Defence and Promotion of Desired State Identity in Russia’s Strategic Narrative

Joanna Szostek

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This article examines how the Russian state promotes and protects its preferred self-identity, using the conceptual framework of ‘strategic narrative’. Nation-branding practices, including state-funded ‘mega-projects’ like the Sochi Olympics, have contributed to the narrative by characterising Russia as a welcoming, attractive destination. However, a more salient feature of Russia’s strategic narrative is intense ‘anti-Western’ and ‘anti-American’ political and media discourse, formulated to defend against rival, threatening narratives projected from other countries. Through analysis of official statements and state television content, the article demonstrates how determination to protect ‘Great Power’ and ‘European’ identities underlay Russia’s strategic narrative in 2014. It considers responses which the narrative has prompted, arguing that desired results in domestic reception have been achieved at the expense of unsatisfactory results internationally. Heavy-handed attacks on the identities of other states boost collective self-esteem among Russian citizens, but they fail to produce – and arguably obstruct – desired responses among foreign audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-593
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Early online date11 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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