Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War

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Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War

23rd February 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

“Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War” explains why there is a crisis and the threat of a Russian invasion since late 2021 that could become the first major war in Europe since 1945. Dr Taras Kuzio’s book is the first study to provide an in-depth understanding of the nationalist roots of Vladimir Putin’s obsession with Ukraine that lie at the heart of the current crisis. Taras Kuzio’s book takes issue with pro-Russian Western  discourse which blames the West for the 2014 crisis by letting Putin off the hook. Instead, providing a wealth of detail about the inability of Russians in the Tsarist Empire, Soviet Union, as Russian emigres and since 1991 in the Russian Federation to recognise a separate Ukrainian state and Ukrainian nation. Putin’s Russia’s views Ukraine as an integral part of its history and a national identity which has always defined its “imagined community” to be larger than the Russian SFSR or the Russian Federation and instead identifying with the Soviet Union, Russian World, and Eurasia. Putin’s regime has adopted the 19th century Tsarist Russian nationalist denial of the existence of a Ukrainian people with a hard-line Soviet era demand Ukraine belongs within the Russian sphere of influence and has no right to decide its destiny. Western policymakers should appreciate an end to the current crisis is unlikely because Putin is de facto president for life, the occupation of Crimea is highly popular among Russians, and the Russian-Ukrainian war is viewed by the Kremlin as its proxy war against the West.

The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to welcome you to join a fascinating discussion on Dr Taras Kuzio’s newly published book about the Ukraine-Russia war and what it means for the West.



Gene Fishel is a Division Chief in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the United States Department of State. He has held a variety of other posts in the U.S. Government, including Senior Advisor for Russian Malign Activities and Trends in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, Special Advisor to the Vice President (National Security Affairs), and Assistant National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. Dr Fishel has taught in an adjunct capacity at George Washington University’s Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, and at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. He holds degrees in Political Science, International Relations, National Security Strategy, and Public Policy.  His book on The Moscow Factor: U.S. Policy toward Sovereign Ukraine and the Kremlin is forthcoming from the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.



Taras Kuzio is an Associate Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. His previous positions were at the University of Alberta, George Washington University, and University of Toronto, International Institute of Strategic Studies, and School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Taras Kuzio holds a PhD in political science from the University of Birmingham, England, an MA in Area Studies (USSR, Eastern Europe) from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, and a BA in Economics from the School of European Studies, University of Sussex. He held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Yale University. Taras Kuzio is the author and editor of 22 books, 38 book chapters and over 130 scholarly articles on Soviet, Eurasian, Russian, and Ukrainian politics, colour revolutions, nationalism, geopolitics, and international relations.



James Sherr OBE has been Senior Fellow of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the International Centre for Defence & Security in Tallinn since 2019. He also is an associate fellow and former head of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House (2008-11).

He was a member of the Social Studies Faculty of Oxford University from 1993 to 2012; a fellow of the Conflict Studies Research Centre of the UK Ministry of Defence from 1995 to 2008; and director of studies of the Royal United Services Institute (1983-85).

He has published extensively on Soviet and Russian military, security and foreign policy, as well as energy security, the Black Sea region and Ukraine’s effort to deal with Russia, the West and its own domestic problems.

He was awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List for his services to British interests overseas.



Sam Ashworth-Hayes is the Director of Studies at the Henry Jackson Society. Prior to joining HJS, Sam co-founded a startup using satellite imagery to support the installation of urban green infrastructure, raised funding and built a team to develop prototype products and deliver the first commercial trials. He has also previously worked designing field and lab experiments in behavioural economics, and as a journalist and researcher. Outside of academia Sam writes regularly for outlets including The Spectator, CapX, and National Review on economics and politics, and has made media appearances for the BBC, GB News, and Times Radio. He holds an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelors in the same from the University of York.





On the 23rd February 2022 Sam Ashworth-Hayes, Director of Studies at the Henry Jackson Society, James Sherr OBE, Senior Fellow of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the International Centre for Defence & Security in Tallinn, Dr Taras Kuzio, Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and Eugene Fishel, Division Chief in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the United States Department of State, and Olesya Ostrovska-Liuta, Director General of the Mystetsky Arsenal discuss Russian Nationalism and the fraught relationship between Russia and Ukraine. In addition, they discussed Dr Kuzio new book on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Sam Ashworth-Hayes began the discussion and introduced the speakers and Dr Kuzio then spoke about his book. He argues that researchers of Russia in the West have downplayed Russian nationalism and that Russians have not accepted the current borders of the Russian Federation. He identifies key junctures that have caused the current crisis and focused on the role of Boris Yeltsin and a return to Tsarist Russian nationalism. James Sherr then spoke about his own research and agreed with Dr Kuzios’s argument that the west has underestimated the strength of Russian nationalism and that Putin cannot comprehend Ukrainian identity. Eugene Fishel argued that white Russian émigrés helped advance a false nationalist historiography while also speaking about how Putin views Ukrainians as lost brothers and as a mortal threat to Russia. Olesya Ostrovska-Liuta agreed with the points set out by the co-panellists and argued that Russia is acting now because people in Eastern and Southern Ukraine becoming more supportive of joining NATO.

The discussion then closed with a series of question from the audience ranging from what the consequences of Russian invasion would be and how western inaction could have enabled Putin, as well as potential tools the West can use to punish Russian aggression.


23rd February 2022
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Eugene Fishel, Dr Taras Kuzio, James Sherr OBE


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