ARCHIVES Danyliw Seminar 2017
King’s College, Ukraine
Montana Hunter is a recent MA War Studies Graduate from King's College London. His academic interests include: conflict studies, Ukrainian cultural studies, and conflict simulation. His research and personal study have taken him across Eastern Europe from St. Petersburg, where he studied Russian, to Kyiv where he conducted interviews for his MA dissertation.
Crowdsourcing the Voluntary Battalions, 2014-2015
At the start of the 2014 Ukraine Conflict, the Ukrainian Government effectively crowdsourced war. Ukraine's civilian population mobilised, created volunteer battalions that played a major role in combat operations, and provided significant amounts of funding and material aid to soldiers and volunteers at the front lines. All actions which closely fit the definition of crowdsourcing initially coined by Jeff Howe in 2006. The volunteer movement in Ukraine has received academic attention, however, little research has focused on the military contributions and consequences of Ukraine's reliance on volunteer fighters in early 2014. This paper attempts to fill some of this gap in academic knowledge.
Based on interviews conducted in Kyiv by the author in the summer of 2016 for his MA dissertation, the paper discusses the weakness of the Ukrainian Army which had slowly deteriorated since 1991, and the Maidan protests that laid the foundation for civil-society contributions to the Ukraine Conflict. The paper further examines the creation, development, and combat operations of volunteer battalions. It addresses topics such as the battalion members, funding, and combat tactics. It also presents a case study of their involvement in the battle of Ilovaisk. The paper continueswith a discussion of the negative repercussions in Ukraine of crowdsourcing war including: propelling individuals with far-right views into the political spotlight, the creation of armed groups which oligarchs influenced for their own agendas, and the establishment of anti-Government sentiments in some of the aforementioned armed groups who felt betrayed by the actions of the Ukrainian Government.
The paper argues that the use of crowdsourcing in the Ukraine Conflict provided the emergency military force that the Ukrainian Government needed to stabilise their Armed Forces in the face of the 2014 Separatist offensive. It concludes by raising concerns that the negative consequences of crowdsourcing war, while mitigated by actions taken by the Ukrainian Government, have the potential to flare up if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates.