Accessibility links

Breaking News

The Morning Vertical, March 19, 2018


So now Vladimir Putin has a choice to make.

He can either make it clear that he intends to remain in power, one way or another, for the foreseeable future. Or he can effectively turn into a lame duck.

In the former case, he risks stagnation and ossification similar to the decay that plagued the Soviet elite toward the end of Leonid Brezhnev's rule.

But in the latter, he risks setting off a potential succession struggle and clan warfare as the elite begins jockeying for position in a post-Putin Russia.

The results of yesterday's so-called election may have been preordained.

But what happens next is very much up in the air.


Vladimir Putin has won six more years in office, with near-final results handing him a landslide victory amid reports of thousands of violations and widespread pressure on citizens to vote.

Putin has said that he has no plans to change the country's constitution for the time being, and suggested he would not seek the presidency again in 2030.

Putin also rejected British allegations that Moscow was behind the recent nerve-agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in England.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has accused Russia of stockpiling a nerve agent believed to have been used in an attack on Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

The Russian scientist who originally helped develop the nerve agent believed to have been used in the poisoning of Skripal said other countries could have also produced test samples of the substance.

Russia has sold $4 billion in debt on the Eurobond market in London despite rapidly escalating tensions with Britain and the West.

The AFP news agency is reporting that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's planned visit to Vietnam has been called off for "unexpected reasons."

Russian voters in Ukraine were blocked from casting their ballots in Russia's presidential election on March 18, as Ukrainian authorities stepped up security outside diplomatic facilitates and nationalists staged anti-Moscow protests.

Supporters of opposition politician Mikheil Saakashvili demonstrated in Kyiv on March 18 to demand the resignation of President Petro Poroshenko.


How was Putin's reelection similar to the 26th Soviet Communist Party Congress in 1981? Read the latest Power Vertical blog post -- Putin's Brezhnev Moment -- to find out.


So it turns out that Vladimir Putin won in a landslide. Well who could have predicted that!? On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we discuss the results and the optics.


Election Post-Mortems

In his column for, opposition journalist and political commentator Oleg Kashin writes that if Putin is now everything, then that means that Putin is nothing.

Meduza spoke to the experts about what we can expect in Putin's fourth term.

The Polling Station At The End Of The Universe has a compelling photo essay, The Election At The End Of The World, showing voters casting their ballots in Yakutia in the Russian Far East

Beyond 2018

Andrew Wood has a report for Chatham House: Putin And Russia In 2018–24: What Next?

Russia's War On History

Vladislav Inozemtsev has a piece in looking at Russia's war on history.

Putin's Philosopher

Yale University historian Timothy Snyder has an essay in The New York Review of Books on Ivan Ilyin, whom he calls "Putin's philosopher of fascism."

Tillerson, Pompeo, And Russia

In an op-ed for The Moscow Times, Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov explains how the dismissal of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is being received in Russia.

The Rule Breaker

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky writes that "The next six years will show whether Russia can get away with not following any rules."

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


Latest Posts

Latest Podcast