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When the War Ends, Will Ukrainians and Russians Eventually Reconcile?

June 13, 2022
Michael Kumove


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Michael Kumove, associate lecturer in political science at the Australian National University, analyzes the potential role of a shared language in post-war reconciliation in the case of the RussiaUkraine crisis.

With the war in Ukraine in its fourth month, the conflict shows no immediate signs of ending. Early peace talks have broken down, and with Ukraine insisting that the war will end only when they have regained all of their lost territory, it seems likely that it could drag on until the end of 2022 or even longer. Both sides are digging in to secure their lines in the Donbas region and appear headed toward a stalemate.

At risk of stating the obvious, relations between groups tend to suffer when they go to war, and the Ukraine conflict is no exception. Although many Ukrainians have family and friends in Russia, attitudes toward Russian people have chilled considerably since the invasion on February 24. Peer-reviewed studies are not yet available, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the invasion has led to a drastic reevaluation of Ukrainians’ attitudes toward Russians. Opinion polls show a dramatic increase in the degree of “cold” feelings towards residents of Russia and Belarus. “I am filled with hate [towards Russians],” one woman reported, even though she has family connections to Russia.

This change in intergroup attitudes is hardly surprising. The real question is what will happen when the war eventually ends—or perhaps calcifies into a frozen conflict that no longer poses an immediate threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty. Twenty or thirty years from now, will intergroup attitudes between Russians and Ukrainians have returned to their pre-war baselines?

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.