Hybrid Lecture: Russia’s War Against Ukraine: The Impact of Historical Disinformation and Identity Politics

The Institute for Global Analytics organized a hybrid lecture, which focused on building media resilience among students by acquainting them with the strategies and narratives of Kremlin disinformation, particularly as regards Russia’s falsification and distortion of Ukrainian history and identity. The lecture took place on December 16, 2022, at the New Bulgarian University and was moderated by Professor Denitza Topchiyska of the NBU.

Keynote lecturer Dr. Andreas Umland (analyst at the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies) zoomed in on the concepts of the “Russian world”, “Pan-Slavism”, “Eurasianism”, the psychological theory of minor differences, triadic nexus theory and the false narrative about Ukraine as a “fascist state” as informing the Kremlin’s worldview and its relations with Ukraine. Dr. Rumena Filipova explained how the weaponization of identity and ideas through propaganda and vested political motivation can be detrimental to peace, international law and good-neighborly relations. She clarified the role of ideational factors in shaping states’ foreign policy by drawing on her book “Constructing the Limits of Europe. Identity and Foreign Policy in Poland, Bulgaria, and Russia since 1989”.

The Q&A session raised a number of important issues, including Russian propaganda’s presentation of Poland as a “neo-imperialist” state vis-a-vis Ukraine; the prospects for domestic and foreign policy change in Belarus and Kazakhstan; the Russian pressures on Moldova’s territorial integrity and energy policy; whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was ever sincere in his stated goal (particularly in the early 2000s) to cooperate with the West; the possibility for political change within the Kremlin regime.