News / Europe

Ukraine's Expanding National Guard Includes Kyiv Pro-Western Protesters

Ukraine's Expanding National Guard Includes Kyiv Pro-Western Protestersi
Brian Padden
May 08, 2014 7:44 PM
In Ukraine, there has been a sharp rise in military recruitment following Russia's annexation of Crimea and efforts by separatists in the country's east to secede. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Kyiv, many of the new recruits also were part of the protest movement that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych.
Brian Padden
In Ukraine, there has been a sharp rise in military recruitment following Russia's annexation of Crimea and efforts by separatists in the country's east to secede. Many of the new recruits also were part of the protest movement that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mykhaylo, who did not give his last name, is midway through basic training. A few months ago he fought against police during anti-government protests in Kyiv's Maidan Square. Then he said he was fighting for democracy. Now he wants to fight against what he calls Russian aggression.

“I arrived in Maidan and was there for all the period of Maidan. And when we completed our task at Maidan, and this external threat appeared, I joined the national guard,” he said.

Anastasia Polishuk also was part of the movement that swept former Yanukovych from power. Now, she wants to fight for a united Ukraine.

“We are learning as much as we can. Then we are going to the east to protect our country,” Polishuk said.

Ukraine's military offensive in the east against pro-Russian separatists has not produced any decisive victories.

Rebel leaders say they will proceed with a May 11 referendum on autonomy, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin said it should be postponed.

While Ukraine's diplomats continue to look for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, the country has re-instituted compulsory military conscription. The commander of Ukraine's national guard, General Viktor Ganushyak, said these new volunteers are immediately increasing the country's military capability.

“For now the formation of the second national guard battalion of Ukraine is underway. They are signing up at locations not only in Kyiv, but also in other cities and regional centers in Ukraine,” said Ganushyak.

The national guard commander said these new troops will be used to provide security during the upcoming presidential elections, fight insurgents, and protect Ukraine's territorial integrity.
  • A pro-Russian gunman speaks by phone in front of the city hall decorated with the flag of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 8, 2014.
  • A pro-Russia man takes cover from the rain with a piece of wood at the barricades surrounding the Donetsk administration building after a press conference to inform the media about a referendum, May 8, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian gunman atop a car patrols through the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 8, 2014.
  • The mother of a Cossack man killed in the burning of the trade union on May 2 holds a candle while crying next to his coffin during the funeral in Odessa, Ukraine, May 8, 2014.
  • A pro-Russia rebel wearing a gas mask places a Russian flag on the balcony of the city hall in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, May 7, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian flag burns outside the city hall in Mariupol, May 7, 2014.
  • A woman looks at a Ukrainian armored personnel carrier at a checkpoint in Mariupol, May 7, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian soldier talks to a man at a checkpoint near the town of Slovyansk, May 7, 2014.
  • An armed pro-Russian man guards the local administration building behind barricades, with a helmet bearing a flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Slovyansk, May 6, 2014.
  • A worker walks past an information board displaying flight delays and cancellations at the international airport in Donetsk, May 6, 2014.

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Comment Sorting
by: Boston from: USA
May 09, 2014 12:08 PM
Russian thugs have no right to take over Ukrainian land and turn it into a "Nova Russia." They are there because Stalin starved over 6 million plus Ukrainians in the 1930s and sent Russians to take over the properties of the decimated population in order to suppress nationalism. If Russians in eastern Ukraine want to live under Russia, I'm sure the government will pay to have them bused to the Russian border and they can live under Putin's rules.
In Response

by: Laker48 from: Canada
May 09, 2014 1:06 PM
That's exactly the case. Russian-speaking southeastern Ukrainians are still Ukrainians as French-speaking Quebecers are still Canadians. Quebec has already held two referenda in 1980 and 1995 on its possible separation from the rest of Canada and both failed. The party that promoted the separation and promised another referendum was embarrassingly defeated a few weeks ago in the election it had called.

As far as I know there was a referendum held throughout the whole Ukrainian territory in 1991 where all regions decided to quit Russia, even the most recently, illegally annexed by Russia Crimea. Russia should be killed economically with sanctions and expelled from all international organisations whose member states respect human and civil rights.

by: gen from: Japan
May 09, 2014 8:10 AM
The interim governnent in kiev seems to take off the mask of sheep.then it would change to grotesque wolf.The coming president election might be manipulated by new recruited ultra natiionalists. They might opress pro russian people in west regions. But the more right sectors and nationalists of Ukraine were recruited, the bigger chance Russia might have.It would be easy to find the right sector nationalists.

