Excessive Brotherly Love? - 'Fraternity' of Russians and Ukrainians as a Russian Propaganda Narrative

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 21, Issue 3, p.47-66 (2022)


cross-cultural comparison, fraternal people, institutions, Russia, Ukraine, values


This article aims to show, using evidence from cross-cultural studies, that the peoples of Ukraine and Russia differ significantly on the individualism-collectivism dimension that lies at the heart of national identity. It argues that the idea of Russian and Ukrainian fraternity is, in fact, a myth, based perhaps on some limited cultural accidentals or overly-broad categorizations of temperament and not on fundamental ideologies that undergird the society. Illusions of the fraternity are a product of propaganda based on a range of narratives about the countries (including Ukraine) Russia considers its “area of influence” and has been unsuccessfully trying to return under its control. Understanding the motivations of Russia, a state with a legacy of authoritarianism and consistently strong ideological opposition to democratic values, is key to making sense of such narratives and the logic behind them. Cross-cultural studies provide insights for a broader understanding of inherent differences between Russian and Ukrainian peoples. Approximately 50 percent of the variation in national cultural orientations is unique to the country and is rooted in the lasting differences in historic developmental trajectories. Of particular interest is the relationship between individualism and collectivism in Russian and Ukrainian cultures and its respective impact on the institutions, as these dimensions are among the most distinctive for cultural variation. The author argues that one can discern clear distinctions in cultures by observing the distinct evolution and varying importance of institutions.
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