Russian nationalism shifting: The role of populism since the annexation of Crimea

Sofia Tipaldou, Philipp Casula

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This article focuses on the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine (Donbass) that started with the events on the Euromaidan and the swift annexation of Crimea by Russia. Our analysis of key speeches by Vladimir Putin regarding the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass demonstrates that in this case, populism extends beyond the dichotomy of the people against the establishment, since it relies on complex notions of enmity and alliance. We argue that the Russian political leadership deployed a discourse of Russian identity based on an overstretched definition of the Russian nation, a new discursive division of the political space, and the introduction of new and the reaffirmation of old symbols of unity. We also conclude that populism and nationalism were used interchangeably depending on the audience: the Russian leadership has used discursive strategies associated with populism to articulate this new vision of identity to residents of Crimea and nationalist ones when addressing domestic audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-370
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2019


  • populism
  • nationalism
  • Putin
  • Ukraine


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