The 8th Conference on Russia titled ‘A Restless Embrace of the Past?’ took place on 3-4 March 2022 in Tartu, Estonia.

At this time, the conference organisers are planning to hold a hybrid event. The majority of our speakers and a significant number of the participants will join our debates in Tartu. There will, however, be some experts and a substantial portion of our audience that will join us online, to participate in, or follow our debates remotely.

Organised by the Baltic Defence College for more than half a decade, the annual Conference has attracted delegates from the Baltic and allied military community, international institutions, governments, academia, and the private sector to discuss the most pressing issues shaping Russia, its near abroad, and global challenges since 2015.

Since the establishment of the Baltic Defence College over twenty years ago and more particularly from the inception of our conference and publications, we have become a hub of knowledge and honed a reputation for unveiling diverse trends related to Russia’s contemporary domestic agenda and external influence.

Keynote Speaker

Konstantin Eggert

Konstantin Eggert is a Baltic States correspondent and weekly columnist on Russian affairs for DW (Deutsche Welle) which is Germany’s international broadcaster.

Also, from 1998-2009 he worked for the BBC Russian Service including seven years as their Moscow Bureau Cheif.

Eggert is also a former member of Chatham House - Royal Institute of International Affairs (London). He was the program host and political commentator for TV Rain, Russia’s groundbreaking independent TV channel from 2016 to 2018 as well as the Vice-President for Public and Government Affairs for ExxonMobil Russia Inc. in charge of relations with the Russian Government, communications, political and economic analysis, and charity projects from 2009 to 2010.

Eggert was created Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire by Ell and am Commander Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Lithuania.

He speaks English, French, and Arabic.

Speakers

Amb. Wolfgang Ischinger

Chairman of Munich Security Conference

Amb. Baiba Braže

Assistant Secretary General for Public Democracy, NATO

Prof. Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Visiting Professor of Democracy in the Digital Age, the University of Tartu

Andrei Illarionov

Senior Fellow of the Center for Security Policy (Washington, D.C.), and a former economic policy advisor to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin from Apr 2000-Dec 2005

Andrew A. Michta

Dean, College of International and Security Studies, George C Marshall European Center for Security Studies

Constanze Stelzenmüller

Senior Fellow-Foreign Policy, Center on the US and Europe, Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations

André Loesekrug-Pietri

Chairman, Joint European Disruptive Initiative

Nikita Lomagin

Dean, St. Petersburg University

Sir Andrew Wood

Chatham House

Maria Snegovaya

Visiting scholar, the institute for European, Russia, and Eurasian Studies and Illiberalism Studies Program at George Washington University

COL Jean-Michel Millet

Joint Warfare Center, Transformation Delivery Division of Joint Warfare Center, French Senior National Representative

LCDR Rene Kalmaru

Estonian Armed Forces

COL Kaspars Pudāns

1st Brigade Commander, Latvian National Guard

LTC Andrius Jagminas

Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Lithuanian Armed Forces

Dr. Artis Pabriks

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Republic of Latvia

Major General Jim Morris

Commanding Officer of the Joint Expeditionary Force

Eka Tkeshelashvili

Chief of Party, Management Systems International in Ukraine, former Vice Prime Minister and State Minister for Reintegration and Chair of National Security Council of Georgia

Vladimir Socor

Senior Fellow, Jamestown Foundation

Anders Åslund

Resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council of United States of America

Laurynas Kasčiūnas

Chair, Committee on National Security and Defense at the Lithuanian Parliament (SEIMAS)

Anton Barbashin

Editorial Director at Riddle

Dr. Stefan Meister

Head of International Order and Democracy Program, DGAP

James Sherr

Senior Fellow, Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the International Centre for Defence and Security

Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga

President of the Republic of Latvia 1999-2007

Igor Yurgens

Head of the International Directorate of the All-Union Trade Unions Confederation

SCHEDULE DETAILS Program

11:30-12:00

Registration

12:00-12:10

Opening Remarks by the Commandant of the Baltic Defence College

speaker-1

Brigadier General Ilmar Tamm

12:10-12:30

Keynote Speech: Ukraine: The Cradle of Russian Civilization or the Graveyard of Putin’s Empire?

speaker-1

Konstantin Eggert

12:30-14:00

Panel I: The Rejection of the Soviet Collapse

There have been numerous large transformations, shifts, and potential missed opportunities in the three decades since the Soviet Union's demise. Discourse has shifted from the end of so-called history and the possibility of the emergence of a common European home to impossible security demands and the outright invasion of Ukraine. This panel's discussion will center on how Russia and the West have come to terms with the collapse of the Soviet Union over the last thirty years, and what this means for current and future relations in light of the current war.

Moderator: Prof. Žaneta Ozoliņa, Chairman, Latvian Transatlantic Organization

speaker-1

Amb. Wolfgang Ischinger

speaker-2

Amb. Baiba Braže

speaker-3

Prof. Toomas Hendrik Ilves

speaker-4

Konstantin Eggert

14:00-14:30

Power Coffee Break

Online Broadcast 

Conversation between Dr. Algirdas Revaitis from the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania and Brigadier General (ret.) Gianmarco Badialetti, Italian Army

14:30-16:00

Panel II: Are Russia and China Encroaching on Europe?

