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The Morning Vertical, June 24, 2016


It didn't take long for some Russian officials to start gloating as the results of the Brexit referendum came in. Almost immediately, Kremlin aide Boris Titov wrote the following on Facebook: "It looks like it's happened -- the U.K. is out!!! The most important long-term effect of all this will be Europe's escape from the Anglo-Saxons, and that means from the United States. This isn't the independence of Britain from Europe, but of Europe from the United States. Now we'll have a united Eurasia in 10 years' time." Bombastic lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, meanwhile, mockingly sent a message of congratulations to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who, of course, supported remaining in the EU. Russian state television, meanwhile, gleefully reported that Britain's exit from the EU could cause the country to split apart. The official Kremlin response will probably be more guarded, but there is no doubt that yesterday's Brexit result is causing Vladimir Putin to sport a broad grin.


Just a reminder that later today, the Power Vertical Podcast will look at Russia's upcoming political season with the State Duma election campaign getting under way. The Brexit results, of course, add a whole new dimension to this discussion and are sure to come up. My guests include Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and host of the SRB Podcast and Maxim Trudolyubov, a senior fellow at the Kennan Institute. So be sure to tune in!


The Russian Central Bank and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov say the economic effect of Brexit on the Russian economy will be minimal.

Former Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin has said he regrets the British vote to leave the European Union, but says it will have little effect on the Russian economy.

The deputy head of state development bank Vnesheconombank says Brexit could attract investors to Russia.

Nationalist State Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky has sent a message to British Prime Minister Cameron congratulating him on Brexit and praising the British people for their "accomplishment."

Russia's Foreign Ministry has warned Washington against imposing new rules on the movements of Russian diplomats in the United States, threatening that Moscow might institute similar restrictions.

The brother of the jailed mayor of Vladivostok has been arrested for corruption.

The head of Russia's soccer fan association is claiming that Russian fans were the victims of "politicized" treatment by French authorities at the Euro 2016 tournament.

Russia's troubled state development bank, Vnesheconombank, says it will restructure more than 200 billion rubles ($3.1 billion) in loans tied to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.


Russia and Turkey

Asli Aydintasbas, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, has a new report on Russian-Turkish relations: With Friends Like These: Turkey, Russia, And The End Of An Unlikely Alliance.

"The growing friendship between Russia and Turkey in recent years was a problem for Europe. But their recent bust-up -- after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over Syria in November 2015 -- is an even bigger one," Aydintasbas writes.

On a related topic, Yaroslav Trofimov has a piece in The Wall Street Journal on how the rift with Turkey is fraying Moscow's ties with Russia's Turkic peoples.

The Kremlin's White Elephants

Writing on his blog, Maxim Trudolyubov, a senior fellow at the Kennan Institute, looks at Russia's fondness for massive "white elephant" construction projects like the Sochi Olympics and the Kerch Bridge.

"The only explanation I have for this stark disregard of common sense is the Kremlin’s irrational belief that this is the only way for Russia to develop," Trudolyubov writes.

"In Russia, white elephants have special purpose and meaning. They are the tools with which the Kremlin can make things happen while keeping the top-level contractors, i.e. oligarchs and governors, in check. In all likelihood, this is the approach the Kremlin will continue to use in future, despite all talk of reform."

The Night Wolves Go To The Balkans

Vladimir Putin's favorite nationalist biker gang, the Night Wolves, plans to go on a Balkan tour across 12 countries.

Bandera Mythologies

Andrii Portnov, director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Ukrainian Initiative and a visiting professor at Berlin's Humboldt University, has a piece in Open Democracy that unpacks the truth and the mythology of Stepan Bandera.

"I believe that Ukrainian society needs to know about the antidemocratic potential of the Bandera cult and the dangers of idealized and uncritical depiction of the nationalist underground’s attitudes toward Poles and Jews, as well as Ukrainians whom they considered to be 'enemies,'" Portnov writes.

When Parody Is Not Far From The Truth

And on the lighter side, the spoof site Russia In Your Face has the following parody of Russia's reaction to Brexit: "Kremlin celebrates Brexit bonanza as sterling joins ruble in hell."

Here's a teaser: "Upon results of the British referendum on leaving the EU, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent an official letter congratulating Britain 'for getting up off its knees and crawling into a dark pit of paranoid despair.' The Central Bank of Russia has also issued a press release thanking British voters for tanking the sterling."

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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