The soldiers of the Azov battalion (the Ukrainian ultra-right group, with many leaders and participants suspected in many criminal cases in Russia) will remain in the village of Zolotoye, Luhansk region, after the withdrawal of the Armed Forces troops, as provided for by the Contact Group in Minsk. This was announced in a video message by the leader of the “National Corps” and the first battalion commander, the famous nationalist Andrei Biletsky.
According to him, the “Azovites” will protect and support residents whom the Ukrainian authorities “want to leave without cover”, as well as “fight” with “filthy Minsk and the Steinmeier formula”.
He emphasized that the fighters who had taken arms in 2014 to fight for the country would remain in Zolotoy, even “if the authorities abandoned them to their fate, even if the troops were withdrawn.”
– If the president and the government do not fulfill their direct duty to protect every Ukrainian, every centimeter of Ukrainian land, then we, the volunteer veterans, will do it again, – the radical said.
Biletsky also claims that “hundreds and hundreds” of local residents asked them to stay.
– This is our last checkpoint, and we are giving our word that we will never leave it,” he summed up.
This time it’s not students with armatures who go to the streets, but militants armed to the teeth
Recall that on October 1, after the signing of the Steinmeier formula by the Ukrainian side, the OSCE Special Representative for Ukraine, Martin Saydik, said that “we managed to determine a specific date for the resumption of the separation of forces and assets” – October 7.
The agreement on the creation of three pilot security zones – in the village of Lugansk, Zolotoy and Petrovsky was reached in September 2016 and the same autumn was implemented, but only partially – in the area of Zolotoy and Petrovsky. In this case, subsequently, Ukrainian troops again occupied these territories.
It was possible to agree on the breeding of the district of the village of Lugansk only at the end of June, already under the new Ukrainian government.
Last week, it became known that representatives of the Ukrainian government will visit the settlements of Donbass in the near future, where they plan to deploy troops in order to “personally verify that nothing threatens the locals.” This was reported on the page of the office of the Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky on Facebook.
At the same time, as Biletsky emphasized in his address, the fate of Ukraine today does not depend on the authorities, but on people who go to all cities of the country to show their opposite will.
Recall also that the completion of the withdrawal of troops is one of the conditions for the meeting of the “Norman Four”. If Biletsky and his militants disrupt the breeding, they will disrupt the summit.
It should be noted that in the cities of Ukraine, opponents of the “Steinmeier formula” and the Minsk agreements continue to speak out. Sunday’s rally in Kiev on Independence Square, which was attended by supporters of ex-president Poroshenko, militants of the “Right Sector”, OUN and the “National Corps,” according to some reports, gathered about 10 thousand people.
– Underestimating the actions of the“ party of war ”will be Zelensky’s mistake, however, Beletsky’s statements and actions should not be exaggerated, – said Larisa Shesler, chairman of the Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine.
- He arrived in Zolotoy not at the head of the formed paramilitary unit, but along with several dozen former ATO participants. His promises to “protect civilians”, of course, can complicate the process of troop withdrawal in Zolotoye, but, in my opinion, these are more likely advertising actions designed to remind the forgotten names of Ukrainian radicals.
- And yet Zelensky does not control the situation at the front at all? Does anyone even control it, or is there complete anarchy?
- So far, Zelensky manages to maintain control of the armed forces, which is why the “parties of the war” have to mobilize “nationalist volunteers.” Of course, among the military there are many opponents of a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Donbass, but so far they want to shift all responsibility for the foiled truce to disobedient nationalists, so they got the White Leader doll (nickname Biletsky).
– If you imagine that they disrupt the divorce of troops, it turns out that they also disrupt the “Norman” summit. Who benefits from this in Ukraine, and who doesn’t?
– Zelensky is most interested in meeting in the “Norman” format. It is for this meeting that he fulfills conditions that just recently seemed absolutely impossible. An exchange of military and political prisoners was made, even Ukraine extradited Zemakh, who was kidnapped by the SBU from the DNR, and Zemakh was assigned the role of a key witness in the case of the downed Malaysian Boeing. The Ukrainian side has signed the so-called “Steinmeier formula”, which determines the procedure for holding elections in the republics. The Ukrainian side assured of its readiness to carry out the withdrawal of troops in Zolotoy and other points on the demarcation line. But, in my opinion, the goal of Zelensky is not a compromise in the Donbass, but an attempt to once again shift all responsibility to Russia for a murderous war. The meeting in the “Norman format” should, in Zelensky’s idea, turn into a clash of a single “European front” supporting Ukraine with the Russian “aggressor”.
Any promises and actions of the Ukrainian authorities mean “we will hang later.” And at the same time, Zelensky’s policies are opposed by those for whom the war in the Donbass makes it possible to write off civilians and insane theft of the military budget and the impoverishment of the inhabitants of Ukraine as war and robberies.
– Who do you think is behind the thousands of shares in Ukrainian cities against the “Steinmeier formula”? What does the association of supporters of such sworn antagonists as Biletsky and Poroshenko say? Ukrainian journalist Tatyana Montyan claims that Ukrainian oligarchs and officials, as well as ex-president of Ukraine Poroshenko, may be involved in the protests. In addition, she names the names of Kolomoisky and Avakov. Is she right?
– Far from tens and hundreds of thousands took part in rallies and actions “No surrender”. The crowd on the Maidan in Kiev and other cities looked rather fluid and unconvincing. Of course, Poroshenko became the main sponsor and organizer of these actions, for whom the war is the main topic by which he hopes to avoid trial.
