Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Second Front in the Eastern Ukrainian Conflict.

'Recent Russian actions clearly demonstrate that Moscow is bluntly drawing Ukraine and the entire world into a full-scale war"-Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko.
'Fighters of Azov, another volunteer Ukrainian battalion...The Azov ..mostly from Ukraine's Russian-speaking east, adhere to a far-right ideology. They claim they have some heavy weapons and anticipate receiving more from the Ukrainian government soon.'-
Thursday 28 August 2014. A Second Front was reported to have opened in the far south-east of Ukraine along the Sea of Azov in the towns of Novoazovsk and Mariupol. Tensions, however, had been simmering there in June when the Fighters of Azov tried to wrest Mariupol from 'pro-Russian' forces.

The Fighters of Azov are volunteer battalions which consist of the the sort far right paramilitaries that Andriy Parubiy intended to deploy east back in April 2014. With far right battalions said to have received weapons from the Ukrainian government, Kiev's policy is one of diverting nationalist discontent eastwards.

The Fighters of Azov, created in May 2014, have a recruitment base in Mariupol itself but were backed up by forces from the west of Ukraine led by brutal thugs such as Dmytro Korchnsky, a leader otherwise wanted in Kiev on riot charges, and his ultra-nationalist UNA-Unso party.

At the beginning of August, 2014, the Fighters of Azov were fighting alongside the Ukrainian army’s 51st Mechanised Brigade in the attempt to retake Donetsk from the control of the 'people’s republics', openly sporting neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbols on their banners.

The insignia are identical to those banners the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council head Andriy Parubiy stood before when he created the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991 based on ideas of white supremacy, anti-semitism and Moscow as a global centre of Muscovite-Jewish-mafia elites

Parubiy resigned on August 7th 2014 for reasons he was not prepared to clarify other than to state "I will continue to assist the front, primarily volunteer battalions". Most likely the reason is to allow Kiev to appear a government of staunch liberal democrats to the West while continuing to use neo-Nazis in the East

The barricades in Kiev on August 9 2014 were finally dismantled after fears the far right, which helped overthrow Yanukovych, could turn upon the government of Poroshenko as Ukraine's economy faces collapse. IMF 'reforms' led to greater hardships that can be explained away as being all Russia's fault.

As Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Arsen Avakov, the interior minister, made plain; “The most important thing is their spirit and their desire to make Ukraine free and independent. A person who takes a weapon in his hands and goes to defend his motherland is a hero. And his political views are his own affair.”

Gerashchenko, of course, had to deny the obvious use of foreign neo-Nazis in order to maintain the facade that the Ukrainian government and the nation it claims to represent even in the eastern regions is mere victim of Russian aggression and not, in fact, an aggressor prepared to fight against 'bandits' and 'terrorists'.

On speaking to a BBC reporter, Gerashenko stated , with regards the Fighters of Azov,
"It is a party of Ukrainian patriots who are giving their lives while the rich Europeans are only talking about supporting Ukraine. When, may I ask, will English people come here and help us fight terrorists sent by Russia's President [Vladimir] Putin, instead of lecturing us on our moral values or people's political affiliations?
There is no sign that European institutions and certain leading diplomats have become more cautious as the Kiev government lurches further towards the trajectory set in motion when the far right hijacked the Euromaidan Protests in March 2014.

The Western Powers representatives failed to grasp the influence of the Ukrainian far right or else, as with Poland's minister Radek Sikorski, they gambled recklessly in the geopolitical push to incorporate Ukraine into both western economic and military structures far rapidly once the Yanukovych government fell.

Sikorski was a main force in getting Kiev to snub the one diplomatic measure that would have prevented as opposed to made the conflict in Ukraine worse and even intractable, as is clear in interview he made in April 2014, when he saw decentralisation as something empowering the eastern regions at the expense of Kiev.

The Polish Foreign Minister's view of Russia as a neo-Soviet threat is understandable given the fate of Poland at the hands of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939 but he needs to be reined in by more cautious diplomats in Europe as his idea of Russia is based on a historically driven grudge match.

It was exactly decentralisation back in April 2014 that many rebels in the east of Ukraine would have been prepared to accept rather than separation, independence or annexation to Russia. It was an error to regard all those opposing Kiev simplistically as "pro-Russia separatists".

As Anatol Lieven pointed out the Lviv regional government, controlled by Ukrainian nationalists, was able to threaten independence and decide upon their own autonomy from Kiev when it appeared as though the Yanukovych government was going to reject the EU in favour of Putin's Customs Union.

The double standard from Sikorski reflects what he regards as the geopolitical tug of war between Poland and Russia and the fact Lviv, of course, was historically part of Poland until 1939 and that Western Ukraine was, long before the Soviet Union was created, part of the Polish Rzeczpospolita.

The tragedy of Ukraine is that is quite clear that Western Ukraine, historically Eastern Galicia, leans towards the West because it is the poorest part of Ukraine while the wealthier parts outside Kiev are in the east around Kharkhiv but also around Donetsk where the economy is being ravaged by conflict.

Given that the IMF 'reforms' forced through by Kiev would have created the economic conditions within which many manufacturing industries in the east would have gone under, it has become clearer that Ukraine could be heading towards some sort of disintegration as a unitary state or 'state-nation'.

The irony is Poland has ended up pursuing a foreign policy that could end up empowering the very neo-Nazi groups that base their ideology on the OUN and UPA, the ideas of Ukrainian fascist Stepan Bandera, which led to the ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Poles in Volnyhia and Eastern Galicia during World War Two.

Even worse, NATO has started indicate that Ukraine's military could receive training, which could entrench east-west divisions in Ukraine. Such a move could intensify the civil war by raising the stakes and forcing Ukrainians further to choose between the west and Russia in an ever more protracted and deadly conflict.

The decision to invite Poroshenko to a NATO summit when the Ukrainian government is involved in aiding and betting neo-Nazi militias was both foolish and irresponsible. Ukraine should get no assistance at all unless prepared to formally disassociate itself from backing such unsavoury paramilitary formations.

The presence of volunteer battalions motivated by an ethnocentric hatred of Russia and Russians ( or else Putin himself ) is one reciprocated by those in the Donetsk militias who saw the entire Euromaidan Protests as a "fascist coup", is going to set the region around Novoazovsk and Mariupol ablaze in violence and terror.

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