This thesis looks deeply into the process of historical statecraft in Russia that evolved from domestic use to provision of justification for the current war. A central argument of the thesis is that Putin has continuously been selectively using history for achieving domestic and foreign political goals. He uses three main instruments that allow him to ‘weaponize’ history, namely: a) intervention in the historical memory and emotional manipulation around the Great Patriotic War, the phenomenon to which I refer to as pobedobesiye – the victory cult of the Great Patriotic War;1 b) the introduction of memory laws and governmental intervention in historical truth; and c) selective interpretations of history by Vladimir Putin. The Russian full-scale war with Ukraine was chosen as a case-study for understanding the way Putin manipulates history for achievement of his own goals, especially consolidation of power. The war culminated from the 8 years long conflict between these countries, starting from the annexation of Crimea in 2014. However, from the historical perspective, Ukraine has always been challenged by the Russian imperialistic attitude towards its sovereignty, which was continuously undermined. The major factor in this war is the development of its official justification, built around Putin’s intentional misinterpretation of Russian history and construction of mnemonic bridging between the past and present events. A key finding of the research is that Putin’s regime does not intentionally build a profound, defined ideology. Instead, the regime premises on the misinformation tactics that require flexibility and allow the regime to evolve basing on misinterpreted historical past.

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Dr. Robbert-Jan Adriaansen
Global History and International Relations
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Artemii Migavchik. (2022, August 29). Building a Z-Nation? Ten Years of Historical Statecraft in Putin's Russia (2012-2022). Global History and International Relations. Retrieved from