by Lucas Webber
Friday, 16
December 2022
Explainer
16:00

Rusich: Russia’s neo-Nazi militia with broader ambitions

The extremist group has been spotted alongside Putin's forces
by Lucas Webber
The Rusich Group

As his forces began rolling on Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that he wanted to “demilitarise and denazify” the country — by which he was referring to ultranationalist elements in the Ukrainian government and armed forces such as Azov Regiment, Right Sector and Freikorps.

However, there is some irony in Russia’s campaign for “denazification” in that Russia’s own military coalition in Ukraine — including its national army, mercenaries, and separatists — contain ideologically far-Right and neo-Nazi formations. The most notable of these is Task Force Rusich, which has links to the infamous mercenary Wagner Group. Rusich’s logo is a black Kolovrat, a popular symbol among radical Right-wing movements in Slavic countries, particularly Russia and Ukraine. They also use the Valknut, another symbol adopted by extremist groups.


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Rusich’s profile has grown since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the group has developed a sizeable online following on VKontakte, Telegram, Twitter, and elsewhere. Rusich has tapped into this support base to fundraise for battlefield supplies including weapons, drones, medical supplies, and other items. The outfit also has a history of attracting foreign volunteers from Poland, Italy, Norway, and other countries. It made headlines earlier this month for urging its followers to gather and share intelligence on border activities and military movements in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, a move that could signal more expansive ambitions.

Their social media pages and messaging channels frequently post updates on their battlefield and training activities in Ukraine. Images show them playing a role in training mobilised Russian soldiers, planning operations, and fighting.

Alexey Milchakov

The Rusich sabotage and assault reconnaissance group is highly controversial, having been accused of war crimes, such as torture, desecration of corpses and execution of captured enemy combatants. The group is led by Alexey Milchakov (pictured above), a former paratrooper, and Yan Petrovsky, with the former boasting a reputation for brutality, including depraved acts like killing a puppy, and for unabashedly promoting neo-Nazi symbols and ideology. Petrovsky, who was expelled from Norway after being declared a national security threat, reportedly took over Michakov’s duties for a period after the latter was injured.

Both men participated in the early phase of the war in the Donbas in 2014-15, and Rusich was involved in some important battles in Ukraine. Milchakov and Petrovskiy were subsequently sanctioned by Canada, Britain, and the European Union, and, according to some reports, left the conflict zone for a while shortly after. In 2021 and again this year, the group appeared in photographs from Syria, and, prior to that in 2017, Milchakov was spotted in a swimming pool near Palmyra.

As the war drags on with no clear end in sight, Rusich is set to continue their combat operations, online propaganda and crowdfunding activities, as well as growing their international support base. Having sought information about NATO countries, possibly with a view to paramilitary attacks in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the group is a more wide-ranging threat than we might think.

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Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago

I find it astonishing that any Russian could hold up a N*zi flag after what they did to the people of Russia (and the rest of the USSR)

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago

Russians like Putin worship strength.
They wish they had it, and will follow anyone who displays it.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

I’d be interested in what you mean by “strength”.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

The ability to act unbounded by any constraints.
Indeed, as with the heirs of the Third Rome, opposition is seen as heresy, and therefore rebellion against the dictates of the Almighty.
Or as Russian supporters of Putin term all opposition:
“Satanism.”

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

“The ability to act unbounded by any constraints.”
I don’t think that’s indicative of the Russian personality. I can think of number of Russians who would not fit your idea of a people unbound by any constraints, unless you regard as unconstrained a love of their country and a memory of a country that goes back further than Communism. And opposition to what? Are Putin and the people of Russia the same? Russia has had many leaders, they are not the person who holds the reigns of power. In fact they are probably not so different from you, but with a longer history and a world of pain. You have conflated “Russians” and supporters of Putin and it doesn’t work. Their strength is the ability to survive.

