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  • Dion Evans

87% of foreign fighters in Ukraine of Russian origin independent researcher finds

In war’s all around the world people from nations with no active servicemen or involvement in a war will leave their homes, pick up a gun and fight. These volunteers who travel around the world to fight in the wars for a multitude of personal reasons come from many diverse backgrounds. In the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine called Donbas an independent researcher estimated that a total of 17,000 fighters in the conflict are from countries other than Ukraine.

Arkadiusz Legić a Senior Analyst at the Polish Institute of International affairs published this chart that contained his estimated amount of Foreign Fighters who are not active servicemen of another nation fighting in Ukraine.



With this information we can see which areas of the world and more specifically each countries estimated amount of participants in the war with the total estimate amount of foreign fighters being 17,241.

So, let’s break it down and see which countries volunteer fighters are in favour of the Ukrainian side.

The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden’s fighters are heavily on the Ukrainian side with an estimated total of only 2 fighters fighting for the Separatist side.


Austria, Canada, Italy, Lithuania and the United Kingdom also tend to be mostly on the Ukrainian side of the Conflict with the majority of their fighters fighting for Ukraine rather than the Separatists.


So which countries fighters are fighting for the Separatist side?

Russia, France, Germany, Spain; Central Asia, Armenia, Moldova; Bulgaria, Czechia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Latin American nations fighters are very much in favour of the Separatists. These countries have a strong or complete majority fighting for the Separatists rather than the Ukrainians.

The most major statistic to come from this independent research is that the majority of the foreign volunteer fighters are Russians. They make up the bulk of the foreign volunteer fighters on both sides of the conflict, this is due to variety of different reasons and is a very complex statistic to discuss without going into lots of details about history, culture, political views etc. In short many on the Separatist side may feel strongly that Ukraine is a Russian nation and that Ukrainians are Russian to a somewhat shared history, linguistic ties and culture. Some may also feel that they fighting to free the region from a corrupt anti-Russian government. But as stated before many will be fighting for a variety of reasons many of them personal.






By Dion Evans. Dion is journalist interested in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. He currently studies at university with aspirations to become an investigative journalist. Dion has been paying attention to the Ukrainian war ever since Vice made their series on it which is what inspired him to pursue a career in journalism. He enjoys reading, fishing, learning about history and listening to podcasts. 

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