The Ukrainian government depends on the Right Sector and needs it to do things that the government would not like to be seen doing themselves, such as blockading petrol stations, UK journalist Neil Clark told RT.
Activists from the nationalist Right Sector party have barricaded several Lukoil filling stations in western Ukraine, demanding free gas from the Russian oil company, according to the OSCE.
RT: The petrol stations are being blocked, which are a lifeline for many people. Why isn't anything being done to stop this?
Neil Clark: It is very important to understand what the relationship between the Ukrainian government and the Right Sector is. The Ukrainian government would not have come to power without the folks of the Right Sector, which is a far-right paramilitary group, a neo-Nazi group, and they need them still today, because they have not got control over the whole country. And they particularly need the Right Sector to do things that the Ukrainian government would not like to be seen doing themselves, such as blockading petrol stations. So it is quite a good cop - bad cop scenario, even though you could not say that the Ukrainian authorities are good cops anyway. However, they need the Right Sector to do things like this. The country is running short of fuel, it is running short of many supplies, and therefore it is better for the Ukrainian authorities if the Right Sector is taking up this kind of activity, blockading petrol stations, rather than themselves.
RT: And this radical Right Sector group is also reportedly demanding that the oil company allocates up to 3 tonnes of oil monthly for the needs of the Ukrainian army. Does that suggest it is representing the Defense Ministry?
NC: Absolutely, that's what it is all about. Of course the Defense Ministry could not do it themselves, so they need the Right Sector to do this. The country is running short of fuel, and basically they are saying to the Russian oil company "Give us your fuel, your oil." It is a war against the Russian citizens in the east of Ukraine.
RT: Also, the gas stations being blocked belong to a Russian company. Surely Ukraine's Right Sector can be in no position to demand fuel from Russians, which it would class as its enemy?
NC: It is almost laughable, because you get the most fiercely anti-Russian forces in east Ukraine, the Right Sector, absolutely ultra-nationalistic, fascist in their attitudes towards Russia, demanding that a Russian oil company gives them oil to help the Ukrainian army fight Russians. You really could not make this story up, it is really absurd, but it shows you the kind of desperate situation Ukraine is in. Of course, the government does not want to control this kind of people, it needs them. It came to power with the Right Sector and it needs them today.
RT: Just how much control do the authorities have over the Right Sector in Ukraine? Can the group do as it pleases?
NC: If the government wanted to change the course and decided to move against the Right Sector it would be very dangerous for the government – the Right Sector have arms, they are very thuggish, they are very powerful. But at least for the next few months the Right Sector are essential to the government in Kiev to maintain control of parts of the country, and we are going to see more of this kind of thing, unfortunately.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.