Last edited 1 month ago by Brett H
martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

A great many Russians accept that their nation should be unbounded by any constraints. That’s what drives Putin’s regime.
Indeed, any significant nation on their borders is deemed a grave threat to Russia. It must then be defeated. But when it is, Russia is confronted with another threat as great or greater.
If they take Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics will be seen as a “N*z*” threat that must be neutralized. Then it will be the Scandinavians and Germany. Then France and Britain. Unable to compete in other areas, Russia can only respond with force.
And that’s been the Muscovite dynamic for the last 800 years.
Luttwak describes the same phenomenon WRT the Roman Empire.
It never changes. It never CAN change, without a basic restructuring of the entire edifice.
Of course some Russians want something different. But explain exactly how they can do that.
All efforts so far have failed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin Logan
Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

“A great many Russians accept that their nation should be unbounded by any constraints.” 
You’re going to have to make that comment a lot clearer to convince me of anything like that. By the way, a Muscovite is someone from Moscow. That’s not necessarily indicative of Russia any more than Washington is indicative of America.
Edit: rereading your comment I see you did actually say “Russians like Putin” and “supporters of Putin.” But then you did go on to say “ a great many Russians”. So now I’m not quite sure who you mean.

Last edited 1 month ago by Brett H
martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

Sorry, do you seriously think that any Russian’s opinion matters, except Putin’s?
Yes he has to worry about what people think. But as is always the case in Russia, he has the tools to crush any dissent.
…Until he doesn’t, and the cycle just begins anew, with a new autocrat.
Moreover, one cannot understand this war without understanding that the Russian federation goes back to Moscow, not Kyivan Rus.
The former stems from Mongol ways of governance, the latter from Slavic and North European traditions.
Muscovites (the people who prop up Putin’s regime) are fearful of any change, any deviation from the norm, whereas people from Ukraine are much more anarchic.
And have far better senses of humour.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago

Well ok, isn’t it equally astonishing that they might hold up a Russian flag after what they’ve done to themselves over the years? And never mind the flags – is it not astonishing that the west is now drowning in Marxist doctrine once again even after its been repeatedly shown to bring poverty and horror to everything it touches? Seems we are all hell bent to relive the darker parts of history these days.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

The power of the neo-Marxism lite (TM) is twofold – it’s American (and we all know that American is right wing, and classless, so they couldn’t possibly be Marxist); it’s Crap Marxism (I’m not sure whether Marx is rolling, laughing or crying in his grave), and we all know that crap sells.

Richard Millard
Richard Millard
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

<the west is now drowning in Marxist doctrine>
that’s a surprisingly pessimistic comment. Did I miss something? Examples?

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago

Maybe pessimistic but not entirely wrong. I guess examples are going to depend on one’s perspective.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago

Is this a serious comment? You really don’t see the influence of Marxist post-modernist thought all around you? I guess the short answer is, yes, you missed something.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

But neo-Marxism in the West is also a joke outside of a few campuses.
As long as one can laugh at it, it’s no danger–anymore than Trump is a danger.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

“But neo-Marxism in the West is also a joke outside of a few campuses.”

I don’t think that’s true. Laughing at something does not amount to resistance. Marxism may not be obvious but it’s infiltrated our institutions under the guise of a number of social initiatives. Your complacency is perfectly fine with those who work at it.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

An unworkable system always collapses in the end.
The USSR, Trump, and soon our self-deluding campuses.
Where the latter ARE deluded I hasten to add. Just because academics avoid confrontations doesn’t mean they actually agree.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

Just out of interest, why do you group Trump with Russia and the campuses?

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

All three are illiberal.
All three want to shout down–or on occasion, beat up–people who disagree with them.
The damage from Trump and the campus idiots is limited because, for now, rule of law still prevails.
Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and, in Trump’s case, Tweedledumber.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

Our economies are barely recognizable as capitalism anymore. And they are indeed collapsing … for anyone paying attention.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago

Every culture has its fair share of fascists, we we all know, even Jewish as has been widely documented. Radical political movements are a natural home for neuropaths everywhere.

