ON MY MIND
There will be a lot to watch for in today's meeting between Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.
There will be the irony of Putin traveling to France to meet a man the Russian media has spent the past several months smearing and vilifying.
It will also be one of the first big foreign policy tests for Macron, who has promised to be "demanding" in his talks with Putin.
And then there will be Putin, who is famous for testing and trolling Western leaders (Remember Angela Merkel and Putin's dog? Or the Kremlin leader's strategic tardiness?)
How will Putin conduct himself? Will he try to rattle and unsettle France's young president. And how will Macron respond?
Listen to this week's Power Vertical Briefing, in which I preview the meeting with RFE/RL News Editor Steve Gutterman.
IN THE NEWS
New French President Emmanuel Macron says he will be "demanding" when he hosts Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris today.
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and his allies have formally requested permission from the authorities to hold anticorruption rallies in Moscow and several other cities on June 12.
U.S. Democrats demanded to hear from key White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations he tried to establish secret communications with Russia before the inauguration of his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.
Zenit St. Petersburg has fired coach Mircea Lucescu after the Russian football team failed to qualify for the Champions League for the second year in a row.
Russia surprised the aviation world on May 28 with the maiden flight of its new MS-21 medium-range passenger plane, creating a rival for its Western competitors with its first post-Soviet mainstream commercial airliner.
Several Moscow police officers are facing harsh criticism for roughly detaining a 10-year-old boy who was reciting poetry by William Shakespeare on a downtown street.
LATEST POWER VERTICAL PODCAST
In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast, The Not-So-Velvet Divorce, takes a look at efforts by the Ukrainian authorities to sever Kyiv's remaining ties to Moscow.
NEW POWER VERTICAL BRIEFING
On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we look ahead to Vladimir Putin's meeting in Versailles with French President Emmanuel Macron.
POWER VERTICAL AT GLOBSEC
I was honored to lead a panel discussion at this year's Globsec Forum in Bratislava on The European Neighborhood 2017: Times Of Turmoil Ahead. Panelists included Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikishvili, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Russian State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov, and Andrea Thompson, National Security Adviser to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. You can watch a video of the panel here.
WHAT I'M READING
A Central European State Of Mind
GLOBSEC has issued a new report, Mixed Messages And Signs Of Hope From Central & Eastern Europe, based on public opinion polling on attitudes toward NATO, the EU, and Russia in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
The Twin Peaks Cult In The Ex-U.S.S.R.
In OpenDemocracy, Natalia Antonova looks at the legacy of Twin Peaks in the post-Soviet world.
What Putin Wants -- And What The West Can Do About It
Kadri Liik of the European Council on Foreign Relations has a new piece looking at the strategic goals of Russia's behavior and what the West should do in response.
The Russia-China Wedge
Alexander Gabuev of the Moscow Carnegie Center has a piece in The South China Morning Post on why attempts by the Trump administration to play Russia and China off against each other will likely fail.
The Donbas Trap
The Economist has a piece on why Russia and Ukraine are both trapped in the war in the Donbas.
The Sanctions Game
Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov has a piece in Republic.ru on how Russia avoided a new round of Western sanctions.