Sun-zu would say "Soldiers! Don't still move like a mountain. Be quiet like a forest. Don't move now.We soon can easily find the target. Okey. You can see the target. Move fast to the target like a wind.Then now! Attack the target like a fire!". That's it. Ukraine would be back to normal and a peaceful country.
In Response

by: Laker48 from: Canada
May 09, 2014 12:45 PM
Russia doesn't stand a chance to subdue Ukraine, a 46-million nation where over 40 million hate Russia (not necessarily Russians). Occupation of Ukraine or even a part of it would bog Russia down ten times deeper than the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan leading to between 50,000 and 100,000 dead (the real numbers are still secret) and the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union. Ukrainians have long history of fighting against Russia.

BTW, the Crimean Tatars have recently threatened that if Russia keeps persecuting them as it's been the case since the illegal annexation of Crimea a month ago, the'll go underground and launch a resistance movement. It's their land and they don't have anywhere to go. Russia is already up for way more trouble Putler has ever bargained for.

by: meanbill from: USA
May 08, 2014 8:11 PM
TRUTHFULLY, the only way to bring peace to Ukraine, is for the eastern pro-Russians to vote and secede from the pro-western Kiev led Ukraine before the May 25, 2014 elections, -- (BECAUSE?) -- Only then will the outcome be settled between the independent state, and the new Kiev Ukraine government, and no matter how the pro-western Kiev Ukrainians vote, it won't matter anymore.....
EVERYTIME the US, EU, and NATO interfered in the politics of other countries, like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria, they brought violence, death, destruction, and war -- (AND?) -- they have (never) brought peace to any of these countries, -- (AND NOW?) -- Ukraine is another country the US, EU, and NATO politically interfered in, isn't it? -- (What did they bring?)...
In Response

by: Laker48 from: Canada
May 09, 2014 12:32 PM
The best solution for Ukraine is to seal its border with Russia and, next, move to the cities and towns terrorised by armed local thugs led by Kremlin-sent professional spetznaz commandos and clean up the mess. Afterwards, all Russian-sent "little green people's" bodies should be re-sent in body bags directly to Putler's attention.

BTW, shame on the UK and the US as co-guarantors of Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity as the co-signatories of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum Russia was the third co-signer of guaranteeing Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity in exchange for the surrender of its nuclear arsenal.

Both the US and the UK lost any legal and moral rights to demand that Iran and North Korea surrender or abandon their nuclear weapons developments programmes and I wouldn't be too surprised if more states ignored any nuclear weapon non-proloferation treaties.

by: Gregory Bradley
May 08, 2014 6:27 PM
When the extreme right groups took to the streets and forced the selection of a new government from the far right groups in the parliament, the greatest fear in the east was that the para-military groups would be organized into a military unit the way Hitler maneuvered into power with the brownshirts and then replaced them with the SS.

Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
In Response

by: Jaycey from: Zaporozhzhte, Ukraine
May 09, 2014 4:01 AM
So the far right organised the composition of our new parliament?

They obviously didn't make a very good job of it - only 4 seats out of 350!

Could you find Ukraine on the map?

[Zaporozhzhye, Ukraine]
In Response

by: Laker48 from: Canada
May 09, 2014 3:45 AM
You mustn be writing about Putin and his goons sent to Crimea, southeastern Ukraine and, yes, Kyiv during the Maidan protests against Putin's lapdog and at least three times convicted, sentenced and jailed felon Yanukovych who managed to steal $100 billion over less than three years.

Russia is a fascist state and Putin a 21st century impersonation of Hitler, but with much less charisma. BTW, at least several million social media users refer to Putin as Putler.
In Response

by: Brent from: Canada
May 09, 2014 3:26 AM
Comrade Gregori Ivanovitch,

Stop trying to portray to portray the interim government as right wing fascists. This Russian propaganda is a load of garbage no better than what Russian tv is trying to spread. This is nothing more than an interim government trying to pick up the pieces left after Yanukovych fled the country with bags of money only to be protected by his buddy Putin.

Putler's agenda of trying to protect "Russian speakers" mimics Hitler's protection of Germans in Austria and Sudetlanand. The Soviet Union was aligned with Hitler when they agreed to carve up Poland and only disassociated themselves from them when Hitler's blitzkrieg into Soviet territory surprised them. Now they view themselves as the conquerors of Nazi Germany when it was America and the lend-lease program that saved Europe from Nazi domination.

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