About the project

Project plan in PDF


Russia is the single most important state whose development influences both the internal and external security of Finland. To understand and analyse Russia’s influence, we need to first define how Russia sees its own security and how it intends to promote its interests in the international arena. In the current world political situation, the main challenges for Russian national security are linked with economic growth, internal security goals and political stability, which aim to sustain a strong leadership in government.

In light of our current understanding, Russia’s foreign policy follows a realist line of thinking. Foreign policy is made up of strategic and tactical choices which are time and place bound. A value-based politics (e.g. Western values) is understood as having an instrumental role in the attainment of one’s own interests. At the same time, Russian foreign policy includes integrationist goals, and these should be taken into account in the assessment of Russia’s actions. [1] Russia aims to create a multipolar world order where it is one of the key great powers. Its current foreign policy line opposes Atlanticism and the dominant military, economic and cultural position of the United States.

In spite of the world political crisis, both Finland and Russia are a part of the global development where new areas of security are being formed across state borders[2]. Increased trade and various types of cooperation across the Finnish-Russia border have created a solid foundation for bilateral and EU-Russia relations. Cross-border cooperation between EU member states and the Russian authorities is crucial for internal security and environmental cooperation. Finland has been active in creating good working relations with Russia’s border security authorities. Russia’s administrative and legal changes have both created new opportunities for this cooperation, and also created unwanted consequences. Tensions between Russia’s foreign policy and internal reforms[3] have affected cross-border cooperation. To analyse Russia’s development, we need a coherent and balanced picture of its intentions, resources and global/international constraints (including legislation and systems of integration). In the analysis, it is important to comprehend the post-Soviet institutional change realistically.[4]

Russia’s military rearmament, military reform and changes in its military thinking[5] have been reflected in its ability to operate in its neighbouring regions. Foreign policy tensions with the West and the EU’s Eastern enlargement plans have led to the disruption of dialogue and a war-like economic situation. Russia has experienced the EU’s Eastern partnership as a challenge to its own integration goals in the former Soviet regions.[6] The changes in Russia’s military and economic capacity and security thinking have influenced the stability of Northern Europe. The effects of the current crisis are being felt in the Finnish economy.

The Russian developments should not be examined in a vacuum or separately from each other. Russia’s operational environment is global, and its decisions are shaped by events and decisions that are taking place in other parts of the world. This perspective is also present in the security policy documents of the Russian Government. The effects of the current crisis are most likely to be long term. For this reason, it is necessary to create a comprehensive picture of Russia’s key security political developments and to see what research conducted in Finland says about Russia in this regard. At the same time, it is possible to assess the strengths of Finnish research in the area of Russian security policy, and to pinpoint those themes and perspectives which need to be developed in the future. Finland has invested a great deal in research on Russia, but the application of the research results can be intensified. Finland has created a pool of expertise on Russia, but a qualitative assessment of this expertise can assist in the future development and resourcing of the field.


The project will create a comprehensive picture of the key security policy goals of the Russian Federation, including its resources and ability to execute these goals, and the effect which these have on Finland. The project will also consider the possible effects which failure in the execution of security policy goals will have both inside and outside Russia, and what shifts in security policy may occur as a result of this failure.

The plan includes a meta-analysis of Finnish research on Russian security policy. The analysis is based on a definition of Russia’s national security, which has sub-categories of security-related topics. The evaluation will pay attention to the following questions: 1) What are the strong areas of Finnish research? 2) Where are the gaps of knowledge, which can be filled on our own? 3) What kind of knowledge can be produced or acquired internationally with the help of good networks?

The meta-analysis and workshops will attempt to find answers to three main questions:

  1. What are Russia’s intentions, means (resources) and ability (political and administrative capability) in defence and the economy?
  2. What are Russia’s intentions, means (resources) and ability (political and administrative capability) in societal and state security?
  3. What do the above signify for Finland?

The significance of the national security framework in Russian decision-making has increased since the 2000s. The components of national security are defined in Russia’s security policy documents and legislation.[7] Inside the national security framework, societal and state security consist of matters which in Finland are included in comprehensive and internal security. According to Russia’s own definition, prevention of terrorism, information security, regional, immigration, and nationality policies, as well as drug crime prevention and border security are priority areas.

The plan is based on the idea that the most critical factors for Russia at the moment are economic growth prospects, state capacity building and developing the defence sector. The goal of building a multipolar world order is meant to strengthen Russia’s latitude in political, economic and military questions. The project plan follows the idea that different sectors of Russian society are closely interconnected and that the complexity of any changes is affected by globalisation.


The methodology is qualitative and inclusive. The meta-analysis combines bibliographical information acquired from Finnish higher education institutions between 2011-2015. The emphasis is on peer-reviewed publications. The material is grouped into categories based on the definition of Russian security policy.

