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University of Bonn

Bucerius Ph.D. Fellow

Shooting Weapons, Shaking Hands? The Securitization of the Russian-Ukrainian War and the Influence of Battalion Commanders as Political Actors on State Formation


The Russian-Ukrainian War is used as a case study in order to explain why people decide to fight in an irregular war. This study claims that ideas, behavior and social interaction alone do not bear a sufficient explanatory potential. They are underpinned by cultural repertoires of war and must be activated by a securitizing actor. Here, the military leaders of the Volunteer Battalions play a crucial role. Moreover, their agency reaches beyond the trenches of the frontline. Some act on the interface between war and politics. Thus, the second aim of this work is to find out why some battalion commanders transform to political actors, how they organize themselves and in which way(s) and to what extent they influence state formation.

Johann Zajaczkowski is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bonn (supervisor Prof. Dr. Andreas Heinemann-Grüder). Previously, he was a Fellow of the Bosch-Foundation and worked as a lecturer and project manager at the National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla-Academy” in Ukraine. Experience as project assistant at Dimap Communications (Berlin), in the Foreign Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (Warsaw) and the German-Polish Chamber of Commerce (Warsaw). He worked as a research assistant at the Faculty of International Relations and Foreign Policy (University of Trier). Several years of journalistic, editing and translation activity for various outlets. He holds a Magister Artium (Political Science & Public Law) from the University of Trier.

2015: Zajaczkowski, Johann: Der Maidan als real existierende Utopie, in: Göttinger Institut für Demokratieforschung, Orte der Demokratie [Available online].
2015: Bellmann, Sophia/ Rabl, Christian/ Zajaczkowski, Johann: NOUĂ Magazine – Neighbours, Vol. 2, 144 pages [Click here for more info].
2015: Zajaczkowski, Johann: Der Krieg bietet vielen neue Betätigungsfelder, interview for ostpol, a magazine on Eastern Europe [Available online].
2015: Zajaczkowski, Johann: Russia – a Pragmatic Great Power? A Role-Theoretical Examination of Central Crises in Foreign and Security Affairs during the First and Second Term of Putin’s Presidency, Hannover: ibidem Publishing House, Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, Vol. 144, 308 pages

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