A few days ago, I was happy to run a training session for Silba – Initiative for Dialogue and Democracy Election Observation Mission. We went through the current political situation, main contenders and controversies around the referendum which took place at the same time as elections.
The presence of foreign observers is crucial especially in countries where authorities have employed the state apparatus and public resources to influence the electoral campaign and, ultimately, the election results. Democracy and pluralism need constant care.
Silba EOM released their preliminary report that includes key findings. You can download it here.
Given the rapidly changing security environment in Europe, we have focused on eight advocacy clauses that seek to increase Western institutional cohesion and resilience in Central and Eastern Europe and in the collective West as a whole:
1. Promoting a better defined, clearer, and more urgent path for Ukraine’s membership in NATO.
2. Striving towards a paradigm shift in defence posture of the Western community.
3. Reviving CEE regional and cross-regional cooperation via formats such as Visegrad Four, Bucharest Nine, the Weimar Triangle, and the Lublin Triangle.
4. Strengthening EU’s foreign policy by creating a coherent European policy on China.
5. Strengthening transatlantic cooperation for energy security and supplies resilience.
6. Driving Ukraine’s energy integration with Europe.
7. Analysing influence operations of adversarial states against CEE and creating common standard capabilities for the region.
8. Strengthening CEE cyber resilience by establishing an organisation that uses telemetry on cyber operations against Ukrainian infrastructure.
‘Since Kaliningrad Oblast is geographically separated from Russia, its situation is complex and completely different from other regions. Especially now [that the ferry connection is responsible for supplying the region] it becomes clear that Kaliningrad will be completely dependent on Saint Petersburg.’
Lithuanian IQ magazine interviewed me about the state of affairs in Kaliningrad Oblast. The title – A military place and nothing more (Karinis miestelis ir nieko daugiau) – is somewhat provocative but gives a good feeling of what the region has become in the last decade.
In Casimir Pulaski Foundation’s latest policy paper, I argue that Kaliningrad Oblast faces the biggest challenges ever since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and that these challenges are impossible to overcome under the current circumstances.
It happened so not only because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also because of the events that had led up to it: growing centralisation, ignoring the semi-exclave’s natural needs related to trade and cross-border cooperation, as well as its militarisation.
The Oblast and its inhabitants is have been cut off from main sources of economic growth. Russia will not be able to provide effective and efficient supply lines to make up for it as the Kremlin has different priorities.
As a result, Kaliningrad Oblast has become a besieged fortress that is drifting further away both from Moscow and the West. In the eyes of Russian authorities, it only exists to threaten.