7-8 March 2024
Tartu, Estonia

CONFERENCE ON RUSSIA 2024

The Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL), based in Tartu, Estonia, stands at the intersection of East and West and is dedicated to exploring the complexities and challenges of our eastern neighbour, Russia. The BALTDEFCOL’s Annual Conference on Russia is a flagship event in its academic program. It serves as a platform for experts from the political, diplomatic, military, and academic spheres to share their insights and perspectives on Russia.

From establishing the BALTDEFCOL and especially from the inception of our conference and publications, we have become a hub of expert knowledge, unveiling diverse trends relating to Russian domestic and external connections. These debates become even more salient after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

We hope you will join us in the discussion!

SCHEDULE DETAILS Program

10:00-12:00 Foyer and Corridor

Registration

12:00-12:20 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Administrative Remarks / Welcome

Conference Director Dr Viljar Veebel

12:00-12:20 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Opening Remarks / Welcome

Commandant of the Baltic Defence College, Brigadier General Alvydas Šiuparis

12:20-12:50 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Keynote Address

German Parliamentary State Secretary Ms Siemtje Möller

12:50-13:30 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Keynote Speech: “Russia 2024: What options left for Kremlin?”

LTG (ret) Ben Hodges

13:30-15:00 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Panel I: “Russia 2024: What options left for Kremlin?”

LTG (ret) Ben Hodges,  Mr Jānis Kažociņš, Dr Konstantin von Eggert and H.E. Mr George P. Kent. Moderated by Dr Kristi Raik

 

 

15:00-15:30 Conference Hall Latvia

Power Coffee Break / Online Session: "Pro-Russian Sentiments in European Politics: Motives and Modalities"

Dr Stefano Braghiroli and Dr Toms Rostoks

Despite two years of active Russian aggression against Ukraine, specific European MPs and party leaders persist in advocating for Russian stances. This session will explore the motivations and strategies behind this support, analysing the individuals involved and the arguments they present in opposition to Ukraine while aligning with Russian policies and narratives.

15:30-17:00 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Panel II: “Belarus 2024: Russian Junior Partner Or …?

Dr Mark Ozawa, Mr James Sherr and Mr Kaupo Rosin. Moderated by Ms Alena Kudzko

Since 2022, Belarus has assumed a pivotal role in regional security dynamics. Contrary to expectations of democratic transition, it has traversed a more totalitarian political trajectory, emerging as a Russian bridgehead for an unforeseen offensive against Kyiv. This panel will engage in a discourse about the potential avenues for President Lukashenko's tenure or the prospects for democratic transformation within Belarus in 2024.

 

17:00-17:30 Conference Hall Latvia

Online Session: "Russian Internal Politics and Presidential Elections"

Mr Marko Mihkelson

 

20:00-22:30 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Charity Dinner/Night Owl Session: "Informational Warfare vs. Actual Conflict: Russia 2024"

Charity address from Ms Iryna Bartsun

Welcome address from Tartu city by Mr Kaspar Kokk

 

Night Owl Session: "Informational Warfare vs. Actual Conflict: Russia 2024"

H.E. Mr Maksym Kononenko, Mr Hans H. Luik, Mr Elie Tenenbaum and Dr Matthias Schulze

Russian informational warfare against its pro-Western neighbours has been increasingly active over the last two decades, gaining intensity in tandem with the brutal assault on Ukraine in 2022. As we venture into 2024, the stakes on the informational battlefield remain remarkably high. Russian leaders ardently strive for internal support to ensure their survival, while Ukraine seeks to rally Western donors and its own electorate for maximal backing.

8:00-9:00

Arrival of participants

9:00-10:15 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Panel III: Student Panel: “Quo Vadis Russo-Ukrainian war 2024?”

Students of the Baltic Defence College

The protracted and intense conflict between Russia and Ukraine has spanned over two years, precipitating a panorama of developments across military, political, and economic domains. The evolving technology landscape and shifting aspirations of the involved parties have coloured this confrontation. This student-led panel will dissect the prospects and implications of the Russo-Ukrainian war in the year 2024.

