Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Can Ukraine be pulled back from the brink?

Kiev’s military offensive into the east and south of Ukraine has all but ensured the failure of the Geneva agreement, setting the stage for a Russian response as NATO deploys troops to the region.

As the bloody military crackdown continues in predominately Russian-speaking areas of the country, the deteriorating situation in Ukraine has given rise to appalling inter-ethnic violence. The wave of pro-autonomy protests has swept through at least 17 cities and towns in the east and south of Ukraine, as activists occupy public buildings to demonstrate their rejection of the putsch regime in Kiev that unconstitutionally usurped power in late February. Ukraine’s military – with assistance from ultra-nationalist militiamen aligned with the Right Sector – has focused its assault on key cities such as Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, and Lugansk. During clashes between pro-autonomy protestors and ultra-nationalists in Odessa, sources indicate that members of the Right Sector were behind the deadly fire set in the Trade Unions House in Odessa, which killed dozens of activists who holed themselves up inside the building. In towns and villages under siege, members of the Right Sector have allegedly opened fire on unarmed anti-Kiev activists attempting to block ultra-nationalist militias from entering their villages.

These developments are extremely troubling when considering that members of the Right Sector and other groups with neo-Nazi ideals have been integrated into high positions in the Kiev regime. The group’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, claims that all of the Right Sector’s actions are coordinated with the unelected authorities in Kiev. The agreement ironed out in Geneva on April 17 calling for an end to the occupation of public administration buildings and the disarming of all illegal military formations in Ukraine has not been observed by either side, while Kiev’s brutal offensive against pro-autonomy activists is an open transgression of the deal. Much like the agreement brokered in February prior to the ouster of former president Viktor Yanukovich, the putsch regime in Kiev has failed entirely to adhere to its commitments to make substantive steps in defusing the crisis.

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Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at