Fighting on behalf of the state—the issue of pro-government militia autonomy in the Donbas war
This study investigates the degree of autonomy the Ukrainian volunteer battalions had from the regular forces during the war in Donbas. The findings indicate that the degree of autonomy was high and that in particular, three initial conditions were decisive for this outcome: (1) the relative level of militia military strength in the initial states of conflict; (2) the degree of agenda overlap; (3) the degree of bottom-up organization. The empirical evidence further suggests that the three factors produced the identified outcome through the mechanisms of “institutional lock-in,” “performance interdependence,” and “entitlement.” Consequently, the Ukrainian state and regular forces ended up accepting a higher degree of autonomy, in terms of command and control, on the part of the volunteer battalions than they otherwise probably would have preferred. This outcome contributed significantly to saving the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state in 2014–2015, but may also have created conditions for challenges to the same state further down the road.
Bukkvoll, Tor. Fighting on behalf of the state—the issue of pro-government militia autonomy in the Donbas war. Post-Soviet Affairs 2019 ;Volum 35.(4) s. 293-307