Islamic State Hopes To Conquer Crimea And Western Ukraine By 2025 – OpEd


ISIS has designated Crimea and Western Ukraine as territories it considers part of its sphere of influence and as ones that it intends to conquer before 2025, Aleksandr Korenkov says. But the difficulties ISIS now faces in Syria and Ukraine’s low profile among its fighters suggest that Ukraine is at least not yet a priority of Islamic State militants.

Korenkov, an expert of the Kyiv Center for the Study of Rebel Movements, tells the Apostrophe portal that for the moment, Ukraine is “not among the priorities of ISIS activists because [Ukrainians] are not fighting in Syria.” But officials should not lessen their efforts to combat the arrival of ISIS operatives (

Ukrainian security services have identified ISIS fighters in Kharkhiv, Kyiv and other cities, the specialist says; but their task is made difficult by the fact that typically at least in European countries, ISIS adherents do not identify themselves as such until after they carry out a terrorist attack.

Korenkov says there is no agreement as to how many Ukrainians have gone to fight for ISIS; but that may matter less than the fact that since 2014, Ukraine has been a member of the global coalition for the fight against ISIS and is known to be such.

Asked about reports that ISIS is “a project of Russia and of Putin personally,” the Ukrainian expert says that “there is no direct evidence for this,” although there are a large number of Russian citizens in the ranks of ISIS. He says there may be as many as 2500 of them, making Russia one of the top three contributors to its ranks.

Asked whether ISIS terrorism in Ukraine was likely, Korenkov says that “theoretically it is possible” given Ukraine’s position on ISIS. And he notes that “in its materials, ISIS lists Ukraine among the enemies of the Islamic state.” But “for the time being,” Ukraine isn’t a priority, especially given the problems ISIS faces in Syria and Iraq.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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