The annual Conference on Russia 2022 “Russia: A Restless Embrace of the
Past?” successfully conducted
On 3rd – 4th March 2022, the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) conducted its eighth annual Conference on Russia, which again summoned high level military and civilian experts and decision-makers to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine, protracted conflicts in the post-Soviet space, and other topics.
Among 38 key experts, you will find such renowned names as Ambassador Baiba
Braže (Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy), Ambassador
Wolfgang Ischinger (Chairman of the Munich Security Conference), Dr. Artis
Pabriks (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Latvia), H.E.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves (President of Estonia 2006-2016; Professor, University
of Tartu), Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (President of the Republic of Latvia
1999-2007) as well as prominent experts from Russia, among others.
This year, the conference focused on such difficult issues as Russia’s war
in Ukraine, Russia-China relations, frozen conflicts across the post-Soviet
space, and the future of Russia and the West.
The Conference was opened with the Welcoming Remarks by the Commandant of
the BALTDEFCOL, Brigadier General Ilmar Tamm. He could not pass the Russian
invasion of Ukraine, but in conclusion, he stated that the mission of the
Baltic Defence College is to educate future leaders and decision-makers to
be prepared to tackle current and future crises and security challenges.
“The conference is an embedded part of our students' education programme”,
he added. He also marked that since 2004, 55 Ukrainian students have
graduated from the College.
The conference kicked off with a Keynote Speech “Ukraine: The Cradle of
Russian Civilization or the Graveyard of Putin’s Empire?” by freelance
journalist Konstantin Eggert. He elaborated on the overarching question
about the fate of Ukraine and Russia, as well as Putin's willingness to
re-establish a lost empire.
After the Keynote Speech, Konstantin Eggert joined Ambassador Wolfgang
Ischinger, Ambassador Baiba Braže, and Prof. Toomas Hendrik Ilves for the
first panel “The Rejection of the Soviet Collapse”. The panel was moderated
by Prof. Žaneta Ozoliņa, the Chairman of the Latvian Transatlantic
Organization. The panellists discussed how Russia and the West have come to
terms with the collapse of the Soviet Union over the last thirty years, and
what this means for current and future relations during the current war.
The first day was concluded in a Nigh-Owl Session, where Nikita Lomagin, the
Dean of the St. Petersburg University; Sir Andrew Wood from Chatham House;
Konstantin Eggert, and Maria Snegovaya, the Visiting Scholar, the George
Washington University discussed whether Russia is aggressive only abroad or
at home as well. This session was moderated by COL (ret.) Dr. Zdzislaw
Sliwa, Dean of the Baltic Defence College.
The second panel “Are Russia and China Encroaching on Europe?” brought
together Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow of the Center for Security Policy,
former economic policy advisor to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
from April 2000 to December 2005; Andrew A. Michta, the Dean of the College
of International and Security Studies of George C. Marshall European Center
for Security Studies; Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Senior Foreign Fellow of
Center on the United States and Europe, Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and
trans-Atlantic Relations; and André Loesekrug-Pietri, the Chairman of the
Joint European Disruptive Initiative. The panel was moderated by Dr. Viljar
Veebel from BALTDEFCOL.
The second day started with panel III “Technological Transformations
Affecting Russian Capabilities”, where COL Jean-Michel Millet from Joint
Warfare Center joined the BALTDEFCOL students LCDR Rene Kalmaru from
Estonian Defence Forces and LTC Andrius Jagminas from Lithuanian Armed
Forces and BALTDEFCOL graduate from Higher Command Studies Course 2021, COL
Kaspars Pudāns, who is currently the Commander of the 1st Brigade, Latvian
National Guard. This panel discussed the meeting point of doctrinal
proclamations, material capabilities and willpower for the coming decades in
a predictive capacity. So, it focused on what behaviours can be expected of
Russia, what objectives it has set, and what tools it can use to accomplish
these goals. Dr. Illimar Ploom from the Estonian Military Academy moderated
Panel IV “Ghosts from the Past, Phantoms of the Future? Protracted Conflicts
in Former Soviet Territories and the Invasion of Ukraine” followed. The
panellists were: Dr. Artis Pabriks, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Defence of the Republic of Latvia; Major General Jim Morris, Commanding
Officer of the Joint Expeditionary Force; Eka Tkeshelashvili, Management
Systems International in Ukraine, former Vice Prime Minister and State
Minister for Reintegration and Chair of National Security Council of
Georgia, and Vladimir Socor, the Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.
