The “Night of Long Knives” Cometh?
It is being reported that the Right Sector and all formations which are not under UAF or National Guard juristicion have been ordered to leave the ATO zone not later than April 1. It is an order which, in the words of a Right Sector unit commander, they have been warned “not to disobey.”
The Right Sector is protesting, claiming that once they leave, it will fatally undermine the defensive lines, and they are likewise opposed to their units being disbanded. Moreover, they are playing the “Putin card”, by claiming that Poroshenko has betrayed them at Minsk. It is easy to imagine that once they are out of the ATO, it will be difficult for them to justify their existence and, especially, their weapons. One other tangible effect will be the elimination of the Right Sector from the profitable smuggling operations between Ukraine proper, the Donbass, and Russia.
Poroshenko is clearly trying to take advantage of the firing of Kolomoysky, which was a useful demonstration of power, to press his advantage and take out a number of other potential rivals. Whether that will help him, or Ukraine, is another question. His nation-wide approval rating is now under 20%, according to a recent survey.
The order presumably does not affect the Azov Regiment, or any other “volunteer” formations which are formally part of the National Guard.
However, it is also evident that the SBU is rapidly gaining in importance and prestige, in part thanks to Nalivaychenko’s backing of Poroshenko in his struggle against Kolomoysky. The SBU has already launched a “full-scale operation” against Dnepr-1 militants who have allegedly killed an SBU officer. According to recent statements by Poroshenko and Nalivaychenko, the SBU can count on a major reorganization, expansion, and change of emphasis that will make it into a de-facto political police whose main function will be the stifling of political dissent. In practice it will probably look something like this:
A billboard in Kharkov: “Lifestyle” Separatist. Disfigures national symbols. Awaits the coming of the “Russian World.” Punishment: 7-12 years imprisonment (Article 110 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code). If you hear or see something, call 0 800 501 482.
So at long last Poroshenko will get himself a loyal (?) Praetorian Guard. But then again, that’s what the National Guard was supposed to be, and we know how that turned out…