Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

A Superhero Army, a Courageous People and an Enchanted Land: Wartime Political Myths and Ontological Security in the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine


The first three months of the 2022 full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine saw the rise of mythical stories of fantastical heroes, events, and places in Ukraine’s public space. This article suggests looking at these stories through the frame of wartime political myths providing a greater sense of ontological security. By analyzing four proposed characteristics of the Ukrainian myths – transcendentalism, normativity, identity, and national context – we argue that political myths constitute strategies of resistance that contribute to ontological security. In this case, we observe that they do so in (at least) three ways: by creating myths of a superhero army; by creating myths of a courageous Ukrainian people; and by creating myths of a sacred enchanted land.


Ukraine, myths, political myths, ontological security, Russia-Ukraine war

Research Article (PDF)

Author Biography

Anastasiia Poberezhna

Anastasiia Poberezhna is an academic tutor and a researcher at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She graduated from the Conflict Resolution and Governance Master’s Program at the University of Amsterdam in 2022. Her current research project focuses on online narratives and digital documentation of Ukrainians who are forcefully displaced in the Netherlands.

Olga Burlyuk

Olga Burlyuk is an assistant professor of Europe’s external relations at the Department of Political Science, the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and an affiliate at the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES). Her research is rooted in IR and European studies, but also within development, legal, cultural policy and area studies – with a focus on Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine. She has co-edited The Responsibility to Remain Silent? On the Politics of Knowledge Production, Expertise and (Self)Reflection in Russia’s War against Ukraine (with Vjosa Musliu, JIRD, 2023), Migrant Academics’ Narratives of Precarity and Resilience in Europe (with Ladan Rahbari, Open Book Publishers, 2023), Unintended Consequences of EU External Action (with Gergana Noutcheva, Routledge, 2020) and Civil Society in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine (with Natalia Shapovalova, ibidem Press, 2018).

Anja van Heelsum

Anja van Heelsum is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam and a senior lecturer in the Master’s Program in Conflict Resolution and Governance.