This week ended up with the Seventh Annual Conference on Russia titled 'Responding to Russia in a Multi-Threat World', which took place on 4th-5th March. The conference was conducted online, although some panelists were present in Tartu as well. The conference brought together the best experts from the Baltic Sea region, Russia, Europe, and the United States, and over 700 participants from all over the world.
The conference focused on how the West is preparing, reacting, and responding to Russian activities at these times of turmoil. The debates discussed Russia, its perception of the current world order, universal values, its partners and adversaries, regimes and values, approaches to neighbors and truths, and leadership.
The Commandant of the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL), Brigadier General Ilmar Tamm pointed out in his Opening Remarks growing interest towards the conference since its first edition in 2014. He added that adapting to the new situation has been a new challenge for the College but for the very first time we have the opportunity to assemble such a large audience.
Highlighting this year`s conference BG Tamm stressed: “we require a look back to history to understand Russia’s inherited insecurity mindset." In respect to the goal of this event, he highlighted that dialogue would not end up with any easy answers or solutions any entity encounters in its relationship with Russia.
Within the Keynote Speech ‘Putinism, the pseudo-Counter Enlightenment’ Toomas Henrik Ilves, The President of Estonia 2006-2016 and Visiting Professor of the University of Tartu outlined the intellectual and philosophical history behind the ideology of Putinism, which currently informs Russian state policy. The Keynote Speech was followed by the remarks of the Estonian Minister of Defence, Mr Kalle Laanet, who underlined that the Conference on Russia is a brand of excellence for the BALTDEFCOL.
This conference facilitated debates on the differences between the West and Russia and discussions on how to respond to Russia´s activities. Eight different panels, including a panel by the BALTDEFCOL students, created opportunities for thoughts exchange among high-level professionals, subject matter experts, academics, military leaders, and students from across the globe.
Among speakers, we had an honour to host Dr Grzegorz Kozłowski, Poland’s Ambassador to Estonia, Mr. James Apparthurai, the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and the Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia and Mr. Keir Giles, Chatham House. All the speakers provided their views related to the Conference topic inspiring active discussions and commentaries from the participants.
For the first time, the BALTDEFCOL published “The Russia Conference Papers 2021”, including thematic papers written by experts from both sides of the Atlantic and Russia. Institutionally, this publication bridges the cooperation between the Baltic Defence College and NATO. The publication is available on the College webpage here.
BALTDEFCOL’s sincerest gratitude and highest appreciation goes to our speakers, participants, and our partners - NATO Public Diplomacy Division; NATO Defense College; Konrad Adenauer Foundation; the University of Tartu for their respective contributions to this event. We hope to see everyone again next year. The conference photo gallery can be found here.