In this article, I adopt a structural approach to Russian soft power, switching focus from the supposed agent of power (Russia), towards the subjects of power (Ukrainians). I outline the applicability of this approach to empirical studies into soft power, demonstrating how soft power can be examined from bottom-up, discursively-focused perspectives.

The empirical analysis then traces how Ukrainians (do not) link their self-identities to discursive understanding of “Russia”. Reviewing recent insights into the relationship between soft power and affect, I argue that Ukrainians’ cultural, historical and linguistic ties with Russia often lack necessary emotional force to generate meaningful soft power.

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