Radicalisation, Foreign Fighters and the Ukraine Conflict: A Playground for the Far-Right?

Alex MacKenzie, Christian Kaunert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Ukraine has been viewed by some as having become a training ground, networking opportunity, and general hub for the far-right due to the conflict in the east of the country, which began in 2014. With this type of terrorism on the rise in the West and events like the storming of the US Capitol Building in January 2021 fresh in the memory, it should come as no surprise that any such possibilities will generate concern. To investigate the types and extent of the threats posed by participants in the Ukraine conflict, we scrutinise the activities of a few alumni that we know of to date, as well as highlighting neglected historical episodes of right-wing fighters. We make three arguments here based on occurrences so far. Firstly, we know little about far-right foreign fighters and more attention needs to be paid to historical instances of the phenomenon. Secondly, some limited but diverse threats have already arisen from the Ukraine conflict and others may emerge in the future, but it would be unwise to overplay and homogenise the problem. Finally, it is Ukraine itself that probably faces the greatest challenges from its domestic far-right, although, if left unchecked, it may affect others in providing a space for, and permitting the growth of, connections with like-minded individuals and groups based elsewhere. Despite our warning about exaggerating the problem, Western security services should be taking the far-right very seriously at present, such as in relation to potential infiltration of them by such elements.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere116
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date25 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


  • terrorism and counter-terrorism
  • foreign fighters
  • far-right
  • extremism
  • radicalization
  • Ukraine conflict


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