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Pro Kiev militias are an existential threat to Ukraine’s ruling oligarchs

This week Ukraine’s police has been engaged in heavy fighting with nationalist militias in Mukacheve, near the Hungarian border. Ukrainian nationalist militias see the pro Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine as the their enemy, but they also despise the ruling oligarchic elite that is still in charge in Ukraine. Most of the pro Ukrainian fighters, like the AZOV battalion, in East Ukraine want to get rid of the current government that still consists of the same elite that mismanaged and has plundered Ukraine for more than two decades.

The political landscape in Ukraine is divided in three groups:

The pro Russian separatists who have a close economic, military and political  relation with Russia are fighting a war against different irregular Militias that have been brought under the umbrella organisation in April 2014, now known as the Ukrainian National Army.

The second group is the most powerful political force in Ukraine, it is made up of the ruling oligarchs that have been mismanaging Ukraine since its independence in 1992. After the Orange revolution and the 2014 Maidan protest the same oligarchs, like Poroshenko, who have ruled Ukraine for more than two decades are still in power. The bloody Maidan protest did not broaden the political base and legitimacy of Ukrainian political system.  The “Yalta European Strategy Conference” and “Pinchuk Foundation” are the platforms used by the oligarchs to discuss their policies for their businesses and Ukraine. These political platforms and organisations are established to discuss Ukraine’s future between Ukrainian oligarchs. These platforms do not have any participants from the Ukrainian working class and are a great example of how the Ukrainian political future is shaped by the arguments and fights between oligarchs among each other. The “Yalta European Strategy conference” and “Pinchuk Foundation” are uniting the Ukrainian oligarchs like Yanukovich, Yatsenyuk, Kuchma and Poroshenko with western business and political leaders like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Richard Branson.
Mr. Victor Pinchuk, the son in law of former president Mr. Kuchma and the founder of the “Yalta European Strategy conference”, is the best example that shows how Ukrainian politics work. Mr. Pinchuck was seen as the poster boy of the Ukrainian corruption by the western media during the 2005 Orange Revolution. After 2005 he managed to become a respectable business man, even a board member of the Washington based Peterson Institute and a personal friend of Mr. Clinton.
Since 1992 political power is rotating between the Ukrainian members of the “Yalta European Strategy conference”. The ruling oligarchs see business and politics as the same thing. Ukrainian politicians have a mercantile relation with their base, but lack any popular support. It is known that the Maidan protesters have little to no trust in Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko, as has been mentioned in a conversation between the Estonian foreign affairs minister and Mr. Ashton, the Representative of the European Union during the Maidan protests. 

The third prominent political group in Ukraine is formed by nationalists, united in the Right Sector, Svoboda and include people like Andriy Parubiy, now member of the “People’s Front”. Andriy Parubiy bragged on his website about him bringing 7000 fighters to the peaceful Maiden protest in December 2013. The nationalists fought the decisive battles at the Maidan square and are currently providing the militias for the war in eastern Ukraine. Without the Right Sector and Svoboda, Poroshenko would not be in power now and he would not have been able to fight his “anti-terror operation” in East Ukraine. It is quite natural that these groups are going to claim their share of power and wealth. The nationalists have a political majority in Western Ukraine. In December 2013, the nationalists put pressure on Kiev by threatening to proclaim independence, before the separatists in East Ukraine started their actions.

The current ruling oligarchs need the militias to fight their war against the separatists in the eastern. The Ukrainian army is in a poor condition with low moral; our research team estimates that about 80% of the soldiers in Sevastopol Crimea switched sides and are now enlisted in the Russian army. Poroshenko enforced conscription to diminish the power of the nationalist militias. However common Ukrainians are disconnected from the Ukrainian state and are not willing to bring any sacrifice to the nation’s kleptocratic rulers.

The nationalists that are fighting the war for the ruling oligarchs have often declared  that the current Kiev elite will be their next target, once they are finished with the separatists in Eastern Ukraine. A US volunteer, Mr. Paslawsky, who openly complained about Kiev and vowed to get rid of the current corrupt leaders died a couple of days after his remarkable revelations in an interview with Vice News. Unlike the Western media, the nationalistic Ukrainian militias know that there has been no transfer of power in February 2014. The same people that were in control before the revolution are still in control.

