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How Putin’s Favorite Biker Gang Infiltrated NATO

Night Wolves Europe and Russia’s Paramilitary Strategy

Members of the Night Wolves at a Soviet war memorial near Minsk, April 2015. Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, Europe has been on high alert against further Russian aggression, with military planners conducting joint exercises and calling for increased military spending. This summer, however, Moscow’s hybrid war on the West took an unexpected twist: a pro-Russian paramilitary established a base, disguised as a biker gang headquarters, a little over an hour from Bratislava, Slovakia—well within the borders of NATO itself.

In July 2018, the Slovak press reported that the Night Wolves, a nationalist Russian biker gang, had created an official European base of operations in the village of Dolna Krupa on a site owned by Jozef Hambalek, an entrepreneur with ties to right-wing Slovak militias. The base probably would have escaped international attention if not for aerial footage, published in the Slovak press, that showed not just motorcycles but tanks and armored personnel carriers, which Hambalek had borrowed from the Slovak

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