10:15-10:30 Conference Hall Latvia

Coffee Break / Online Session "Quo Vadis Russo-Ukrainian War 2024"

Mr Gert Antsu and LTC Bohdan Pshendrovskyi

The protracted and intense conflict between Russia and Ukraine has spanned over two years, precipitating a panorama of developments across military, political, and economic domains. The evolving technology landscape and shifting aspirations of the involved parties have coloured this confrontation. This session will dissect the prospects and implications of the Russo-Ukrainian war in the year 2024.

10:30-11:45 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Panel IV: "China's Role in Russia's Future"

Mr Marko Mihkelson, Dr Kārlis Bukovskis, Dr András Rácz and Dr Marcin Zaborowski. Moderated by Dr Asta Maskaliūnaitė

The recent surge of Russian aggression against Ukraine has triggered a significant shift in China's foreign policy and global aspirations. Amidst the Kremlin's urgent need for Chinese assistance, Beijing discerns an opportunity to ascend as a genuine global superpower through its own unique approach. From 2022 to 2023, China has deftly navigated between showing tacit solidarity with Russia and advancing its independent ambitions. Within the intricate landscape of Sino-Russian relations, including in countries like Belarus and Kazakhstan, this panel will deliberate on China's choices in 2024: whether to openly support, covertly aid, or remain uninvolved in Russia's affairs.

12:15-13:00 V Spa and Conference Hotel Lobby and Restaurant Joyce

Buffet Lunch

12:15-13:00 Conference Hall Latvia

Online Session: “Global South and BRICS Impacting Russian Ambitions”

Dr Illimar Ploom and H.E. Mr Emmanuel Mignot 

While “Nordic West” has been united against Russia after aggression against Ukraine, Russia has found a lot of support among the countries of global south and BRICS. What are the reasons behind it and how does it impact the hopes that Western sanctions will force Russia out from Ukraine?  What do we need to do and what we can do to change the situation?

13:00-14:15 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Panel V: "Russia and Russians Through the Prism of International Law"

Mr Kaupo Känd, Mr Mark Voyger and Dr Leonid Karabeshkin

Russian leadership frequently avows adherence to international laws and regulations even in the midst of its so-called "Special Military Operation." In stark contrast, Western perspectives diverge, while China, India, and Brazil chart a middle ground in discerning legality and compliance. This panel will embark on an exploration of diverse stances, analysing the soundness of arguments and the legitimacy of interpretations within the realm of international law.

14:15-14:45 Conference Hall Latvia

Coffee Break / Online Session: "Nordic Integration Into NATO: Impacts on Baltic States and Russia"

Ambassador Shota Gvineria and Ms Indrė Makaraitytė

The Russian incursion into Ukraine has prompted extensive mobilisation efforts across Baltic and Nordic societies, bolstering their security and defence capacities. As the Ukrainian conflict endures, the scale and nature of these measures remain unstable. This session assesses the potential consequences and challenges of incorporating Nordic nations into NATO, projecting short-term security enhancements and possible long-term Russian counter-responses. Following prior discussions, this session aims to delineate the paramount priorities for Baltic and Nordic states within this intricate context.

14:45-16:00 Conference Hall Scandinavia

Panel VI: "Russia 2024: Baltic and Nordic Security Imperatives"

Mr Hanno Pevkur, Mr Žilvinas Tomkus and Mr Olevs Nikers

Moderated by Dr Zdzisław Śliwa

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has spurred comprehensive mobilisation efforts within Baltic and Nordic societies to bolster their security and defence apparatus. However, while the conflict in Ukraine persists, the requisite measures and their scale remain enigmatic. The integration of Nordic nations into NATO is poised to enhance both their own security and that of the Baltic region in the short term, yet this move could engender Russian counteractions in the long run. This panel will convene to deliberate the paramount priorities for Baltic and Nordic states within this intricate context.

16:00-16:10

Closing Remarks

Annual Conference on Russia 2024-2025

Dean of the Baltic Defence College, Dr Zdzisław Śliwa

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