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Foreign Fighters in Ukraine: Assessing Potential Risks


This study analyzes the profiles of foreign fighters, who have joined the conflict in Ukraine on either side, and assesses the risks of radicalization as these fighters are increasingly returning home. With considerable attention given to potential terrorism risks posed by foreign fighters of the Islamic bent returning from Syria and Iraq, foreign fighters in Ukraine receive relatively little coverage - and when they do, this faulty analogy at play risks making the potential radicalizing factors worse. The study systematizes extensive foreign fighter profile case studies, and draws on several interviews with returning fighters from the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Far from uncovering a budding network of violent extremists, it suggests that the conflict in Ukraine is becoming the grounds for many strongly right-wing and left-wing bent men to settle the scores of historic injustices. This cluster of fighters disappointed in the global system, Western way of life, and increasingly ideologically hardened (perhaps less by battle and more by the surrounding political realities) is cause for serious socio-political concern, in terms of breathing enthusiasm, resources, and know-how to extremist movements. This is especially problematic, given that Europe is already struggling to pose a credible alternative to these socio-political trends in many of its corners.

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Full Citation:

Murauskaite, Egle E. 2020. "Foreign Fighters in Ukraine: Assessing Potential Risks." Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis (February). https://vilniusinstitute.lt/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FOREIGN-FIGHTERS-IN-UKRAINE-ASSESSING-POTENTIAL-RISKS.pdf

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