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The Morning Vertical, July 28, 2017


A recent uptick in the fighting in the Donbas and the assassination of a Ukrainian military intelligence officer in Kyiv suggest that Russia's 3-year-old war on its neighbor is moving into a very uncertain stage. Perhaps the most uncertain stage since the conflict began.

The Minsk process is obviously dead in the water, yet nobody wants to explicitly admit this.

Legislation is reportedly working its way through the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, that would change the designation of the conflict from an "Antiterrorist Operation" to a "regional war," and would classify the separatist-held areas as "occupied territories."

If passed, the legislation would give Ukraine's armed forces greater latitude in prosecuting the war.

Ukrainian officials appear increasingly hopeful that help from the West, perhaps even the defensive weapons they have long sought, could be on the way.

According to Ukrainian media reports (featured below), Colonel Maksim Shapoval, who was killed in a car bomb yesterday, was investigating Russia's war in the Donbas in preparation for a case in the European Court of Justice.

And now, it appears that Moscow appears to be escalating the conflict.

For some time now, the war in the Donbas appeared to be settling into another frozen conflict.

But now it seems to be heating up.


A colonel in Ukraine’s armed forces has been killed in a car bombing in Kyiv that authorities are investigating as a "terrorist attack."

Companies across the world are still grappling with the effects of a major new ransomware cyberattack, which struck their computer systems, with Ukrainian firms and government sites among the worst hit.

Russian oil giant Rosneft says a "powerful" hacking attack has been carried out against its servers.

The jury in the trial of five men who are charged in connection with the 2015 killing of former Russian Deputy Prime Minister and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is continuing deliberations for a second day.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has partly restored drug-testing duties to Russia's anti-doping agency.

U.S. lawmakers have passed a resolution condemning violence targeting gay men in the Russian region of Chechnya.

Soccer's world governing body, FIFA, has released the full text of a controversial investigative report into bidding by Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after the report was leaked to the German media.

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has registered as a foreign agent for consulting work he did for the political party of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted nearly unanimously to reaffirm NATO's guarantee that all members defend each other, weeks after President Donald Trump raised doubts about U.S. support for that guarantee.


Car Bombs And Cyberattacks

In Tablet Magazine, Vladislav Dazidzon looks at yesterday's cyberattacks and the assassination of a top Ukrainian military officer in Kyiv.

Business Insider, citing Ukrainian media, reports that Colonel Maksim Shapoval, the military intelligence officer killed in yesterday's car bomb in Kyiv, was investigating Russia's actions in the Donbas for an international court case.

Business Insider also talked to cyberexperts about who could have been behind yesterday's massive cyberattack. and Wired have articles examining the Petya ransomware virus that was behind yesterday's cyberattacks.

Snopes looks back at how Ukraine has been the victim of Russian hacking, fake news, and other active measures over the years.

Putin's Place In History

On the Atlantic Council website, Stephen Blank speculates about how history will regard Vladimir Putin.

Putin And The Kids

In Foreign Policy, Moscow-based journalist and playwright Natalia Antonova looks at Putin's awkward attempts to court young voters.

Reanimating Minsk

In, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya looks at French President Emmanuel Macron's efforts to reanimate the Minsk peace process.

More On The Stone-Putin Interviews

Maria Snegovaya has a piece in Intersection magazine looking at the effect of U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone's interviews with Vladimir Putin.

Portrait Of A Russian POW

BBC's Russian Service has a profile of Viktor Areyev, a Russian soldier captured by Ukrainian forces in Luhansk Oblast.

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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