At least 8 Dutch fought in Ukrainian civil war: report

Destroyed Ukrainian tank in the city Stepanivka
Destroyed Ukrainian tank in the city StepanivkaPhoto: Tarpan/DepositPhotos

At least eight Dutch people fought in the civil war in Ukraine, both on the Ukrainian side and on the pro-Russian side, according to a report by American research agency The Soufan Center on the rise of violent right-wing extremism worldwide, AD reports.

The report calls the Ukrainian civil war a "laboratory" for the international right-wing extremist movement. "For them, Ukraine is what Syria is for jihadists", the report states. "White supremacists are forming worldwide networks, just like the jihadists did before the September 11 attacks in America."

Based on on-site interviews, propaganda videos, and social media, The Soufan Center concludes that over 17 thousand foreigners have joined the fighting in Ukraine over the past five years. The vast majority - 15 thousand - of them are Russian. The other 2 thousand come from over 50 countries. Among them are around 165 Germans, 65 French, 35 Americans, and eight Dutch. Three Dutch fought on the side of right-wing extremist Ukrainian militias like the Azov battalion. The other five fought on the side of the pro-Russian separatists. 

The Soufan Center calls this a worrying development, because militants gain combat experience, build an international network, and can exchange tactics, techniques and ideologies. 

The Dutch coordinator for counter-terrorism and security NCTV could not confirm to AD that eight Dutch people fought in the Ukraine. Regarding the growing international network, the NCTV told the newspaper that such a development "never stays in just one or two countries".