April 24, 2020

Coronavirus and 9 May

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The coronavirus has put the world on hold. Or so it seemed at first. However, now it is becoming clear that good old-fashioned international politics haven’t gone anywhere. Those that behaved in a certain way before the spread of the coronavirus are doing the same during the crisis, and those that took a different approach hold the same position today. The coronavirus hit the world hard, but countries’ political memory remains the same. The April issue of Diplomaatia covers topics related to the virus and the approaching 9 May celebrations.

Ramon Loik, a research fellow at the ICDS, writes about the lessons this crisis has taught us and how to prepare better for the next one: “… the country probably would have been better prepared for this crisis if it had considered its own risk and readiness assessments and implemented appropriate steps more quickly,” he states.

Frank Jüris, a research fellow at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, looks at China, where the devastating coronavirus started. “As a state has the right to refuse to appear at an international court owing to the principle of sovereignty, it is highly likely that claiming damages against China for the coronavirus will be difficult,” writes Jüris.

Russian historian Gleb Morev says in an interview with Diplomaatia that celebrating 9 May has become a sort of ritual in Russia. “It really is a part of pseudo-religion in a sense,” he says. “It represents the replacement of certain religious practices, of which there are actually few in Russia. The people consider themselves to be very religious, but only a small number actually participate in religious life and follow Orthodox principles.”

Russian analyst Sergey Sukhankin writes about celebrating Victory Day in Russia. “After the Soviet Union collapsed, the celebrations seemed to fade into the past, but were (quite predictably) reinstated in 1995, not quite as grandiosely as in Soviet times, of course,” he says. “The trend got a new lease of life in 2008, after which each consecutive Victory Day has been grander and assumed ever-greater symbolic meaning,” he adds.

Hudson Institute analyst Richard Weitz reports on Russia’s new so-called superweapons. “At the strategic level, being able to deliver nuclear warheads thousands of kilometres at hypersonic speed can circumvent US ballistic missile defences weapons that could be used against Russia’s nuclear deterrent,” he writes.

Current MEP and former Romanian president Traian Băsescu offers unconditional support for NATO. “Today everyone can imagine what would happen on the Eastern borders if NATO and the EU didn’t exist,” he says. “Without them we would be waiting for Putin’s tanks to arrive any day.”

Jüri Saar and Küllo Arjakas review new publications on international life.

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