European Security Seminar-East (ESS-E)

Course language: English & Russian

The European Security Seminar East (ESS-E) launched in 2016. Previous ESS-E at the George C. Marshall Center have dealt with the Kremlin’s strategic communication, strengthening resilience, exploring counter-measures to hybrid threats and have taken a thorough look into the instrument of sanctions by the international community to react to Russia’s aggressive actions since early 2014. The 2020 ESS-E aims to continue debates in the spirit of the four past iterations, but intensifies its look into specific cases.


During the last three decades, the Russian Federation violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of various countries Moscow considers part of its “Near Abroad” or “Sphere of Special Interest.” The range of instruments used by Russia vary. The Russian Federation may interfere diplomatically, undermine a country’s political landscape by spreading false information, create energy dependence, even occupy and annex parts of neighboring states, and maintain protracted conflicts.

The Seminar

The 2020 ESS-E aims to revisit the respective tools in three countries used by the Kremlin to undermine the independence of its neighbors. Secondly, it aims to screen the responses taken by trans-Atlantic institutions to mitigate the impact of Moscow’s measures on the societies, the economies and domestic politics. Thirdly, it will engage participants to discuss the response steps taken by different trans-Atlantic actors.

The seminar will assess Russia’s aspiration and actions generally and then zoom in on the role protracted conflicts play on Moscow’s agenda. It will present the balance sheet of Russia’s achievements and failures and the effects of the pending conflicts on it in the area of the former Soviet Union.

This part will explore how the Kremlin was able to block dispute settlement in the Moldova/Transnistria question since the early nineties; how it fueled the tensions amongst ethnic communities living in Georgia until an armed conflict broke out in 2008; and how the events in Ukraine escalated and led to the illegal annexation of Crimea and an on-going armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Representatives of trans-Atlantic institutions will provide an overview on how NATO and the European Union (EU) made efforts to stabilize the affected European countries. This part will discuss if the instruments of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) or NATO partnership programs had a positive effect. Which countries pursue aspirations to join the EU or NATO? Were Western reactions perceived as insufficient causing disappointment and further rapprochement with the Russian Federation?

GCMC in-house and invited subject matter experts will then involve the five seminars into a scenario based on fictitious escalations of tensions. The seminars will develop recommendations for selected governments or multilateral fora on counter-measures. Hence, seminars will assess the spectrum of counter-measures (political, economic, fiscal, military and diplomatic). Findings will be presented in a panel format, followed by a final discussion.

Objectives and Outcome

The seminar wishes to embrace Europes Eastern Flank and the Euro-Atlantic community as a whole jointly countering the aggressor’s behavior and to stress diplomatic, political, military, economic, and fiscal resilience among partners and allies. It is structured and designed to allow the capture of insights as to how NATO and the EU, Germany, and the USA can strengthen the capacity and capability of its neighbors and potential EU and NATO partners.

George C. Marshall Center faculty, along with guest lecturers from national and international European and Euro-Atlantic security organizations, as well as from relevant private sector actors, will conduct this seminar. We will invite representatives from the EU Eastern Partnership, NATO PFP, Eastern EU/NATO members and Nordic partners. The Center will strengthen a network of Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian strategic experts and institutions.

Main Activities

ESS-E foresees plenary lectures, discussions in seminar format, interactive group work on scenarios and a night owl lecture.

Community of Interest

In addition to the resident course held in spring in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, ESS-E will hold a two-day Community of Interest (COI) Strategic Workshop in Brussels. That COI will be conducted with Alumni of the European Security Seminar South (ESS-S). Hence, it will gather representatives from North Africa, the Sahel zone, the Caucasus, the Balkans and Central as well as Eastern Europe.

Together with experts from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Egmont Institute, COI attendees will discuss presentations by officials from trans-Atlantic and European institutions about past, present, and future stabilization tools along Europe’s southern and eastern flank.

Course Details

George C. Marshall Center-European Center for Security Studies
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
How to Register

For application and deadline information, contact Marshall Center Registrar, your ministry point of contact, or the U.S. or German Embassy in your capital city.

Course Director
Course Language
English & Russian