February 20, 2024

German National General Staff Course visit

On 19 February 2024, the German National General Staff Course paid a visit to the ICDS to participate in a roundtable with Dr Kristi Raik, Deputy Director and Head of the Foreign Policy Programme, Tony Lawrence, Head of Defence Policy & Strategy Programme, and Nele Loorents, Research Fellow.

The attendees had an opportunity to learn about the priorities and cornerstones of Estonia’s foreign and security policy, consistently pursued by Tallinn since regaining independence. First, Estonia has been investing in building strong alliances through its membership in the EU and NATO in order to ensure that it will – never again – be alone in the face of a threat. Second, Estonia has always remained clear-eyed in its assessments by acknowledging that the biggest threat to itself and its European Allies and partners comes from Russia which has never given up its aggressive intentions. Estonia has, therefore, been an outspoken advocate for getting rid of ‘grey zones’ in Europe that Russia could exploit to establish its sphere of influence. Tallinn has contributed to both NATO and the EU, in particular, with its expertise on Russia and initiatives on sanctions and asset-freezing mechanisms.

The discussion primarily centred on the last two years of the developments in European security brought about by the Russian full-scale war against Ukraine. Among the issues touched upon by the roundtable participants were:

  • Preparation and readiness in NATO: The gap between ambition and reality caused by resource and capability constraints, importance of indications and warnings.
  • Security in the Baltic region: Regional defence cooperation, conventional vs. hybrid warfare, and risks vulnerabilities stemming from Moscow’s abuse of Russian-speaking minorities.
  • Strategic autonomy: The EU’s instruments of power, a stronger European pillar in NATO, and risks of US contribution decreasing.
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