During Putin’s presidency, Russian nationalism returned to its Tsarist imperial and White émigré roots during two critical junctures in 2005–2007 and 2011–2012. The transformation of Russian nationalism was brought about by, amongst others, the reburial of White émigré political and military leaders, the diffusion and acceptance of their writings, the creation of the Russian World, and the unification of the émigré and domestic branches of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Tsarist imperial and White Russian émigré thinking had a profound influence upon Russian nationalist discourse towards Ukraine, Eurasia and the West. Putin and Russian leaders became more obsessed with the views of Ukraine as an ‘artificial’ state and puppet of the West and Ukrainians as a branch of the pan-Russian nation. The seeds of the 2014 crisis, Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and ongoing military aggression against Ukraine lie in the radicalisation of Russian nationalism under Putin which led him to take unprecedented action against Ukraine and bring about the biggest crisis in Europe since 1945.