Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Rebecca Stoil

Committee Member

Emily Hoge

Committee Member

Michael Silvestri

Committee Member

William Terry


Vladimir Putin is using Putinism to establish a collective identity through his war in Ukraine. Putinism is an evolution of post-Soviet Russian nationalism that is an amalgam of Imperial and former Soviet nationalism born of Putin’s study of history and life experiences. There is also a relationship between Putin’s desire to restore a collective through the war in Ukraine and his larger goal of reunifying Ukraine with Russia to establish a new Russian Empire. Putinism has elements and values associated with Russian and Soviet Nationalism as well as those of its creator. These include patriotism, nostalgia, Orthodoxy, and conservatism melded with Soviet tactics to promote Russo-Ukrainian reunification through collective identity through struggle against the West. Understanding how and why Putin is using Putinism to establish a collective identity could not be more important given current geopolitical events in Ukraine at this critical juncture in our history. This paper explores Russian and Soviet Nationalism in the context of Imperial Russian and Soviet history and then examines the life of Putin and analyzes his evolution of post-Soviet Russian Nationalism into Putinism. This analysis is applied to the war in Ukraine to show how Putin is using Putinism to establish a collective identity through war in Ukraine. The paper concludes with a restatement of the research question and answer, the importance of this research, and how reunification of a Russo-Ukrainian collective may serve Putin’s broader goal of establishing himself as Tsar of a new Russian Empire.



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