Danes fighting in Ukraine

Locals with Chechen roots joining the fight against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine

October 13th, 2014 11:40 am| by admin

Danish nationals are leaving their homes here to fight in Ukraine.

According to Berlingske, a group of seven fighters, mostly with Chechen roots are taking arms on the Ukrainian side of the conflict against the separatists.

Led by a 'Chechen minister'
Leading the group (six of whom have Danish citizenship) is Isa Munajev.

The Birkerød resident is a well-known face in the Danish-Chechen community who refers to himself as a minister of the Chechen government in exile.

One of the volunteers, who wishes to remain anonymous and calls himself ‘Timur’, confirmed to Berlingske that the men involved knew each other in Denmark.

Not about religion
Timur said the struggle in Ukraine reminded him of the wars fought in his Chechen homeland.

Although he is a Muslim, Timur said his decision to join the fight was not motivated by religion, but rather a desire to stop a Russia that seemed bent on “reviving the Soviet Union".

“We eat and live with the Ukrainians,” he told Berlingske. “If it was about religion, then you could go to Syria, where there are many calling for jihad. This has nothing to do with religion.”

PET had no comment regarding Danish fighters in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Anders Fogh Rasmussen offers NATO support for Ukraine

Fighters do pose a risk
Claus Mathiesen, an associate professor at Forsvarsakademiet, the defence academy, believe the fighters pose a risk to Denmark once they return home.

“It doesn’t matter what they are fighting for,” Mathiesen told Berlingske.  “What matters is that the environment they find themselves in could ultimately have a seriously negative effect."

Mathiesen said there was not a “significant difference” between those who leave Denmark to fight in Ukraine and those who leave to fight in Syria.

“One should take a serious look at them when they return home,” he said.

Aid also leaving Denmark for the warzone
Oleh Malyi from the Ukrainian Embassy in Denmark said he had no confirmation of any Danish/Ukrainians leaving to fight in the conflict, and that the embassy has been concentrating on humanitarian aid.

Over the last months, Danish and Ukrainian volunteers working with ‘Help for Ukrainian Children’ have collected aid including warm clothes for adults and children, blankets, medical equipment and more. Two 20-tonne containers were sent to Ukraine last week.