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Ukraine: The Boom Stick Brotherhood

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Covered in smoke, Ben returns fire at separatist positions with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Fascinated by war and influenced by nationalistic beliefs, five volunteers left Europe and the United States to go fight in Ukraine. The military adventurers go by the names Ben, Alex, Craig, Charlie and Cowboy. They joined a unit operated by the right-wing militia Right Sector that fights alongside the Ukrainian army.

The foreign fighters cannot be called mercenaries: they received no pay, only shelter, food and ammo. They quickly forged a self-made battle group, which they called Task Force Pluto.

They were drawn to Ukraine not by politics, but by a desire to live dangerously. They want to be involved in live combat – not get their thrills through some video game. To them, they are living a dream of smoking guns, camaraderie and outdoor life. If there is a lull in the action in Ukraine, they might very well move on to another conflict zone around the world.

Task Force Pluto is a multi-national, multi-religious and multi-ethnic group.

Ben is a former soldier of the Austrian Armed Forces who has been travelling hot zones for years. He has seen action in Kosovo, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.

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Timo Vogt is a freelance photojournalist based in Germany.

Ukraine: The Boom Stick Brotherhood

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