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The Morning Vertical, May 9, 2016


Russia is marking the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II with a Victory Day parade on Red Square.

The personal file of Marshal Georgy Zhukov has been declassified.

A Russian opposition activist in Voronezh has been forcibly sent to a psychiatric clinic.

A whistle-blower has alleged additional doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


The Kremlin's Strategy In Ukraine

Lilia Shevtsova explains why Putin is so desperate to hold onto Ukraine, and what the Kremlin is planning next.

"In the Kremlin's understanding, Ukraine is a factor for the Russian state. Russia without Ukraine cannot be a superpower; Russia without Ukraine would be a crippled state. The loss of Ukraine may provoke the further disintegration of Russia's galaxy," Shevtsova says.

"Moscow will, therefore, continue to try to keep Kiev in its sphere of influence. But the Kremlin is looking for a more flexible formula. The Russian elite understands that the approach of using force has failed. The strategy of containment of Ukraine through a compromise with the West, which is reflected in the Minsk Agreement, also proved to be a failure. It seems now the Kremlin will use the tactic of waiting, hoping that the failure of Ukrainian reforms will lead to the West losing interest and leaving Ukraine in a gray box."


The Economist has a piece on how Russia's actions are forcing the EU and NATO to deepen their cooperation.

"Their headquarters are separated only by a three-kilometre taxi ride across Brussels, and over the years they have declared their shared interests and common values any number of times. But despite having 22 members in common, NATO and the EU have always found it easier to talk about co-operating to than to do so. That may be about to change," the weekly writes.

The Information War In The 'Near Abroad'

Writing in The Harvard International Review, Neli Esipova and Julie Ray of Gallup look at how Russia successfully sold it's Ukraine narrative in the former Soviet republics.

"If the West hopes to at least stay in contention in the next information skirmish, it will clearly need to make some changes to its communication strategy. Some of this will need to be content, and some of it will need to be tone," they write. "The post-Soviet region still has strong ties to Russia, and the Russian media and local media in these countries know their audiences well. At the same time, residents of several post-Soviet states—even those who use Western media—feel the distance in the Western media’s coverage."

I Know You Are But What Am I?

In case you were wondering whether the Panama Papers revelations and the Spanish investigation into Kremlin officials' organized crime ties has the Putin regime rattled, the check out this Russian "documentary" claiming that the United States. is a corrupt mafia state.

The Sanctification Of Victory Day

Writing in Intersection magazine, journalist Pavel Kazarin looks at how the Kremlin's use of Victory Day as a pillar of state ideology has prevented Russians from having an honest discussion about the war.

"At some point, Russian society will be faced with the fact that the events which occurred between 1939 and 1941 are no longer to be hidden from the public and silenced," Kazarin writes. "Events such as the partition of Poland and the occupation of the Baltic States will become subjects of research, initially in articles, then in TV series and later on, perhaps in films."

Putin’s Way Of War

Chatham House's Andrew Monaghan has a new paper out looking at the "war" in Russia's hybrid warfare.

The article looks at"the increasingly prominent role of conventional force, including the use of high intensity firepower, in Russian war fighting capabilities, and advocates the need for a shift in our conceptualization of Russian actions from hybrid warfare to state mobilization."

Changing The Game

Writing in Politico, Dennis Ross explains how Russia's intervention in Syria is changing the dynamics of the Middle East.

New U.S. Envoy In Kyiv

Marie Yovanovitch, who previously served as Ambassador in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, will be the new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

Who's The Biggest Crony Capitalism Of All?

Russia tops The Economist's Crony Capitalism index.

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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