This introductory chapter documents an ambitious effort to mobilize a nation in defense of the Russian empire, in the process emphasizing the significance of this event and the implications it holds for imperial history. On many counts, the southwestern borderlands of the empire, which stretched from the right bank (west side) of the Dnieper River to the border with the Habsburg empire, would seem an unlikely locale to give rise to a Russian nationalist imagination. Yet from the beginning, right-bank activists had insisted that their program would strengthen the Russian state by preserving the values on which it was founded, aligning it with the desires of the people it ruled, and enhancing its ability to compete with its rivals.
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