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Political Rift: Is Zelensky Surrendering Positions to His Own Executioners?


Dragana Trifkovic
21st Century Wire

For the past few months, the world has been following the bloody events in Ukraine. The European media has been covering the war in great detail, but has been silent on the many political processes taking place on the territory of this possible new EU member state. The reality is that Ukraine is currently undergoing a deep political crisis, seriously exacerbated by Russia’s invasion. More specifically, we are talking about a confrontation between two important figures on the political scene – President Volodymyr Zelensky and former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. 

Arsen Avakov is one of the country’s most influential politicians. For seven years, from 2014 to 2021, he served as the country’s interior minister – an absolute record for the modern Ukraine. No one else has held a leadership position in the government for that long. Avakov also formally and informally controls nationalist movements in the country. Under his authority is the notorious Azov battalion, which is a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard and reports directly to the Interior Ministry. In addition, Avakov is on the political council (governing body) of the People’s Front party, also known for its radical views. Before joining the government, Avakov was in charge of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. There he developed a network of special formations – from scattered nationalist circles and associations of football fans, he managed to form full-fledged organised paramilitary movements (1). Avakov used this resource during the 2014 Maidan events to overthrow the regime at that time, after which he took over the top position in the Interior Ministry.

By increasing his political weight, the former minister has promoted his appointees to key positions in various ministries and has acquired power based on brute force, becoming a direct threat to members of the rest of the system.

The struggle between Zelensky and Avakov is the president’s fight against the out-of-control security forces. In 2021, Zelensky attempted to regain power over them and sent Avakov to resign. But the problem has not been eliminated, as Avakov’s loyalists continue to remain in power, and the paramilitary forces informally controlled by the former minister are one of the country’s main strike and defence forces.

With the outbreak of the war, Avakov’s resources have significantly increased. His units are fighting against Russian forces and their actions play a key role in the fighting. Without Azov and similar regiments, Zelensky will stand little chance of countering Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The president is well aware that the more the conflict with Russia drags on, the more his resources are depleted, and Avakov’s power grows.

Zelensky’s goal in this conflict is to reduce the role of the former minister’s formations in the Ukrainian army. Telegram channels reported that an official paper signed by SBU chief Bokanov, which said that representatives of special units of the Ukrainian army – members of the Azov battalion should be eliminated – has been circulating online.

According to these reports, special services have been ordered to conduct “Operation Black Phoenix”, which is aimed at carrying out sabotage on the territory of Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in order to eliminate the Azov representatives who surrendered (2). Additionally, there are reports that the Ukrainian army is using “Grad” multiple rocket launchers to attack the remand centre in the village of Olenivka, where captives of this battalion are being held (3). The deeper the Russian army moves into Ukraine, the more casualties regular Ukrainian defence personnel suffer, the more valuable Avakov’s armed formations become. Whether Avakov and his hand-held formations ends up becoming a threat to Zelensky’s regime will be clearer in the next couple of months.

References:

(1) https://www.politnavigator.net/politolog-rasskazal-kak-avakov-podchinil-sebe-kharkovskikh-nacistov.html
(2) https://t.me/soroka_belaya/871
(3) https://t.me/readovkanews/34118

Author Dragana Trifkovic is a Serbian journalist, politician, political analyst, and general director of the Center for Geostrategic Studies. She was born in Belgrade, Serbia where she finished primary, secondary school and higher education. At the basic studies of the University of Belgrade, she acquired the title of graduate engineer, and then she completed a master’s degree in natural and technical sciences, as well as a multidisciplinary master’s degree at the University of Belgrade – Terrorism, Organized Crime and Security. She defended her master’s thesis on the topic “Participation of fighters from the Balkans in the establishment and operation of the terrorist organization Islamic State”. She completed additional trainings in the Russian Federation: CSTO Academy and seminars at the Center for Anti-Terrorism of the Commonwealth of Independent States. She continued her doctoral studies at the Technical Faculty of BU and the Faculty of Philosophy in Moscow.

READ MORE UKRAINE NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Ukraine Files

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