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ON MY MIND

In Krasnoyarsk, school administrators have been instructed to prepare for wartime conditions.

At a meeting with military officials and defense contractors in Sochi last week, Vladimir Putin instructed large corporations to increase the production of military goods.

And as Chatham House's Mathieu Boulegue notes in a piece featured below, at a same meeting, Putin extended Russia's 19 trillion-ruble ($325 billion) armaments program through 2027.

Moreover, Patriarch Kirill recently warned that the apocalypse "is already visible to the naked eye" and the world risked slipping into "the abyss at the end of history."

Given the bellicose rhetoric coming out of Moscow since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russia's intervention in the Donbas, and the ensuing confrontation with the West, none of these things are particularly surprising when considered individually.

But taken together, and coming as Putin prepares for next year's election, these data points suggest that "fortress Russia" will be a central theme in his campaign.

IN THE NEWS

Russia says that it has lost contact with a weather satellite it launched from its new Vostochny Cosmodrome just hours earlier.

The International Olympic Committee has dealt a blow to Russia's strategy of blaming the country's doping scandal primarily on a whistle-blower, saying that former Moscow anti-doping official Grigory Rodchenkov was "truthful" in revealing a Russian doping "conspiracy" to the world.

Friends, relatives, and fans of internationally acclaimed Russian opera star Dmitry Hvorostovsky have gathered in Moscow to bid farewell to the singer, who died of brain cancer last week.

Google says that it will not change the way its ranks websites after Moscow expressed concerns the search engine might discriminate against Russian media.

Former Russian Economy Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, who is being tried on an extortion charge, has adamantly protested his innocence and accused state oil company chief Igor Sechin of lying to investigators.

The Kremlin says Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov will remain at his post despite comments he made during the weekend about the possibility of standing down.

WHAT I'M READING

Russia's Armament Policy

Chatham House's Mathieu Boulegue has an expert commentary on Russia's armament program and what it means for Moscow's military priorities.

Kurt Volker On Washington's Russia Policy

In Politico, Susan Glasser speaks to Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, and looks at "Trump's Russia schizophrenia."

The full transcript of Glasser's interview with Volker is available here.

The Case For Arming Ukraine

On the Atlantic Council's website, Stephen Blanc of the American Foreign Policy Council asks whether the United States is really about to send Ukraine defensive weapons.

Russia-Georgian Transit Agreement

Thomas de Waal writes on the Carnegie Europe website that Georgia and Russia "are on the verge of finalizing a transit agreement they initially made in 2011. But political fears could still sink the deal, and its big economic benefits."

Russia In The Middle East

In the Financial Times, David Gardner reviews Dmitri Trenin's new book: What Is Russia Up To In The Middle East?

Ukraine And Moldova

In Foreign Affairs, Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski and Christopher K. Lamont explain why Ukraine's future could resemble Moldova's

Interview With Masha Gessen

The Atlantic's editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, interviews Masha Gessen, author of the book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.

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 Follow @PowerVertical

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