Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International studies

Committee Director

Austin Jersild

Committee Director

Jesse Richman

Committee Member

Piret Ehin


The contested loyalty of ethnic minorities between the host nation and ethnocultural homeland can play a significant role in the formation of geopolitical tensions as well as civil and ethnic-based conflicts. When the ethnocultural homeland of an ethnic minority increases the scale of intervention into the inner affairs of the host countries using hybrid, cognitive and even military wise, the attitudes of ethnic minorities towards national security and defense policy become a strategic asset for both sides.

In 2014, pro-Russian separatism in Ukraine focused the attention of the international community to the political attitudes of Russian-speaking ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe. Unlike many post-communist states, Estonia, with significant proportion of Russian-speaking population, after regaining its independence was able to control serious ethnic tensions and avoid violence and separatism on ethnic grounds. Even so, local Russian-speakers still demonstrate less support to Estonian security and defense policy along with its state institutions and Estonian membership with NATO and the EU than ethnic Estonians. However, the formation of the political attitudes of Russians-speakers is not well researched yet.

To understand the formation of the political attitudes of ethnic minorities in the times of geopolitical tensions between the host nation and ethnocultural homeland, I have analyzed the examples of the Triadic Nexus from the past, or the conflicting interrelation between ethnic minorities, ethnocultural homeland, and nationalizing states. Based on the historical analysis I identified the factors influencing the geopolitical attitudes of ethnic minorities, then applied them as variables in a statistical model to the case of Estonia to see how they affect the attitudes of Russian-speakers towards national security and defense policy.

Among the fifteen identified factors, national pride and threat perception have the strongest positive impact on the attitudes of Russian-speakers regarding national security and defense policy. Ethnic identity and political orientation of the respondents are the only variables that exhibited no effect in connection with their attitudes. While the statistical analysis of this work was based on the case of Estonia, the developed model may be applicable to the research within other nations and cultures.


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