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Heroes or Villains? Volunteer Battalions in Post-Maidan Ukraine


Surrounded by a halo of confusing information and deliberate propaganda, the appearance of volunteer battalions in post-Maidan Ukraine and their continued engagement in military operations in the Donbas remains contentious. At a time when the US is still considering whether to provide Ukraine with defensive lethal weapons to withstand the offensive in the east, the question as to whether the Ukrainian forces are cohesive, disciplined, law-abiding and loyal to the country's institutions is extremely important. Recognised for their crucial role in the early days of the hostilities, volunteer battalions are equally feared for their increasing politicisation. Yet they represent a massive resource of motivation and commitment that, if properly channelled, has the potential to revitalise and keep in check unreformed military institutions.