Unprovoked. Brutal. Illegal. Reckless and ruthless. Inhumane and cynical. These are the ways Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine and its conduct of the ongoing war have been characterized by Western leaders, media, and institutions. But that is not the way the war is perceived by many in Russia, to whom Russian forces are brave heroes engaged in a fight against aggression from the West and protecting the Russian nation, its place in the world, and its very identity. It almost seems as if Russians are watching an entirely different war than the one that has earned their government such international condemnation.

This episode of the MWI Podcast features a conversation with a guest who argues that is exactly what is happening. Dr. Jade McGlynn is a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and the author of two recently published books. Memory Makers: The Politics of the Past in Putin’s Russia explores how Russian history is used, politically, to shape Russians’ understanding of the world and Russia’s interactions with it. Russia’s War builds on that research and looks specifically at how a complex set of layers—history, identity, narrative, and more—shapes the way many Russians conceptualize the war in Ukraine.

During the discussion, she describes these layers, how they have developed and are woven together, and what impact that has on Russians’ understanding of—and feelings about—the war in Ukraine. You can listen to the full episode below, or find it on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyTuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe. And if you’re enjoying the MWI Podcast, please take a moment to give it a rating or leave a review.

Image credit: Messir