There is now a real and growing danger of military confrontation or war in Ukraine.
Political authority in Ukraine, already weakened by months of confrontation between an irreconcilable political opposition and an irresolute president, seems to be disintegrating before our eyes. The country can be compared to a patient who in the attempt to cure one ailment has unleashed a host of others. In this case, the effort to rid the country of corruption and nepotism has led to a highly questionable transition of power, economic collapse, a rash of vandalism and vigilante justice all across Ukraine, the rise of radical nationalism and even the possible loss of Crimea, accompanied by Russian military intervention on Ukrainian soil.
Things seemed benign enough last November, when people gathered spontaneously on the Maidan to protest the government’s decision to delay the signing of the EU Association Agreement. Their protest was belatedly joined by leaders from the parliamentary opposition parties, who sought new elections. But it was the uncompromising stance of the radical alliance known as The Right Sector that actually led to Yanukovych's ouster. Without the latter’s willingness to use violence to overthrow the old regime, both the amnesty agreement of February 17, and the political accord witnessed by the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France on February 21, would be in place today. Had that accord been implemented, the country would have first established a new constitutional framework and then preceded to hold presidential and parliamentary elections under it. Instead, having staged a classic coup d’etat that “self-removed” the president, the political opposition parties now find themselves beholden to those that brought them to power—the radical nationalists.
Given the hopes of so many in the West regarding this latest Ukrainian revolution, it is important to clearly understand the radical nationalist agenda. Within the parliament they are represented by the Svoboda Party, which received just over 10 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections. Citing Svoboda’s “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views,” the European Parliament issued a resolution on December 13, 2012, that called upon on all pro-democratic parties in Ukraine “not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.” Today Svoboda holds key leadership positions in the parliament and law enforcement, four ministerial portfolios in the new government and several appointed governorships.
On the Maidan, meanwhile, it is the Right Sector that wields authority. It answers to no one and continues to view the National Revolution as incomplete. As described on its official website, its members are critical of party politics and skeptical of the “imperial ambitions” of both Moscow and the West. The former are easy to identify, but the latter are no less dangerous to the awakening Ukrainian national spirit. With its sweet talk of “dialogue” and “compromise” Right Sector authors say the West is sapping the will of the nation. Ultimately, however, the people will see through these deceptions “and, hardened by the flames of National Revolution, rise up in opposition to the ‘democratizers’ and their local lackeys.”