September 4th, 2023. ECPR General Conference, Prague, Czechia.
Ukrainians have been using the “Україна це Європа” (Ukraine is Europe) slogan since the 2014 Euromaidan revolution, but their fight for a European future truly came into global focus after Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
What does this slogan mean exactly?
In using it, Ukrainians convey a vision of their country as a distinct nation in the European family and as an independent democratic state: building institutional capacity, strengthening the rule of law, and pursuing Euro-Atlantic integration. For Europeans, Ukraine’s existential fight to resist forceful incorporation into the Russian World and tread a European path should put into stark relief that the only way to restore peace and security in Europe is to help Ukraine win the war. Europe will then need to contain Russia’s aggression for as long as it takes Russian society and elites to transform their country fundamentally from within.
For political scientists, Ukraine’s insistence on its Europeanness suggests that the post-Soviet/post-Communist regional categorization is overdue for re-examination: some theoretical frameworks and concepts might need to be retired as no longer useful and more pan-European comparative projects should be encouraged.