Russian state-linked academy floats “Estonianisation” as a negative label for Europe


We’re used to hearing about “Finlandisation”, which describes the process in which small countries are coerced into making political and economic concessions to a larger neighbour. This was most notable in the case of Finland, which successfully resisted Moscow rule in the 20th century yet still came under a certain degree of Russian influence. Although, in the case of Finland, this has certainly become outdated unless it now refers to the process in which a country joins forces with other like-minded democracies for their mutual defence of sovereignty.

So now there’s a new buzzword being floated in an attempt to negatively characterise Europe’s changing dynamics – “Estonianisation”.

On July 20, Interfax published an interview with Alexander Dynkin, the President of the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Relations, where he discussed a process he called the “Estonianisation of Europe”.

Finlandisation redefined
Dynkin explains this process in the interview as follows: “The power structure in Europe is going through dramatic changes. Germany lost its privileged relationship with Russia. The Americans have always opposed the Russian-German economic partnership, which strengthened the economies of both countries. At present, the competitiveness of German companies has suffered greatly. The Germans are faced with an embarrassing, even comical choice: to give people warmth or work? Sweden and Finland abandon their traditional, long-standing neutrality. In political science there is a term ‘Finlandisation of Europe’. This meant peaceful coexistence, economic cooperation and
partnership in the humanitarian field.”

Estonisation as paranoia
Dynkin continues: “The current developments can be called the ‘Estonization of Europe’ This means the simplification and narrowing of political choices in NATO/EU capitals, which the influential part of Tallinn’s political elite has been demanding for 20 years. There, the idea of ​​European strategic autonomy or “NATO brain death” was met with hostility. And for the last eight years, Russian paratroopers have been expected there ‘every Monday'”.

The assumptions are wrong
The President of the institute in essentially saying:

  • For Germany, giving up the special relationship with Russia is harmful;
  • For Finland and Sweden, giving up neutrality is harmful;
  • Finlandisation is a term with a positive meaning that refers to a peaceful coexistence with Russia;
  • Estonia is wrong to see Russia as dangerous;
  • The Estonian political elite has mistakenly convinced the European political elite to see Russia as dangerous.

All positions would be understandable on the assumption that Russia is a reliable economic partner and adheres to international security agreements. Unfortunately, both assumptions are wrong. However, the narrative of the non-existent Russian threat is based on these assumptions, which, according to this narrative, is just the paranoia of a small country and one of the manifestations of Russophobia.

The irony is that, in contrast, the most commonly used line about Estonia and the Baltic states among pro-Kremlin accounts online is that these countries are insignificant and have little influence as independent states.

Who is promoting this term?
The Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations is a research institute located in Moscow. It belongs to the Russian Academy of Sciences, which is funded by the Russian state. Several representatives of Russia’s political elite and media have been members of the institute, among others former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. The institute focuses, among other things, on Russian national security and advises Russian decision makers.

At the time of writing the story, the opening article of the institute’s website was “NATO is turning
the Baltic Sea into an unstable region”.

Cover photo from Toolbox Estonia by Transpordiamet.