An American militant who earlier sided with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine to fight against government troops has been discharged from the military, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army said, according to The Washington Post.
Earlier this month The Washington Post reported that Pfc. Guillaume Cuvelier, 29, had spent time with French ultranationalist groups before helping create an anti-Western militant group in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
In Ukraine, Cuvelier, also known as Lenormand, fought for the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Cuvelier was also part of the neo-fascist group “Troisième voie” and an identity movement called the “Young Identitarians,” according to Anton Shekhovtsov, a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, who focuses on right-wing movements across Europe and has written extensively about the Ukraine conflict
After leaving Ukraine in 2015 and fighting alongside Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq, Cuvelier shipped to U.S. Army basic training in January, WP reported. Before his discharge last week, Cuvelier — a dual French and U.S. citizen — was serving as a newly minted infantryman in a Hawaii-based unit, according to records provided by the Army.
Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson, an Army spokeswoman, would not give the reason Cuvelier was discharged, saying that it was protected under the Privacy Act.
Cuvelier’s past of espousing extreme right-wing views and his role in an armed group backed by a U.S. adversary was recorded on websites, social media groups and in an online documentary.
With Cuvelier’s easily searchable history, his enlistment raises questions about the Army’s recruitment process and whether applicants are thoroughly vetted.
When it was first reported that Cuvelier was serving in the Army, Bland said that the military had “begun an inquiry to ensure the process used to enlist this individual followed all of the required standards and procedures.”
The Army often forbids those who display ”extremist views or actions” from entry, Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, a spokesman for the Army`s Department of Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said in an email in April.
Taylor added that ”if an Army official determines an applicant has the potential for meeting Army standards, the official may in exceptional cases allow those who have overcome mistakes and past conduct, made earlier in their lives, to serve their country. However, in many cases a history of gang or extremist activity is disqualifying.”
In Cuvelier`s case, it appears his past was either overlooked by a recruiter or he was not forthcoming about it, a move that might have opened him up to fraudulent enlistment charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.