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The Morning Vertical, June 23, 2017


It's hard to say goodbye to an empire.

It's traumatic to part with former colonial possessions.

It's difficult to view former vassals as sovereign and co-equal neighbors.

A quarter of a century after the Soviet Union collapsed, large and stable majorities of Russians believe that Moscow still has a legitimate claim on the territory of its neighbors.

Is this just a case of prolonged postimperial stress disorder that will pass with time?

Or is it a more chronic condition that will leave Russia's neighbors in a constant state of peril?

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll look at the implications of a new Pew Research Center poll in which 60 percent of Russians say Moscow has a legitimate claim to the territory of Russia's neighbors.

Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its Center for European Security, and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations; and journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.

Also on the podcast, Mark, Anna, and I will discuss what the new Pew poll shows about Vladimir Putin's support.

Be sure to tune in later today!


The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, has said he wants to move quickly on a Senate bill imposing new sanctions on Russia and Iran even as congressional committees worked to resolve a procedural issue blocking the bill.

European Union leaders have agreed to extend the bloc's economic sanctions against Russia by six months until January 31.

Russia's Foreign Ministry slammed new U.S. sanctions that target mainly Russian people and companies linked to the Ukraine conflict, saying the move puts at "serious risk" the entire bilateral relationship.

The United States has accused Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine of a campaign of "violence and harassment" against international monitors aimed at preventing them from reporting truce violations.

A court in Russian-occupied Crimea has prolonged the pre-verdict detention of Crimean Tatar activist Ahtem Chiygoz, who is on trial in connection with resistance to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

A court in Moscow has sentenced the chief of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's election campaign, Leonid Volkov, to five days in jail.

U.S. President Donald Trump has lashed out at congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference in last year’s election campaign, calling the allegations a hoax.

Russian lawmakers have approved a law classifying the personal data of top state and corporate officials, their families, and other individuals who are under the protection of the Federal Protection Service, less than two weeks after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in anticorruption protests.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he and European Council President Donald Tusk have discussed relations with the EU, as well as U.S. sanctions related to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and to Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

An Azerbaijani court has started preliminary hearings in the high-profile trial of Russian-Israeli citizen Aleksandr Lapshin, a blogger charged with calling for the country's territorial integrity to be violated.


Russia's Soft Power

In OpenDemocracy, Katarzyna Kaczmarska and Vincent Keating look at Russia's attempts to use traditional values as a form of soft power.

Russia's Radioactive Ambassador

In Newsweek, Owen Matthews and Matthew Cooper profile Sergei Kislyak, Russia's controversial outgoing ambassador to the United States.

The Forgotten War

Adrian Bonenberger of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council has an op-ed in The New York Times on the war in Ukraine that nobody notices.

Selective Memory

In Intersection magazine, historian Nikita Sokolov, deputy executive director of the Yeltsin Center, writes about the "forgotten truth" about the origins of the Soviet entry into World War II.


In, Polina Potapova looks at Russia's so-called Generation Z, those born in the 1990s and early 2000s, and how they differ from their American counterparts.

The War Of Symbols

Also in Intersection magazine, political analyst Ivan Preobrazensky argues that Putin has lost his monopoly on "symbolic Russia."

Sincerity Is Political

In OpenDemocracy, Moscow-based journalist and playwright Natalia Antonova looks at the films of Andrei Zvyagintsev. "In an age of disinformation, sincerity is political. The films of Andrei Zvyagintsev are powerful precisely because of this," she argues.

SRB Podcast

The latest SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, takes a closer look at Crimea. Sean's guest is Constantine Pleshakov, author of the book The Crimean Nexus: Putin’s War And The Clash Of Civilizations.

Photo Essay: Siberia's Indigenous Peoples

My Modern Met has a photo essay on Siberia's indigenous peoples. The photos were shot over the past six months by Alexander Khimushin.

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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