Tempus Fugit – Time Flees
September 2021, the date of the last Lennart Meri Conference, seems eons ago. Russia’s savage war in Ukraine is already in its third month, its fallout landing from Central Asia to North Africa, from the Indo Pacific and the Middle East to Finland and Sweden.
This 15th Lennart Meri Conference was originally intended to mark the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union and to discuss what was achieved in the brief window of opportunity that followed. President Lennart Meri always reminded us that we were in a great hurry.
We in Estonia ran and managed to join NATO and the EU. As usual, President Meri was right – the window soon closed again.
But unfortunately, we are now forced to remember instead a different, rather grim anniversary: the centennial of the creation of the Soviet Union which will fall in December. Russia’s imperialistic, colonial war against Ukraine and its direct threats to Georgia, Moldova, and other states and regions has shown how badly, and for how long, the West has misread Russia.
And so regrettably but unavoidably, our conference this year will be centred on the war in Ukraine. We have always sought to use the Lennart Meri Conference to bring Russian expertise to Tallinn. In 2022, with the world asking what is going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind and in Russian society, this is more important then ever. We will discuss how state propaganda and limited rights to memory affect the Russian mindset, and the role of Russian and Belarusian exiles.
But Russia’s war has far greater reach than its battlefields. It is no exaggeration, even if it has rapidly become a cliché, that 2022 will be a game-changing year for European and global security. The EU, NATO, the international organisations that could not prevent the war, the atrocities, and the crimes against humanity. What should they learn to be relevant in the future?
And how should we respond in domains other than the conventional military. What do we need to do in cyber space, social media, music, culture, intelligence, energy, and arms control?
One thousand years ago, Kievskaja Rus was born in Kyiv. Now, Europe’s fate may be determined in the same place. We need to use our collective wisdom to find the best ways to help Ukraine and to shape our own future. Urgently.
Slava Ukraini! Слава Україні!