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Shifting Dynamics Between States and Militias in War

April 11, 2022
Dale Pankhurst


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Dale Pankhurst, Ph.D. Candidate at Queen’s University Belfast, analyzes the strategic use of militias by both Ukraine and Russia.

Pro-government militias are often used by states during war and armed conflict as a cheap force multiplier. With Russian forces continuing their slow advance in Ukraine, and despite attempts at peace negotiations to reach a settlement, Ukrainian officials recently indicated they have uncovered a plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by the Kadyrovtsy: a pro-government militia (PGM) based in Chechnya. The Pentagon believes Russian forces are recruiting foreign fighters from pro-Assad militias to join pro-Moscow forces in Ukraine.

Simultaneously, militias aligned with the Ukrainian government have been increasingly used by the Ukrainian security forces in a joint effort to halt the Russian advance across northern and eastern Ukraine. PGMs such as the Azov Battalion and the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps act as a resistance mechanism against Russian tank columns and troops, often using guerrilla warfare-style tactics with small arms and light anti-tank weapons systems.

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.