Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Power to the People? Battle over Brexit and Parliamentary Democracy (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Power to the People? Battle over Brexit and Parliamentary Democracy (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Iraq's 'Golden Division' troops in the battle for Mosul

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Italy faces shortage of young farmers

Read more

ENCORE!

The Rolling Stones pay homage to the blues with new covers album

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

The 'Maduro diet': Venezuelans hit by food crisis

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

French Christmas: So.Much.Food!

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

US envoy to UN tells France 24 Russia 'has walked away from diplomacy' on Syria

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Paris pollution: 'What are we waiting for?'

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2014-08-26

Far-right ‘Russian Jihad’ fighters cross into Ukraine

© FRANCE 24

Since the beginning of the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, Moscow has repeatedly denied sending troops or weapons to help the rebels.

Nevertheless, many Russian fighters have crossed the border into Ukraine to fight what they call “Kiev’s fascist junta”.

Recruited by far-right nationalist movements, these men are ideologically driven to fight what has been nicknamed “the Russian Jihad”.

FRANCE 24 joined a group of these would-be fighters as they headed for the combat zone.

‘Russian imperialist nationalists’

Evgeny Mazepin is a recruiter for the self-styled “Russian Volunteer battalion”.

He works out of an office in the city of Voronezh, 500km south of Moscow and 150km from the Ukrainian border.

“Ideologically we are all Russian imperialist nationalists, descendants of the White Guard,” he explains, in reference to the anti-communist forces that waged a civil war against the Bolsheviks in the years immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution.

“Every day we receive about 10 applications from candidates who want to join the battalion,” he says. “Our aim is to liberate the land we call Novorossiya – New Russia – and its Russian people from the enemy, the Kiev junta.”

Novorussia was the 18th and 19th century name for the region of Imperial Russia that now comprises Ukraine.

‘Mentally I am ready to die’

FRANCE 24 talks to a group of the battalion’s volunteers heading for the border and into Ukraine. Among them is a Russian calling himself Norman.

“I'm a nationalist and my priority is protecting the Russian people,” he told FRANCE 24. “Despite what many in Ukraine think, the Russian state is not involved in this mission. If Russia was involved, this war would have been over in four days.”

The group head for Luhansk, in Eastern Ukraine, with food and other supplies for their comrades across the border.

On arrival in Ukraine, they are each handed an AK47 rifle and a few magazines’ of ammunition, and waited at a camp for orders to join the fight.

“Mentally, I am ready to die,” says Norman. “This war will be won by our sacrifice.”

“For me this territory is Russian, the communists gave it away unfairly,” he argues, referring to a decision by Stalin’s successor Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 to cede parts of Russian territory, including the Crimean peninsula, to Ukraine.

“This land must be returned to the Russian people.”

By Ksenia BOLCHAKOVA , Julia LYUBOVA

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-12-08 Middle East

Video: Iraq's 'Golden Division' troops in the battle for Mosul

An exclusive report from our journalists Matthieu Mabin and Noreddine Bezziou, who have been embedded with the Iraqi anti-terrorism forces on the frontline in Mosul. It has been...

Read more

2016-12-07 Africa

Ghana votes in tight presidential race

Ghanaians are heading to the polls to elect a new president. The incumbent, John Dramani Mahama, is running for a second term and says he has a "very good" chance of winning....

Read more

2016-12-06 South Korea

Park's presidency hanging by thin thread

Park Geun-hye's days as South Korea’s president appear to be numbered right now. Every weekend, for more than a month, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets...

Read more

2016-12-05 Italy

Italy's rural south welcomes refugees with open arms

The year 2016 is shaping up to be a record year for the arrival of asylum seekers in Italy. Since January, around 170,000 have arrived on the shores of the peninsula including...

Read more

2016-12-02 Europe

Video: Far right at the gates of power in Austria

Austria's far-right candidate Norbert Hofer gets another shot at becoming president in a second-round vote on Sunday after a May election was annulled by the constitutional court...

Read more