- It is clear that the participation in these actions of Beletsky betrays the involvement of the Minister of Internal Affairs Avakov in them, since it is well known that Avakov was the patron of the “National Corps”. It is possible that both Avakov and Kolomoisky are trying to hinder the frisky President Zelensky with these actions, intimidating him with the new Maidan. In addition, by such actions Avakov once again shows his own indispensability and ability to steer informal units of radicals.
– It is interesting that after this Zelensky can even go for the denunciation of Minsk, making excuses to the West, which, they say, the people demand. Will it go? Or vice versa – can turn the tide?
– I am sure that Zelensky, on the contrary, will strongly emphasize the implementation by Ukraine of the Minsk Agreement. The whole question is that Ukraine’s interpretation of the “Steinmeier formula” and the Minsk agreements have nothing to do with real agreements. The Ukrainian authorities dream that the result of the reintegration of Donbass into Ukraine will be the physical destruction of the opposition in the Donbass, deprivation of the inhabitants of Donbass of real political rights, the destruction of the Russian language in all spheres of society.
- This result, in my opinion, is very real, and Western human rights activists will turn a blind eye to gross violations of all agreements, as they turn a blind eye to the rights of Serbs in Kosovo or Eastern Slavonia. But in order to get this result, it is necessary to involve Russia in the signing of agreements and understandings, which then Russia will implement, and Ukraine – to violate.
- Andrei Biletsky is not an independent figure in Ukrainian politics, – says Yevgeny Valyaev, political analyst at the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society Institutions “People’s Diplomacy”.
- Immediately after the Maidan, he entered the circle of influence of more significant political figures, collaborating with the Popular Front party Turchinov, Avakov and Yatsenyuk.
Even his victory in the elections to the Verkhovna Rada in 2014, he owes to Arsen Avakov, who then removed his rival Zoryan Shkiryak from the elections. In exchange for deputy and patronage from Avakov, Biletsky almost completely stopped public political activities, focusing on the work as the head of the special forces unit “Azov”, which is part of the National Guard of Ukrainians. The National Guard, in turn, is subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, which under Poroshenko and Zelensky is headed by Arsen Avakov.
- Avakov never showed devotion in politics. He always defends, first of all, his own interests, and political parties for him are just instruments of the political game. Before the “Maidan” he was a member of the party of Yulia Tymoshenko, after – he joined the “Popular Front”, and worked in the government of President Poroshenko with all its members. When Avakov saw that Poroshenko was losing the campaign to Vladimir Zelensky, he made another maneuver, becoming the only minister who came after the change of power in Ukraine in 2014 and did not lose his post after the 2019 elections. Avakov owes this survivability in many respects to the radicals that he built into the system of internal affairs bodies, directly controlling such leaders as Andrei Biletsky.
- Avakov showed his neutrality during the 2019 parliamentary elections, ensuring security during the election race and on election day, thereby proving to Zelensky the benefits of being at the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at least during some transitional stage. Avakov learned to control nationalist groups, making it his important political resource. Avakov managed to sell Zelensky his resources and capabilities that allow the newly elected president to deal with other issues and not be distracted by police reform and media and street wars with nationalist groups. That was exactly before the implementation of the Steinmeier formula.
- There is reason to believe that Avakov retained his post by showing Zelensky that after the parliamentary elections there is a possibility of a scenario in which Petro Poroshenko will take revenge by starting another Maidan directed against the new president. Such a scenario was even discussed at the level of elected deputies of the new convocation of the Verkhovna Rada. Any “Maidan” in Ukraine is impossible without the participation of radicals. Not all such groups are controlled by Arsen Avakov, and Poroshenko’s financial capabilities are very large in order to transfer some of them to his side. Moreover, Avakov did not have a relationship with the “Right Sector”, nor does he control the party of Ukrainian nationalists “Freedom”.
- That is, Poroshenko can stand behind the current protests?
- Poroshenko is one of the main actors in protests against the “Steinmeier formula.” The 10-thousand rally in the center of Kiev, held under the slogan “Stop surrender,” was organized by Ukrainian nationalist Andriy Levus, who is responsible for the radicals in Poroshenko’s team. Levus ’speeches at protests sound the most harsh, he even threatened to arrange an“ end to the Zelensky regime ”if the“ formula ”is not canceled. This plays into the hands of Poroshenko. At a minimum, by increasing the street resource, he will be able to bargain with Zelensky for his immunity from criminal prosecution. As a maximum, he will retain an increased rating among the population and will remain in active politics, staking out for himself the place of the main oppositionist.
- Avakov in this situation, as an experienced and cunning politician, must show his importance and consolidate his position for a long time. After all, at the appointment of Avakov Zelensky expected that he would take the post of head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for some temporary transitional stage, which was not part of Avakov’s plans. The statements of the Azov battalion that they would not comply with the orders of the troop withdrawal center should show the possible problems Zelensky might face if the Azovites were not controlled by such a person as Avakov.
- There is full confidence that Azov will not take radical steps against Zelensky, and their words are a tactical bluff beneficial to Avakov. For Zelensky there is a danger on the part of those political radicals who either retained their independence or are currently subordinate to In any case, Zelensky will go to the dismissal of Avakov or not, he will eventually have to reform the National Guard, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other power structures in order to clean out the political radicals who came there after 2014.