This article examines how the discourse of nation functions as a mechanism furthering the expansion of a neoliberal market civilisation in Russia. It contributes to discussions that have challenged the assumed mutual exclusivity of economic nationalism and neoliberalism. The article develops its argument in the context of the idea of contemporary international society as a market civilisation characterised by an adaptation to and adoption of neoliberal standards by states. The ongoing modernisation project in Russia illustrates the workings of such standards, as exemplified by the project for an innovation city in Skolkovo, in the Moscow metropolitan area. Building on an analysis of the Skolkovo debate, the article agues that there is no inherent contradiction between economic nationalism and neoliberalism. Rather, the nation is an important symbolic system that produces a cultural susceptibility to, and a discursive field for, the introduction of neoliberal standards of market civilisation in Russia.