Analysis of Russia’s key security developments are produced in two workshops which seek answers to the following questions:

Workshop 1: What are Russia’s intentions, means (resources) and ability (political and administrative capability) in societal and state security?

Workshop 2: What are Russia’s intentions, means (resources) and ability (political and administrative capability) in defence and the economy?

The workshops utilise the expertise of several Finnish and international scholars who have long-term experience from the study of relevant fields.[8] The workshop participants will receive orientation material prior to the workshops. Representatives from the Ministry of Defence will be invited to take part in the workshop activities. The analysis is intended to consider Russian developments against the background of its economic conditions. The project will produce two final reports, one evaluating the Finnish research, and the other considering Russia’s developments with regard to how expected, intentional and welcome[9] its security developments are. The main material of the project will be at the disposal of the participatory organisations and will not include any confidential information.


The project’s funding period is 1 March to 31 August 2016. The meta-analysis of Finnish research starts the project, followed by the workshops. The final stage is the production of the reports. The project has a steering group which will convene twice during the funding period. The commissioned Finnish language reports will be delivered on 31 August 2016. English translations will be provided as soon as possible thereafter.


The goal of the project is to provide background knowledge for Finnish foreign and defence policy decision-making by creating a timely and realistic picture of Russia’s intentions, means and capabilities. The project pays attention to structural constraints and Russia’s real latitude. The on-going world political crisis has shaken the Finnish consensus on basic foreign policy and defence political choices. In this situation, it is critical to create a realistic and balanced knowledge of Russia for the benefit of governmental decision-making and societal discussion.

The project will have a website, which will include relevant information about the project, experts, materials and linked publications. The project will end with an open seminar-type event in the early autumn of 2016.

The project has two primary end-user groups. The first includes the Finnish Government, parliamentarians and the leadership of Finnish ministries, particularly in the Ministry of Defence, Finnish business and NGOs. The second includes developers of Russia studies and research in Finnish higher education institutions, sectoral research institutions and educational organisations.


[1] Rojansky, Mathew (2014), The Geopolitics of European Security and Cooperation. The Consequences of US-Russia Tension. Security and Human Rights 25, 169-179.

[2] Buzan, Barry (1991), People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era. Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

[3] Gel’man, Vladimir (2015), The Vicious Circle of Post-Soviet Neopatrimonialism in Russia, Post-Soviet Affairs; Гельман В.Я. и А.В Стародубцев (2014), Возможности и ограничения авторитарной модернизации: российские реформы 2000-х годов : Препринт М-37/14. — СПб. : Издательство Европейского университета в Санкт-Петербурге; Heusala, Anna-Liisa (2013), Changes of Administrative Accountability in Russian Transitions. Review of Central and Eastern European Law 38 (3-4), 267-293; Kulmala, Meri et al. (2014), Paradoxes of Agency: Democracy and Welfare in Russia. Demokratizatsiya 22(4), 523-552; Collier, Stephen (2011), Post-Soviet Social. Neoliberalism, Social Modernity, Biopolitics. Woodstock: Princeton University Press; Skryzhevska, Yelizaveta, Tynkkynen, Veli-Pekka & Leppänen, Simo (2015), Russia’s climate policies and local reality, Polar Geography, 38:2, 146-170.

[4] For instance, Mahoney, James and Thelen, Kathleen (Eds.) (2010), Explaining Institutional Change. Ambiguity, Agency and Power. Cambridge University Press.

[5] Kasapoglu, Can (2015), Russia´s Renewed Military Thinking: Non-Linear Warfare and Reflexive Control. Research Paper, Research Division, Nato Defence College, Rome – No. 121, November 2015.

[6] Palonkorpi, Mikko (ed.) (2015), The South Caucasus beyond Borders, Boundaries and Division Lines. Conflicts, Cooperation and Development. Turku: Juvenes Print.

[7] Key documents include: Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 31 декабря 2015 года N 683 “О Стратегии национальной безопасности Российской Федерации”; федеральные закон от 28 декабря 2010 г. N 390-ФЗ “О безопасности”; федеральные закон от 28 июня 2014 г. N 172-ФЗ “О стратегическом планировании в Российской Федерации”.

[8] The experts are prof. Markku Kivinen (Aleksanteri Institute), prof. Vladimir Gelman (European University at St. Petersburg), prof. Tuomas Forsberg (University of Tampere), prof. Pami Aalto (University of Tampere), prof. Marianna Muravyeva (Higher School of Economic, Moscow), Senior expert Heli Simola (Bank of Finland), researcher Anna Lowry (Aleksanteri Institute), and representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Ms. Charlotta Collén and Mr. Janne Helin.

[9] Perri 6 (2010), When Forethought and Outturn Part: Types of Unanticipated and Unintended Consequences. In Margets, Helen, Perri 6 and Christopher Hood (Eds.) (2010), Paradoxes of Modernization. Unintended Consequences of Public Policy Reform. Oxford University Press, 44-57.