Russian and Ukrainian émigrés were very different. The former sought to refashion the Soviet Union into a new union and empire and were indifferent to the national question while the latter’s goal was to fight for an independent state. Russian émigrés were dominated by great power nationalists, imperialists and chauvinists while Ukrainian émigrés exhibited political pluralism ranging from communists, centrist liberals, and national democrats to radical nationalists. Polish émigrés who had abandoned their imperialistic civilising mission in the east and moderate Ukrainians developed a process of reconciliation throughout the Cold War which led to a breakthrough in relations between both countries, particularly after Solidarity came to power in 1989. A similar Russian-Ukrainian reconciliation had never taken place.

In the USSR, Russia had national Bolsheviks and Ukraine had national communists. Dissident and official Russian nationalism in the USSR held the same views on maintaining a union and empire rather than building an independent nation-state, the central role of Orthodoxy in Russian culture and civilisation, xenophobic views of Western values and opposition to them influencing Russia, and a preference for authoritarianism over democracy. Importantly for discussions in this book, dissident and official Russian nationalism both denied the existence of Ukraine and a Ukrainian nation.