On Monday, September 10, personnel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the city of Smolensk detained a Dagestani who was allegedly plotting to kill a former official of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” a puppet state set up by Russia in eastern Ukraine. FSB officials claimed the man told them he had been working with Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), the far-right group Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) and the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
Ukraine’s SBU denied the claims: TASS quoted Ukrainian officials who said they were “too funny to comment on.” This is not the first time Russian authorities or their allies in Ukraine have accused the Kyiv government of working with IS.
In November 2015, Russian state media claimed that IS volunteers were fighting in the ranks of the Right Sector volunteer militia (which at the time was no longer legally recognized by Ukrainian authorities), and that these fighters would get Ukrainian citizenship for their service.
In 2017, pro-Russian websites spread claims that radical Islamists were fighting in the ranks of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, which was originally formed by mostly far-right activists in 2014. Photographs showing one of these fighters wearing an IS flag were allegedly taken in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is on the government-controlled side of the front line. However, an investigation found that the alleged “IS base” was in fact a former art center in Donetsk, well within Russian-occupied territory. Also, the Azov regiment has not been deployed to the front for several years, and the Azov soldier in the photographs was wearing the unit’s old insignia, used before the unit was integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
And there are those who might find it hard to believe that a terrorist group known for its extreme Islamic sectarianism would team up with far-right Christians in Europe. The FSB provided no explanation to explain how that might happen.