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  • Author: Matti Pesu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This Briefing Paper looks into the fundamentals of the Baltic Sea security landscape in the early 2020s. It argues that three interconnected security dynamics shape the present, ‘post-2014’ security environment in Northeastern Europe. That is to say, Russia’s assertive behaviour in the region and in Europe more broadly, NATO’s reassurance and deterrence measures in the area, and Finland’s and Sweden’s closer integration into the Western defence network all affect hard se- curity dynamics in the Baltic Sea region. These three dynamics underlie the tense regional stability that emerged after a period of alarmism and turbulence in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s ac- tions in Ukraine. Fundamentally, the stability is the product of the interplay between the three dynamics. In other words, NATO’s reassurance and deterrence measures accompanied by Finland’s and Sweden’s in- tegration into the Western security and defence system act as a counterweight to Russia’s actions in the region, creating a balance of power holding Russia’s ambitions in check. Investigating the sources of regional balance is rele- vant for multiple reasons. The region remains a poten- tial hotspot between Russia and the West and, thus, it merits close and continuous attention. Moreover, the word ‘stability’ frequently features in foreign policy parlance in Northern Europe, particularly in Finland and Sweden. Given this rhetorical proclivity, attention needs to be paid to the factors that actually constitute stability and the state of hard security in the Baltic Sea area. The paper consists of three analytical parts. First, it provides a brief historical overview of the twists and turns in the regional security landscape from the early post-Cold War era to today. The second part introduces the three dynamics in detail, followed by an analysis of how they are interconnected. The paper concludes by contemplating how regional stability could best be preserved in the 2020s.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Baltic Sea
  • Author: Veera Laine, Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Russia, the confirmed Covid-19 infections have been suspiciously few. The official numbers do not reflect reality as there has been no systematic testing at any phase of the epidemic. Now, however, the number of cases has risen rapidly, and the new situation has an effect on the Kremlin’s position in the eyes of the people.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Jyri Lavikainen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Non-compliance and disputes between Russia and the US resulted in the US exiting the Open Skies Treaty. If Russia withdraws in response, European countries will lose an important source of intelligence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Intelligence, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Peopleʼs grievances were not reflected in Russia’s regional elections this year. The Kremlin is reaping the benefits of increasingly blatant electoral fraud and citizensʼ political apathy.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Rigged Elections , Opposition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Matti Pesu, Tuomas Iso-Markku, Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This FIIA Finnish Foreign Policy Paper looks at the evolution of Finnish foreign and security policy during the country’s 25 years as an EU member. The paper aims to trace how – and with what kind of consequences – Finnish foreign and security policy has interacted with EU foreign policy during the membership period. More specifically, the study examines the interlinkage between Finnish and EU foreign policy in relation to three different topics: the policy towards and relations with Russia, security and defence, and Finland’s broadening international agenda. The paper argues that the Finnish policy vis-à-vis the three domains is marked by different patterns of continuity and change. However, the rise of a protective agenda in the Finnish policy towards Russia, Finland’s increased boldness in advancing the EU’s security and defence dimension, and the recent emphasis on the Union’s role as a bulwark against geo-economic threats all indicate that the EU’s role in enhancing Finnish security has become a top priority. Indeed, Finland is currently endeavouring to unlock the EU’s potential as a security community.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Finland, Scandinavia
  • Author: Elina Sinkkonen, Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China and Russia are jointly advancing their shared interests in the international arena and are building up cooperation in the tech sector. Despite far-reaching plans, the asymmetry of cooperation in favour of China is increasingly at odds with Russia’s national goals in digital technology. Differences in resources and standpoints are also reflected in the implementation of digital surveillance. China’s surveillance system is sophisticated and extensive whereas Russia’s is largely inconsistent and emerging, as evidenced by the fact that there was virtually no control of the internet in Russia until 2012. While advanced surveillance in authoritarian countries is worrying, technology in strategic sectors is also a key field of increasingly disconcerting great-power competition. As a result of strategic competition, the world is faced with the risk of technological decoupling, which would contribute to further fragmentation of the international community and deepening of existing rivalries.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Authoritarianism, Digital Economy, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Kristiina Silvan
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has embarked on a moderate reform programme that aims to achieve socio-economic growth without undoing the country’s authoritarian political system. The programme has implications beyond Uzbekistan’s borders because it has changed the way Uzbekistani foreign policy is formulated and implemented. Uzbekistan’s former isolationist stance has shifted to a foreign policy opening, which is most noticeable in the improvement of its relations with its neighbours. This Working Paper analyzes “good neighbourliness”, the key concept of Uzbekistan’s new Central Asia policy. It details the amendment of Uzbekistan’s bilateral relations with its neighbours and points to the positive reception of Uzbekistan’s new regional policy in Russia, China, and the West. The paper argues that while “good neighbourliness” is a pragmatic strategy rooted in economic rationality, the policy’s regional implications are substantial. It is laying the necessary foundation for sustainable Central Asian co-operation from within in a way that is acceptable to the Central Asian states and big non-regional actors alike.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Authoritarianism, Reform, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Central Asia, Asia, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Moldovan parliamentary election is not about geopolitical or societal choices; it is about a power grab by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and the erosion of pluralism, freedoms and European aspirations under the EU’s watch.
  • Topic: Elections, European Union, Geopolitics, Election watch, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Moldavia
  • Author: Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The end of the Cold War meant that the Arctic region lost most of its geostrategic relevance. However, due to growing great power competition, the Arctic is back on the geopolitical map. Hard security dynamics in the region are defined by two key elements: the importance of conventional long-range missiles and nuclear weapons for Russia, and the importance of the North Atlantic sea line of communication for European defence. Russia has revitalized its Cold War-era bastion strategy, which aims to ensure the survival of its strategic ballistic missile submarines. In a crisis scenario, this strategy could pose serious challenges to the Nordic countries as well. Five Arctic states are members of NATO and the Alliance’s collective defence is operational in the Arctic. Even if the Arctic is still not a focus area for NATO, the North Atlantic maritime domain is increasingly back on the agenda. Given the divergent strategic interests and lack of common ground between Russia and other Arctic states on grand strategic issues, the Arctic will not be losing its geostrategic importance anytime soon.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Arctic
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The accelerated brain drain from Russia concretizes the failures of the Kremlinʼs authoritarian modernization and deepens the country’s longer-term problems. At the same time, the brain drain is reducing the regimeʼs political pressures to make the country more attractive to educated and internationally oriented citizens.
  • Topic: Education, Globalization, Authoritarianism, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Asia