UPTAKE Lecture by Maria Mälksoo at Tartu

What are the implications of Russia’s political handling of its communist past for its international behaviour? The lecture conceptualises the link between a state’s transitional justice and foreign policies. It outlines an analytical framework for studying the proposed nexus systematically, highlighting a state’s search for a continuous and stable ‘self’ in international politics.

Dr Mälksoo argues that ontological security-seeking, or a search for a continuous sense of self, is crucial for understanding the linkages between Russia’s way of handling its communist past and its engagement with the neighbours and world at large in the post-Soviet era. Russia’s idiosyncratic approach to transitional justice is a necessary but insufficient condition for explaining the country’s post-Soviet foreign policy dynamics. The lecture sketches two basic ways of pursuing the politics of truth and justice-seeking in ‘transition states’, distinguishing between reflective and mnemonic security-oriented approaches, with various implications for states’ proneness for either cooperation or conflict.