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The Morning Vertical, November 23, 2016


Oh what a difference three years make.

In November 2013, Ukrainians were marching in Kyiv with European flags.

Today, France appears on the verge of electing Marine Le Pen, a pro-Moscow candidate who would take it out of the European Union, as its next president.

If Le Pen is elected, and if she succeeds in pulling France out of the EU, the Europe Ukrainians were marching for -- and eventually dying for -- will be no more.

We don't know exactly when Vladimir Putin decided to escalate the active measures in Europe.

We don't know exactly when he decided to pull out all the stops to help bring xenophobes and Euroskeptics to the brink of power.

We don't know exactly when he decided that the EU needed to be weakened and destroyed.

We don't know exactly when what Alina Polyakova cleverly calls Putin's "Plot Against Europe" in a piece featured below began.

But as I note in today's Daily Vertical, it's a good bet that Ukraine's Euromaidan was the final spark.

It showed that the very idea of Europe was dangerous for Putin's regime.

And as a result, Putin's regime became dangerous for Europe.


A group of cybersecurity experts have drafted an open letter calling for an investigation into Russian hacking aimed at disrupting the U.S. presidential election.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Russia and the United States to resume talks to reduce their massive nuclear arsenals.

The United States has criticized a new joint military force between Russia and the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, saying the agreement isn't valid under international law.

A Serbian nationalist leader who is accused of plotting to kill Montenegro's prime minister may have helped send fellow Serbian militants to Crimea to support Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, a recorded conversation suggests.

NATO has accused Russia of "aggressive military posturing" following reports it has deployed anti-ship missiles in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

Ukrainian authorities have released a video showing what they say was the detention of two military deserters who had defected to Russia, escalating a standoff between Kyiv and Moscow over the fate of the two men.

The Czech Justice Ministry says that both the United States and Russia have requested the extradition of Yevgeny Nikulin -- a 29-year-old Russian citizen who was arrested in Prague on U.S. charges of hacking and data theft.

A Moscow State University student accused of attempting to join the Islamic State extremist group in Syria has retracted her confessions.

Ukrainian authorities say they have arrested a teacher accused of trying to sell a 13-year-old girl for $10,000.


A Violent Detente?

In a piece in Foreign Policy, Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, and Stephen Holmes, a law professor at New York University, argue that we should "get ready for the most violent detente ever" between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

"Trump’s initial discussions with Moscow will be very different from Obama’s ill-fated 'reset.' What Trump offers Putin is not simply cooperation on a range of issues where the two countries' interests overlap. What he offers, instead, is a shared narrative about what went wrong in the post-Cold War world. Verbally, at least, he will hold out the possibility of a reactionary alliance against cosmopolitan liberalism and the rootless globalists who are undermining national sovereignty everywhere we look."

"Unfortunately, a shared repugnance for liberal internationalism, celebrated and sealed by the clinking of champagne flutes in the Kremlin, is no guarantee of mutual cooperation or even peaceful coexistence."

What Kind Of New World Order?

Niall Ferguson, author of a recent biography of Henry Kissinger, looks at what the thought of the venerable U.S. diplomat tells us about what to expect.

And journalist Neil Barnett examines "the populist threat to a precarious peace."

Putin's Plot Against Europe

On the Atlantic Council's website, Alina Polyakova, deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and author of the book The Dark Side Of European Integration, looks at how Russia is waging a stealthy war on Europe.

Is Russia Open For Business?

Bloomberg is reporting that Western companies are pumping a lot of cash into Russia.

Bracing For The Worst

Writing on the Atlantic Council's website, Alexander Motyl, a professor at Rutgers University-Newark, argues that the countries of Eastern Europe must prepare for the worst during a Trump presidency.

The Chancellor Of The Free World

Commentators have been noting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to become the last line of defense for Europe and the post-Cold War international order. has a piece explaining why Europe needs more than Merkel.


Due to the Thanksgiving holiday this week and my traveling to a conference next week, all Power Vertical products will take a hiatus until Wednesday, November 30.

The Daily Vertical will next appear on Wednesday, November 30, The Power Vertical Podcast will next appear on Friday, December 2, and the Power Vertical Briefing will next appear on Monday, December 5.

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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