The first geographic areas that generally come to mind when a person is asked about Orientalism are the Middle East and northern Africa. However, I believe that some type of Orientalism exists in any place that is truly unknown to the West, yet plays a large role in Western media. One of these places is Russia, which has similar eastern geography in relation to the West. Westerners stereotypically view Russia as exotic and chaotic, as a tundra of mystery. Negative opinions of Russian in American culture regardless of political party began during the later stages of the Cold War, and were amplified when Putin came to power. Americans were already incredibly distrustful of Russia because of the combinations of the stereotypes and negative political views they had caused, and when Ukraine was invaded, most Americans were pushed over the edge.
But maybe this action was to be expected. I am by no means defending Putin; he has been destroying the Russian political system for the past 20 years. But certain actions by the United States may have forced him into a corner.
There have been a series of NATO expansions ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. At the 2008 summit, two countries that border Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, were welcomed into NATO. Russia most likely felt threatened because the US has been putting military assets in these countries ever since they became part of NATO. These expansions had little strategic value for Americans, and instead agitated Russia. For Putin, invading Ukraine is not a personal but an existential issue of protecting the national security of Russia. The West uniting against him has only confirmed his fears. The only way out of global conflict is to get rid of him now.
Maybe these tonedeaf actions by the western world/America could have been avoided. I wonder if the actions of Americans in power were prompted by disregard of Russian agency. I believe that these actions might have been challenged by the American people if Russian orientalism wasn’t so prominent in American culture.