The Kremlin’s Irregular Army: Ukrainian Separatist Order of Battle
By Franklin Holcomb
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political-military campaign in Ukraine undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and threatens Europe more than three years after Russia’s invasion. The Kremlin, in violation of agreements it has signed, fuels the conflict in pursuit of its goal to assert dominance over the territory of the former Soviet Union. Russian leaders will continue to extend and exploit the war to destabilize Ukraine and prevent its further integration with the West until the costs of their campaign change their calculus.
This report and accompanying Order of Battle demonstrate how Russia’s proxy forces operating in Eastern Ukraine — the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic — have evolved and continue to threaten Ukraine, Europe, and U.S. national security interests. These forces retain the capability to fight the Armed Forces of Ukraine only with sustained and direct Russian backing. Russia and its proxies are driving a war facilitated by the Kremlin’s subversion campaign across Ukraine and its active military support. Russia continues to inflict major costs on Ukraine, use violence as a lever of influence, and attempt to impede critical political and economic reform efforts by Ukraine’s leaders.
An acceptable end to the war in Ukraine under the right conditions remains a critical component of securing a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. Increased United States and allied support in strengthening an independent and sovereign Ukraine capable of defending its territorial integrity and in pushing back against Russian aggression will be essential to achieve this end.