A war like no other: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a war on gender order

Our researchers Petr Kratochvíl and Míla O'Sullivan have published an article, in which they explain the gendered dimension of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine represents a critical juncture for the role gender plays in European security. We argue that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only gendered in the way other conflicts are, but the war's essential novelty lies in the fact that it is explicitly fought for the so-called traditional values, against gender and sexual equalities. Drawing on local decolonial insights and theoretical concepts of liberal/illiberal gender orders, we contrast the Russian neo-traditionalism with the Ukrainian account of the Russian invasion, while seeking to uncover how an imagination of Europe is constitutive for these gendered discourses. We show that the construction of the narratives is a circular process of ever more pronounced neo-traditionalism by Russia which sees Europe as its decadent Other. We demonstrate that these discourses have real consequences as the Russian illiberal gender order justifies and wages real war against Ukraine and gender is turning into the central battlefield both in the figurative and the literal sense of the word. Russian accounts contrast with Ukraine's hybridised, but increasingly emancipatory discourses and practices which have been playing a fundamental role in Ukraine's resistance to the Russian invasion.

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