Putin using far right to destabilize Ukraine, Poroshenko says

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the nationalist "Svoboda" party, participating in the attack on Ukrainian National Guardsmen protecting the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, 2015 (Image: censor.net.ua)

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the nationalist "Svoboda" party, participating in the attack on Ukrainian National Guardsmen protecting the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, 2015 (Image: censor.net.ua) 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

In the best tradition of the Soviet intelligence services from which he comes, Vladimir Putin is “attempting to destabilize the situation in Ukraine by using ultra-right groups,” according to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who told SkyNews that he considers Russia to blame for the deaths of Ukrainian National Guardsmen in Kyiv.

Poroshenko added that Moscow’s approach in recent times has taken on “an unpredictable character.”

But if Putin’s on-again-off-again aggression against Ukraine is unpredictable in one sense – no one can be sure when he will change course next – it is predictable in two others. On the one hand, it keeps both Ukraine and its Western supporters off balance, allowing some in both to suggest that there is a possibility for “peace in our time.”

And on the other, Putin’s penetration and use of extreme right-wing nationalist groups is absolutely consistent with Soviet intelligence service practice and Putin’s own approach not only in reaching out to the radical right in Europe – and he is likely to do more of that during the migrant crisis – but also in using nominally anti-Moscow groups for Moscow’s purposes.

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the nationalist "Svoboda" party, participating in the attack on Ukrainian National Guardsmen protecting the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, 2015 (Image: censor.net.ua)

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the nationalist “Svoboda” party, participating in the attack on Ukrainian National Guardsmen protecting the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, 2015 (Image: censor.net.ua)

Doing so provides him with plausible deniability — many are reluctant to see the hand of Moscow in the actions of groups that are explicitly anti-Russian – thus providing Moscow with cover and ultimately giving the Russian center the chance to sacrifice these groups at will. Indeed, a plan to sacrifice them is inevitably part of Moscow’s modus operandi.

The classic Soviet model for such activities was Operation Trust, in which the Cheka set up a fake anti-Soviet resistance group, the Monarchist Union of Central Russia, allowed some of its members to engage in terrorist actions, used it to identify and attract back to the USSR prominent Soviet opponents, and then exposed it to discredit completely those involved with it.

That group, like others the Soviets set up in the past and that the Russians may be involved in helping to organize or at least exploit now, had three other benefits for Moscow as well.

First, it divided the opposition to Moscow by sowing suspicions among it about who was “real” and who was “fake.”

Second, it allowed Moscow to profit from the fact that many were inclined to dismiss charges of Soviet or Russian involvement with such groups as resembling the little boy who cried wolf, thus undermining the critics in the eyes of others as well and making it even less likely they will be taken seriously.

And third, it helped Moscow identify those who were its most dangerous opponents, people who could not be compromised, and set them up for kidnapping or assassination as in the case of White Russian General Aleksandr Kutepov who was deeply suspicious of the Trust throughout its existence.

Vasily Mitrokhin, the defector who has written about Soviet intelligence operations, underscores the continuing importance of the Trust for Russian intelligence operations and thus for Putin. He says that the Trust archives were not kept at SVR headquarters as one might expect but rather in the special archive of the FSB at the Lubyanka.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Brent

    Tyahnybok should be made to meet with the families of the killed and injured National Guardsmen and explain to them why they were attacked. These are his ‘brothers’ and he unleashed an assault on them.

    Whether Tyahnybok realizes it or not, he has just become a stooge for Putin and now Russia can used this attack as proof of the dangers of Svoboda.

  • Dean Venture

    I don’t doubt for a second Putin has infiltrated Ukraine’s right. Time and time again, he has revealed just how cold and cynical he is, and there isn’t a stone he won’t turn to realize his ends.

    In Putin’s world, hypocrisy isn’t a stain on one’s character, it’s a skill.

  • John G Mckeown

    God help all those poor Ukrainians. Never in the short history of this crisis have i read such maniacal paranoia. This outrageous attempt to associate Russia and Putin himself with the far right in Ukraine would be truly laughable if it wasn’t so sad. The current internal ruptions in Western Ukraine are a result of the current Ukrainian “leadership’s” sad and pathetic begging at the feet of the United States and their European friends that they so wish to emulate. This piece is the sound of a barrel bottom being desperately scraped. For heavens sake stick to the Minsk agreements and offer your people true peace. Disgraceful.

    • gmab

      I you want to read some true maniacal paranoia- switch over to RT, ITAR-TASS, Spudnik. You should have a blast!

  • gmab

    I don’t doubt that Putin’s FSB had a hand in this, as they do in every other hot spot in the country. However, I also put the blame on both party leaders involved. Tahnybok & Lyashko, some Leaders they are. They aren’t doing themselves or their party any favours. Ukrainians won’t put up with this kind of violence. Hopefully, the voters will reflect that next time around.

  • Elmer Mack

    Paul Goble, this is just flat-out misreported.

    I strongly suggest you take a look at the Savik Shuster show of September 4, 2015, including Tyahnybok’s turn at the microphone – and VIDEO of what he was doing.

    And the discussion of the claims about use of the far right. Not everyone who opposed Poroshenko, and the slow pace of reforms, is a tool of Putler – again, that is discussed in detail on the Savik Shuster show.

    True, it’s a long show – but, please, please, please, there is already enough dezinformatsiya coming out of the Kremlin.


  • Vladislav Didenko

    Wow… you guys are really desperate. The same people, who were killing cops during maidan coup d’etat(it really was, despite me agreeing with it or not), were absolute heroes and “just kids”. Ohh, who could’ve seen this coming? The “bloody” Yanukovich, in not very distant near future, will seem like “John Paul II” in comparison to Poroshenko, who of course will be named as a Putin’s agent at the end of his career, as a logical conclusion to this madness. I’ve got to give it to you guys, it is very very entertaining watching it all unfold, if not for thousands of victims as a result of this circus. I stopped watching movies two years ago while enjoying this flick. Bravo… Heil Ukraine! Sieg Heil!
    P.S. And don’t forget, thousands of pics of swastika looking insignia wearing youngsters are all of Putin’s agents, trying to discredit peace-loving activists with Molotov’s cocktails. But they won’t fool you, will they Paul A. Goble? Can you say maccarthyism?