Why Yarosh Withdrew His Nationalists From Donbass

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



Ukrainian nationalists left Donbass, units will be deployed in the unstable regions of the country. The reason for the re-deployment is the upcoming presidential elections, during which a “pro-Russian” candidate can receive the support of voters. This was stated by the leader of the “Ukrainian Voluntary Army” (UVA) and deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Dmitry Yarosh.

At the end of September Yarosh specified the surnames of hated politicians: “If, in order to receive our statehood and conciliarity, there is a need to the strangle the Medvedchuks, Vilkuls, and Murayevs and those like them, then we, Ukrainian patriots, will do so without even thinking about it”. It is obvious that this statement contains the threat of murder, but law enforcement bodies weren’t interested in the words of the former leader of Right Sector“.

War in the trenches

At the beginning of the standoff in Donbass about 40 voluntary battalions were created in Ukraine. Over time, however, Kiev transferred them to the subordination of law enforcement structures. Firstly, the demand to disarm all illegal groups is contained in the Minsk Agreements. Thus in order to improve its image in the opinion of western observers it was more favorable to Kiev to get rid of these groups. Secondly, people with combat experience and weapons posed a threat to the central authorities. Thus, the nationalist “Azov” regiment became a part of the National Guard of Ukraine, and the Aidar battalion became a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UAF).

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Yarosh’s militants were the last to obey the UAF. Nationalists took a number of positions near the settlement of Marinka in the suburbs of Donetsk. On the frontline they didn’t wear any identification marks. They cooperated with those commanders of the UAF who they knew personally. Most of the militants went to the frontline with unofficial weapons.

The command of the UAF has also been trying to force out the nationalists long ago. In July Sergey Nayev, the head of the Operation of United Forces, promised to resolve the issue and to not allow “unknown people” to enter the zone of military operations. On YouTube a video later appeared allegedly showing the special troops of the SBU storming the base of volunteers in Donbass.

As a result, by the summer of 2018 only a couple dozen of “UVA” militants remained in Donbass. “Some volunteers signed contracts with the UAF and fight in different brigades. Some were tired of waiting for an offensive and left. Up to the last moment there were small groups of those who essentially didn’t want to enter the army, but now there also won’t be them either,” said the Ukrainian serviceman Yury to “Izvestia”.

Poroshenko’s elections

It turns out that Yarosh made the statement in question post factum. Another question is what the militants of the “UVA” will be involved in soon… The self-proclaimed republics of the Donbass believe that they will actively join Ukrainian political processes. According to representatives of the DPR, the militants can be used as a brute force in the forthcoming presidential electoral campaign. They will become an especially valuable forceful resource if the client understands that they are losing in the elections or, on the contrary, they decide to reach an agreement with their competitors in advance.

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The director of the Ukrainian Institute of Analysis and Management of Policy Ruslan Bortnik considers that such a client may become the acting head of state. “Dmitry Yarosh is close to Poroshenko’s team. The nationalists are returning back from Donbass in order to put pressure on his opponents. It’s possible that they will carry out the role of additional police during the electoral campaign and during the counting of votes,” explained the expert to “Izvestia”.

The duo of Poroshenko and nationalists is united by the fear of the government being replaced. Both the former and the latter risk being prosecuted under a new president. Their general task is to ensure the re-election of the current head of state. However there is one problem — the low approval rating of Poroshenko. It it is to boost it using legal methods, but an injection of fear and terror can paralyse opponents. It is also for this purpose that brute force is necessary.

The nationalists have already utilised terror methods against opposition forces. On October 14th they attacked the office of the “Ukrainian Choice” party [it later turned out that C14 attacked the wrong building – it wasn’t Medvedchuk’s office after all – ed] . A crowd of young people threw stones at the building and also graffitied anti-Russian slogans on it. The political association said that the incident was revenge for its position, “which is based on peace-making in Donbass, restoring the territorial integrity of the country, normalising relations with Russia and the CIS countries, and increasing the standard of living of people at the expense of real, and not imaginary economic reforms”.

At the beginning of October young extremists rushed into the office of one of the officials of the Kiev municipal administration. In their opinion, he sympathised with Russia. Under the pressure of radicals the civil servant was dismissed. In September nationalists attacked the correspondent of the NewsOne TV channel Darina Bilera.

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All of this, however, has become commonplace in the modern Ukraine. Perhaps these methods will intensify closer to the elections,. It is impossible to exclude that extremists will try to finish off the “pro-Russian” politicians, which is what Yarosh said. The militants are capable of disrupting meetings and blocking the media, as well as capturing polling precincts and putting the process of counting votes under their control.

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