Drawing on a qualitative analysis of primary sources and interviews with members of representative offices, this article shows how five post-Soviet de facto states—Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (“DPR”), and Luhansk People’s Republic (“LPR”)—engage in activities of international representation by borrowing from diverse repertoires of diplomatic practices, generating hybrid practices of their own. On the one hand, they are attentive to looking like bona fide states and to displaying material and symbolic attributes of statehood through mimicking state-led diplomacy. On the other, they resort to creativity and innovation to partially compensate for the constraints intrinsic to their ambivalent status and complete their repertoire with practices similar to those of transnational advocacy networks, especially regarding information politics and public diplomacy. Overall, the article aims to contribute to the field of contested statehood, as well as to the study of the international engagement of non-state actors in situations of liminality in the international system.

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