| Willy Brandt School of Public Policy

Russia’s War against Ukraine - Ukraine’s Local Identities, Nation-building and International Agency

On April 13, 2022, Margaryta Rymarenko, a political scientist from the Ukraine who holds a PhD from Central European University, visited the University of Erfurt to discuss the Russian war against Ukraine and its implications for Ukrainian identity.

Guest Lecture
Margaryta Rymarenko and Brandt School Professor Achim Kemmerling

The Graduate Centre “Effective and Innovative Policymaking in Contested Contexts” (EIPCC) invited the Ukrainian political scientists Margaryta Rymarenko to talk about the ongoing war in Ukraine and its implications for local identities in Ukraine, Ukrainian nation-building and Ukraine’s international agency. The EIPCC is the youngest graduate centre at the University of Erfurt was launched by the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy together with colleagues from the Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences and the Max Weber Centre as part of the Christoph Martin Wieland Graduate Forum. The EIPCC hosted Margaryta Rymarenko in the context of its bi-weekly research colloquium, but her talk and the subsequent Q&A were open to the entire university.

In her presentation and the discussion that followed, Margaryta Rymarenko highlighted three key points. First, she elaborated on the question of Ukrainian identity, which, as she argued, has changed with the ongoing war. What used to be a country where people identified with different cultures and languages (e.g. Russian or Ukrainian), is now more unified based on a shared experience of being invaded and attacked.

Second, Rymarenko analyzed identity trajectories in the recent years, which she concluded fostered the current emergence of a new Ukrainian identity. The developments and the current change are a gradual build-up, rather than a sudden miracle. In this context, she emphasized the role that the “Orange Revolution” in 2004 and the “Maidan Protests” in 2014 played in heavily influencing the current identities of Ukrainians. The current war and the “conscious choice” of many people to identify as Ukrainians are in line with a larger development, according to Rymarenko. Third, she made the point that through the war, Ukraine dramatically changed its position in the international security order. In her opinion, the country transitioned from being a security object into being an active player itself.

Margaryta Rymarenko received her PhD in Political Science from the Central European University (CEU) in 2018. She holds an MA in International Relations and European Studies from CEU, and an MA and BA in Regional and International Studies from Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, Ukraine. Her research focuses on regional security dynamics and order, regional security institutions and comparative regionalism. You can find out more about Margaryta Rymarenko here and here.