The Ukrainians’ will to defend, the capabilities of their Armed Forces, and Western unity in supporting Ukraine surprised the Kremlin. Despite this, Russia’s strategic goal remains the same: subjugating Ukraine and changing the European security architecture.
Russia believes that time is on its side. To keep the war machine going, Russia is ready raise the stakes. Russia seems to believe it can “bomb” Ukraine to the negotiating table.
Russia’s belligerence has significantly increased the security risks for Estonia, and the large-scale exercise Zapad 23 may further strain the situation in the Baltic Sea region. Russia still has enough strength to exert credible military pressure in our region.
Russia supports its military efforts in Ukraine by using cyber tools against Ukraine and the countries that support it. Its activities in cyberspace have not yielded the results Russia had hoped for, but we must remain vigilant.
The Russian special services officers hide behind various “covers”. A tried-and-tested cover organisation used abroad is the Russian Orthodox Church, which the Kremlin also operates as an instrument of influence against Ukraine and the West.
Belarus has provided logistical and material support to Russia in the war against Ukraine, but the Belarusian Armed Forces have not yet intervened in the military operations in Ukraine and do not wish to do so in the future.
Russia is moving towards a total dictatorship. The prospects for the current regime collapsing and the country democratising are slim despite the problems caused by the war and Western sanctions. On the contrary, an even more radical faction is rising to the fore in Russia’s ruling elite.
In foreign policy, Russia has its stakes on creating a geopolitical coalition of authoritarian regimes opposed to the West who share a mistrust of Western policies and values. Diplomatic resources are being diverted from the West to other regions.
Russia’s military credibility in former Soviet territories has weakened because Russia has failed to provide the security guarantees promised within the CSTO framework, and its Armed Forces have been unsuccessful in Ukraine. In Africa, however, Russia sees its best opportunities precisely in the field of security.
Under Xi Jinping, China is moving towards deepening authoritarianism and no longer hides its ambition to become a global superpower. China’s efforts to build a community of like-minded countries opposed to the West under the banner of the Global Security Initiative – which would also include Russia – undermines Estonia’s security.