It was moderated by Dr. Marc Ozawa, the Senior Researcher at the NATO
Defence College in Rome. They discussed disputed territories such as
Transnistria, Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk trying to answer the questions:
To what extent does the current state of affairs of these regions represent
frozen conflicts with no prospect of settlement? Might the war in Ukraine
provide an opportunity to settle these conflicts?
In 2014, President Biden of the United States stated that he once looked
into President Putin’s eyes and saw no soul behind them, therefore the next
panel carried the title “Putin Looks into Biden’s Eyes: What Does He See
There”. During the discussions, Anders Åslund, the Resident Senior Fellow of
Atlantic Council of United States of America; Laurynas Kasčiūnas, the Chair
of the Committee on National Security and Defence at the Lithuanian
Parliament (Seimas); Anton Barbashin, editorial director at Riddle;
and Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow of the Center for Security Policy, and
former economic policy advisor to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
from April 2000 to December 2005 gave their insights on the first year of
Biden’s Presidency and the US-Russian relations being at their lowest point
since the Cold War’s end. It was also discussed the opposite – What did
Putin see when he returned Biden’s gaze? The panel was moderated by Dr. Asta
Maskaliūnaitė, Director of the Department of Political Studies of
Finally, Panel VI “The Return of History or the End of the World? The
Russian Ultimatum to the West” evaluated events from the so-called ‘Wild
Nineties’ to the present. Since then, the Western experts have predicted
Russian collapse or decline while Russian political analysts have described
a decline of the West and a continuing shift toward geopolitical
multipolarity, in which Russia would regain its former status as a global
power. Dr. Stefan Meister, the Head of the International Order and Democracy
Program, DGAP; James Sherr, the Senior Fellow at the International Centre
for Defence and Security; and H. E. Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga were discussing
these two confrontations in the light of the invasion of Ukraine. The panel
was moderated by Dr. Sandis Šrāders from BALTDEFCOL.
It was the first time, the Conference organisers invited specialists to
coffee break conversations. It was a special online broadcast programme,
where experts and specialist shared their views after each panel. Special
thanks for your valuable input goes to Dr. Algirdas Revaitis from the
General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania; BG (ret.) Gianmarco
Badialetti from the Italian Army; Dr. Toms Rostoks, Centre for Security and
Strategic Research at the National Defence Academy of Latvia and Dr.
Margarita Šešelgytė, Institute of International Relations and Political
Science, Vilnius University; Dr. Illimar Ploom and COL (ret.) Dr.
Zdzislaw Sliwa; Elisabeth Bauer, Head of the KAS office for the Baltic
States, and Georgian Ambassador to Estonia, H.E. Archil Karaulashvili; Louis
Wierenga, Baltic Defence College; Grzegorz Kozłowski, Ambassador of Poland
to Estonia; Žilvinas Tomkus, Vice Minister, Ministry of National Defence of
the Republic of Lithuania; Alena Kudzko, Vice President of GLOBSEC &
Director of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute; and Prof. Dr. Giray Sadik, Chair,
Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Ankara
Yıldırım Beyazıt University, Turkey.
The conference was concluded with the Remarks by Dr. Sandis Šrāders, the
Director of the Conference on Russia 2022, who thanked all the Speakers,
participants and our sponsors, civilian ambassadors, and media partners.
Sincerest gratitude was expressed to NATO Public Diplomacy Division, NATO
Defence College, Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, the City of Tartu, Estonian
Atlantic Treaty Association, Latvian Transatlantic Organisation, Lithuanian
Atlantic Treaty Association, Postimees, The Lithuania Tribune, New Eastern
Europe, Georgia Today and Latvijas Radio.
For the second time, the Conference on Russia Proceedings 2022 was
published. This volume takes up the mantle of the previous version, focusing
on a single global challenge – the COVID-19 pandemic – looking at how it has
reshaped the relationship between Russia and the West. See the PDF format
. Photos from the conference could be find HERE