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The Morning Vertical, July 31, 2017


So there's apparently not going to be any reset.

Vladimir Putin's regime appeared to believe that by interfering in the U.S. election it would get a partner in Washington that would be ready to agree to a detente on Moscow's terms.

Instead, as the sanctions bill that passed the U.S. Congress last week illustrates, what it got instead was a systemic and bipartisan backlash.

As David Sanger shows in a piece featured below, Putin's bet on a Trump presidency seems to have "failed spectacularly."

And Moscow's retaliatory measures illustrate, the Kremlin doesn't know what to do next. So it has reverted to "escalating the dispute, Cold War-style."


The U.S. State Department called Vladimir Putin's demand that U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia be slashed by 755 personnel a "regrettable and uncalled for act" and said Washington was considering a possible response.

Putin has signed controversial legislation prohibiting the use of Internet proxy services -- including virtual private networks, or VPNs -- and cracking down on the anonymous use of instant-messaging services.

Putin has pardoned two women who were convicted of high treason for sending text messages to Georgian acquaintances about the movement of Russian military equipment on the eve of the brief 2008 Russian-Georgian war.

Some 2,800 troops from host Georgia, the United States, and six other countries have begun a major military exercise in the South Caucasus nation.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has raised the possibility of deploying the Patriot antimissile defense system in Estonia, Prime Minister Juri Ratas said.

Ukraine says that one of its soldiers was killed and nine others injured in fighting with Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country.


In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast, A Fictional Federation, looks at the fallout from the expiration of a decades-old agreement granting Tatarstan limited autonomy -- including control over its resources, budget, and special status for the Tatar language.


This week's Power Vertical Briefing, Reset Interrupted, looks at the deteriorating relationship between Moscow and Washington in the aftermath of new U.S. sanctions and Russia's expulsions of American diplomats.


Remembering 1937

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin marks the 80th anniversary of 1937, the year that marked the high point of Josef Stalin's Great Terror.

Influence Operations

In The New York Times, retired CIA station chief Daniel Hoffman explains Russian influence operations.

Putin And Trump

Also in The New York Times, Daniel Sanger explains why Putin's bet on a Trump presidency has "failed spectacularly."

A Death In Washington

A BuzzFeed investigation looks into the death of Mikhail Lesin, the former Kremlin official who mysteriously died in Washington in November 2015.

Saakashvili Speaks

Foreign Policy's Ian Bateson spoke to former Georgian President and Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili about his next moves.

Ukraine's Young Twitter Warriors

In Fortune, Linda Kinstler looks at the Ukrainian millennials who are taking on Russia on Twitter.

Explaining The Expulsions

In The Moscow Times, foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov explains Russia's retaliation for U.S. sanctions.

The Balkan Game

Dagmar Skrpec has a piece in Foreign Affairs on "Croatia, Russia, and the Balkan Great Game."

The Truman Doctrine

The Brookings Institution has published a text of remarks by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, in which he calls for a "Truman Doctrine for the 21st Century."

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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