Russian volunteers in Ukraine and defensive mobilization

Since Russia annexed Crimea and sent troops to bolster the Donetsk and Lugansk “People’s Republics” (the DNR and LNR) in Eastern Ukraine, thousands of Russian volunteers have traveled to the Donbass to take part in the fighting. While a few of them have teamed up with the Ukrainian side, the vast majority joined the irregular DNR/LNR forces. A recent Russian study asks what made these volunteers tick. The core motivation, the study claims, was a desire to defend one’s own people. As one would expect given the current domestic climate, the findings certainly suit the official story about the conflict. But that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

According to Ukrainian authorities, the bulk of the DNR/LNR forces was made up by an estimated 36,300 irregulars as well as 2,900 Russian regular troops by July 2017. A substantial proportion of the irregulars have consisted of incoming volunteers from Russia. Source: Ukraine Crisis Media Center

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