The Far Right in the Conflict between Russia and Ukraine Russie.Nei.Visions, No. 95, July 2016
From the very beginning, the armed conflict that broke out in the Donbass in the spring of 2014 drew in right-wing radicals, on the Ukrainian as well as on the Russian side. Organised ultra-nationalist groups and individual activists established their own units of volunteers or joined existing ones.
The ideology, political traditions and general track record of these right-wing extremists meant that it was both natural and inevitable that they would take an active part in the conflict. Yet the role of right-wing radicals on both sides has on the whole been exaggerated in the media and in public discussion. This article demonstrates that Russia’s use of right-wing radicals on the side of the “separatists” in Donetsk and Lugansk provinces had greater military and political repercussions than the involvement of Ukrainian far-right groups in the “anti-terrorist operation”. The general course of the conflict, meanwhile, caused the importance of far right-groups on both sides to decline.
Vyacheslav Likhachev is an historian and a political scientist. A graduate of the Jewish University in Moscow, he leads the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group.