Katri Pynnöniemi appointed assistant professor of Russian security policy

Professorship shared by the University of Helsinki and National Defence University to boost teaching and research in Russian studies

The University of Helsinki and the National Defence University have established a joint professorship in Russian security policy. DPhil Katri Pynnöniemi has been appointed the first holder of the position in a decision by the rector of the University of Helsinki. Pynnöniemi simultaneously becomes an assistant professor at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Arts.

Located at the Aleksanteri Institute, the new professorship strengthens the teaching and research in Russian security, foreign policy and defence policy at both universities.

Professorship to respond to an acute need for information

The joint professorship serves as the basis for systematic cooperation between the University of Helsinki and the National Defence University. It is the first professorship in its field in Finland.

The professorship will generate a cluster of expertise in security policy at the University of Helsinki, adding new dimensions to the University’s already robust Russian expertise.

 “The global political situation shows that in-depth understanding of Russian foreign, security and defence policy is key for the development of security policy everywhere in Europe. The most effective way of increasing security expertise in Finland is by establishing a permanent professorship in the field,” states Professor Markku Kivinen, director of the Aleksanteri Institute.

 “The joint professorship further enhances the cooperation between the National Defence University and the University of Helsinki,” adds Major General Ilkka Korkiamäki, rector of the National Defence University.

Aiming for long-term effects

The aim of the permanent professorship in Russian security policy is to ensure consistent research in the field along with the development of a new generation of researchers and enhanced teaching.

Katri Pynnöniemi, the new professor, is a seasoned expert in Russian security policy.

 “Over the years I have gained comprehensive experience in Russian studies in a variety of contexts, ranging from universities to ministries and individual book projects. At the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, I’ve been involved in Finland’s public discussion on Russia and have participated in building international Russian studies networks in many ways. I believe that these components form a strong whole,” she states.

The professor will also be supported by RussiaHUB Helsinki, a centre of knowledge comprising several Russian studies institutions and coordinated by the University of Helsinki, which provides a framework for effective social engagement. 

The position is funded by donations. The Mannerheim Foundation, the Support Foundation for National Defence (Maanpuolustuksen kannatussäätiö) and the Support Foundation for the National Defence University (Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulun tukisäätiö) have donated in support of this field of social sciences. The donations are one reason why the University of Helsinki has been able to further invest in research and training in as regards Russian security policy. The new assistant professorship is an example of these efforts.

 “The Mannerheim Foundation made the donation to the University as part of the anniversary year of Marshal Mannerheim,” says Klaus Ilmonen, managing director of the Mannerheim Foundation. Ilmonen is delighted that the donations have enabled the support of research in Russian security policy.