Edited by François Grin, László Marácz and Nike K. Pokorn
[Studies in World Language Problems 9] 2022
► pp. 427–450
The 20th century left permanent marks on the European geographical, socio-political and linguistic maps. No EU member states other than Estonia and Latvia have five percent or more native Russian-speakers in their population, which makes the case of the Baltic States unique in the wider pan-European context. Russia, the EU’s largest neighbour, has struggled to cope with the political reality of tens of millions of Russian-speakers being left outside of its borders. The mix of ethno-linguistic borders that do not coincide with politico-geographic ones raises several security-related questions; one of them is whether language can be used as a tool of manipulation, propaganda and source of unrest in society. Russia has securitised the protection of Russian-speakers abroad as analysis of its strategic foreign, security and military policy documents proved. In countries not included in NATO and the EU, such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Russian authorities have used the protection of ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers as a legitimate reason to violate the sovereignty and indivisibility of independent nations. Any country with a substantial Russian-speaking diaspora, especially in the former Soviet territories with less power and resources than Russia, may find its national security and societal resilience put to the test. The aim of the article is to analyse potential security implications stemming from different linguistic groups from the perspective of societal security, national security, risk to state sovereignty, and security at the wider EU level, as well as to identify challenges that may arise when conflicts of international actors spill over into state domains, and cause dissent within the local population.