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ON MY MIND

When the European Union granted Ukraine visa-free travel, President Petro Poroshenko said the move represented an important step in Kyiv's "breakup from the Russian Empire."

And it wasn't the only step. In recent weeks, Ukrainian authorities initiated a series of steps designed to sever remaining ties with Moscow.

Kyiv has moved to block Russian social-media sites like VKontakte and Odnaklasniki and Russian search engines like Yandex and Mail.ru.

Legislation placing restrictions on religious organizations affiliated with an "aggressor state," which is clearly aimed at the Moscow Patriarchate, is working its way through the Verkhovna Rada.

And lawmakers are now proposing requiring visas for Russian citizens traveling to Ukraine.

It all appears to add up to a not-so-velvet divorce.

Russia's war on Ukraine was intended to prevent Kyiv from leaving Moscow's sphere of influence. But it has only resulted in an acceleration of that process.

IN THE NEWS

Vladimir Putin is due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in France on May 29, Western media cited French officials as saying.

Russia and Turkey took another step toward normalizing ties, signing a memorandum that lifts trade restrictions.

The International Paralympic Committee said there "is a strong chance" Russia could be banned from the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea for doping violations.

An engineer for a defense contractor in California has pleaded guilty to selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed was a Russian spy, federal authorities say.

Michael Flynn, the U.S. national security adviser who was fired for misleading the White House about his ties to the Russian government, has refused to turn over documents to a congressional committee investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

A Ukrainian hacker has been sentenced to 30 months in a U.S. prison for a scheme using stolen unpublished news releases to make around $30 million in profits.

The European Union's decision granting visa liberalization for Ukraine has been published in the EU's official journal, paving the way for the visa-free regime to enter into force on June 11, 20 days after its publication on May 22.

WHAT I'M READING

The Russian Threat To Europe

The Brookings Institution has published the text of former U.S. State Department official Steven Pifer's testimony before the U.S. Helsinki Commission on the growing Russian military threat in Europe.

NATO's Eastern Flank

In Defense News, Maciej Kowalski looks at NATO's efforts to counter Russia's Area Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities on the alliance's eastern flank.

NATO's Deterrence Posture

The European Leadership Network has published a new report, NATO’s Evolving Modern Deterrence Posture: Challenges And Risks, authored by Lukasz Kulesa and Thomas Frear.

Pavlovsky On Putin's Waning Power

In an interview with Fontanka.ru, political strategist and former Kremlin insider Gleb Pavlovsky argues that Russia's power clans are reasserting themselves and Putin is no longer the "executive director" of the ruling elite. Instead, he is more like an "honorary chairman of the board."

Putin's Shadow Cabinet

Joshua Yaffa has a piece in The New Yorker looking at the role and influence of Putin's childhood friend and judo partner Arkady Rotenberg.

The Domestic Use Of Foreign Propaganda

In Politico, Natalia Antonova argues that Le Pen may have lost in France, but Putin is still winning his propaganda war at home.

Russia's Opposition And Ukraine

On The Atlantic Council's website, Taras Kuzio asks: "Why are Russian opposition leaders democrats at home and imperialists abroad?"

RAND Report On Russia And The International System

The RAND Corporation has published a new report on Russian views of the international order.

From Lenin To Stalin

In the latest installment of the Red Century series in The New York Times, Jonathan Brent, who founded the Annals of Communism series at Yale University Press, looks at what the archives tell us about an old debate among historians: Was Josef Stalin's Great Terror a continuation of Vladimir Lenin's politics, or a reversal of them?

SRB Podcast

The latest SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, features Alexander Rabinowitch, a renowned historian of the Russian Revolution and professor emeritus at Indiana University.

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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