Last edited 30 days ago by Andrew Boughton
David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago

As charming a bunch of thugs are you could hope never to meet.
There are two unanswered questions: how numerous are they, and how effective are they on the battlefield? Any twit can tote the ironmongery and look tough, but war has a habit of separating the men from the boys.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago

Just a miniaturized version of Putin’s Russia.
Killing people on “enemies lists,” and separating children from their parents for adoption by Aryan…I mean Real Russian parents is no different than anything Hitler did. Indeed, taking Ukraine in 1941 was his main reason for expanding the war, just as it was for Putin in 2022.
The mobile crematoriums haven’t yet been used on people like Zelensky. But they certainly are used to “disappear” dead soldiers, whose families might otherwise claim compensation from the “Reich.”
This is a society slipping into a psychotic delusion, just as Germany did in the 1940s. It feels weak, and surrounded by enemies–enemies of its own making. Anything is now possible.
And some of those possibilities are worse than what Rusich wants.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago

A key figure in the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed to a Finnish newspaper that 20 or so Finns were fighting in a British battalion, commanded by a former United States Marine Corps general. There are not many former United States Marine Corps generals, so which one do we think that it is, and why? It is rubbish, of course. But just as you can bet your life that there are British and American Nazis fighting on the other side, you can bet your life that there are British and American pure mercenaries in the Wagner Group. We have no interest in whether that or the Kraken Regiment won, just so long as it did not bother us, which it would have no cause to do unless we had been foolish enough to have backed its enemy. Yet on a cross-party basis, Britain is indeed engaged in such folly.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Indeed.
And think how foolish the US was to back Britain in WW2. Simply allowing Hitler to dominate the European continent would have saved 10s of millions of lives. It was a crime far worse than anything NATO has done recently.
And Churchill’s refusal to enter real negotiations with Hitler was just as unconscionable.
How can the West bear the guilt of their aggression in WW2?

Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

Can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. Nazis meant to quite literally murder the entire world except those with Germanic descent, and even that last part is open to interpretation. I think they weren’t sure what to do about the French and the Italians for example. If Britain allowed a murderous monster to proliferate at its doorstep I don’t think the end would be good for anyone.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Emre S

That was clearly sarcasm on Martins part

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Emre S

Oh, and the leader who ordered people to be tortured and killed once the Russian Army rolled into every capture Ukrainian town wasn’t doing the same thing?
A million Ukrainians have been exiled to Russia for “re-education” and/or confinement.
Once you say that Ukrainians can’t exist because they are “N*z*s, you have to start killing anyone who still claims to be Ukrainian.
It’s the only way to mobilize at least part of the Russian population against an external enemy.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin Logan
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

Of course, it was the Soviet Union that won the War in Europe. But the key point here is that there are Nazis on both sides. Neither need bother us. Unless we were foolish enough to back the other lot. Sadly, we are.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Stop falling for Cold War propaganda.
Russia’s offensives would have been impossible without half a million Ford trucks, 7000 aircraft, and 12,000 tanks and other vehicles. Their offensives would have culminated long before they made any decisive breakthroughs.
And after 1942, the Luftwaffe had almost entirely withdrawn from the Eastern Front to stop UK and US bombing. After that Russia had a free hand.
The contribution of each side to victory was about 50/50.
Indeed, that’s why HIMARs have stopped Russian advances since summer. The Russians can’t transport enough supplies to the front to launch a significant offensive.
Learn something about WW2–and the present war.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin Logan
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

… and don’t forget the German tanks that were withdrawn to be sent to the Mediterranean, before the Battle of Kursk.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

Of course, it was the Soviet Union that won the War in Europe. But the key point here is that there are Na*is (you can’t say the word in comments on a post about them) on both sides. Neither need bother us. Unless we were foolish enough to back the other lot. Sadly, we are.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

