This paper is a discussion on the energy diplomacy that Russia uses in the Baltic States: Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. I will begin with a discussion on the structural weaknesses within the Baltic States, including the political problems it has through party fragmentation, the commercialization of politics, and the increasing levels of political participation by ethnic Russians. Other problems that prevent the Baltic countries from blocking Russian influence are that they are not as energy rich as Russia, nor are they able to create energy networks connecting to Western Europe. After examining the weaknesses within the Baltic countries, the paper will discuss ways in which Russia actively exploits these weaknesses by using hard power and soft power to influence policies within these countries in relation to the European Union. This paper will conclude with an evaluation of the effectiveness of Russia’s tactics to regain influence in their traditional sphere.

Zach Hanson graduated from VCU in Spring 2013, where he studied International Relations and Political Science with concentrations in Russian and Eastern European Area Studies and Public Policy, respectively. Hanson has always had an interest in geography and urban studies and would like to continue his research with the Fulbright Scholar Program in Estonia. He has also researched housing policy in the United States and ethnic strife in the former Soviet Union.

Hanson is a community organizer with Virginia Organizing and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, where he hopes to put research to practical use by working with communities in Richmond to help them speak out about their needs. In the next two years, Hanson will continue his research in various ways to help prepare for graduate school for Urban Planning, which he hopes to begin in Fall 2015.

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