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  • UAinFocus

Ukraine's response to the Russian invasion is a formidable example of courage and determination


Dr Huseyn Aliev is the Research Fellow/Lecturer (Central & East European Studies) at the University of Glasgow. Previously, he was a Research Fellow at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford. From 2015 to 2017, Dr Aliyev was based at the Research Center for Eastern European Studies (Forschungsstelle Osteuropa), University of Bremen, where he worked as Alexander von Humboldt Post-Doctoral researcher.


Dr Aliyev's current research interests are civil war dynamics, non-state armed groups, violent mobilisation, radicalisation and demobilisation of armed groups. He also has expertise in security and law enforcement structures of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, ethno-nationalism and institution-building.


Dr Aliyev's area experise is Ukraine and Russia (particularly the North Caucasus region). Since 2014, he has conducted extensive fieldwork in Ukraine, interviewing former and active members of pro-government paramilitary groups.


Since January 2022, you have led an ESRC-funded research project, “From Russia with War: Mobilisation of Foreign Fighters in the former Soviet Union. What are its key objectives and relevance for Ukraine?


The main relevance of our research for Ukraine is that we aim to explain process of mobilization of foreigners into the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military units, focusing on their motivations and the opportunities/limitations they face. All of the above will potentially provide more information to the Ukrainian policy-makers on how to effectively integrate foreign armed formations into the state military and security service after the end of the war.


What is your view on the Ukrainian response to Russian aggression since February 2022? What do you think could have been done better?


Ukraine's response to the Russian invasion is a formidable example of courage and determination in the face of violent aggression. In terms of what could have been done differently, I doubt that Ukraine has (or had) any other options but to defend its territorial integrity and the lives of its citizens. Admittedly, the course of this conflict could have been different if Ukraine had successfully implemented military reforms, which started in 2016, modernized its armed forces, and established a large-scale production of ammunition and weapons, which would have better prepared it for a full-scale conventional war with Russia.


What is your view on Russian concealed mobilization efforts and, especially, an increase in the number of volunteer groups deployed in Ukraine?


Russia is likely to continue covert mobilization as it lacks the human resources to continue its war in Ukraine. We observe that volunteering for the Russian forces becomes less and less attractive among Russian citizens, forcing the Kremlin to step up its efforts to mobilize Russians forcibly.

Is there a risk of Western allies pushing Ukraine to seek compromise with the Kremlin?


There are certainly voices within the West for Ukraine to seek peaceful solutions to the conflict. Still, there is also a sober understanding that any concessions to Russia will prolong this conflict and encourage Russia to attempt further to seize territories from Ukraine. My main concern is the ability of the Western partners to supply Ukraine with high volumes of ammunition (particularly artillery shells) that it requires daily.

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