European Populism and the War in Ukraine: Populist Narratives in Support of Vladimir Putin


  • Vlad BUJDEI-TEBEICA Faculty of Political Sciences, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Associate Teaching Assistant, Bucharest, Romania


European illiberal populists have not been very shy about their association with the Russian Federation’s Vladimir Putin. Many of them have even hailed the Russian President as a stalwart example against the liberal democratic institutions that define the European Union. However, it’s been almost two years since Russia invaded Ukraine and some of Putin’s previous supporters in Europe have dialled back their stance on Putin. This article seeks to create an overview of populist narratives in European Union member states regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine, in order to assess whether European illiberal discourses fluctuate according to external events. The analysis covers 8 European Union member states: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The period of analysis covers the full year since the Russian invasion in Ukraine in February 2022, up until February 2023, and is contrasted to statements and positions held prior to February 2022. The analysis will be based on public statements made by key populist actors and parties from the 8 member states. The working hypothesis is that the populists’ support and admiration for Vladimir Putin varies across the 8 countries. In some, support has been diluted after the start of the invasion due to pre-existing anti-communist sentiment, while in others it hasn’t seen a significant drop.