1st Edition

Rebel Militias in Eastern Ukraine From Leaderless Groups to Proxy Army

By Martin Laryš Copyright 2025
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book extends principal-agent theory to the case of pro-Russian rebel militias in Eastern Ukraine.

    Russia's war in Ukraine demonstrates the much-discussed relations between the principal (Russia) and agent (rebel militias) in Eastern Ukraine. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014 was a frontal challenge to the post-Cold War European regional order, and since 2022 has offered a challenge to global order. Filling the gap in the literature on indirect warfare and insurgencies, this book offers systematic insights into the structures and relations within the leaderless rebellion in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. It introduces the concept of the delegation of leaderless rebellion, based on the argument that it is a specific kind of rebellion when local elites do not actively participate as the leaders of the rebellion. Random people, without any fighting or political experience and with no social embeddedness, become rebel commanders, which means the principal – Russia – faces serious challenges but also benefits from opportunities to exercise complete control over the rebel forces and administration. 

    This book will be of much interest to students of civil wars and insurgencies, political violence, Eastern European politics, and International Relations in general.

    1 Introduction  2 War in Eastern Ukraine as the Delegation of Leaderless Rebellion  3 The Victory of Euromaidan as a Critical  Juncture  4 Social Embeddedness of the Pro-Russian Secessionists and Rebel Commanders  5 Extreme Fragmentation in Leaderless Rebellion  6 Solving the Problem of the Fragmentation: Forced Merger  7 Russia’s Proxy Army in the Donbas  8 Conclusion


    Martin Laryš is a researcher at the Institute of Political Studies (IPS), Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. He has a PhD from Charles University and is co-author of Militant Right-Wing Extremism in Putin’s Russia: Legacies, Forms and Threats (2019).