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The Morning Vertical, November 20, 2017


Should he attend, Alyaksandr Lukashenka's appearance at this week's Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels will be sure to attract a lot of attention.

How will he be received by EU leaders? With Belarus's relations with Russia hitting a rough patch, will Lukashenka use the occasion to send a message to Moscow?

But beyond the inevitable Lukashenka show, this week's summit is also marked by a "what now?" vibe. (See a piece by Andrew Rettman in EUObserver, featured below.)

Association agreements, free-trade agreements, and visa-free travel have been implemented with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, but membership is obviously a far-off prospect.

There is also the persistently yawning gap between these three countries and three other partnership countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus -- which have, to put it mildly, not advanced as far on issues of democracy and human rights.

On this week's Power Vertical Briefing (featured below), we look ahead to the Eastern Partnership summit and what we can expect and should be looking for.

So be sure to tune in.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, in Baku today for talks expected to focus on bilateral relations and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Iranian, Russian, and Turkish foreign ministers met in southern Turkey to discuss the yearslong civil war in Syria ahead of a summit between the three countries' presidents in Russia.

Czech President Milos Zeman is expected to arrive in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 20, with talks scheduled the following day with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin says.

Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists appear to be moving closer to a new round of prisoner exchanges after a flurry of comments from Kyiv, Moscow, and separatist groups.

A senior Russian official says Sweden and Uruguay have written a draft resolution that could lead to another vote to keep alive a United Nations investigation into who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Ukraine's main security agency says it has detained two Russian citizens wanted by Interpol, including one who allegedly was involved in the assassination of American journalist Paul Klebnikov.

Senior aides will present U.S. President Donald Trump with a $47 million plan to finance and sell high-tech defensive weapons to Ukraine to bolster its efforts to repel Russian aggression in the region, ABC News reported, quoting a State Department source.


This week's Power Vertical Briefing looks ahead to the November 24 Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels.


The Sharp Power Of Authoritarianism

Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig have a piece in Foreign Affairs, The Meaning Of Sharp Power, on how authoritarian states project influence abroad.

The Kremlin's Use Of History

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin takes this weekend's unveiling of a monument to Tsar Alexander III as a point of departure to look at the Kremlin's use of history.

The Eastern Partnership

In EUObserver, Andrew Rettman looks ahead to this week's European Partnership summit in Brussels and argues that the European Union appears to be distancing itself from aspirant countries from the former U.S.S.R.

Russia And Japan

Jonathan Eyal of the United Royal Services Institute has a commentary looking at Putin's complicated efforts to normalize relations with Japan.

Eastern Europe's Ghosts

In The National Interest, the Kennan Institute's Izabella Tabarovsky argues that Eastern Europe's inability to confront its dark past could imperil its future.

Hromadske television has an interview with Miriam Lexman, EU office director at the International Republican Institute, on managing historical memory in Poland and Ukraine.

And in a piece for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Joanna Hosa looks at rising nationalism in Poland.

Putin's Swan Song?

In The Independent, Oliver Carroll looks at the uncertainty in Putin's inner circle as next year's presidential election approaches.

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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