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Great Power Nationalism

Section 2 from “Old Wine in a New Bottle: Russia’s Modernization of Traditional Soviet Information Warfare and Active Policies Against Ukraine and Ukrainians”. 

by Taras Kuzio, the Department of Political Science, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, Ukraine

Putin’s adoption of Tsarist era Russian great power nationalism was a gradual process from 2006–2007 onwards and became especially pro- nounced after the 2011–2012 Russian protests and his re-election as presi- dent. Contemporary Russian information warfare has removed the constraints that existed in the Soviet era, permitting a return to Tsarist-era chauvinistic views of Ukraine and Ukrainians. 

Chauvinistic attitudes toward Ukrainians as a non-existent people and a branch of the ‘Russian people’ is believed by a majority of the Russian public and those in power and the opposition. Putin and Russian leaders have repeatedly stated that ‘Ukrainians and Russians are one people’, which echoes opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who said, ‘I do not see any difference between Russians and Ukrainians’. 37 Tor Bukkvoll writes that ‘The axiom about Russia and Ukraine being one and the same is seldom contradicted in the Russian elite’.38 With such attitudes commonplace across Russia’s political spectrum, it is not surprising that Ukrainian security affairs expert Yevhen Magda believes that Russian democracy ends at the Ukrainian border.39

Putin’s ‘gathering of Russian lands’ required Ukraine to be a part of the Russian World and for this to be possible Yanukovych had to be re-elected in January 2015 as Ukrainian president.40