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"I think we should divide this question into two parts: what happened in Ukraine from December 2013 until February 2014 during the so-called Euromaidan revolution or the Revolution of Dignity. And, then, what happened afterwards when Ukraine was subjected to the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea by Russia ..."
The most important defections took place at the end of January 2014 and in February and they happened within Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, the army and the business community. Yanukovych had all the intentions of creating the second Tiananmen, but this time in Central Europe. He was willing to use an extreme violent force against protestors. The fact that protestors resorted to violence during those couple of days gave Yanukovych justification to use indiscriminate force against them. He called in the army because he knew he did not have enough police or interior security forces to deal with a huge number of protestors that occupied central Kyiv. According to a secret plan called “ Boomerang and Wave”, the government needed 20.000-25.000 security forces to take down Maidan. To do that, Yanukovych had to mobilize army units and transfer them to Kyiv. Army units he tried to mobilize refused to come in the end. Yanukovych was sensing that his regime was collapsing from within. This was recorded by the security cameras in his opulent palace on February 19th. Three days prior to his actual departure, he was already packing his things in anticipation of fleeing Kyiv. This finally happened before the worst violence broke out on February 20 and 21. Yanukovych had all willingness to use violence but he was left without real capacity to inflict that violence because the people were defecting from him. And people were defecting because the movement had mobilized masses by that point and could claim that it represented the Ukrainian society including its shared grievances. Even people in the security forces, the army and some in the Yanukovych party shared that grievances and felt the pressure of the society.
"There are at least two elements of that dynamics that I found important in order to understand Yanukovych departure. Firstly, there was a ‘backfire’ – when the resistance is nonviolent and violence is used against it, it can backfire, increasing sympathy and mobilization for the resistance... Secondly, another important mechanism during the nonviolent resistance in Ukraine was the process of defections from the main pillars of Yanukovych’s regime and those defections happened within the security forces and the police."
"The disproportionate violent force that was used against the unarmed people helped facilitate these defections. So I would look at the processes that the nonviolent movement created and accelerated rather than the processes that might have been brought about by some opposition violence."
"Ukrainian government literally shot itself in the foot by giving Russia the violence it always claimed was the part of the Ukrainian repertoire of struggle. In response to the volatile situation in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government launched a so-called anti-terrorist operation or ATO with the support of the armed voluntary battalions whose formations were spearheaded by the radical Maidan factions."
"Despite some successes and some battles won, the war was essentially lost. When the military campaign was launched, it was based on hope that Russia would not intervene if the rebels get pulverized by the Ukrainian army."
"...there is this tendency of media and policy experts to focus on something that is visible and eye catching – on the interactions of top elites, negotiations between the Ukraine government, Poroshenko and Putin, and the dynamics of conflict between Western countries and Russia in the context of international sanctions... At the same time, I think there is a need to look at the strategies and tactics that are deployed on the ground and determine how helpful they might be in order to galvanize and gain that international support."
"Power of nonviolent movements comes from grassroots, when people decide to commit to the movement and to what it stands for. No amount of external aid can substitute for that grassroots power. Having said that the role of the international community, or the role of international nongovernmental organizations and other non-state actors could be helpful for nonviolent movements. And I think the international assistance for nonviolent movements can develop on both normative and practical levels."
"I have to add that there is not much understanding of how international community can help nonviolent movements. Usually, the international community resorts to a standard type of measures, such as sanctions against the regime. So, the focus is on inflicting pain on the opponent of a nonviolent movement rather than on how to assist nonviolent movement and with what aid."
TO BE CONTINUED
Next time, Maciej talks on the Arab Spring, the role of youth in nonviolent struggle and the intellectual foundations of nonviolent resistance. Stay tuned and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Nonviolent Struggle in World Politics - A Special Interview With Dr. Maciej Bartkowski [Part 1] and our Timeline of Ukraine Crisis