Ukraine, Russia and the Future of the West

ukraine_russia_westThe Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised fundamental questions about the hardiness of the intellectual and institutional structures of the countries that were once conventionally known as the West.  Until we understand the terms of the ongoing war in Ukraine we cannot respond within the new era of global disintegration that has followed on the vision of Russian leaders, and we cannot react to the very real threat to the European Union. One basic aim of this project is to seek the appropriate categories by which to classify Russian methods in this war. Conceptualizing the apparently disparate military, political, and propaganda aspects of the Russian offensive against Ukraine and the European Union as a single challenge will cut through Russian propaganda and seek to re-establish a correct foundation from which to define identities, events, civil society, and legal norms concerning sovereignty and international order.  From such an understanding an international dialogue might begin and we might react to this current iteration of globalization’s challenges.  The second basic aim would be to provide an accessible international history of Ukraine, so that each discussion need not begin from the emotions of present problems or propaganda but from a larger common sensibility.

The object of this project is the production of the manuscript of a short and accessible book on the recent events and ongoing war in Ukraine, meant as a guide to possible policy reactions and as an inquiry into the state of American and European public discourse as well as a description of the place of Ukraine in the contemporary world.

The project has three components:

  • An historical introduction to Ukraine, addressing the basic questions of nation, state, and language with respect to Russia and Europe;
  • A straightforward narrative record of events during the Maidan, separating fact from obfuscation and propaganda;
  • An analysis of the associated statements from all parties concerned in Russia’s intervention in Ukraine which, by interpreting different media sources, verifying eye-witness accounts, placing declarations of ideology in the context of their relationship to events, examining the relevant political statements of Russian leaders, and tracing the connection between Moscow and the European far right, will provide a comprehensive foundation for evaluating the Russian challenge.


Timothy Synder, project principal researcher and author
Anton Shekovtsov, specialist on the relations between the Kremlin and European extremists
Tatiana Zhurzhenko, adviser and liaison with Ukrainian scholars

In addition, various smaller research projects will be commissioned from Ukrainian researchers on subjects such as national and regional variations in Russian propaganda, the experience of war in the Donbas and Crimea, the experience of external and internal refugees, shifts in power relations among Ukrainian political clans, the arc of energy negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv and Moscow and other European capitals, and the actual progress of domestic Ukrainian reforms.