A pragmatic economic partner or an adversary? Both labels have been applied to Russia and China, and such debates have strained Euro-Atlantic solidarity. Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia and China had been getting closer. What are the defining characteristics of these Sino-Russian relations, and what does this imply for the future of Europe? Is this a marriage of convenience, or are there deeper motives at work? How will the current war in Ukraine change these dynamics? This panel will discuss these topics and more.

speaker-1

Andrei Illarionov

speaker-2

Andrew A. Michta

speaker-3

Constanze Stelzenmüller

speaker-4

André Loesekrug-Pietri

16:00-16:30

Coffee Break

Online Broadcast 

Conversation between Dr. Toms Rostoks, Director, Centre for Security and Strategic Research at the National Defence Academy of Latvia, and Dr. Margarita Šešelgytė, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University

19:00-20:20

Charity Dinner and Welcoming Remarks by Tartu Deputy Mayor Mr Raimond Tamm

For Conference Guests in Tartu Only

20:20-22:20

Night Owl Session under the Chatham House Rule: Aggressive at Home and Abroad

For Conference Guests in Tartu Only

--

With opposition at home and abroad, Russia has taken a hardline line on both. With the Russian opposition's current options of imprisonment, repression, exile – or now even execution – is there a future for those partisans of democracy both inside and outside of Russia? What would such a Russian transition to democracy look like considering the domestic conditions that strongly echo those of seventy years ago? This panel will debate these issues in accordance with Chatham House rules.

Moderator: Col. (ret.) Dr. Zdzislaw Sliwa, Dean of the Baltic Defence College

speaker-1

Nikita Lomagin

speaker-2

Sir Andrew Wood

speaker-3

Konstantin Eggert

speaker-4

Maria Snegovaya

09:00-10:15

Panel III: Technological Transformations Affecting Russian Capabilities

This panel will discuss the meeting point of doctrinal proclamations and material capabilities and willpower for the coming decades in a predictive capacity. As a result, the panel will focus on what behaviors can be expected of Russia, what objectives it has set, what tools it can use to accomplish these goals, and how the current war in Ukraine tests both doctrine and capabilities. This panel, which features students-researchers from the Baltic Defence College as speakers, also highlights the intellectual rigor of some of the daily debates that take place at the College.

Moderator: Dr. Illimar Ploom, Estonian Military Academy

speaker-1

COL Jean-Michel Millet

speaker-2

LCDR Rene Kalmaru

speaker-3

COL Kaspars Pudāns

speaker-4

LTC Andrius Jagminas

10:15-10:30

Coffee break

Online Broadcast 

Conversation between Dr. Illimar Ploom from the Estonian Military Academy and COL (ret.) Dr. Zdzislaw Sliwa, Dean of the Baltic Defence College

10:30-11:45

Panel IV: Ghosts from the Past, Phantoms of the Future? Protracted Conflicts in Former Soviet Territories and the Invasion of Ukraine

It started piecemeal. Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Transnistria. Crimea. Luhansk and Donetsk. The preceding are only a few of the disputed territories that splintered away from various polities in the decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, Russia has declared a war on Ukraine that would relegate the entirety of the country to the same vassalized status. To what extent does the current state of affairs of these regions represent frozen conflicts with no prospect of settlement? Might the war in Ukraine provide an opportunity to settle these conflicts? This panel will go over these topics and more.

speaker-1

Dr. Artis Pabriks

speaker-2

Major General Jim Morris

speaker-3

Eka Tkeshelashvili

speaker-4

Vladimir Socor

11:45-12:15

Online Broadcast 

Conversation between Elisabeth Bauer, Head of the KAS office for the Baltic States, and Georgian Ambassador to Estonia, H.E. Archil Karaulashvili

12:00-13:00

Buffet Lunch

12:15-12:45

Online Broadcast 

Address by Louis Wierenga, Lecturer, Baltic Defence College, Grzegorz Kozłowski, Ambassador of Poland to Estonia and Žilvinas Tomkus, Vice Minister, Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania

13:00-14:15

Panel V: Putin Looks Into Biden’s Eyes: What Does He See There

President Biden of the United States stated that he once looked into President Putin's eyes and saw no soul behind them. What, on the other hand, did Putin see when he returned Biden's gaze? One year into Biden's presidency, US-Russian relations are possibly at their lowest point since the Cold War's end. How can these mutual perceptions – both personal and international – be used to comprehend the current tensions between the two powers and the Kremlin’s decision to invade Ukraine? How has Russia's assessment of political will and unity in Washington influenced their current geopolitical strategy? This panel will address these issues and more.

Moderator: Dr. Asta Maskaliūnaitė, Director, Department of Political Studies, Baltic Defence College

speaker-1

Anders Åslund

speaker-2

Laurynas Kasčiūnas

speaker-3

Anton Barbashin

speaker-4

Andrei Illarionov

14:15-14:45

Coffee break

Online Broadcast 

Conversation between Alena Kudzko, Vice President of GLOBSEC & Director of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute and Prof. Dr. Giray Sadik, Chair, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University, Turkey

14:45-16:00

Panel VI: The Return of History or the End of the World? The Russian Ultimatum to the West

From the so-called ‘Wild Nineties’ to the present, Western pundits have predicted Russian collapse or decline. In some discourses, Russia has been reduced to the status of a second-rate power or a geopolitical annoyance, based on its demographics, economy, or global relevance. Russian political analysts, on the other hand, have described a decline of the West and a continuing shift toward geopolitical multipolarity, wherein Russia would regain its former status as a global power. The invasion of Ukraine brings these two points of view to a cacophonous crescendo, and it seems that only one of these voices will remain in the subsequent quiet. This concluding panel will discuss this key point of contention in light of the current aggression.

Moderator: Dr. Sandis Šrāders, Fellow, Baltic Defence College

speaker-1

Dr. Stefan Meister

speaker-2

James Sherr

speaker-3

Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga

speaker-4

Igor Yurgens

16:00-16:05

Closing Remarks by The Conference on Russia 2022 Director, Dr. Sandis Šrāders, Fellow, Baltic Defence College