October 24, 2018

Russia and Illiberal Democracy


We have done this before and will do it in the future: let’s take a look at Estonia’s vicinity and explore the processes that may concern us directly.

Tomas Jermalavičius writes about the challenges in deterring Russia. There is, he says, “… no basis for trusting any assurances of Russia’s benign intent, or its unwillingness to resort to military force and nuclear suasion, let alone to engage in political and societal subversion and destabilisation. At the same time, the [Baltic states] also appreciate that stronger military defence and deterrence by denial are necessary but not sufficient conditions to protect themselves: the fundamental lesson from 1940 for the three countries, which were spending almost a fifth of their national budgets on the military, was simple—no amount of military power will save you from political and societal failure,” he states.

Raivo Vare and Holger Mölder comment on Jermalavičius’s article.

Alla Hurska looks at the squabbles between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches. “Autocephaly will not mean that Moscow is going to discontinue its attempts to be a part of Ukraine’s internal affairs, since a defeat rarely stops Russia, especially in its self-proclaimed zone of influence. On the contrary, Russian interference could take different, more sophisticated forms,” she says.

Tuula Koponen thinks that Viktor Orbán is not limiting himself to politics alone in Hungary. “Orbán will not be satisfied with turning Hungarian society upside down simply by amending laws and the constitution. He wants to begin a completely new era based on Christian and conservative family values, and do away with all liberalism that he has designated as being leftist or even an appendage of communism.”

Hille Hanso writes about how Syrian refugees have become victims of Russia’s manipulation. “Russia contributed to the combat activity that forced them to flee their homeland but now wants them to return to Syria without asking for their consent,” says Hanso. “The reason is clear: sending the refugees back and rebuilding brings benefits—whatever the methods used to get the people back to Syria, it will attract funding from international organisations and potentially Western states to areas controlled by Russia.”.

The October issue of Diplomaatia is rich in book reviews. Viljar Veebel reviews the collection of articles in Strategic Challenges in the Baltic Sea Region: Russia, Deterrence, and Reassurance. Aimar Ventsel writes about an Estonian translation of Lev Gumiljov’s book on ethnogenesis and Ivan Lavrentjev considers several works on Russia.


This article was published in ICDS Diplomaatia magazine.

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