Between freedom and lawlessness PGMs and state relations: An analysis of the Ukrainian volunteer battalions
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The volunteer battalions that emerged in Ukraine in the post-Maidan period, have been accentuated as a case of strong pro-government militias (PGMs) with capabilities to evolve into state parallel formations. However, with the incorporation of most remaining volunteer battalions into the regular security forces, a new phase has developed. This thesis seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the relations between states and PGMs, applied to the case of the Ukrainian volunteer battalions. More specifically, it asks if and how strong PGMs can represent a threat to the state, and if their incorporation into the regular state structures, can contribute to more or less stability. Based on a critical review of the existing PGM literature, and Max Weber’s ideal of state monopoly on legitimate violence, it puts forward the claim that the volunteer battalions did represent a threat to the state’s legitimacy and effective execution of power in the early period of the conflict, due to their loose control and independent power base. It argues that the potential risks today are less imminent and more veiled; leaving unanswered questions about the effectiveness of the government’s incorporation strategy, as well as the nature of the ties between former volunteer battalions and certain civil organizations. The thesis calls for more research on the topic, which can contribute to insights into scenarios that may materialize when the armed conflict moves towards an end, and the interests of the state and the former PGMs, potentially cease to overlap.
Executive Master of Management i Sikkerhetsledelse og kulturforståelse fra Handelshøyskolen BI, 2018