The Centre for Geopolitics has a Baltic Geopolitics research Programme, designed to increase understanding of the geopolitics of the Baltic and the UK’s role in it.

The Baltic Sea region – defined here as the littoral of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden – has been an area of considerable importance to England, Scotland, and then the United Kingdom. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, it was a vital trading partner and source of fish, timber, furs, and many other products. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Royal Navy drew most of its naval stores from the Baltic, watched jealously over the balance of power in that region, and intervened against Russia. In the 20th Century, Britain encouraged the independence of the Baltic states in 1918-19 and fought both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis there. Later, the Baltic states, which regained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1990-91 and then secured membership in the European Union and NATO, were supported by the British government. And British forces today provide the backbone of NATO deterrence against Vladimir Putin in Estonia.

Despite this history, there is considerable ignorance in the contemporary UK about the area. Much of its history, language, and culture is not taught in our universities. As Britain withdraws from the ordering system of the European Union but remains deeply engaged in the politics of the continent through NATO and other bonds, this is not a sustainable situation. We consider that the UK academic focus on the Baltic Sea region is less strong than it needs to be, particularly in the current situation.

The Centre is addressing this gap with its Baltic Geopolitics Programme which is co-led by Professor Brendan Simms, Director of the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University, and the Rt Hon Charles Clarke. Our launch event was held on January 20th 2021, including the involvement of the President of Estonia and the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser, Professor John Bew.

The work of the Programme is centred on the study of the modern history (from about 1600) and current geopolitics of the Baltic, with a particular emphasis on relations with Britain. Its central organising principles are that we need to learn from history, to engage both academics and practitioners, to focus on the Britain – Baltic relationship, to emphasise geopolitical issues in a wide range of policy contexts, and to focus on the whole Baltic Sea region, so that we cover all of the countries around the Baltic Sea.

An important aspect of the Programme, and the importance of its historical basis, is to provide an independent and academically rigorous analysis and discussion of the central geopolitical issues in the region. This has always been important but has assumed greater significance in light of President Putin’s efforts to present current Russian activities in a false historical context.

The Programme has now organized over 50 events, of which the majority have been in-person, mainly in Cambridge, but also in the Baltic Sea region. These include two major international symposia in Cambridge in March 2022 and March 2023 which will now become annual events with published books forming part of the output. We have organised excellent panel events at major security conferences such as the Munich Security Conference and the Warsaw Security Forum. And we hold joint events with our partners in the Baltic Geopolitics Network, such as those we have already organised with Gdansk, Helsinki, Turku, Tallinn, Berlin, Riga, and Klaipeda.

The Programme has two Baltic Geopolitics Research Fellows, Dr Donatas Kupčiūnas, from September 2021, and Trevelyan Wing, who started in February 2024. We run a course on “Britain and the Geopolitics of the Baltic (16th Century to present)” to an international group of MPhil students. A sourcebook on Britain’s role in the Baltic from around 1500 to the present day will provide an important academic foundation for future work.

We participate actively in the relevant international academic networks, such as the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS), the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES), and the Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe (CBSE). We will be hosting the CBSE 16th Conference in Cambridge on April 24-26, 2025.

The Baltic Geopolitics Network and our international summer schools are important means of increasing our academic strength and building interest in the region.

The Baltic  Geopolitics Programme Advisory Board

The Baltic Geopolitics Programme has an Advisory Board which has played an important role in assisting the Programme to develop its activities. Its members are:-

  • David Cairns (Chair) – British Ambassador to Sweden and the FCDO’s Director for the Nordic-Baltic Region 2015-2019; Vice-President Equinor
  • Professor Sir Leszek Krzysztof Borysiewicz FRS FRCP FMedSci – Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 2010 – 2017
  • Nicola Clase – Swedish Ambassador to UK 2010-2016 and to Finland from 2020
  • Rt Hon Sir David Lidington KCB CBE – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office 2018-19; Minister for Europe 2010-2016
  • Thomas Matussek – German Ambassador to UK 2002 – 2006; Senior Advisor to Flint Global
  • Lord Jeffrey Mountevans – Lord Mayor of London 2015-6; Chairman Baltic Exchange
  • James Oates – Chief Executive Cicero Capital; Honorary President British-Estonian Chamber of Commerce

Latest

Event Review

The Geopolitics of Eurovision

Tuesday 14th May, 2024

The Geopolitics of Eurovision

In the press

After Nord Stream: Safeguarding Baltic energy security and supply

Thursday 25th April, 2024

After Nord Stream: Safeguarding Baltic energy security and supply

Energy and telecoms link vulnerability through the Baltic Region are discussed her by Trevelyan Wing, research fellow on our Baltic Geopolitics Programme.

Event Review

NATO at 75: Assessing the alliance’s past, present, and future

Diplomacy, Military, Security

NATO at 75: Assessing the alliance’s past, present, and future

Diplomacy, Military, Security

Why Sweden joined NATO, with the Swedish Foreign Minister

In the press

Latvian book receives award at Cambridge symposium on Ukraine and the Baltics

Saturday 6th April, 2024

Latvian book receives award at Cambridge symposium on Ukraine and the Baltics

Latvian television reports from the 2024 International Baltic Symposium at the Centre for Geopolitics.

In the press

Russia’s war on Ukraine forces Europe to weaponise its economic might

Friday 5th April, 2024

Russia’s war on Ukraine forces Europe to weaponise its economic might

An Al Jazeera article about the origins and implications of the Ukraine War, using quotes and analysis discussed at our 2024 International Baltic Symposium in Cambridge.

Diplomacy, Security, War

2014 revolution in Ukraine and the Baltic

Event Review

Geopolitics of memory in contemporary German-Polish relations

Diplomacy, History, World War II

Geopolitics of memory in contemporary German-Polish relations

Announcement

Winter Is Coming – Finland, the Baltic and European Security

Announcement

Call for Applications! Baltic Geopolitics Summer School 2024

In the press

Charles Clarke: Challenges to face

Wednesday 10th January, 2024

Charles Clarke: Challenges to face

The Russian attack on Ukraine 10 years ago was a turning point in post-World War 2 European history and geopolitics.

Announcement

Baltic Geopolitics Network Publication Prize 2024

Event Review

Seminar on contested maritime space

Thursday 16th November, 2023

Seminar on contested maritime space

Economics, Security

The importance of UK-Baltic ties in meeting current geopolitical challenges in Europe

Maritime

Seminar on contested maritime space

Monday 13th November, 2023

Seminar on contested maritime space

World War II

The Forest Brotherhood: Baltic Resistance against the Nazis and Soviets

Security

Denmark and Baltic security: past and present

Wednesday 11th October, 2023

Denmark and Baltic security: past and present

History, Risk, Security

Book Talk: The Baltic States and Baltic Security in a Historical Context

In the press

The new shadow of the bomb

Sunday 30th July, 2023

The new shadow of the bomb

Charles Clarke writes on Nuclear Risk Reduction in the Baltic Region in The New European online after the Centre for Geopolitics webinar on the same subject.

In the press

Strawberry buns at The End of the World Café: thoughts on the Polish-Russian border

Tuesday 25th July, 2023

Strawberry buns at The End of the World Café: thoughts on the Polish-Russian border

Juliette Bretan writes about her takeaways from the Baltic Summer School 2023.

Security

Neutrality and the Baltic: History and future

Risk, Security

Nuclear risk reduction in the Baltic Sea region

Event Review

Baltic Summer School 2023

Monday 17th July, 2023

Baltic Summer School 2023

Event Review

Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland: A Life in Geopolitics

History, Military

Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland: A life in Geopolitics

Peace building

What is solidarity? Reconstructing the meanings of the modern idea

History, Military

The annexation of the Klaipeda (Memel) region to Lithuania, 1923…

Thursday 25th May, 2023 - Saturday 27th May, 2023

The annexation of the Klaipeda (Memel) region to Lithuania, 1923…

Event Review

Should the West fear a Russian defeat in Ukraine?

War

Should the West fear a Russian defeat in Ukraine?

Security

The Baltic Geopolitics Programme Symposium 2023

Call for applications: Gdansk Summer School 2023

Security

Ukraine and the Baltic: the past, the present and the future

Economics, Environment, Security

Energy Security in the Baltic and Northern Europe

Book

Understanding the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1991 – edited by Charles Clarke (Hurst, 2023)

Friday 10th February, 2023

Understanding the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1991 – edited by Charles Clarke (Hurst, 2023)

A comprehensive account of the history, politics and growing strategic significance of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since independence in 1991.

Announcement

Energy Security in the Baltic and Northern Europe

Event Review

The Baltics and Germany: Joint Roundtable with the Körber Stiftung

Diplomacy, History

The geopolitics of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Security

Security and vulnerability of NATO’s Northern flank

History, War

Who were the Baltic Germans and what is their legacy?

Borders, World War II

Baltic Geopolitics Graduate Seminar – Michaelmas term

Elections

Changing international alignments in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland

Event Review

Security balance in the Baltic

Thursday 27th October, 2022

Security balance in the Baltic

Event Review

The geopolitics of Kaliningrad

Monday 24th October, 2022

The geopolitics of Kaliningrad

Military, Security

The security balance in the Baltic?

Tuesday 11th October, 2022

The security balance in the Baltic?

Borders

The geopolitics of Kaliningrad

Tuesday 20th September, 2022

The geopolitics of Kaliningrad

Commentary

The Baltic team goes on the road

Monday 22nd August, 2022

The Baltic team goes on the road

Event Review

First Baltic Summer School launches in Vilnius

Announcement

Centre for Geopolitics delegation visits Helsinki and Tallinn

Economics, History

Britain and the Great Divergence

Tuesday 26th April, 2022

Britain and the Great Divergence

Announcement

Expansion of the Baltic Geopolitics Network

Diplomacy, Security

Baltic Geopolitics Graduate Seminar – Lent term

Event Review

External influences in the Baltic state-building after the Great War

Military

Military deployments by Baltic Sea countries

Thursday 3rd February, 2022

Military deployments by Baltic Sea countries

Commentary

Baltic Network Member Profile – Dr Ieva Birka

Commentary

Talking Baltics: Interview with Ross Allen

Wednesday 22nd September, 2021

Talking Baltics: Interview with Ross Allen

Commentary

Talking Baltics – Interview with Kadri Liik

Commentary

Talking Baltics – Interview with Ian Bond

In the press

Why Britain matters in Europe – by Charles Clarke and Brendan Simms (New Statesman)

Wednesday 10th February, 2021

Why Britain matters in Europe – by Charles Clarke and Brendan Simms (New Statesman)

Our strategic alliance with the Baltic states has survived centuries of upheaval. Now the mission is to contain the Russians and keep China out.

Event Review

Baltic Programme Launch

Monday 25th January, 2021

Baltic Programme Launch

Announcement

University of Cambridge launches Baltic Geopolitics Programme