1st Edition

Foreign Fighters in Ukraine The Brown–Red Cocktail

By Kacper Rękawek Copyright 2023
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    Foreign Fighters in Ukraine is the first comprehensive academic study taking an in-depth look at foreigners who have chosen to fight in the conflict in Ukraine.

    While there has been considerable focus in policy, security and academic circles on the threat from returning jihadists – so-called returnee foreign terrorist fighters – the same danger from right-wing, but not essentially terrorist, extremists and others has been largely overlooked. As Westerners rushed to join the nascent Caliphate in Syria/Iraq, others simultaneously traveled to another foreign war on what many would call Europe’s doorstep: the Russo-Ukrainian war. This book unmasks this largely unknown group of fighters as the author dives into the fighters’ ideological and social backgrounds, their motivations for joining the conflict, their travails on the way there and their battle record in Eastern Ukraine. To a large extent based on interviews with the fighters themselves, it is a study on how and why men risk their lives while fighting a foreign war – and attract the attention of security services at home upon their return. Particularly, given the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the growing interest in far-right violence worldwide, the book evaluates whether these returnees constitute another security threat to the West.

    This volume will be of interest to all those researching small wars, terrorism, peace and conflict studies and right-wing extremism.

    1. Introduction: The Western European Foreign Fighter Secret Society

    2. Conflict: Myth and Reality in the War in Ukraine

    3. Hosts of the Foreign Fighters in Ukraine: Volunteer Battalions and Popular Militias

    4. "Two Sides of the Same Coin"? Ideological (Non) Split on the European Far Right vis-à-vis the War in Ukraine

    5. France: "To Fight American Imperialism"

    6. Sweden: "Fight Them There So They Don’t Come Here"

    7. Balkans: Repeating the 1990s War in Yugoslavia?

    8. Other Western Europeans (and Americans): A Few Here, A Few There

    9. Central-Eastern Europeans (CEE): More Red than Brown?

    10. Elephant in the Room: Russian Foreign Fighters in the War in Ukraine

    11. Conclusion

    12. "Concerned Citizens of the World?" Foreign Volunteers for Ukraine in 2022


    Kacper Rękawek is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Research on Extremism (C-Rex), University of Oslo, Norway, and a Researcher at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP).