Right Sector: Kiev playing good cop-bad cop against Ukrainian rebels
Homes in the city of Donetsk in East Ukraine have been shelled. One person has been killed. Despite the shelling anti-government forces claim they've started to pull out more weapons from the front line. Officials of the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk have invited the OSCE to witness the withdrawal adding that it's intended as a sign of good will. The self-proclaimed republics now hope to see similar steps being taken by the Ukrainian army. Kiev though says it's not given any command to withdraw.
RT: We've seen pictures of the withdrawal carried out in the presence of the OSCE, so why do you think Kiev's accusing anti-government forces of violating the ceasefire at the same time?
Aleksandar Pavic: It’s because the war has never really stopped; even the truce and even the Minsk Accords are just tactical steps. No one has changed, primarily the government in Kiev; they have not changed their strategic aim nor have their sponsors. They want control over all of Ukraine and they get concessions where they have to, but fundamentally there is no goodwill to really come to a comprehensive agreement that will be agreed upon among all the parties. We just have this example of this latest constitutional amendment that’s supposed to be going up before the Supreme Court in Ukraine: the representatives of Lugansk and Donetsk Republics were not included in this commission. So that just shows that really everything is just being treated as a sort of a game instead of a real push to find some sort of a peace.
RT: On Saturday, hours after the withdrawal was announced, the city of Donetsk was shelled. Is this connected, these two events?
AP: Absolutely it is, it is all connected. You just have this carrot and stick, you have these alternative strategies and it’s nice to also have forces that are supposedly not under the control of Kiev - the so-called radical forces like Right Sector, etc. formally not under control of Kiev in fact they publicly renounce Kiev. But then they do some shelling or they do something against the other side, and Kiev has deniability and that’s just a recipe for more war. That reminds me very much of the situation in ex-Yugoslavia twenty years ago. We just had dozens of truces being achieved and yet they were just being used to buy time to rearm, to reorganize and just get ready for the next round of war. What we really need is a firm decision on the part of Kiev’s sponsors to say: “Ok, this is enough; we want a Ukraine that will be acceptable to both neighbors to the East and to the West; until that happens we will just have more war and tactical truces.”
RT: Earlier this month, anti-government forces withdrew all their forces from the main conflict zone in the Donetsk region - the village of Shirokino. But some pro-government paramilitaries refuse to leave the area if Kiev says it's withdrawing, isn't there always the risk of paramilitaries staying behind? What part can they play in destabilizing the whole process?
AP: They can play a very large part and who is to say that this is not something that was agreed upon behind closed doors out of the public scene by Kiev and the so-called radical forces. It’s just a good cop and a bad cop set-up, it very well could be. Let’s take this thing seriously. Kiev has enough political clout, enough international support, enough arm power that if they wanted to squelch these extremist, radical forces they could. The fact that they haven’t means that they really don’t really have the will to do so and that’s the main problem. Once again, intentions are not open, transparent and honest enough. That’s the whole point. If Kiev wanted to control the Right Sector, they would.
RT: Why doesn’t Kiev want to control these groups then?
AP: It’s very convenient to have forces that you supposedly don’t control. They could potentially be forces that you are not really controlling, but they also could give you just deniability saying “Oh, they are out of our control, what they do we are not responsible for.” And yet they are doing exactly what is benefitting [to Kiev]. So if Kiev wants somebody to break the truce, to violate a peace agreement, Kiev can remain blameless if you can blame things on radicals that are not under its control. Like I said, it’s a classical good cop – bad cop approach, but it’s probably being coordinated at the very top because these radical forces are relatively small compared to what Kiev has at its disposal regarding military, security forces and international support.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.