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ISW: War against Ukraine deepening identity crises within Russian society

by Lance Luo November 7, 2023 8:02 AM 1 min read
Museum in Moscow on September 18, 2023. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP) (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine is exacerbating an emerging identity crisis within Russian society, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) writes, citing Vostok Battalion Commander Alexander Khodakovsky.

Russian Orthodox ideologue, Khodakovsky published a memo claiming that a schism in Russian national identity has resulted from the “ideological arguments advanced to justify and mobilize support for Russia's war in Ukraine.”

Khodakovsky exposes a dilemma facing Russia as it continues its war in Ukraine; the issue of how to align nationalist ideologies on which the Kremlin uses to justify the war, and the reality of Russia being a highly diverse federal state composed of ethnic republics.

He cited “genetic studies” showing that “Russian genes” were not dominant and concluded that Russian identity is based on morals and ideologies and not ethnogenetic.

ISW writes that “in several ways, the war has narrowed the conception of what it means to be Russian among Russian ideologues, particularly as concepts of identity are increasingly defined by hyper-nationalist and pro-war information space voices who amplify the Kremlin's ideological line on the war and redirect it at domestic audiences.”

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