Aris Roussinos: Inside the nationalist militia on Ukraine’s frontline
UnHerd's Foreign Affairs Editor reports from the Donbas
UnHerd’s Aris Roussinos has spent the past fortnight on the frontline in the Donbas, a region in the eastern part of Ukraine and the centre of the current phase of the war with Russia. He was embedded in the nationalist militia ‘Right Sector’, a collection of citizens-turned-soldiers now formally absorbed into the Ukrainian army.
To find out what he saw on the ground, Freddie Sayers spoke to Aris after he returned to the safety of his hotel in Dnipro.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
Hi Freddie, it would be great reporting to have Aris embedded with the Russians. Hopefully they will agree to it. As far as I know, Unherd would be the first western media organisation to do it. If the Russians don’t agree, the LDNR fighters might.
Intrepid war reporter Aris Roussinos went to the Right Sector to ask whether they are Neonaughties. They said no.
Fantastic interview. At the very least, Aris is willing to concede that the Ukrainians are struggling in Donbas. The msm would have us believe that they are inflicting massive casualties on the Russians in every part of Ukraine and are poised for victory.
What I take from this interview is that Ukraine has its own distinct culture. It is not a Western culture in thrall to LGBT dogma or political correctness. Its symbols are not our symbols. There are subtleties of cultural meaning we may not understand. But it is Ukraine’s culture and they’re willing to die for it.
The war is now a proxy war between the US and Russia waged by a despot in the Kremlin and a geriatric cold warrior in the White House. Biden would have us believe we’re supporting the Ukrainians in the name of democracy and Western values. But the US has moved beyond traditional western values and, arguably, democracy. The worst thing we could do is ultimately try to impose the distorted values of modern America on Ukraine or any other country.
I believe we should support Ukraine, but we should also give the Ukrainians the ultimate say in when to negotiate a peace with the Russians. We should not use Ukraine as the battle ground between Russia and a democratic ideal that has been largely overthrown by progressive ideology in the West.
Russia will decide when to negotiate. That will happen when they are in control of all the territory that they want, +20%. In the future peace negotiation, they’ll give back to Ukraine the bit that was secured for negotiating purposes.
Thanks Freddy. I was becoming very dissillusioned with Unherd constantly being pro Right Sector and anti-Russian. This piece is quite timely in that regard. That Unherd tries to find balance is why I subscribed. Aris is as young, idealistic and naive as I thought he was. But a nice fella. Hope you can squidge him into the Russian side ( or the Orc’s side as the Ukrainians like to call all Russians) However I fear that someone who thinks a top-knot wearing, bee keeper who makes swords is ‘cool’ may not have the objectivity for the assignment.
Go and in bed with Russian forces as suggested.see what the other side has to contribute in explaining their purpose. Your golden chance to improve as a war corespondent to proudly and impartially say I’ve seen it from both sides.
I think this war is going to get uglier and uglier. Maybe the aftermath of the war more than anything.
When it comes to negotiations, Zelensky is going to have his work cut out for him. Groups like the Right Sector won’t take well to him making concessions. The whole population is now armed to the teeth. Hopefully the central government will be able to maintain cohesion.
An insurgency has already kicked off in Russian occupied cities. The Ukrainian army were specifically trained in insurgency tactics by the US.
The insurgency mightn’t stop because of a peace agreement, even if the government wanted it too.
The Russians, true to form, will not deal with an insurgency in an intelligent way..
They will be brutal, that will lead to massively increased insurgency recruitment. It could turn out to be a far more brutal version of Northern Ireland. Putin really f*cked up.
Hopefully it won’t spread further than Ukraine and Russia. The longer it goes on, the greater the risk it could destabilise the wider region. I forsee big trouble ahead. I hope I’m wrong.
I fear too many observers miss the obvious point: Putin is running out of soldiers, but daren’t begin a draft. To do so would lose him the Moscow middle class. He would surely fall.
Moreover, even if he did, Ukraine is 4 months ahead of him. And soon the weapons will be ready.
Ww2 nostalgia underpins most of the wrong-headed ideas about this war. That’s fine for people who know little about either war or Russia.
But when it’s Putin who is deluded, it places the whole Russian nation in jeopardy–yet agai.n.
For Ukraine the choice seems to be how high their losses are before they receive superior weapons–to then convert the Russian army to junk. Any force that still can’t take a single minor town in Donbas is no longer a serious force–save for Soviet-era nukes.
The only real question after this debacle is whether Russia can remain united, or splits into half a dozen states like th FSU.
A shameful end for a power that actually did mankind some good on occasion.
Gosh what a remarkable story! It’s difficult to see beyond the violence and destruction so it’s fascinating to see other aspects – the human side of things. In particular the resurgence of peasant costume – literally flowers rising from the ashes. I note the last time I saw Alexandra Tolstoy she was wearing one too. We are all Ukranians now.
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe