A modern empire and its public diplomacy: On Russia’s communication with Estonia

Vlad Vernygora, Elizaveta Belonosova

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Defining the Russian Federation as one of the four contemporary empires (Zielonka 2012), this article links the imperial paradigm (Parker 2010; Zielonka 2012, 2013, 2015; Colomer 2017), social constructs building (Wendt 1992), strategic narrative theory (Miskimmon et al. 2013), and soft power-associated public diplomacy instrumentarium (Melissen 2005; Nye 2008; Cull 2008, 2009; Cowan and Arsenault 2008) into a single conceptual framework to examine public diplomacy by the Russian Federation towards the Republic of Estonia. This analysis assumes that Russia understands Estonia as its own periphery in geo-strategic as well as imperial terms. However, since Estonia already is an integral part of yet another modern empire (the European Union), our article notifies that Russia is left with a limited range of effective mechanisms of strategic communication with its Baltic neighbours, and Estonia in particular. Because of that, on the argumental side, the following claim is to be tested: in order to effectively project its strategic identity, system, and issue narratives to Estonia, Russia prefers using a range of public diplomacy mechanisms rather than other types of communicational strategies. The article argues the construct-associated boundaries, which inform a comprehensive analysis of the collected data. Empirically, this material engages with eight annual reviews of the Estonian Internal Security Service (2012-2019).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-93
JournalNew Zealand Slavonic Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Soft power, contemporary empires, public diplomacy, strategic narrative theory, social constructs, security, centre and periphery, Russia, Estonia

Field of science

  • Media and communications
  • International political science
  • Political science


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