Key to understanding of any conflict is identifying the interests and motivations of the parties involved. Yet, two years into Russia’s invasion, both its short-term goals and long-term strategy remain a subject of contradictory interpretations. On the one hand, there is a Russian official narrative, laid out in Putin’s essay ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’, as well as in his televised addresses on the eve of the war. It sees the war as a preemptive intervention against the plot of American neocons to box Russia into a corner geopolitically and to create an anti-Russian bulwark in its civilizational backyard, relying on nationalist elements in Ukraine. ‘Denazification’ and ‘demilitarisation’ therefore remain Russia’s official war aims for Ukraine, while more broadly, Russia claims to seek a revision of the unipolar system of international relations. On the other hand, Russia’s goals and motivations are often seen very differently in the West and in Ukraine itself. These range from conquering and annexing all of Ukraine and destroying it as a nation for the sake of territorial expansion, to re-creating the Russian (or Soviet) Empire and pushing beyond Ukraine. It is also claimed that Putin waged the war to bolster his waning popularity, or to prevent the emergence of a democratic and prosperous Ukraine, which he saw as a threat to his own regime. What does Russia really want and what it means for the West? This event brings together the leading Russianists to give us a glimpse into Russia’s official mind.



Prof. Alexander A. Hill (University of Calgary)

Prof. Boris Kashnikov (University of Cambridge)

Dr Rinna Kullaa (Tampere University)

Dr Sergey Utkin (University of Southern Denmark)


Chair: Dr. Donatas Kupčiūnas


The event will be followed by a wine reception.


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