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The Morning Vertical, March 28, 2018


In a piece featured below, former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov makes the case that Moscow needs to mend its relations with the West.

Ivanov is one of the sharper foreign-policy minds in Moscow. But even he repeats one of the falsehoods that even most Russian foreign-policy liberals seem to believe.

"Russia's numerous opponents and adversaries," Ivanov writes. "want to lock the country up in a geopolitical ghetto and, isolate it as much as possible from the rest of the world."

Ivanov acts as if the Western sanctions he is referring to simply came out of the blue and were not related to Russia's behavior -- the annexation of Crimea, the war in the Donbas, the downing of Flight MH17, and the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent in the U.K.

And even given all these things, the West remains eager to engage Russia, as I note on today's Daily Vertical.

Ivanov is right. Russia does need to rethink its foreign policy. But this would also require a rethink of Russia's international behavior.

And that is highly unlikely under the current regime.


Russia is holding a national day of mourning for the victims of a fire at a busy shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, as the first funeral ceremonies began for some of those killed in the blaze are set to be held.

Russia's poisoning of a former spy in Britain is part of a Kremlin strategy to divide the West by conducting covert operations and then fomenting doubt and disagreement over who's responsible, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said.

Paul Ryan, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has called on Czech authorities to extradite an alleged Russian hacker to the United States amid claims that the Czech president wants to return the man to Moscow.

More than 1,000 people have been evacuated in the Siberian region of Altai Krai after melting snow caused severe flooding.

Spanish authorities have broken up a cybercrime syndicate of Ukrainian and Russian nationals that allegedly stole more than 1 billion euros ($1.24 billion) from bank accounts over more than four years.

Russian historian and activist Yury Dmitriyev, who is being tried on child-pornography charges, says he maintained his innocence in his final statement to the court ahead of a verdict.

NATO has joined more than two dozen governments around the world in expelling Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain.

Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko, whom Russia has charged with espionage in a case seen by rights activists as politically motivated, has entered a not guilty plea as his trial began in Moscow.

The European security organization responsible for monitoring the deadly conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine will reintroduce its long-range drone program more than a year and a half after it was dropped due to repeated shoot-downs.


More Reax To Kemerovo Tragedy

What, if anything, will change after the shopping-mall fire in the Siberian city of Kemerovo? In his column for, opposition journalist and political commentator Oleg Kashin weighs in.

And in his column for Bloomberg, emigre Russian political commentator Leonid Bershidsky takes a critical look at Putin's response to the tragedy.

Poisoned Relations

In, Moscow-based political commentator Vladimir Frolov looks at the fallout from the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the mass expulsions of Russian diplomats from Western countries.

And in Foreign Policy, Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague takes a critical look at the U.K. response to the Skripal poisoning.

The Putin Generation

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Ivan Krastev looks at what he calls Generation Putin, the mid-level cadre of elites that rose under his rule.

Imagining Another Russian Foreign Policy

Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has an op-ed in The Moscow Times on "what Russia's foreign policy should look like."

Deterrence And Resilience

Veteran Kremlin-watcher Edward Lucas has a piece on the website of the Center for European Policy Analysis arguing that in confronting the Kremlin, the West needs to strike a balance between deterrence and resilience.

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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