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The Morning Vertical, June 5, 2017

  • Brian Whitmore

ON MY MIND

Vladimir Putin wants to go back to the 1970s.

As foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov notes in an insightful piece featured below, the Kremlin leader's comments at the St. Petersburg economic forum and his interview with Megyn Kelly illustrate a clear desire to return to the era of detente.

An era when the United States and the West recognized Moscow's superpower status and its so-called "legitimate interests" in Eastern Europe.

In other words, he wants to go back to a world in which Russia has "full sovereignty" and its neighbors -- both in the former Soviet Union and in the former Warsaw Pact -- have "limited sovereignty."

He wants Helsinki 2.0 -- but without the human rights basket. He wants the principle of nonintervention upheld, unless it is in Russia's legitimate interests to intervene and invade.

Even if it were geopolitically wise and morally acceptable for the West to give Putin this, and it is clearly not, it would also be practically impossible.

Because Putin is asking the West to give him something that is not the West's to give: the sovereignty of Ukraine, Georgia, and that of all of Russia's neighbors.

IN THE NEWS

Vladimir Putin, speaking on a prime-time U.S. TV program, has again denied that Moscow interfered in the presidential election last year and said that the Kremlin has no compromising material on President Donald Trump.

Putin has also claimed that he once raised the possibility of Russia joining NATO with then-President Bill Clinton and that Clinton said he had "no objection."

The former director of Moscow's Ukrainian Literature Library, Natalya Sharina, has been handed a four-year suspended sentence by a Moscow court in a case that is steeped in the confrontation between Moscow and Kyiv and which has been denounced by rights activists.

The World Bank has forecast Russian economic growth at a 1.3 percent rate in 2017, helped by improving consumption in the country, which is recovering from a two-year recession.

Russian authorities say they have detained a man suspected of shooting dead nine people in a drunken dispute in a village outside Moscow.

LATEST POWER VERTICAL PODCAST

In case you missed it, on the latest Power Vertical Podcast, Putin Vs. Europe, we discussed Jamie Kirchick's new book The End Of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, And The Coming Dark Age.

NEW POWER VERTICAL BRIEFING

On the new Power Vertical Briefing, we look at Montenegro's accession to NATO amid a Russian campaign to destabilize the Balkans.

WHAT I'M READING

Active Measures In Macedonia

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has a new report out exposing Russian attempts to meddle in Macedonian politics.

Megyn Kelly Vs. Putin

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky parses Megyn Kelly's interview with Putin.

State-Sponsored Terrorism

Nick Lockwood writes in The Atlantic on how the Soviet Union transformed terrorism.

The Heir To The NKVD

In an interview with Izvestia, General Sergei Melikov, deputy commander of the National Guard, called it "the heir to the NKVD." Izvestia removed the reference on its online version, but screenshots of the comment continue to circulate on social media.

On his blog, veteran Kremlin-watcher Paul Goble noted the significance of the remark, as did political commentator Ivan Davydov in Snob.ru.

Back To The Future

Foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov has a piece in Republic.ru comparing Putin's foreign policy to that of Leonid Brezhnev.

More MH17 Revelations

Bellingcat has discovered a pre-MH17 photograph of the Buk missile launcher believed to have been used in downing the aircraft.

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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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