RFE/RL Ukraine correspondent Christopher Miller has uncovered ties between Ukraine’s most prominent ultranationalist group and members of the far-right movement in the U.S.
In a recent report, Miller exposes the outreach campaign by the far-right Ukrainian nationalist group Azov to forge alliances with white supremacists and other far-right groups in the U.S. and Europe.
RFE/RL Pressroom discussed the report with Miller, who is available for media interviews.
RFE/RL Pressroom: How did you start reporting on Ukraine’s far-right nationalists and when did you realize they were establishing ties with U.S. nationalists?
Christopher Miller: I’ve been aware of Ukraine's far-right nationalists for years, when most were tied up with soccer clubs and acted as their chief fans and muscle. But it wasn't until they emerged on the revolution scene alongside pro-democracy activists during the Euromaidan revolution in 2014 that I and others began to really take notice. When they were the first to take up arms and volunteer to fight against Russia-backed separatists when the war broke out in eastern Ukraine that year, it became apparent that they were going to be a force that Kyiv would eventually have to reckon with.
RFE/RL Pressroom: From your interviews with Ukrainian nationalists, what do they say is the end goal of this outreach campaign to the far right in Europe and the U.S.?
Miller: Ultimately, they hope to strengthen current alliances and form new ones with those groups who they feel can help them grow both politically and in terms of their influence. They have watched illiberal governments, populists, and far-right organizations rise up across Europe and they don't want to be left out; they want to be at the forefront of what they see as a movement. Another goal is to turn those far-right groups who have historically been pro-Russian to pro-Ukrainian. Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, for instance, has made gains there in recent years but has a pretty cozy relationship with counterparts in Moscow. Azov's Kyiv leadership is working on "flipping" AfD, because it sees the party as being a potentially powerful ally.
RFE/RL Pressroom: How are Ukrainian militant nationalists and their contacts on the far right in the U.S. influencing each other?
Miller: The Azov group can help them take their movements to the next level. Azov has managed to grow a faithful following of more than 10,000 members across Ukraine and create powerful street forces. Moreover, a great many of them have military experience from their time fighting on the front line in the country's war-torn east. There's a risk of Western far-right extremists growing more militant through connections and training with Azov.
Christopher Miller is an American journalist and foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine since 2010. His focus is on global affairs, specifically conflicts, crises, and politics in the former Soviet Union. Before joining RFE/RL as a Ukraine correspondent, he served as Mashable’s senior international correspondent. He has also published with The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, and GlobalPost.Contact Christopher Miller:
- +38 093 110 8336 (Ukraine)
- +1 917 399 7744 (US)
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