Dolna Krupa, Slovakia — Paramilitary and influence operations can take many forms. They could be a team of Delta Force operators conducting Operational Preparation of the Battlefield (OPB) in an unstable region; they could be a CIA front company creating a pro-U.S. narrative in a far-away country; but they could also be a Russian biker-gang launching branches across Europe: Meet the Night Wolves.

A nationalist, paramilitary group, the Night Wolves isn’t your usual biker gang. Often referred to as “Putin’s Angles,” they were established in the 1980s as a counter-cultural organisation. Following the crumbling of the Soviet Union, they turned increasingly nationalist. Their appeal and connections enabled them to launch a business empire. Wolf Holdings has numerous branches across Russia and Europe. They operate nightclubs and hotels. More alarmingly, they provide educational opportunities to locals and professional military training in countries such as Germany, Italy, and Slovakia.

Officially, they are a private, independent group. Actions, however, speak louder than words. Night Wolves members have seen combat action in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Their head, Gennady Nikulov, is a former military officer who received a medal from the Russian Ministry of Defence for his actions in the annexation of Crimea. He is also the vice president of Sevastopol’s — the Crimean capital — self-defence force. It isn’t surprising that he is on the U.S. sanctions list.

Recently, the Night Wolves launched yet another European branch, in Dolna Krupa, Slovakia.

Their Slovakian-bought compound resembles a military base: high barbed wire fences, watchtowers, and barracks make up the Night Wolves’ newest addition.


In an interview with local media, Andrei Bobrovsky, chief of the Night Wolves Europe centre, estimated their membership to be “30 to 40 thousand people. There are several thousand people in every country we go to. We’re becoming a serious force that can move mountains and share our idea to the very end. It’s become a mass movement.”