Imperialist ideology or depoliticization? Why Russian citizens support the invasion of Ukraine

Volodymyr Ishchenko, Oleg Zhuravlev


What explains the wide support for the invasion of Ukraine in Russia in the first months after it started? Many alleged that this support reflects an imperialist ideology permeating Russian society and culture. Based on a large set of in-depth interviews with supporters of the invasion among the regular Russian citizens, we argue that it is not a commitment to an imperialist ideology that is the most typical factor in support for the invasion but rather precisely the opposite—the deep depoliticization of Russian citizens, on which the support for Putin’s regime has always been based. We explicate how the dynamics of depoliticization manifest themselves in the alienation of Russian citizens from articulating their own political positions, in the reproduction of the gap between the world of politics and of everyday life, and in the social construction of Ukrainians as a threat.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/723802