How Russian Soft Power Fails in Estonia: Or, Why the Russophone Minorities Remain Quiescent

Mr Kristian Nielsen 1  and Dr Heiko Paabo 1
  • 1 Faculty of Social Sciences and Education, Institute of Governments and Politics, Centre for Baltic Studies University of Tartu, Estonia


This article evaluates the significance of Russian soft power in Estonia, particularly in connection to the minority issue, and compares this soft power to the countervailing pull of the European Union on the other side. It concludes that although Russia does indeed have a number of soft power resources, their potential for being translated into actual power and influence is too often exaggerated, not least because Europe provides a much more attractive focus point for the disgruntled than Moscow. Moreover, Estonia has it fully within its power to bolster its own attractiveness in the eyes of the minority populations. Thus, although relations with Russia should be handled with care, it is not Russia’s soft power that should be feared.

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