Paper title:
 The Evolution of the Russian Federation’s Official Anti-Ukraine Discourse
Published in:
Issue 1 (Vol. 29) / 2023
Publishing date:
193 - 216
Marin Gherman
The article focuses on the evolution of the Russian Federation’s official discourse concerning Ukraine, from the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 to the official decision to invade the Ukrainian state on February 24, 2022. During this period, various official messages were launched in the public sphere to prepare Russian society for the next phases of the hybrid war or were designed to shape a series of social attitudes on the territories of other states that would favour political leaders in Moscow. The Kremlin resorted to a plethora of specific communication tactics: the launch of several official narratives at the same time, some of which were subsequently discarded; challenging the legitimacy of Kyiv authorities; fostering the idea that Ukraine was an artificial state created by Russia; launching certain debates in the public sphere regarding the historical unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples as well as the build-up of neo-Nazi tendencies on Ukrainian territory. Official narratives endorsed by the Russian Federation were a special mix of international law and historiography topics. Russian media outlets disseminated them as part of disinformation and fake news campaigns. This paper is an analytical effort to organize official Russian narratives about Ukraine promoted over 2014-2022, before the large-scale invasion.
Russia, Ukraine, hybrid warfare, disinformation, fake news, narratives.

1. Brzezinski Zbigniew, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York, Basic Books, 1997, p. 223.
2. Center for International Security and Cooperation, Azov Movement, in
3. Claessen Eva, The making of a narrative: The use of geopolitical othering in Russian strategic narratives during the Ukraine crisis, in “Media, War and Conflict”, 2021, Vol. 14, Iss. 1, pp. 1-18.
4. Cohen Josh, Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem, in
5. Dogovor mezhdu Rossijskoj Federaciej i Respublikoj Krym o prinyatii v Rossijskuyu Federaciyu Respubliki Krym i obrazovanii v sostave Rossijskoj Federacii novyh subektov [Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the admission of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the formation of new subjects within the Russian Federation], in
6. Dulman Pavel, Po ulitsam ukrainskikh gorodov marshiruiut natsisty [Nazis march through the streets of Ukrainian cities] in “Rossiiskaia gazeta”,
7. European Commission for Democracy through Law, Opinion on the provisions of the Law on Education of 5 September 2017 which concern the use of the state language and minority and other languages in education, in
8. Gherman Marin, Disinformation: Ukraine is a Russian territory under foreign occupation that might launch a war against Russia, in “Veridica”,
9. Gherman Marin, Narațiuni ale dezinformării și fake news utilizate de Rusia până la invadarea Ucrainei [Narratives of disinformation and fake news used by Russia prior to the invasion of Ukraine], in “Polis: Revistă de Științe Politice”, Vol. X, 2022, No. 2 (26), pp. 99-110.
10. Gosselin André, La communication politique. Cartographie d'un champ de recherche et d'activités, in “Hermès”, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 1995, No. 3 (17-18), pp. 17-33.
11. Interviu Ministra inostrannykh del Rossiiskoi Federatsii S. V. Lavrova telekanalu Rossiia 24, Moskva [Interview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov to the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Moscow], in
12. Interviu Putina po Ukraine. Efir ot 13.06.2021 [Putin's interview about Ukraine. Air from 06/13/2021], in
13. Kappeler Andreas, Ukraine and Russia: legacies of the imperial past and competing memories, in “Journal of Eurasian Studies”, Vol. 5, 2014, No. 2, pp. 107-115.
14. Kontseptsiia vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii – 2013 [The concept of foreign policy of the Russian Federation – 2013], in
15. Kontseptsiya vneshney politiki Rossiyskoy Federatsii (utv. Ukazom Prezidenta RF ot 30 noyabrya 2016 g. N 640) [Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation (Approval of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of November 30, 2016, N 640], in
16. Krym Put na Rodinu. Dokumentalnyi film [Crimea. The Way Home. Documentary], in
17. Lavrov Sergey, Russia’s Foreign Policy in a Historical Perspective. Musings at a New Stage of International Development, in “Russia in Global Affairs”, 2016, No. 2,
18. Lavrov sravnil zaiavleniia Kieva o dialoge s Donbassom s propagandoi Gebbelsa [Lavrov compared Kyiv's statements about dialogue with Donbass with Goebbels' propaganda], in “TASS”,
19. Lavrov: Poroshenko nado neitralizovat tekh kto khochet grazhdanskoi voiny [Lavrov: Poroshenko must neutralize those who want a civil war], in
20. Lejepekova Anastasia, Putin obyavil o provedenii specoperacii po zashchite Donbassa [Putin announced a special operation to protect Donbas], in
21. Levada-Center, Nostalgiia po SSSR [Nostalgia for the USSR], in
22. Likhachev Vyacheslav, Polk “Azov” ne ye neonatsystskym: vidpovidi na naiposhyrenishi zapytannia [The "Azov" regiment is not neo-Nazi: answers to the most common questions], in
23. Luzhkov Yury, Sevastopol rossiiskii gorod na krymskom poluostrove [Sevastopol is a Russian city on the Crimean Peninsula], in “Izvestia”, 1996, November 1, p. 3.
