Between Hostages and New Citizens: What is the Role of Displaced Ukrainian Citizens in Russia?
This research project will focus on answering two key questions: Is forced migration a warfare tool in the Russo-Ukrainian War? And what are the implications for displaced Ukrainian citizens in Russia? According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as of mid-July 2022, two million Ukrainian citizens, including approximately 250 thousand children, have been forcefully displaced to the Russian Federation since the reinvigoration of the Russo-Ukrainian War in February 2022. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides similar data and reports on 1.9 million border crossings from Ukraine into Russia, which makes Russia – the aggressor country towards Ukraine – the host country for the largest number of Ukrainian refugees. Migration as part of military activities and as an element of political pressure – which Kelly Greenhill calls “weapons of mass migration” – is not a new phenomenon. Yet so far there is little information about the short and long-term goals of a large-scale displacement of Ukrainian citizens from the newly occupied Ukrainian territories to Russia. In short, are Ukrainians displaced to Russia its ‘hostages’, temporary ‘refugees’, or welcomed ‘new citizens’, or are they all of the above or none? To answer these questions, this project aims to (a) analyze contemporary perceptions and narratives about migration as a part of the warfare among Ukrainian and Russian policymakers, and (b) to understand the implications that such perceptions and narratives have on policy towards the displaced.