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Article

Synecdoche that kills: How Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin constructed different Ukraines for different ends

International Communication Gazette. 2018. Vol. 80. No. 3. P. 230-249.

Drawing on Ernesto Laclau’s theory of articulation, this paper analyzes Barack Obama’s and Vladimir Putin’s public speeches on the Ukrainian crisis of 2014. The article discusses how the presidents constructed rival discourses by erasing the nuances of complex tensions between the logics of equivalence and difference existing within the Ukrainian discursive space. Acting like imperial administrators from colonial times, Obama and Putin pushed representations of Ukraine based on two ‘impossible wholes’: a unified nation whose sovereignty was threatened from outside (Obama’s discourse) and a consolidated pro-Russian Southeast needing to be defended from Kyiv-based nationalists and extremists (Putin’s articulation).