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The Morning Vertical, May 18, 2017


Contrary to popular belief, we're not reliving the Cold War. Instead, we appear to be reliving an attempt by Russia to reestablish the Holy Alliance.

In an insightful piece featured below, Vladislav Inozemtsev argues that the lessons of the mid-19th century are at least as relevant for today's confrontation between Russia and the West as the 20th-century superpower standoff.

According to Inozemtsev, "the adversarial relationship between Russia and the West began over a century before the Cold War" when Russia emerged as the most conservative of the victors in the Napoleonic wars, formed the Holy Alliance with Austria and Prussia, and attempted to be the gendarme of Europe.

Then, as now, Russia presented itself as the guardian of traditional values fighting the spread of liberalism. Then, as now, Russia was concerned with suppressing democratic revolutions, crushing rebellions in Poland in 1830-31 and Hungary in 1848-49. And then, as now, when Russia's antirevolutionary zeal turned much of Europe against it, it appealed to the Orthodox Christian populations of the Balkans.

But then, unlike now, Russia has at least the tacit support of two of Europe's strongest monarchies, Austria and Prussia. Today, it has to settle for the support of Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orban.


A top U.S. State Department official has warned that Russia is deepening efforts to influence Balkans politics, including encouraging the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia-Herzegovina to secede.

The Canadian government will back imposing sanctions on officials from Russia and other nations deemed guilty of human rights violations, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced on May 17.

The United States should impose new sanctions and move more aggressively to "shape Russian thinking" in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere, former top State and Defense department officials said.

Lithuania's foreign minister says the Baltic nation has given refuge to two gay men from Chechnya following reports of a campaign of torture and abuse against homosexuals in the southern Russian region.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says he has had to postpone the opening of his election campaign headquarters in Moscow.

Vladimir Putin says that Moscow is prepared to provide a record of a White House meeting in which U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly shared classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned the European Union's ambassador on May 17 to complain about what it said were inappropriate comments by an EU envoy during a visit to breakaway South Ossetia.


Russia's Long War On Liberalism

In a piece for Project Syndicate, Russia's Cold War Habit, economist and political analyst Vladislav Inozemtsev looks at the 19th-century roots of Russia's war on modern liberalism.

The War In The Donbas

How much leverage does Russia have over pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine? Former U.S. State Department official Donald Jensen, a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a senior adjunct fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, takes a look in a report for the NATO Defense College.

In a piece on the Carnegie Europe website, Gwendolyn Sasse, director of the Berlin-based Center for East European and International Studies, argues that "people living through the war in eastern Ukraine are not characterized by clear-cut ethnic or political identities."

And in The Daily Beast, journalist Anna Nemtsova looks at Ukraine's war orphans.

Can Ukraine Reform?

In The New York Review of Books, Tim Judah asks, Will Ukraine Ever Change?

Ukraine And Russia's Social Networks

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky looks at Ukraine's decision to block Russian social-networking sites.

And in his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin argues that the move illustrates the end of solidarity between Russian liberals and Ukraine.

Russia And North Korea

In another column, Bershidsky explains why "the key to North Korea is Russia."

Pop Against Protests

Meduza and Dozhd-TV are reporting that Kremlin loyalists paid Russian pop star Alisa Vox 2 million rubles ($35,000) to appear in an antiprotest music video.

China, Russia, And The Silk Road

In The Jamestown Foundation's Daily Monitor, Stephen Blank looks at Russia's reservations about China's Silk Road project.

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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