Putin’s insistence that Ukraine is an integral part of Russia draws on a slanted vision of historical narrative. Behind the question of ‘what is Russia’ lies a host of previous, complex incarnations of empire, federation and nation, which in transition have repeatedly raised issues of collective identity.
Senior Fellow at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University. A trained historian, he specializes in Russian and Eurasian history and politics. His recent publications discuss the history of Russian nationalism, Russian-Ukrainian relations, the links between Russia’s domestic politics and foreign policy, Russia’s and Turkey’s geopolitical discourses, and the politics of history and memory wars in Eastern Europe.
Putin’s Ukraine war is drawing a curtain on ‘Pax Rossica’, the notion that Russia can dominate the post-Soviet Eurasian landmass. The Kremlin’s strategy has changed since it failed to gain immediate control of Kyiv. What can be expected from this sideways manoeuvre towards a hyper-aggressive Russian state?
Driven by imperial fantasies, historical nostalgia and resentment towards the West, Putin has plunged both Ukraine and his own country into the nightmare of fratricidal war.
Unlike their nineteenth-century precursors, anti-European intellectuals in Russia today are neither engaged in dialogue with the West, nor do they realize that their ideas about European decline are themselves derivative.
Countries bordering Russia are subject to both the neoimperialist drive and military force behind Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian Union project. His expansionist aspirations mirror past Russian advances in Europe that questioned national identity. Many Kremlin-connected political analysts are currently advocating an isolationist position. What might be the upshot of Vadim Tsymbursky’s previously ignored, now vogue geopolitical thinking?
The film of Putin’s Palace is above all a story of monumental corruption. Yet it is also a story about the Russian leader’s warped historical imagination. Despite the residence’s imperial pretensions, its secrecy speaks volumes about the cultural chasm between Putin and the Romanovs.
Both Russia and Turkey are ethnically diverse former empires that underwent similar processes of modernization and had similar relationships with the West. Today, they have revived a civilizational paradigm with a strong authoritarian and anti-western character. Precisely this resemblance is resurrecting rivalry for power and influence in the region.