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The Morning Vertical, February 8, 2018


Entering an arms race with a weak economy. Launching foreign military adventures. Supporting anti-Western rogue regimes. Pouring massive funds into vanity projects. Exasperating conflicts with ethnic elites in non-Russian republics.

Looking at Vladimir Putin's policies, it is easy to get a sense of deja vu. It's easy to think we are reliving the 1970s and early 1980s.

As Igor Eidman writes in a piece featured below, the current Kremlin leadership appears to be repeating the exact same mistakes of the Soviet leadership.

Mistakes that led to declining living standards, economic stagnation, and ultimately the decline and fall of the U.S.S.R.

And that is not the only similarity.

Then, as now, the West was experiencing a deep funk and there was a sense that Moscow was actually winning the Cold War.

History, of course, doesn't repeat itself. But these parallels are worth bearing in mind.


Eight candidates will be on the ballot in Russia's March 18 presidential vote, a poll that appears certain to hand Vladimir Putin a new six-year term.

Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to strengthen coordination between the countries' military and security services in Syria, the Kremlin says.

Athletes from Russia competing under the Olympic flag have made their debut in the 2018 Winter Olympics, losing in a curling match to a U.S. team at a time when other Russian athletes were having their banning appeals heard in hopes of entering the games.

Moldova's pro-Russia President Igor Dodon has warned mayors who signed a declaration on reunification with Romania that they could face criminal charges.

An official from Russia's central Tatarstan region has been appointed prime minister of the North Caucasus region of Daghestan, following a roundup on fraud charges of several senior Daghestani officials.

Russia's Federal Security Service says nine militants linked to the Islamic State militant group have been sentenced in Ingushetia to prison terms ranging from five years to 19 years.


Sobchak At CSIS

Ksenia Sobchak took her long-shot campaign for the Russian presidency to Washington, D.C., this week. Here's a video of her speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Grudinin Factor

There are several stories on how Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin's candidacy is playing with the party's base. In, political analyst Aleksandr Kynyev argues that it could radicalize the party. And in Nevavisimaya Gazeta, Aleksey Gorbachev reports that it could lead to a schism.

The Pros And Cons Of Referendums

In a report for Znak, Yekaterina Vinokurova looks at how the Kremlin is using local referendums on grassroots issues to boost turnout in the regions but is looking to bar them in Moscow where the "wrong electorate" could turn out.

Oligarchs In Exile

In her column for, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya takes a skeptical look at a proposal floated by presidential candidate Boris Titov, the Kremlin's commissioner for entrepreneurs' rights, that would have exiled businessmen return to Russia in exchange for amnesty.

Raising The Alarm

In Politico, Susan Glasser explains how former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland pushed the Obama administration to do more to stop Russian hacking.

The Steele Story

And The Washington Post has an extensive piece outlining the role of former British intelligence official Christopher Steele in the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

History Repeating?

In a post on, political commentator Igor Eidman lists seven ways in which Vladimir Putin is repeating the mistakes of the late Soviet leadership.

How SpaceX Beat Roskosmos

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky explains how Elon Musk and SpaceX beat the Russian space program.

Russia In Latin America

In The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, Stephen Blank looks at Russia's recent activity in Latin America.

Russia And The Rule Of Law Index

In, Yevgeny Karasyuk looks at Russia's standing over the years in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index. The 2017-18 index, in which Russia ranked 89th of 111 countries, is available here.

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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