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State’s Legitimisation of Violence through Strategic Narration: How the Kremlin Justified the Russian Invasion of Ukraine


The use of violence by state actors in political conflicts is often legitimised through the development of strategic narratives. The social construction of such narratives arguably relies on polarised storytelling centred on notions such as national heroism on one side and ‘perpetration against the nation’ on the other. The Kremlin’s official justification of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine since February 2022 provides an illuminating example of this process of strategic narration. Relying on widely accepted cultural templates, Russia’s state institutions and officials put forward a narrative focused on Russia’s alleged heroic mission in Ukraine and the delegitimisation of the Ukrainian government and its external supporters as ‘ultimate perpetrators’. This highlights the proactive framing role that state actors may have in developing a discourse legitimising violence.
Keywords: strategic narration; violence; narrative analysis; Kremlin; Russian invasion of Ukraine