Ukrainian Army encircled the base of Right Sector (PS, Pravyi Sektor), a political party with a active military wing. The incident is a sign of increasing tensions within Ukraine’s elite. It’s not clear if this is just bargaining on the ground.
In the night from April 28 to 29, units of the 95th Airmobile and the 25th Airborne encircled the base of the Right Sector in the village of Velykomykhailivka in the Dnipropetrovsk region. According to the leader of PS, Dymtro Yarosh, three check points were set up and cars checked during the night.
Yarosh: “They stopped one of our vehicles and demanded the fighters to surrender their weapons. Chief of Staff Viktor Muzhenko did not immediately answer my call and we were not able to discuss the situation at hand … I contacted the paratroopers’ command with whom we fought together throughout the year, and the combat commanders ensured me that they would not turn their weapons against their brothers from the Right Sector, no matter what stupid orders come from evil politicians. I gave the order to all units of the Right Sector to not surrender the weapons.” (censor.net.ua)
The reaction came within hours. Over one hundred activists from Right Sector rallied in front of the Presidential Administration during the day, accompanied by around 50 police units. PS spokesman Artem Skoropadsky said the rally is a warning but other actions will follow if this warning isn’t heard. (PS)
Artem Skoropadsky: “This action is a warning, then it will last as much will burn the presidential administration.” And more specifically: “The next time we set fire to the building of the presidential administration.” (vesti-ukr.com)
A PS’ activist (quoted by censor.net.ua) says that protests will remain peaceful. According to the same source, a consensus is found between Yarosh and the military command. (Latest reports seem to confirm this). Meanwhile the activists are waiting for Poroshenko and shouts are heard asking him to ‘come out’. (censor.net.ua)
Ukrainian Army General Staff said that the actions against PS were military exercises and that the news about it are prerequisites for armed provocations. (liga.net)
As usual there are various interpretations for this event. On one hand, the government in Kiev frequently asked the Right Sector’s units to integrate into regular army and to subordinate under its chain of command. Since Right Sector was operating more independently than usual at the frontline over the last weeks, the government might have come to the conclusion that an army out of control is worse than having no army at all.
Another interpretation is that the tensions might indicate the start of new cycle of escalation between Poroshenko and Kolomoisky (who supports PS’ military wing). The timing might be also explained by the pressure of European politicians on Poroshenko to clean his house – before new credits are spoken.
In general it is another clear sign of the rivalries within the Ukrainian elite.
//edit / update (18.00 UTC): PS agrees on integration into Ukrainian army under the condition that PS’ military wing will be integrated as a whole – no change in leadership or chain of command. See also statement of a PS speaker on fb or translated in Russian)