COLD WAR II: UKRAINIAN SOVEREIGNTY AND IDENTITY
McCloskey, Thomas Laurence
Parry-Giles, Shawn J
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Ukraine’s 2014 Revolution of Dignity showcases tensions between nationalism and internationalism in a post-Cold War era. Ukraine’s political leaders and ordinary citizens express opposing views about the identity and sovereignty of their nation, as some want closer ties with the European Union, while others seek closer relations with the Russian Federation. The myths and memories of Ukraine’s Cossack past, as well as its time in the former Soviet Union, animate discourses throughout the conflict. These debates result in no clear consensus about Ukrainian identity. The inability of Ukraine to find a unified nationalist identity in the conflict highlights a post-Cold War paradox. Ukraine is unable to articulate a unifying identity because the myths and memories of the Cold War continue to circulate in public discourse. International organizations are largely unable to legitimize either side’s claims of identity in the conflict. This chaos has invited outside intervention, as both the Russia Federation and the United States attempt to influence Ukraine’s decisions about sovereignty and identity in ways benefitting Russian or American interests. These discourses mirror Cold War debates over Soviet satellite countries, as a propaganda battle for the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people rage on in political speeches, online forums, and in international organizations. Ukraine is thus mired in a cycle of unrest, as corruption and language issues continue to prevent the nation from articulating a unified nationalist identity. Ukraine’s crisis showcases the inherent conflict within notions of sovereignty, as both self-determination and freedom from outside intervention often contradict the expected obligations of nations to protect not only their citizens but also those of other nations whose human rights are threatened. This project challenges the notion that post-Cold War states can easily move beyond the legacies of the Cold War, as their past myths and memories continue to define their sovereignty and identity well after the conflict ends.