Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science (MA)

Degree Level



Political Science


Donald R. Kelley

Committee Member

Patrick Conge

Second Committee Member

Tricia Starks


Eastern Europe/Russia, International Relations, Political Science, Russia politics, Ukrainian politics


The longstanding conflict in Ukraine has prompted more attention, discussion, and research into the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. This relationship dates back to medieval times, but its importance to contemporary issues begins in the 19-20th Centuries and come to a head after the fall of the Soviet Union. This analysis seeks to understand how and why Ukrainian national identity gradually became a solidified civic identity after the Maiden Revolution and annexation of Crimea in 2014. This starts with providing a short history between Russia and Ukraine, that looks at certain events and regions in their shared history, and are viewed differently from each nation’s perspective. It follows by examining political and social events from independence in 1991, to the events of the Maiden Revolution, Russian incursion into the region, and what soon followed, up to the invasion in 2022. The gradual shift in nationhood amongst people in Ukraine was dominated by the following: the initial push of nationalism by some oligarchs in Ukraine, especially in the 2000s; younger generations feeling a better sense of belonging in Ukraine thus establishing a civic identity in contrast with some older generations, the sense of needing to differentiate and move away from Russia, and the solidification of civic nationalism after the Maiden Revolution, annexation of Crimea by Russia, and subsequent war in the Donbas. For Russia, this time was marked by the belief that Ukraine was inherently Russian due to their shared history and culture. They would seek to keep Ukraine within their sphere and with “its people” by whatever means necessary. This can best be described as Russia believing it needed to keep Ukraine from “westernizing” and doing so under the guise of protecting ethnic and linguistic Russians living in Ukraine. These opposing views on Ukraine’s future and the perceived identity of those within Ukraine created a conflict in the region.