WASHINGTON – A new equation in the Ukrainian crisis is a growing concern that ultra-nationalist Ukrainians could attack ethnic Russians.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated the ultra-nationalist threat is the reason for preparing to move Russian troops into the country.
The ultra-nationalists were instrumental in ousting pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, even though he turned down a European Union partnership agreement. Yanokuvych’s acceptance would have brought about austerity measures that the ultra-nationalists would have opposed.
They have shown an ability to operate among the tens of thousands of demonstrators in Kiev and are trained to confront security forces. They are equipped with helmets, masks, protective gear, weapons and Molotov cocktails.
Analysts say that the ultra-nationalist groups present a threat, since members are prepared and willing to confront security forces.
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Lavrov’s rationale for Russia’s aggressive response is based on a change to Russian military doctrine implemented after the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict that says Russia will send its troops anywhere to defend Russians.
After the 2008 war, Russia issued passports and granted citizenship to ethnic Russians in the captured Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which Russia later annexed.
The thrust of the doctrine could be interpreted as an open-ended means of committing “legal” aggression, since ethnic Russians occupy all of the independent countries that once comprised the Soviet Union.
There are ethnic Russians not only in Ukraine but in all of the Caucasus, Central Asia and in the former Soviet Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Belarus, Poland and Finland.
The most prominent of the ultra-nationalist groups is the Pravy-Sektor, or Right Sector, whose leader now has called on Chechen Islamic militant chief Dokku Umarov to launch attacks in Russia.
Right Sector also opposes Russian influence in Ukraine. Its leader, Dmitry Yarosh, had threatened to send members to the Crimea to defend against Russian military intervention.
While Right Sector was involved in demonstrations that toppled Yanukovych, Yarosh, has let it be known that his group will resume violent demonstrations if the new interim government doesn’t deliver on the changes it promised.
Yarosh, however, was selected as a member of the National Security and Defense Council, which is part of the new interim government.
Right Sector and other ultra-national groups, such as Euromaidan, Patriot of Ukraine and White Hammer, are comprised mainly of males in their 20s and 30s who wear dark clothing and masks and are very aggressive during demonstrations.
The groups were directly involved in the beginning of demonstrations in January and occupied the Ukrainian presidential building and other government buildings.
One report said demonstrators hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols on toppled memorials and destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died fighting German occupation during World War II.
The report said “sieg heil” salutes and the Nazi Wolfangel symbol was being displayed prominently in demonstrations in Maidan Square in Kiev, and neo-Nazi groups had established “autonomous zones” around the city.
Right Sector in particular is said to have wide support from the people throughout Ukraine.
“Right Sector’s emergence highlights how far-right and extremist groups can increase the impact of protects against autocratic regimes, political repression and austerity measures, sometimes effecting political change,” said a report by the open-intelligence group Stratfor.
Russia: U.S. doesn’t understand nuances
Lavrov further asserts that the West has sided with the ultra-nationalist groups, which he calls neo-Nazis, resulting in the violent government takeover.
Lavrov specifically accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of helping to incite the groups, ignoring the excesses of what has been referred to as “militant Russophobic and anti-Semitic forces” inciting demonstrations in Kiev.
“Not bothering to make any effort to understand the complex processes occurring within Ukrainian society or make an objective assessment of the environment which is furthering the degradation following the forceful seizure of power in Kiev by radical extremists, Kerry operates with a Cold War stamp, offering not to punish those who carried out the government overthrow, but the Russian Federation,” a Russian foreign ministry statement said.
The statement said Moscow “further accused European powers of standing idly by while the ‘newly born Kiev regime’ trampled on the EU mediated agreement of February 21, in which Yanukovich reached a deal with the opposition to settle the crisis.”
“The ministry noted the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland had signed off on the document which was thrown out of the window when opposition forces seized power the next day. In the process, the West has effectively allied itself with neo-Nazis who are smashing up Orthodox churches and synagogues while “declaring war on the Russian language.”
The ‘real power’ in Ukraine
A knowledgeable Ukrainian source in Stanford, Calif, told WND the “real power in Kiev and much of Western Ukraine today belongs to several rival neo-Nazi factions whose masked, well-armed adherents are busy looting abandoned properties and shaking down businesses for money to support their ‘revolution.’”
“They have already made territorial demands to each of the countries bordering the Ukraine, including the NATO members Poland, Hungary and Romania, and they have declared their intention to acquire nuclear weapons,” the source said.
Other European neo-Nazi parties, such as Jobbik in Hungary and the Golden Dawn in Greece, are “amateurs compared to Ukraine’s Svoboda and Right Sector,” said the source.
The Ukrainian groups use “the same slogans and the same Nazi symbols they used in 1941-1944, when they butchered 200,000-300,000 Poles and Jews, and in 1945-1954, when they butchered in the most gruesome ways imaginable tens of thousands of peaceful Ukrainian citizens whose only crime was to refuse joining their ranks.”
“Today, much of Ukraine is frozen in horror, fearing that the neo-Nazis might unleash a bloodbath that would overshadow the crimes they committed in 1941-1954,” the source told WND.
He said many of the neo-Nazis’ current leaders collaborated with Chechen terrorists during the Chechens’ terror campaign against Russia in 1990s.
“We have no idea what awaits us next,” the source told WND. “Russia may be able to save the Crimea from the neo-Nazis, but it would probably not have enough muscle to save Ukraine proper.”
Sources say that Right Sector and the other ultra-nationalist groups are linked to a constellation of international neo-fascist groups through the Alliance of European National Movements.
‘Activate’ the fight
Right Sector leader Yarosh’s appeal to Chechen Islamic leader Umarov to act against Russia was posted on Right Sector’s VKontakte social network.
The message, signed by “leader of Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh,” called on Umarov “to activate his fight” and “take a unique chance to win” over Russia.
Yarmosh’s appeal shows “the guts of the so-called new Ukrainian authorities,” according to Aliy Totorkulov, chairman of the Presidium of the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus.
“Extremists, nationalists of all stripes, flooded the peaceful republic threatening it with chaos and violence,” he said.
He added that the Ukraine’s “Maidan sponsors” and those involved in supporting instability in the Caucasus come from a “single-enter” of extremism.
“We strongly support the deployment of Russian troops to resolve the situation in Crimea as well as provide assistance to other Ukrainian regions where the population rejects nationalism and asks Russia for help and protection,” Totorkulov said.