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Speakers and moderators

Moderator: Simo Pesu (FNDU)
Lt. Col. Simo Pesu is the head of the Russia Group and a senior researcher at the National Defence University. He earned the General Staff Officer’s Degree in 2004 and has served as a commissioned officer in the Finnish Defence Forces since 1993. Lt. Col. Pesu’s military experience includes several positions in signals, command and control systems, special forces, and military intelligence and strategic research in Finland and abroad. In recent years, he has been involved with strategic foresight and strategic analysis tasks. His current research focuses on Russian military-technological and foresight thinking and developments.

Moderator and Keynote speaker: Pentti Forsström (FNDU)
D.Mil.Sc., Lt. Col. (ret.), Pentti Forsström is a senior researcher at the National Defence University. He holds the General Staff Officer’s Degree from the year 1997 and he served in the Finnish Defence Forces until 2017.  Forsström’s military experience includes several positions in military intelligence and strategic research in Finland and five years abroad. In 2009, he graduated from the General Staff Academy of the Russian Armed Forces. During the last two years in active military service, he finalized his doctoral dissertation on the development of Russian military strategy. In 2019, he was appointed as a senior researcher in the Russia Research Group. His current research interest focuses on Russian military in general and the art of war.

Speaker: Dima Adamsky (Reichman University)
Dmitry (Dima) Adamsky is a Professor at the School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at Reichman University, Israel. His research interests include international security, cultural approach to IR, and American, Russian and Israeli national security policies. Prof. Adamsky has published on these topics in Foreign Affairs, Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, Intelligence and National Security, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Problems of Post-Communism, Russian Analytical Digest, Washington Quarterly and Survival. His books Operation Kavkaz and The Culture of Military Innovation (Stanford UP) earned the annual (2006 and 2012) prizes for the best academic works on Israeli security. His last book Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy (Stanford UP) won the 2020 ISA best book award in the category of Religion and IR. His forthcoming books explore the impact of strategic culture on the Russian art of coercion and the nexus of the military, politics and ideology in Russia.

Speaker: Leonid Nersisyan (ARDI)
Leonid Nersisyan is a defence analyst and CEO at Armenian Research and Development Institute. He also holds experience in consulting and research. His research interests include CIS countries’ armed forces and defence industry.

Speaker: Jukka Viitaniemi (FNDU)
M.Mil.Sc., Maj. Jukka Viitaniemi is a senior researcher at the National Defence University. Maj. Viitaniemi’s military experience includes several positions in the Finnish Army and in Military Intelligence in Finland and abroad. His current research focuses on Russian Military Strategy.

Moderator: Katri Pynnöniemi (University of Helsinki)
Katri Pynnöniemi is an assistant professor at the University of Helsinki (Aleksanteri Institute) and holds a joint Mannerheim Chair of Russian Security Studies at the University of Helsinki and the National Defence University. Pynnöniemi has published widely on the system change in Russia and on Russian foreign and security policy. Her current research deals with Russia’s security policy and strategic thinking.

Speaker: Jyrki Terva (Tampere University)
Jyrki Terva is a doctoral researcher at the university of Tampere. He has focused on international relations and Russia in his research. He is currently on a study leave from his diplomatic position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Speaker: Juha Wihersaari (FNDU)
Colonel (ret.), Juha Wihersaari is a doctoral researcher and member of the Russia Research Group at the Finnish National Defence University. He has the General Staff Officer’s Degree from 1993 and he served in the Finnish Defence Forces until 2015. Wihersaari’s military experience includes positions mainly in military intelligence, where he served 26 years. Since 2016, Wihersaari has been the owner and director of a small intelligence and security company.

Moderator: Juha Kukkola 
Juha Kukkola holds a PhD in military sciences. His dissertation focused on the strategic effects of Russia’s national segment of the internet while including theory on asymmetric and indirect theory of warfare. 

Speaker: Oscar Jonsson (Phronesis Analysis, Swedish Defence University – FHS)
Oscar Jonsson is a scholar and analysist. He holds a PhD from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. He is a founder of Phronesis analysis and researcher at the Swedish Defence University.

Speaker: Rod Thornton (King’s College, UK)
Rod Thornton works at the UK Defence Academy. He focused on peace support operations in his PhD and holds diverse experience on Russian and East European studies. 

Speaker: Justin Bronk (RUSI)
Justin Bronk works as a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He has expertise on modern airpower and technology. His expertise includes Russian ground-based air defences and fast jet capabilities, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and novel weapons technology. 

Speaker: Jonna Alava (FNDU)
Jonna Alava, M.A. is a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki and a member of the Russia Research Group at the National Defence University since August 2019. Her article-based dissertation examines how gender is represented and what kind of gendered positions are formed in the context of military-patriotic education and, through the latter, in wider processes of militarization in Russia.

Speaker: Aristide LaVey (Independent Researcher)
A.M. LaVey is a visual information scientist specialising in eastern Slavic art. His recent article "Reading Belarus: The evolving semiosis of Belarusian textiles" and forthcoming article "Archiving the digital semiosphere: A case study in Belarus'' analyse the use of textiles and digital protest art in the period surrounding the 2020 Belarusian presidential election. LaVey served in the U.S. Army for ten years as a paratrooper and strategic communications officer, mostly in Europe and Iraq.

Speaker: Konrad Muzyka (Rochan Consulting)
Konrad Muzyka is an independent defence analyst and the Director of Rochan Consulting. He provides open-source intelligence and military assessments of Russian and Belarusian Armed Forces. He has analysed military capabilities and developments in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Speaker: Santeri Kytöneva (FNDU)
Santeri Kytöneva, B.Soc.Sc. is working as an intern from September 2021 until March 2022. Santeri is working on finishing his Master’s degree in social sciences and philosophy at the University of Jyväskylä. He has focused on topics surrounding the Russian definition of war and information security.

Speaker: Lester W. Grau (FMSO)
Dr. Lester W. Grau is a senior Analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds military background and expertise in research and teaching. He has authored extensive number of books and articles that have been translated into several languages. 

Keynote speaker: Michael Kofman (CNA)
Michael Kofman is a research program director in the Russia Studies Program at CNA and as a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC. He has conducted research on Russian armed forces, military thought, capabilities and strategy. Kofman holds an MA in International Security from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.