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The Morning Vertical, September 15, 2017


From Marine Le Pen in France to Norbert Hofer in Austria; from the Lega Nord in Italy to the AfD in Germany. It's no secret that Vladimir Putin's Russia has been aiding, abetting, and in some cases financing far-right parties and movements in the West.

But what is behind the Kremlin's dark dance with Europe's extremists and xenophobes? What's in it for each side? And where is it leading?

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, co-host Mark Galeotti and I will be joined by Anton Shekhovtsov, a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and author of the highly anticipated new book Russia And The Western Far Right: Tango Noir.

Also on the podcast, Mark, Anton, and I will take a look at the rise in Orthodox Christian extremism in Russia and the emergence of a group ominously calling itself "Christian State."

It should be a great show, so be sure to tune in later today!


The European Union has prolonged its asset freezes and travel bans on Russian officials and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine for another six months, with Russia's new ambassador to the United States remaining on the list, diplomats said.

Russia's Defense Ministry says two Russian submarines in the eastern Mediterranean Sea have fired cruise missiles at Islamic State militant targets in Syria.

Russian hockey player Alex Ovechkin has acknowledged he won't be allowed to play for Russia’s team in the 2018 Winter Olympics because of his contract as a professional player with a National Hockey League team, the Washington Capitals.

Facebook's disclosure that Russians purchased political ads on the social network during last year's presidential campaign has prompted action by the U.S. agency that regulates campaign practices.

Russia says Washington’s move to ban U.S. federal agencies from using Kaspersky Labs software products “runs counter to fair competition” and is designed to hurt the Russian antivirus company’s global market position.

A series of anonymous bomb threats phoned in to authorities across Russia has continued with new threats in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russia's Investigative Committee has charged the deputy chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service with embezzling 160 million rubles ($2.7 million).

Russia’s chief negotiator at a sixth round of Syria peace talks in Astana said that a formal agreement on the establishment of four "de-escalation zones" in the war-torn Middle Eastern country was "very close."


Addressing 'The Putin Problem'

Thomas Graham, managing director at Kissinger Associates and Rajan Menon, a professor of international relations at City College of New York/City University of New York, have a piece in Boston Review looking at "the Putin problem."

Zapad And Putin's Fears

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky writes that the Zapad 2017 exercises expose Putin's fears.

And military analyst Michael Kofman takes a closer look at the first day of the Zapad 2017 exercises.

The Long Arm Of The Kremlin

In, Ilya Rozhdestvensky looks at the Kremlin's role in the prosecution of former Kirov Governor Nikita Belykh.

The Kremlin's Ukraine Strategy

Also in, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya explains the Kremlin's strategic flexibility in Ukraine.

Russia's Goals In Libya

In Foreign Policy, Lincoln Pigman and Kyle Ortin explain "Putin's Libyan power play."

More On The Local Elections

In, Aleksey Kolobrodov looks at the impact of last weekend's local elections on next year's presidential vote.

On the Kennan Institute's Russia File blog, Maxim Trudolyubov looks at last weekend's local elections and "Moscow's invisible grassroots."

'Fake Terrorism' In Russia

In an op-ed for The Moscow Times, Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague argues that the recent "string of bomb hoaxes put Putin's reputation as a 'security president' on the line."

Introducing The EHM Podcast

The EHM Podcast, hosted by Matthew Bodner, Alexey Kovalev, and Kevin Rothrock, is live! The first episode looks at Zapad 2017 and Facebook spy wars.

NOTE TO POWER VERTICAL READERS, VIEWERS, AND LISTENERS: I will be traveling to Washington, Vilnius, and Riga from September 17-October 1. As a result, no Power Vertical products will appear between September 18 and September 29. The regular Power Vertical schedule will resume on October 2.

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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