This presentation discusses a research project that focuses on the volunteer battalions that self-mobilized in Ukraine during the spring of 2014 as a case for investigating the dual role of paramilitaries as nation-builders and military forces. Of the nation and hence close to the people, yet simultaneously armed but not of the state, the paramilitaries are betwixt and between categories. Their rise is often connected to situations characterized by rapid social change – in this case revolution and war, in which they played a role. Ultimately, the investigation of the Ukrainian volunteer battalions offers to shed light on the close connections between state, society and warfare, as well as strategy and contemporary war in Europe.

Ilmari Käihkö is post-doctoral researcher associated with the Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, supported by the Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF). His research concentrates on creation, use and control of force, and the ethnographic methods that assist in the investigation of these issues.