject the temptation to reach a 'big power' agreement with Putin over the heads of Europe, Russia’s immediate neighbors, and Ukraine, in particular," Karatnycky, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and co-director of its Ukraine in Europe Initiative, writes.

"Indeed, a lasting basis of cooperation with Russia will be impossible without an intelligent approach to enhancing the security and sovereignty of Ukraine and responding to the fears of a region which stands at the pivot of Putin’s geopolitical ambitions."

Paul McCleary has a piece in Foreign Policy arguing that Putin is testing U.S. President Donald Trump early with Ukraine attacks.

Also in Foreign Policy, Alexander Motyl, a professor at Rutgers University-Newark, asks: "Will Ukraine lose by winning?"

Russia's Hard Power

Military analyst Michael Kofman, a fellow at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute (who will appear on today's Power Vertical Podcast), has a piece in The National Interest on The ABCs Of Russian Military Power.

"The Russian military that the United States faces in 2017 is not the poorly equipped and uncoordinated force that invaded Georgia in August of 2008," Kofman writes.

"This is why the magnitude and potential impact of the current crisis is far greater than that inherited by the Obama administration in 2009. Following reforms launched in October 2008, and a modernization program in 2011 valued at $670 billion, the armed forces have become one of Russia’s most reliable instruments of national power."

How To Survive A Cyberattack

Linda Kinstler writes in The Atlantic on what we can learn from the Baltics about "how to survive a Russian hack."

"Since 2007, Estonia has emerged as one of the leading players in detecting and combating Russian meddling, both online, where it arrives in the form of coordinated cyberattacks and propaganda campaigns, as well as through more conventional forms of espionage," Kinstler writes.

Russia's 'Crescent Of Instability'

In Politico, Jacopo Barigazzi and Davin Herszenhorn argue that Russia is creating a "crescent of instability" to tighten "its grip on Europe's periphery."

"As they gather Friday for an informal European Council summit on the island of Malta, a striking new geopolitical landscape has come clearly into focus: a crescent of Russian influence, arching from Donetsk in the east to Tripoli in the west," Barigazzi and Herszenhorn write.

"Having cemented Russia’s role as the dominant belligerent against a pro-Western Ukraine, where the half-frozen conflict in the east has flared up in the past week, and in Syria where a fragile cease-fire has taken hold with Moscow’s ally Bashar al-Assad still in power, President Vladimir Putin has turned his attention to Libya."

The Tao Of Dugin

Bloomberg has a feature looking at the role of the nationalist religious philosopher Aleksandr Dugin in Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.

Moscow's Wish List

Andranik Migranyan, director of the Kremlin-backed Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, has a piece in The National Interest explaining what Russia hopes to gain from the Trump administration.

A New Equilibrium?

Also in The National Interest, former U.S. State Department official Thomas Graham argues for "a new equilibrium" in relations between Washington and Moscow.

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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