Category: Volunteer Battalions/Foreign Figthers in Ukraine

In the wake of Kyiv’s establishment of the ‘International Legion,’ a coalition of volunteers from the post-Soviet space has emerged, united in their fervent opposition to Russian forces. These volunteer battalions, marked by the convergence of Islam and ethnonationalism, warrants careful consideration due to its potential implications. This project examines the affiliations of North Caucasians within the volunteer battalions in the Ukraine conflict, some of whom have ties to terrorist organisations in the Middle East and the North Caucasus. Such confluences of factors give rise to legitimate concerns about the stability of Russia and Ukraine, thereby posing a substantial threat to broader European security. Notably, the 2021 Ukrainian presidential decree offering citizenship to those who fought against Russian forces introduces a complex dimension, potentially facilitating the unhindered movement of North Caucasian volunteers within European territories. This proximity, coupled with their associations with jihadist militants and extremist Islamic preachers, significantly heightens the risk of radicalisation. For the Russian Federation, countering these battalions and foreign fighters is essential to guarantee stability and security in its territory, especially in the North Caucasus, a region which has experienced local militancy and terrorist activities. In addition, in the event of dissatisfaction with the positions of Brussels and Kiev on the Middle East and the Arab-Muslim world, there exists a palpable risk that these individuals may orchestrate violent attacks in both Ukraine and Europe.