The militias are used to fight the separatists, keeping them away from Kiev as long as it will take. A peace deal with the pro Russian separatists and the acceptance of losing Crimea will be extremely dangerous. It will free the frustration of the nationalistic militias, that will take revenge on the ruling oligarchs.

As the war in the East stalls and the economic situation worsens, more and more actions directed against Kiev’s ruling elite are inevitable. We do not expect the Maidan protest to be repeated, it is more likely that the militias directly attack the Kiev based security troops. It is unclear how loyal the Ukrainian security establishments are to Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk. But the facts are that the Ukrainian government could not rely on the population for protection, and in the worst case they will have to depend on foreign forces or mercenaries.

We have already seen protests of militias in Kiev last week. This week there have been heavy gun fights between nationalist Militias and Ukrainian Police near the Hungarian border in Mukacheve . There even have been attacks on the police in Lviv. The situation is extremely explosive, as most of these militias are now battle hardened and accustomed to war, lead by individuals and not by a central command. There are clear signals that the armed conflict is not limited to Eastern Ukraine, the right sector is threatening to block the streets of Kiev oncoming Sunday. Yatsenyuk, prime minister of Ukraine has already tried desperately to disarm these groups, something that will not happen. The current ruling elite will not last and we expect that the war in the East will end with the (bloody) disposal of the current ruling oligarchs. As long as the participants of the Yalta European Strategy conference are running the country we will see a further deterioration of Ukraine. We can only expect to see some improvements in Ukraine if the oligarchs are removed from their seats of power.

 

Victor Pinchuck Foundation is created by Victor Pinchuck. The Foundation functions as a tween the Ukranian kleptocracy including Poroshenko and Yanukovich, with the Global elites like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Richard Branson Source Victor Pinchuk Faundation

A nasty business in Ukraine Source BBC 16 June 2004 
On Monday, Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s wealthiest man and businessman Viktor Pinchuk, the son in law of President Leonid Kuchma, won the tender to buy Kryvorizhstal, one of the world’s largest steel plants. For some Ukrainians this is being viewed as another cynical example of pro-government oligarchs profiting at their country’s expense.

Mittal Buys Kryvorizhstal In New Ukraine Glasnost Source Forbes 24 Oktober 2005
With Yushchenko watching proceedings from the sidelines, Mittal Steel paid more than five times what former President Leonid Kuchma’s billionaire son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk did for the mill in 2004–a sale Yushchenko called a theft. Thus the sale of the mill, which churns out a fifth of Ukraine’s entire metal output, is the single largest foreign investment ever in that country. 

Ukraine clashes: Soldiers ‘surrender to protesters’ in Lviv Source BBC 19 Januari 2014
Video footage has emerged purporting to show security forces surrendering to anti-government protesters in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Ukraine govt’s control of regions starts to crumble Source BNE Intelli News 24-Januari 2014 
Ukraine’s embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych, found himself facing a second front January 23 as anti-government protesters stormed regional administrations across the west and centre of Ukraine. Ironically, the development came on a day when a ceasefire held between protesters and police in Kyiv. While clashes in Kyiv are spectacular but largely theatrical, overthrowing state administration in the regions could start the crumbling of Yanukovych’s power.

Ukraine crisis: the neo-Nazi brigade fighting pro-Russian separatists Source The Telegraph 11 August-2014 
But Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, proclaimed in eastern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming.

Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat source The Telegraph 10 September 2014
The Ukrainian armed forces are “an army of lions led by a sheep”, said Dmitry, and there is only so long that dynamic can continue. With so many armed, battle-hardened and angry young men coming back from the front, there is a danger that the rolling of heads could be more than a metaphor. Dmitry said he believes that Ukraine needs “a strong dictator to come to power who could shed plenty of blood but unite the nation in the process”.

Far right group challenges Ukraine government after shootout Source Reuters 13 July 2015 
A Ukrainian far right group demanded the resignation of the interior minister and said it would block roads around Kiev on Sunday in a standoff over a fatal gun battle that challenges the authority of the government.

Explosions in Lviv aimed at destabilizing Ukraine: Interior Ministry Source Reuters 14-July 2015
Two policemen were wounded in explosions at two district police stations in the west Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said, linking the cases to a deadly standoff between a far-right group and police over the weekend. In a statement, the ministry said the entrances to the stations had been booby-trapped with explosives and the safety clip of a grenade was found at one of the sites.

The American Volunteer in the Donbas Battalion: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 66)

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