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The meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee focused on the strategy and tactics of Russia’s soft force policy that affects the security in the Nordic and Baltic regions. Reports were made by Director of the Baltic Centre for Russian Studies Vladimir Yushkin and media expert Raul Rebane.

Chairman of the Committee Marko Mihkelson pointed out that Russia has systematically increased the application of soft force, with a strategic objective of creating a so-called Russian World in its immediate neighbourhood. 

“Russia has come to promote the concept of a so-called Russian World in carrying out its expansionist policy, which is by its aggressive nature threatening the principles of international law and the sovereignty of its neighbouring countries that find themselves on the territory of the former Russian empire. We must remain fully aware of Russia’s objectives and tactics in applying soft force, in order to better deflect factors that put Estonia’s sovereignty at risk,” Mihkelson said. 

He also added that the democratic Estonia where the liberty of speech is respected must make increased efforts towards strengthening psychological defence and ensuring diversity of information. “The founding of a Russian language channel at the Estonian National Broadcasting is definitely a right step although its impact will only start to become visible years from now. On the other hand, it is important to understand that information wars are won by those who defend their values and principles. The unity of the Estonian society in defending these values must be considerably improved. Here lies a crucial source of our security,” Mihkelson said. 

Vladimir Yushkin gave an overview of his thorough analysis “Russian soft force policy: infrastructure, instruments and coordination mechanisms”. It lays out the objectives for carrying out the aggressive soft force policies outlined at the highest level in the State Duma of the Russian Federation. These recommend the creation of a so-called Russian World around Russia through the ethnic Russians who reside in other countries and are willing to cooperate but also have real power to influence the positions of their country. Rebane analysed Russian media as a tool in carrying out the soft force policy using both biased as well as misleading information. 

Mihkelson stated that the Committee has organised a number of hearings over the past two years on issues concerning the Nordic and Baltic security environment, concentrating more fully on important security issues that concern Estonia. To draw conclusions on the hearings, the Committee will organise a deliberation of a matter of significant national importance at the 16 October sitting of the Riigikogu to analyse the changed security situation in Europe. 

The Riigikogu Press Service