Collaboration between the National Defence University and University of Helsinki has proved successful, reaching both a high academic level and a significant role in policymaking and non-academic discourse.

In 2017, close cooperation was established between the Russia-group dedicated to Russia expertise at the National Defence University and the research group built around the Mannerheim professorship, a joint venture of the Defence College and University of Helsinki. The professorship was founded to boost the research and teaching of Russian security policy in Finland. This cooperation has found its most visible form in a research group entitled Russian Military and Security Studies.

The cooperation between the two educational bodies aims to ensure that Finnish officials and decision makers on various levels and sectors of society have access to critical information on questions of foreign, military, and security policy. Another important goal is to provide a new generation of scholars and experts with a set of skills to face and make sense of the ever-changing field of Russian and international politics.

The RUSMILSEC group has enjoyed a promising start. It has published several reports to meet the needs of Finnish policy makers, as well as a number of academic articles in high-profile international publications such as Journal of Strategic Studies. Members of the group took part in a joint project led by the Ministry of Defence entitled Russia of Power. The result of this project was a comprehensive report that was presented to the foreign policy board of the Finnish parliament, ambassadors, civil servants of several NATO member countries, and a large audience of state officials and scholars in Washington DC.

Over the past year, the group has been actively distributing its research results and expertise in both academic conferences and in special events aimed at more diverse audiences. Between them, the six members of the RUSMILSEC group held 37 presentations in national and international contexts in 2019.

Members of the group also take part in teaching and supervising students at all levels, both at the University on Helsinki and at the National Defence University. Individual guest lectures have been held for the Finnish Defence Forces and NGOs.

The main annual event of RUSMILSEC is the international Russia seminar, which takes place at Santahamina. In 2019, the main themes of the seminar were the Russian threat perceptions and cyber security. This year’s theme is the concept of deterrence and the classics of the Russian military thought. The seminar will be held on the 2nd of April 2020, and online registration will be opened on the 9th of March.

This text was originally published in Finnish at the RUSMILSEC website on January 27, 2020.

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