Welcome to Professor Maria Popova's hub for research, teaching, and public outreach on issues related to democracy, corruption, and the rule of law in Europe. Prof. Popova's current research focuses on the Russo-Ukrainian war and Ukraine's road to EU accession.

In February 2022, Russian missiles rained on Ukrainian cities, and tanks rolled towards Kyiv to end Ukrainian independent statehood. President Zelensky declined a Western evacuation offer and Ukrainians rallied to defend their country. What are the roots of this war, which has upended the international legal order and brought back the spectre of nuclear escalation? How did these supposedly “brotherly peoples” become each other’s worst nightmare?
In Russia and Ukraine: Entangled Histories, Diverging States, Maria Popova and Oxana Shevel explain how since 1991 Russia and Ukraine diverged politically, ending up on a collision course. Russia slid back into authoritarianism and imperialism, while Ukraine consolidated a competitive political system and pro-European identity. As Ukraine built a democratic nation-state, Russia refused to accept it and came to see it as an “anti-Russia” project. After political and economic pressure proved ineffective, and even counterproductive, Putin went to war to force Ukraine back into the fold of the “Russian world.” Ukraine resisted, determined to pursue European integration as a sovereign state. These irreconcilable goals, rather than geopolitical wrangling between Russia and the West over NATO expansion, are – the authors argue – essential to understanding Russia’s war on Ukraine.



February 22, 2024
Prof. Popova Speaks to the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council about "Russia And Ukraine: Diverging States, Entangled Histories"

"The root of the Russo-Ukrainian War is not geopolitical competition, but the multifaceted divergence between Ukraine and Russia over the past 30 years. As Ukraine consolidated a competitive political system and a distinct pro-European identity, Russia reverted back to authoritarianism, refused to accept Ukraine's right to forge its own course, and came to see it as an “anti-Russia”."

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February 22, 2024
Profs. Popova & Shevel Appear on The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs' Podcast "The Doorstep"

"How can Ukraine continue to rally support and challenge rising sentiment that Russia is "unstoppable"? What more can the media do to broaden perspectives and counter disinformation? What can we expect for Ukraine over the next year?"

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February 18, 2024
Prof. Popova Appears on "Cross-Country Check-Up" with Ian Hanomansing on CBC Radio

Alongside Andrew P. Rasiulis from the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, Prof. Popova fielded questions from Canadians regarding the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as recent developments surrounding the death of dissident opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

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Maria Popova (PhD, Harvard) is Associate Professor of Political Science at McGill University and Scientific Director of the Jean Monnet Centre Montreal. Her work explores rule of law and democracy in Eastern Europe. Her first book Politicized Justice in Emerging Democracies, which won the American Association for Ukrainian Studies book prize in 2013, examines the weaponization of law to manipulate elections and control the media in Russia and Ukraine. Her recent articles have focused on judicial and anticorruption reform in post-Maidan Ukraine, the politics of anticorruption campaigns in Eastern Europe, conspiracies, and illiberalism. Her new book (co-authored with Oxana Shevel), on the roots of the Russo-Ukrainian war, entitled “Russia and Ukraine: Entangled Histories, Diverging States” is now available from Polity Press.
Copyright © 2023 Alex O'Neill.

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Prof. Maria Popova
McGill University
855 Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal, Quebec
H3A 2T7

Copyright © 2023 Alex O'Neill.