Kazakh Found Among Ukraine Separatists

My latest with The Diplomat offers the first English-language coverage of the Kazakh presence in eastern Ukraine, which has just been confirmed:

Rumors of Kazakh supporters among the separatists had floated for months, but a video emerged last week that seemed to confirm their presence among the forces in eastern Ukraine. In the clip, a 26-year-old ethnic Kazakh named Nurlan Igenov, nicknamed “Nyman,” discusses his motivations for joining the separatist forces, as well as his views on the geopolitical forces crafting the frozen conflict in the Donbas. He also cites the linkage between his decision and those who have lent their support to IS. “It is quite obvious that the people of Kazakhstan are going to fight in other states not for money, but for the idea,” he says. “So it was with those who went to war in Syria, and with those who are traveling in southeastern Ukraine.” ...

The new clip appears to stand as the first confirmation of the presence of Kazakhstan nationals among the separatists. Central Asian nationals – Uzbeks and Turkmen, namely – had already announced their presence among the Ukrainian fighters, but Igenov stands as the first reported confirmation of a Kazakhstani citizen who has uprooted for the Donbas.