89% of Russians feel pride in the Soviet victory over Nazism in World War Two. With the number of Soviet dead estimated at 27 million, the significant role it continues to play in Russian popular and political culture is to a certain extent understandable. But the Kremlin has co-opted this tragic and heroic legacy for its own political ends, using the trauma of the war to justify invasions in Ukraine and discredit rivals, from Navalny to foreign states. Assuming a messianic stance, the Russian government has depicted itself as conducting a global mission to defend the historical truth of World War Two. However, this ‘truth’ is highly subjective, sometimes outright myth, as the facts of the war are subverted to the needs of politics and patriotism.
This event will discuss the Russian state’s efforts to control and curate memory for its own political ends but also place this within a broader European context. The efforts of various Russian ministries to turn the war into a daily point of reference for young and old alike is just an intense version of what is happening in many countries, where memory wars – domestic and international – are increasingly prominent. We will discuss how Russia contributes to these antagonistic processes but also how its history can be a form of soft power, as Russia looks to export its politicised version of World War Two.
The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to host this event that will take the form of a discussion between Professor Mark Galeotti, Professor Nikolai Koposov and Dr Jade McGlynn.