New law aims to bring as many foreign war veterans as possible to join Ukrainian forces in new anti-Russian offensives.
Written by Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, geopolitical consultant.
A new wave of offensives against the Donbass militias and possibly also against other regions of Russian population appears to be about to take place in Ukraine. Kiev is asking for foreign support from veterans of the Donbass war who fought for the government’s side, creating benefits for them to return to Ukraine. Aimed at receiving foreign combatants, the strategy adopted by Ukraine consists of simplifying the process of acquiring citizenship as much as possible. Given Ukraine’s recent history, it is unlikely that this search for foreign fighters has any other objective than strengthening government forces for a new wave of violence against the Russian population.
The Rada (Ukrainian parliament) recently approved a bill that significantly simplifies the process of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship for former combatants of the Donbass conflict. Some are applauding the measure and pointing to it as a true achievement of democracy and national strategy, while others have been skeptical about the news, suspecting that the purpose of this maneuver is simply to prepare the Ukrainian forces for a new wave of conflicts and violence.
According to data from the UNIAN media agency, 285 Ukrainian deputies voted in favor of the law to simplify the acquisition of citizenship. In addition to ex-Donbass fighters, the project also includes simplifying the process of Ukrainian citizenship by native Russians who have been persecuted due to “political convictions”. Considering that Russia is a democratic, multi-party political regime with broad freedom of expression, these “political persecutions” mentioned by Ukrainian lawmakers seem to be a disguise for common criminals who violated Russian norms and fled the country – which has become increasingly more often, with the European Union receiving Russian criminals who want to flee their home state.
In addition to former combatants and Russian criminals, all foreigners involved in any activities in Donbass will benefit from the new law, including those who have been involved directly or indirectly in counter-terrorism, intelligence, communication, among other operations. Clearly, the aim is to internalize as many foreigners as possible.
Another point that needs to be mentioned is the fact that the law provides that after completing a period of military service under contract with the Ukrainian armed forces, foreigners may submit an application to renounce their nationality. In this way, it will be possible to formally certify the renouncement by combatants of citizenship of any other state.
There are many reasons why a country may be interested in receiving foreigners. This is a common strategy for countries in a situation of accelerated economic development, which encourage the arrival of citizens from other countries as a way to obtain cheap and abundant labor. Obviously, this is not the case in Ukraine, which is harmed by an economic crisis and a situation of deep institutional corruption, preventing any national development project to be achieved. Furthermore, the Ukrainian state wants to internalize only certain specific groups of foreigners, such as military, ex-combatants, political criminals, intelligence agents, among others – in other words, those who would be useful and strategic for the Ukrainian side in a situation of war.
In the specific case, it is impossible to think about the Ukrainian strategy without considering the country’s deep concern with a possible “Russian threat”. It is evident that there is a constant fear that affects Ukrainian politicians, strongly promoted by NATO, that the country could be attacked by Moscow at any time. This has been detrimental as Kiev tends to become increasingly reactive and violent. Every time the West points out the existence of a new Russian threat, the more Ukraine prepares for war, tightens measures against the Russian population in the Donbass and foments terrorism in Crimea. The reception of foreigners, for such purposes, seems to be extremely strategic, considering some factors.
The Ukrainian military, despite material assistance from NATO, is not strong enough to deal with this supposed “Russian threat”. And that is why the country is asking for foreign support. Now, the objective is to increase the number of soldiers within the Ukrainian armed forces, making foreign war veterans Ukrainians by citizenship. It is a way to boost the Ukrainian offensive power and it is certainly linked with possible plans if it starts a new offensive in the coming months, when foreigners will be arriving in Kiev in order to join the armed forces.
It remains to be seen whether it is enough for Kiev’s purposes. Ukraine has not been a very desirable destination for immigrants and refugees from other parts of the world. This type of measure adopted by the RADA is granted to a specific group of militants and mercenaries, but it is unlikely that it will reach other people, such as Russian criminal who live in the EU – certainly, in better conditions than in Ukraine. Mercenaries are always looking for war zones and this measure will only reach a specific number of militants.
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