Roundtable panel discussion at CEURUS “The Russia – Belarus Union State and the Invasion in Ukraine: How Much Can Political Science Explain?”

On 5 March 2022, the Center for Eurasian and Russian Studies of the University of Tartu organized a roundtable discussion dedicated to a broader regional perspective of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The panel was organized within the framework of the Eastern Platform – Tartu Seminar initiative and the development cooperation project on Belarus, funded by the Estonian MFA.

The panelists included Andrey Makarychev (University of Tartu), Katsyaryna Lozka (University of Ghent), Ryhor Nizhnikau, (Finnish Institute of International Affairs), Stefano Braghiroli (University of Tartu) and Vladimir Sazonov (Estonian Military Academy).

The panel discussion focused on three main topics: Russia’s invasion to Ukraine and the current state of affairs, the role of Belarus in the war and its domestic situation, as well as broader regional and implications of the war.

Andrey Makarychev opened the discussion and introduced the activities of the University of Tartu in this context, including the recent scenario planning exercise, conducted by group of experts within the project “Raising awareness on civil society of Belarus through learning and research activities”, supported by the Estonian MFA. He then challenged the relevance of political science and international relations in addressing these developments, discussing the concept of sovereignty and the future of liberal international order from the perspective of various competing discourses in respect to Russia-Ukraine relations.

Stefano Braghiroli similarly touched upon the insufficiency of the existing categories in understanding the irrational motives of international relations. He compared the existing ideological and value-based clashes to the times of the Cold War, considered the perspectives of a “new normalization” and the relevance of the idea of the “neighbourhood”. 

Ryhor Nizhnikau, who briefly traced the developments in Ukraine after the 2014 revolution, focused on the positive aspects of the current developments in long-term perspective. Among these, he mentioned the successful nation-building project, the much-consolidated Ukrainian society and the potential of Ukraine for reestablishing its position in the region.

Katsyaryna Lozka talked about the potential involvement of Belarus in the military conflict and its preconditions. She discussed the consequences of Russia’s military support to Belarus and reflected on the mood of the Belarusian population regarding Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine.

Vladimir Sazonov discussed the standpoint and perspectives of the Baltic countries on the ongoing military conflict. He brought up key features of Russian propaganda in Ukraine, comparing it to the existing narratives of Russian propaganda with respect to the Baltic countries.

The discussion was followed by a Q&A with the audience, with many questions regarding the ongoing war, as well as its implications in Europe more broadly.

As a follow-up to the panel discussion, check our latest CEURUS podcast episode.

Forwarded by: Fidan Vali, Communication Specialist,