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Tuesday, August 04, 2015 2:36 PM

More on Ukraine's "Right Sector" Movement

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In response to Ukraine's Ultra-Right Militia Threatens Military Coup, I received an email from Jacob Dreizin on statements made by the Financial Times that I quoted.

Jacob writes ...

Hello Mish,

The FT was inexcusably sloppy in its writing. Here's a quick clarification.

  • The Right Sector is not a battalion, nor do they call themselves one. A battalion is at most 300 men in a compact location, whereas Right Sector has thousands of members across Ukraine.
  • The Right Sector  is more like a "movement", almost a political party, albeit with guns and some for-profit criminal operations.
  • The FT confuses Right Sector with a number of smaller, battalion or regiment-sized groups operating in the occupied parts of the Donbass, some of whom are openly Nazi in orientation.

Despite the threats, the Right Sector is not capable of a coup. It was humiliated in Transcarpathia last month, when it attacked the local mafia over a business dispute, then had to run and hide once the military showed up.

Its threat to launch protests in Kiev fizzled after only a few hundred showed up. After this sad performance, its leaders have had to talk of a coup/revolution in order to save face.

However, it has succeeded in making Poroshenko look even more ineffectual in the eyes of the Western media and perhaps Western governments as well. In that sense, the group is a real threat to Kiev.

More Questions Than Answers

Jacob's comments shed some needed light on Ukraine, but in doing so, created another series of questions.

Whether or not the "movement", as Jacob accurately calls it, is technically capable of a coup may not matter. Might some rogue members try anyway? Alternatively, instead of a coup, might they simply opt to take out Poroshenko and see what happens next?

Kiev was willing to tolerate the Right Sector because its troops took the side of Kiev against the separatists.

However, by calling for a nationwide no-confidence referendum on president Petro Poroshenko, followed up with threats of a coup (idle or not), the movement has created a huge problem for the president.

Another Simmering Pot

Can Poroshenko make the Right Sector an officially recognized unit of the regular army as they demand, even though they call for Poroshenko's removal by force? Should Poroshenko ban them? Ignore them?

Meanwhile, the pot simmers. Attempts by the government to put a lid on the pot could cause it to explosively boil over.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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