Ukraine’s Appeals to Europe Can Alienate Others

An uncritical embrace of Europe chafes uncomfortably against the anti-colonial nature of Ukraine’s resistance, write Davis Center alumna Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon and her co-author Emily Couch.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian pleas for military aid, financial support, and eventual membership in the European Union and NATO have often used the language of Europe and of European civilization. In a June 2022 interview with the New York Times, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized the importance of joining the EU and said he saw the EU as building a “liberal empire” in comparison to Putin’s Russia. In his address to the European Parliament in February of this year, President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that Ukraine is fighting for the “European way of life,” founded upon “rules, values, equality, and fairness.” This is a powerful idea for Ukrainians, but one that can be off-putting to those with a memory of being Europe’s victims.

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Full article available via Foreign Policy.

PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon is a historian and an alumna of the Davis Center's REECA program.


Emily Couch is a British freelance writer who publishes on politics and culture in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.