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New Russian history textbooks embody Russia’s strategic goals that threaten regional security

New Russian history textbooks embody Russia’s strategic goals that threaten regional security

History textbooks are an important tool for implementing Russia’s history policy. They establish ideological foundations for the strategic goals of domestic and foreign policy. The new history textbooks published in 2023 for 10th and 11th graders present Russia’s strategic goals, which will shape the regional security environment in the long term and subsequently affect Lithuania’s national security interests.

History textbooks are an efficient tool for shaping historical memory in autocratic and anti-pluralistic Russia. The Russian government views young people as a vulnerable social group due to their lack of support for government decisions. In comparison to the older generation, Russian youth tend to follow independent information sources rather than state-controlled propaganda. According to the regime’s perspective, this trend could be mitigated by enhancing ideological education in schools, by using history textbooks as foundation for this indoctrination.

The new Russian history textbooks are much more politically oriented than their previous editions. Their aim is to instil loyalty to the regime’s policies and negative attitude towards the West among the youth.

The new history textbooks promote the cult of a strong leader to strengthen the Russian society’s obedience to the regime and portray the incumbent autocratic leaders in a positive light. They also justify the Russia’s war against Ukraine as a necessary defence against perceived threats. Furthermore, the textbooks present some South-East Ukrainian territories as part of Russia, implying a strategic goal to occupy these territories and cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea.

The textbooks present Russia as a civilisation in conflict with the West, suggesting that Russia aims to establish a multipolar world order consisting of anti-Western civilisations, which would secure Russia’s exceptional rights in strategically significant regions. In the long term, the Russian government expects that the textbooks will shape society’s attitude towards a long-term confrontation with the West and justify numerous resources allocated for this purpose.

Vladimir Medinsky, an aide to the President of Russia and a proponent of a politicised view of history, presents the newly published Russian history textbooks AFP / Scanpix
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