The following report is part of a MEMRI DTTM series covering neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups participating on the ground and reacting online to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The report focuses on extremist groups' fighting against Russia; MEMRI will be releasing a forthcoming report about these groups' support of Russia.
Ukrainian government officials and paramilitary groups have called for foreign fighters to travel to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces. While the government has called for foreign volunteers to fight in the "International Territorial Defense Legion" – a new unit which has received "several thousand" applications from abroad – paramilitary groups have posted announcements for their own units. Among those who responded are white supremacists and neo-Nazis from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Calls for foreign volunteers to fight alongside Ukrainian government forces have proliferated on Telegram, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms. On Telegram, a white supremacist channel posted a summary of active groups fighting Russia in Ukraine. The post stated: "Until now, on Ukrainian volunteer side we saw: Average Non-Ideological groups/Patriotic groups, National-Socialists and Fascists from all kinds, Banderists and OUN-esque groups, Religious Traditionalists, Chechen Separatists, Georgian Nationalists, Antifascist Football Ultras, Anarchist Militias, Belarusian Diasporas, American SOF Veterans."
An ultranationalist Telegram channel posted a recruitment call for "foreign volunteers" on February 27, 2022 to "Make Russians dead again." The post called for people with military experience to join the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine and provided contact information for several recruiters.
A Facebook post on February 22 by a multinational force that includes Georgians, Europeans, and Americans, showed an American member conducting an interview in front of the Georgian flag.
Paramilitary groups' calls for foreign volunteers have largely come from ultranationalist and neo-Nazi brigades. One such neo-Nazi unit was formed as a volunteer paramilitary in May 2014 following the advance of Russian-backed separatists in the eastern region of Ukraine, historically known as Donbas. At the outset, foreign fighters were permitted to enlist in the unit, but restrictions on foreign enlistment were implemented in March 2018, eventually leading to an effective ban on foreign fighters by the end of 2020. However, amid the buildup of Russian army forces along the Belarus-Ukraine and Russia-Ukraine borders, the unit announced that it would open recruitment to foreign fighters with military experience. Other ultranationalist groups have reposted recruitment calls from the unit, while other ultranationalist and neo-Nazi paramilitary groups have called for foreign donations. On such unit called for donations in a post on February 22, 2022, in which it provided information for people to donate via PayPal, SWIFT, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tron.
Globally, neo-Nazis and white supremacists have also called for supporters to volunteer with Ukrainian paramilitary units, as an American neo-Nazi did in a January 19 post.
Another example was a video posted on a French neo-Nazi Telegram channel on February 26, in which a commander of a neo-Nazi paramilitary in Ukraine called for people to volunteer to fight against Russia. The post stated: "'For the third day in a row, Ukrainians have successfully repelled the attacks of the second largest army in the world, which nevertheless claimed to take Mariupol... [We are] organizing resistance all over the country, especially in Kiev where the population is preparing to fight heroically. The occupiers are unable to take a strategic position. And we will do everything to ensure that this never happens. Ukraine will win! Anyone who wants to defend Kiev will be welcomed in the volunteer teams at the address: Prospekt Peremogi, 83/B, ATEK factory. Glory to Ukraine!'"
The following report covers calls for foreign volunteers by Ukrainian paramilitaries, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremists on Telegram, YouTube, and other social media platforms.
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