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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Britain and the Geopolitics of the Baltic, c.1600-1856 - Professor Brendan Simms

The Baltic – 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 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 of the European Union and NATO, were supported by the British government. Today British forces provide the backbone of NATO deterrence against Vladimir Putin in Estonia. This course of seven two-hour seminar-lectures will trace the evolution of this important relationship through the lens of historical geopolitics. In the final week, students will participate in a simulation exercise organised around a fictional future geopolitical crisis, featuring guests with longstanding foreign policy experience.

Further information can be found here