Ukraine: What the current violence means

One Ukrainian national guardsman was killed and nearly 90 others wounded in clashes with nationalist protesters as lawmakers backed a bill given more autonomy to rebel-held areas.

Taras KuzioResearch Associate, Centre for Political and Regional Studies, Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta

Poroshenko’s plans for decentralisation are a good thing and long overdue as Ukraine is too centralised and still has a Soviet territorial- administrative system. But, Poroshenko like most Ukrainian politicians does not understand the importance of lobbying public opinion which is either suspicious or does not understand the policy.

The violence is a product of war and conflict that in every country and historically in Europe forged national identities. Ukrainian volunteers who went to fight bought their own equipment last year and this remains in private hands, as we saw today outside parliament and in Mukachevo in July.

The irony is that the decentralisation is not supported as going far enough by the separatists and Putin. And too far for Ukrainian nationalists who have a point when they say why should we bend over backwards implementing Minsk-2 when Russia and the separatists are ignoring it.

Stephen BittnerProfessor of History, Sonoma State University

Svoboda and Right Sector—the groups behind the violence in Kyiv– are openly fascist in orientation, but they represent a small minority of the Ukrainian electorate. More sound minds understand that if Ukraine escalates a war with Russia in the east, Ukraine will lose. There is no stomach in the West to provide Ukraine with sufficient military support to prosecute a successful offensive in the east, given overwhelming Russian superiority. Ukrainians are willing to fight to limit territorial further losses, but they know that Donetsk and Luhansk will not be regained without a change of policy in Moscow.

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