12.05.2021

Career Break or a New Career? Extremist Foreign Fighters in Ukraine

It is evident that, in 2019, right-wing extremism effectively replaced jihadi terrorism as the number one threat to internal/homeland security of the countries of the broader West. Rising number of terrorist attacks, or failed attempts of such attacks in Europe, and an ongoing concern about the rise and the international connections of the domestic extremist scene in the United States bear testament to the issue at hand. Investigating such connections and transnational cooperation, and its potential for the future, among the extreme right-wing forces, has led some of the experts in the field to look at Ukraine.

Since 2014, Ukraine and its so-called “separatist” republics in the East have “hosted” a significant number of foreign fighters coming from the extreme right-wing milieu during the country’s war for the reestablishment of control over these Eastern areas.

The author first heard of such fighters in the summer of 2014 and, at first, was more than perplexed with their mere existence. The question of “why would anyone want to join this war?” came back to him many times as he found himself unable to comprehend the motivation of the Westerners fighting around Mariupol or Donetsk. As time went by, he made a decision to simply ask such individuals so that the most precise and clear answer could be given by the fighters themselves.

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