The two-tiered division of Ukraine: historical narratives in nation-building and region-building
Narratives are instrumental in constructing both national and regional identities. A divided Europe produces conflicting narratives that are constructed to lay claim over privileged, if not exclusive, dominion of the shared neighbourhood. The profoundly polarized historical narratives about the Ukraine are heavily influenced by divergent accounts of its relationship with Russia, ranging from Kievan Rus to the Soviet Union. Both the West and Russia seek to encourage a particular historical narrative in Ukraine that is compatible with their interests in the region. The West emphasizes a binary division of values on the continent, endowing it with a civilizing mission to cement collective hegemony in an exclusive ‘Europe’. Russia, meanwhile, embraces a historical narrative centred on a shared ‘Russian world’ based implicitly on sovereign inequality, in which Moscow holds a privileged position.