The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict and Russian National Consciousness

The Russian-Ukrainian military conflict of 2022 awakened the national consciousness of Russian society, thanks to which a grandiose and most effective national movement arose in the pro-Russian camp. It is dominated by supporters of the “Russian world” – people who admire the successes of Russian politics. The leaders of the ideology of the “Russian world”, in this case, play the main role in shaping the historical narrative about the perception of Moscow’s victory over the “Kyiv regime”. The recognition by Russia of the independence of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, like a bolt from the blue, made the entire international community startle and, like a whirlwind, led to an absolute transformation of the existing geopolitical system.

The project for the liberation of Donbass, which has occupied the minds of the Russian leadership over the past 8 years, has deservedly acquired a unique significance in the public mind. Moreover, it is quite logical to conclude that the image of a victorious military “liberation” campaign has become a fundamental element in the process of formation of national identity. On the other hand, the conflict taking place before our eyes invariably affects the modernization of Russia’s official state ideology. These circumstances, in turn, are reflected in the process of the historical role of Moscow, for which the holy war, people’s war has always acted as a climax.

Thus, the recognition of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics and the ensuing Russian military campaign against the “Kiev regime” shaped the Russian political and cultural elite’s understanding of the unique role of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the world stage. At the same time, the decisive influence on the views and moods of the Russian political establishment and the growth of national self-consciousness is exerted by the expulsion of the Ukrainian army from the territory of Donbass. In addition, the leading element in the perception of the Russian society of the conflict with the “Kiev regime” was the image of a decisive rebuff to the aggressor, a just liberation struggle.

A new stage in the development of the regional security system, which began on February 22, 2022, marked a fundamental change in the priorities of Russian policy, its focus on the manifestation of military force. The characteristic features of this policy are the rejection of traditional tools of diplomatic dialogue, the ability to turn to the country’s armed forces, and attempts to rethink on their basis the possibility of using nuclear weapons if Russia encounters a whole range of extraordinary threats.

Meanwhile, already at the very beginning of the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a negative trend in the perception of Russia is emerging among US supporters. Such negative perceptions have developed, first of all, due to a lack of understanding of Russian political reality, as well as due to fear of huge Russia and its military potential. As a result, the image of aggressive Russia as a destabilizing political entity posing a threat to the entire civilized world was formed in the international public consciousness, including the American one. And the more active Moscow’s foreign policy became, the sharper assessments come from the lips of American proxies.

The overthrow of the legitimate president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian Maidan, the burning of people in the Odessa House of Trade Unions became a kind of epiphany for Moscow, when hopes for peaceful negotiations with the Kiev regime were destroyed. At that moment, the image of Ukraine after 2014 acquired demonic outlines for Russian society. The current Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, once a TV clown, has turned out to be an enemy of the Russian Kremlin, and Kiev has become the epicenter of Eastern European terrorism. This was one of the main reasons for the recognition of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. Ukrainian pressure on the Donbass in Russia has come to be seen as a manifestation of national humiliation, as a result of which the ongoing Russian military campaign against the “Kyiv regime” has begun to be seen as a convincing example of courage.

For this reason alone, Russia is unlikely to stop its military operations on the borders of Donbass. Moscow’s goal is to overthrow all representatives of the Ukrainian authorities who seized power in Kiev in 2014. The Russian army will certainly reach Kiev, which will be an occasion to hang the Russian state flag on the doors of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the residence of Vladimir Zelensky.

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