Vortrag im Rahmen der MasterClass "Putin, Power and People" des LOEWE-Schwerpunktes "Konfliktregionen im östlichen Europa" mit Markku Kangaspuro, 21. November 2017, Herder-Institut, Marburg
The new issue in the Baltic Sea area is that Russia has not made any significant military moves there which would change the prevailing balance of power. Russia’s military presence in the area is many times smaller than it was during the Cold War. We also have not seen any serious new military preparations to change the situation significantly, although there have been alarmist public speculations concerning Russia’s expected aggressive intentions. The air was particularly thick with speculation during the Zapad military exercises. The media and some of NATO’s front-line member states kept alive an alarmist discussion in which the Zapad was perceived as at least possible cover for preparing Russia’s military adventure and annexation of areas from, for example. Lithuania, or even occupying the whole of Belarus. At the same time as Zapad we have seen the new military presence and exercises of Russia’s counterpart, NATO and its partners in the Baltic Sea. The new visibility of armed forces in the area has been reported in the media and caused anxiety among population of the Baltic Sea region. The new situation and atmosphere establishes a framework for Russia’s Nord Stream II pipeline project. This has been an extremely politicized topic and caused disagreement between different European Commission members and EU member states. The project gained a new geopolitical dimension after it was connected to US-Russia relations and the discussion of US efforts to conquer new markets for liquefied natural gas from Europe. Consequently new features of the politics of the Baltic Sea region have emerged after the annexation of Crimea.
Markku Kangaspuro is a professor and Research Director at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. He is specialized in Russian and Soviet political history, nationalism and identity questions and the relations between Russia and Finland. In his latest publications, he has analyzed Russian foreign policy and migrant workers, the perception of the strong state in Russia and political use of the Great Patriotic War history. He has over 100 publications and he is a popular lecturer and frequent commentator in the media.
The Aleksanteri Institute functions as a national center of research, study and expertise pertaining to Russia and Eastern Europe, particularly in the social sciences and humanities. The Institute promotes cooperation and interaction between the academic world, public administration, business life and civil society, both in Finland and abroad.