Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

'Good' and 'Bad' Investments: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ukrainian Commanders but Were Afraid to Ask

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

'Good' and 'Bad' Investments: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ukrainian Commanders but Were Afraid to Ask

Article excerpt


The military conflict in the southeast of Ukraine is creating a vast field of research in the most diverse areas and has led to the creation of a local but ongoing combat zone with all its attendant social ramifications. A large number of volunteer battalions were formed within Ukraine during the first months of the war, which became some of its main players. As demonstrated by previous local conflicts in the post-Soviet space like the Chechnya wars and the NagornoKarabakh conflict, the majority of such confrontations do not end when the situation is resolved by the governments of the parties involved. As many of these conflicts have the characteristics of a local civil war, a number of political, so10.11610/Connections.15.1-04 cial, and cultural shifts occur in the conflict zone itself.1 The participants, the volunteers of the battalions who find themselves involved in the conflict for an extended period of time may, when the conflict's hot phase ends, be transformed in the public consciousness from defenders of the homeland into an illegal military group. It is the fact of these fighters' voluntary participation in the hostilities that complicates their subsequent return to civilian life. This occurs especially if a battalion took on substantial political weight over the course of a conflict and later endeavors to influence the situation in domestic policy. As is apparent in the example of the conflict in Mukacheve, this is now a matter of immediate concern for Ukrainian policy and national security.2

Thus, the present research is devoted to an examination of the causes and consequences of this issue, and to the phenomenon of members of this battalion making so-called "non-transferable investments."3 The core question posed is the following: how do the personal and social characteristics of the commander of a volunteer battalion affect the level of general non-transferable investments? This research aims to test two hypotheses.

Hypothesis 1. The number of non-transferable investments made by a volunteer battalion overall is directly dependent on the commander of that battalion.

Hypothesis 2. A battalion commander's propensity for making non-transferable investments depends on his personal and social characteristics.

The research examines the following empirical material: volunteer battalions formed during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in 2014-2015; personal and social characteristics of the commanders of those battalions; the battalions' activities during the conflict; media coverage of their activities; and the official assessment of their activities by Ukrainian authorities.

To this end, the following research methods were used:

* Content analysis of open Ukrainian- and Russian-language media sources on the Internet;

* Content analysis of official documents of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the administration of the President of Ukraine, and Ukrainian government decrees;

* Correlational analysis of identified indicators and characteristics based on the data obtained from content analysis;

* A method of modeling social processes based on social and political theories and conventions.

To test the first hypothesis, the paper shall turn to classical works on the interaction between a leader and a given social group.

Sociological and Psychological Validation

In his work, "The Psychology of Evil," studying the phenomenon of non-transferable investments made by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, Philip Zimbardo attempts to refute the classic notion that an inclination toward sadistic violence is an innate deviation in a human being.4 Rather, it is relatively rare and applies to only 5% of humans overall.5 The researcher posited that anyoneeven the most seemingly normal person-is capable of cruelty and outward manifestations of violence if a number of factors are present. The core issue Zimbardo studied is that soldiers committed such acts against prisoners of war because they considered this to be the most fully "good" performance of the social role assigned to them; namely, they believed that by beating and abusing prisoners of war they would be able to obtain useful information from them, thereby gaining favor with the command structure. …

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