Chatham House issues paper on Russias influence and power in Ukraine

The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) issued a paper on January 31st, 2012, entitled A Ghost in the Mirror: Russian Soft Power in Ukrain e, focussing on Russia’s influence and power in Ukraine.  The briefing paper, which is part of The Aims and Means of Russian Influence Abroad series, is authored by Dr Alexander Bogomolov and Prof Oleksander Lytvynenko.

The summary points of the paper are:

• For Russia, maintaining influence over Ukraine is more than a foreign policy priority; it is an existential imperative. Many in Russia’s political elite perceive Ukraine as part of their country’s own identity.

• Russia’s socio-economic model limits its capacity to act as a pole of attraction for Ukraine. As a result, Russia relies on its national myths to devise narratives and projects intended to bind Ukraine in a ‘common future’ with Russia and other post-Soviet states.

• These narratives are translated into influence in Ukraine through channels such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the mass media, formal and informal business networks, and non-governmental organizations.

• Russia also achieves influence in Ukraine by mobilizing constituencies around politically sensitive issues such as language policy and shared cultural and historical legacies. This depends heavily on symbolic resources and a deep but often clumsy engagement in local identity politics.

• Russia’s soft power project with regard to Ukraine emphasizes cultural and linguistic boundaries over civic identities, which is ultimately a burden for both countries.

‘This is a highly recommended read for observers following the developments of Russia – Ukraine relations. The authors provide a proficient overview of how Russia views Ukraine, how it forms policy towards its ‘near-abroad’, and the dimensions of power it spreads through culture, mass-media, language, Church and business elite,’ commented Andy Hunder, Director of the Ukrainian Institute in London.

Chatham House, the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs for ninety years, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in London whose mission is to analyse and promote the understanding of major international issues and current affairs. It is regarded as one of the world’s leading organisations in this area.

To download the paper in pdf format click here