Jesse Driscoll, Alexandra Chinchilla

Side-Switching as State-Building: The Case of Russian-Speaking Militias in Eastern Ukraine

We analyze a formal model of the cooperative mode of consolidation. The model treats militia commanders as interchangeable rent-seekers competing for a divisible share of what Fearon (1999) calls “pork” goods: salaried jobs in the security sector. Goods are distributed by a civilian bureaucracy that interfaces with international donors in order to “buy” order. One interesting result is a robust partial incorporation equilibrium: jointly-sustainable strategies chosen by non-ideological, completely interchangeable, rent-seeking battalion commanders, all hoping to maximize their share of aid rents with no interest in policy. The potential of Ukrainian militias to form blocking coalitions and “veto” peace settlements is also discussed. A dataset of volunteer battalion incorporation, the results from an original survey of 64 Ukrainian volunteer battalion members, and a case study of the Azov Battalion are used to evaluate model predictions. 

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The University of Chicago