24. Mahda Yevhen, Hibrydna ahresiia Rosii. Uroky dlia Yevropy [Russia’s Hybrid aggression. Lessons for Europe], Kyiv, Kalamar, 2017, p. 268.
25. Medvedev Dmitry, Pochemu bessmyslenny kontakty s nyneshnim ukrainskim rukovodstvom [Why contacts with the current Ukrainian leadership are meaningless], in “Kommersant”,
26. Nikitin Maksim, Lavrov: dlia Rossii Ukraina - eto bratskii narod, a ne marshiruiushchie v Kieve natsisty [Lavrov: for Russia, Ukraine is a fraternal people, not Nazis marching in Kyiv], in
27. Obrashchenie Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii ot 21 fevralia 2022 goda [Address of the President of the Russian Federation, February 21, 2022], in
28. Obrashchenie Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii ot 24 fevralia 2022 goda [Address of the President of the Russian Federation of February 24, 2022], in
29. Opytuvannia MRI v Ukraini svidchyt pro nezminnu pidtrymku yevro-peiskoi intehratsii na tli pandemii COVID-19 [The MPI survey in Ukraine shows the unchanged support for European integration against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic], in
30. OSCE, Memorandum of 19 September 2014 outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments of the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, in
31. OSCE, Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, in
32. Poslanie Prezidenta Federalnomu Sobraniiu – 2014 [Address of the President of Russia to the Federal Assembly – 2014] in
33. Priamaia liniia s Vladimirom Putinym [Direct line with Vladimir Putin] in .
34. Putin Vladimir, Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev [On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians], in
35. Sergey Lavrov: Grazhdanskaia voina na Ukraine daleka ot zaversheniia [Sergey Lavrov: The civil war in Ukraine is far from over], in
36. Smirnov Serghei, Putin: My ne rassmatrivaem variant prisoedineniya Kryma [Putin: We are not considering the annexation of Crimea], in
37. Sovfed: Rada priznala antikonstitutsionnyi perevorot [Federation Coun¬cil: Rada recognized anti-constitutional coup], in
38. Speech and the following discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, in
39. Stoiakin Vasilii, Kto smenit Zelenskogo na postu prezidenta. Rol Ukrainy v bolshoi sdelke Rossii i SSHA [Who will replace Zelensky as president. The role of Ukraine in the "big deal" between Russia and the United States], in “”,
40. Szostek Joanna, The power and limits of Russia’s strategic narrative in Ukraine: the role of linkage, in "Perspectives on Politics”, XV, 2017, No. 2, pp. 379-395.
41. The Constitution of the Russian Federation, in
42. Toolan Michael, Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction (2nd Edition), London, Routledge, 2001, 276 p.
43. Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii ot 11.07.2004 g. N.865. Voprosy Ministerstva inostrannykh del Rossiiskoi Federatsii [Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of July 11, 2004, No. 865 Issues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation], in
44. Ukraine protests after Yanukovych EU deal rejection in
45. V Sovete Federatsii i v Gosdume nazvali nelegitimnym lishenie Viktora Ianukovicha zvaniia prezidenta Ukrainy [The Federation Council and the State Duma called Viktor Yanukovych’s deprivation of the title of President of Ukraine an illegitimate move], in
46. Voicu Marian, Matrioșka mincinoșilor: fake news, manipulare, populism [Matryoshka of Liars: Fake News, Manipulation, Populism], Bucharest, Humanitas Publishers, 2018, 472 p.
47. Zakon Ukrainy pro zasudzhennia komunistychnoho ta natsional-sotsialistychnoho (natsystskoho) totalitarnykh rezhymiv v Ukraini ta zaboronu propahandy yikhnoi symvoliky (Vidomosti Verkhovnoi Rady), 2015, № 26, st. 219) [The law of Ukraine on the condemnation of the communist and national socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and the prohibition of propaganda of their symbols (Information of the Verkhovna Rada), 2015, No. 26, Art. 219)] in