One might even go so far as to say  “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart.”  Kind of takes the wind out of the whole, ‘their n*zis are worse than our n*zis” narrative.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

The man who said that fought all his life against a totalitarian regime.
And while he thought Russia, Belarus and Ukraine should stay united, he said he would never send his son to fight against Ukrainians.
The difference between Solzhenitsyn and Putin is the difference betwixt Heaven and Hell.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago

Funny how war tends to bring out the worst in people. Reading this all I can think of is the brilliant line from “Breaker Morant” after Lord Kitchener lectures a subordinate about the motives of the enemy: “They lack our altruism, sir?”

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago

“including depraved acts like killing a puppy,”
What am I meant to make of this statement? Is it the worst thing he’s done, is it the only thing they have on him. The story’s not really very helpful and certainly doesn’t enlighten me. I’d like a bit more depth about their activities besides being seen in a swimming pool and seeking information on NATO.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

Follow the links (I did) all the way to source and you will find zero primary evidence for most of the really horrific allegations – puppy killing, being neo Nazis etc.

Of course, these are nasty, brutal people as any mercenary group would be. But this article is a caricature of western coverage.
There are primary sources and videos of both sides doing awful things – on the Ukrainian side, more so than the Russian in fact.

But western sources, fresh from Iraq and Libya, with Western weapons actively used even now in Yemen, having overlooked the Donbass atrocities since 2014, trying to pretend the Russians are morally inferior – is the precise reason the rest of the world views their campaign with contempt.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“Follow the links (I did)”
I did. In case it was missed I was being sarcastic. These stories are a sort of poolside war correspondence, where writers, far removed from events, scan the internet, finding a few references to individuals or events in other articles (also without reference to sources), then joining the dots in a way that suits their angle. There’s a lot of writing like this nowadays. Find a well known or historical figure, find some way to tie them to some fad or trend, make vague connections and leave conclusions vague and meaningless.

martin logan
martin logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The dynamic in Donbas has been: one side shells, then the other responds.
As many people have died on the Ukrainian side as on the Donbas.
All Putin had to do was 1) allow blue helmets in to separate the two sides.
Or 20 declare Donbas part of Russia, like Crimea.
Instead, he chose to use it as a bargaining chip.
And when that failed, he chose to move on to the greatest failure of his life, and possibly the greatest failure in Russia’s history.

Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago

including depraved acts like … killing a puppy

Ok, maybe I’ve been desensitized to violence a bit somehow, but I did expect to read something more horrific than that there having read the start.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  Emre S

Duplicated

Last edited 1 month ago by Brett H
Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  Emre S

According to sources he cut “off its head and allegedly” ate it. It doesn’t say what part he ate, the body or head. So, yeah, quite a serious problem.

Last edited 1 month ago by Brett H
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

Puppy eh? We cut the heads off cute lambs and eat them.
In fact those who live ‘in the wild’ seem to view the personal slaughter of their food as more ethical than getting factories to do it and package it nicely.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Stewart
Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I was thinking similar – that lambs are routinely killed and eaten, and even puppies are killed sometimes if no one will look after them. But then this seems less like a case eating food than an explicit display of cruelty.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

There’s a massive difference between killing animals for food and doing so simply to prove how cruel you can be in my opinion

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A downvote? So somebody believes there’s no difference between killing an animal to eat and killing one out of sadism clearly

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You can get downvotes here not because of your comment but because they didn’t like what you said about another article.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett H

But I’m upvoting you today Brett!

Petros Dratsidis
Petros Dratsidis
1 month ago

This is ridiculous! A Russian, let alone a Russian patriot, would never allowed it to be photographed holding / promoting a Nazi flag or any other German Nazi symbol. I am afraid you’re completely ignorant of how and what the Russian public, even 80 years after WW2, thinks of Hitler, German Nazis and the WW2, which, by the way, they call “the Great Patriotic War”.