The on-going military conflict in eastern Ukraine has revitalised historical discussion and history battles in the country rendering history more relevant than ever before. Since 2014 different sides in the conflict have used historical references, specifically to the Second World War, to validate their actions. Moscow most notably claimed to be protecting the population of eastern Ukraine from Ukrainian ‘fascists’: the story of a three-year Russian boy allegedly crucified by Ukrainian nationalists on Russian state television was enhanced by references to atrocities that Ukrainian nationalists allegedly perpetrated during the Second World War. It is not, of course, the first time a regime has used history as a justification for military aggression or territorial annexation. Across Europe in the twentieth century, history has been used to defend political goals, and politics has been used to write history. The bellicose politicisation of history became the norm in Ukraine in 2014.
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