Do Crimeans see themselves as Russian or Ukrainian? It’s complicated.

My research was featured in Monkey Cage from 3 December 2015: Do Crimeans see themselves as Russian or Ukrainian? It’s complicated.

I argue, following my journal article in Social Science Quarterly, understanding identity in Crimea needs a more nuanced analysis beyond “ethnic Russian” and “ethnic Ukrainian” categories, to consider what it meant to be Russian in Crimea, in the period preceding Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in February 2014.

Rather I construct 5 different categories to conceptualize how respondents self-identified, and situated themselves vis-a-vis Ukraine and Russia:

  1. Discriminated Russians
  2. Ethnic Russians
  3. Political Ukrainians
  4. Crimeans
  5. Ethnic Ukrainians

I go through these categories in more detail in the Monkey Cage post, and in even more detail in a recent journal article.


As a follow up, I wanted to deal with a question I get asked a lot about the numbers within each category. The chart below shows the distribution of each category, however I’m hesitant to make much of these numbers given the small sample size.

One thing to take away, however, is that the numbers show the majority of ethnic Russians did not identify as discriminated while a similarly large group identified not ethnically, but politically as Ukrainian.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 10.19.45


3 thoughts on “Do Crimeans see themselves as Russian or Ukrainian? It’s complicated.

  1. Hi Ellie, great article and analysis at Monkey Cage. Thank you for sharing. I’d include others methods of data collection, but I understand this was a preliminary research. I am a Ukrainian and agree with the thrust of your argument that complex cases require complex explanations.

    Great blog too! Wish you all the best with your academic career, and hope to meet at a conference too, to have collaboration in future.


    1. Thanks for your comment and feedback! I focused on interviews because I wanted to engage with the meanings of identity. So it’s also trying to do something different by offering a deeper understanding of how and why people identify in Crimea (before annexation).


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