Department of Political Science

The Russian Quest for Ontological Security: The Role of the Ukraine Crisis in the Reconstruction of Russia’s Post-Soviet "National Self"

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch

This paper argues that Russia’s decision to militarily intervene in the Ukraine crisis (2014) arose out of ontological, alongside material, insecurity. Whereas states’ material security essentially deals with national survival, ontological security concerns safety of the ‘national Self’. By supplementing the existing theories of geopolitics and regime security with the conceptual lens of ontological security, my interpretivist case study demonstrates why Russia, despite great risk and material costs, decided to militarily intervene and traces how Russian senses of ‘national Self’ were fundamentally reconstructed during intervention. I find that it was not solely fear of NATO invasion nor of Putin’s regime collapsing which made Russia intervene, but also the anxiety arising from a future scenario of an already weak post-Soviet ‘Russian Self’ being gradually engulfed by a confident ‘Western Self’. My narrative analysis paradoxically shows how Russia’s material security decreased while its sense of ontological security increased. Thus, the intensified Russo-Western antagonism following intervention opened a ‘window of opportunity’ for Russian elites to reconstruct a more self-confident sense of ‘Russian Self’. The paper contributes to our understanding of how ontological insecurity, like material insecurity, can trigger military interventions and how such interventions can increase ontological security while simultaneously decreasing material security.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Studies Association's 59th Annual Convention: Power of Rules and Rule of Power - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 4 Apr 20187 Apr 2018

Conference

ConferenceInternational Studies Association's 59th Annual Convention
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Period04/04/201807/04/2018

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