Kyiv, March 2, 2016. Estonian-based International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) conducted a research to explore potential of volunteer fighters in Ukraine. Estonia’s experience may be useful for Ukraine, the country’s Defence League – voluntary military organization exists in parallel with conscription. Such mixed structure of national defense combines professional armed forces and volunteers who are civilians but are constantly training and in case of a crisis can join the army. “The fact that volunteer military movement in Ukraine has been the main target of the Russian propaganda over two years, says that it is a very serious force,” noted Dmitri Teperik, ICDS Chief Executive presenting the research “How to use potential of military volunteers in Ukraine? Estonian point of view” at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. He emphasized two aspects: quantity parameters and motivation structure for volunteers as well as how hostile psychological and information activities affect it.
Anna Bulakh, research fellow at ICDS, said that 400 volunteer fighters responded to questionnaires. As a result the profile of the volunteer was created. According to the statistics overwhelming majority of servicemen and servicewomen are in a permanent relationship and have children. “It is important to understand that they go to defend their Fatherland with no military experience. It is the main motivational factor,” emphasized Bulakh. Silva Kiili, expert of the Estonian Defense Forces noted that the Schwartz model was used for the research, according to which our motivators grow from our values. Ukrainians put security of their families on top, national security follows.
Bulakh noted that 80 percent of the respondents see development of the country’s defense capacities as a guarantee of the country’s security. Volunteers see their contribution and are motivated to develop national security and be part of it,” explained Bulakh. Sixty percent of volunteers are considering an opportunity to integrate into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In this context top three “demands” for this are smart army management, adequate equipping and fair pay.
ICDS representative Grygoriy Senkiv noted that servicemen and servicewomen are most frequently using online and social media to get information. However fighters do not trust these media too much – they mostly listen to their families and the command.
Bulakh emphasized that for Ukraine it is important to understand in what way the volunteer military movement can function in peaceful time when the crisis is over. “Ukraine needs to set up a mixed system of comprehensive defense and security including the volunteer sector,” she noted and added that volunteers help develop patriotic education but it needs to be structured in a unified way.
Materials presented at the press briefing were passed to representatives of all military and paramilitary structures of Ukraine. Experts also plan to continue cooperation with civic organizations. In their opinion there are currently good cooperation perspectives with the National Guard.
Additional research materials are available in Ukrainian.