NATO NATO expansion NATO-Russian Ukrainian War NATO-Russian War Russia Russia and America Russia and Europe Russia and the West Ukraine Ukrainian civil-military relations Ukrainian Crisis Ukrainian neofascism Ukrainian politics Ukrainian ultranationalism world split apart

Maidan Meltdown, Ukrainian Chaos, and a Russian Quagmire?

 It is being reported that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskii met with Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Gneral Staff Viktor Zalyuzhnii and Chief of the Ukrainian Ground Forces Oleksandr Syrskii and that they discussed continuing the counteroffensive in the south towards Melitopol and the Azov Sea, demanding it be intensified. Zalyuzhnyi reportedly repeated his opposition to this operation because of the heavy losses. Zelenskiy responded that at the Vilnius summit NATO gave Ukraine until November to make progress in the counter-offenisive, after which time the West will begin reducing its material support for the war and expect Kiev to begin negotiations with Moscow (; see also the first minutes of the Military Summary report of 14 July 2023,

Faced now with a likely military disaster as they press ahead with a failing venture now in haste, Kiev is certain to face collapsing support from the West. As a consequence, Zelenskiy finds himself caught between several hot burning flames. On the one hand, he cannot override the opposition to negotiations with Moscow among Ukraine’s ubiquitous nationalists, ultra-nationalists, and neo-fascists, even if he has the united support for such a step from the West, which is highly unlikely at least this year. The above-mentioned nationalist and fascist elements are often as anti-Western as they anti-Russian. Thus, not just because of demands for the West but for domestic political survival, Zelenskiy must continue the counteroffensive, indeed somehow intensify it given the lack of results thus far at the present level of intensity.

Not surprisingly, the attitude prevailing in the President’s Office or ‘Bankovaya’ (as it is called locally in allusion to its location on Bankovaya Street in Kiev) is dismal, according to one source: “(O)n Bankovaya everyone realized at the NATO summit that they began to throw us under the bus, but they do it in a Jesuitical style, they smile in our face, and they negotiate with the Kremlin behind our backs. The most insulting thing for Zelensky is that we were thrown under the bus by the British, who last year did not allow us to sign the Istanbul peace treaty, and now they are talking about military assistance” ( The reference to the ‘Istanbul peace treaty’ is to Boris Johnson’s March 2022 ‘mission to Kiev’, likely made at Washington’s behest, in which the West sent the message to Zelenskiy that Kiev must not sign any agreement with Moscow that had stipulations that would put an end to NATO expansion to Ukraine.

As Kiev and Washington alienate each other, blaming each other for the faulire of NATO’s Ukrainian project there at least two potential reactions inside the Ukrainian elite. One is that the ultranationalist and neofascist wing will strengthen, with moderates and moderate nationalists becoming ultra-nationalists and ultra-nationalists becoming neo-fascists. These will lead to the fascization of the regime which Moscow has claimed is already fascist. Instead of having coopted the ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists, the Maidan regime will move fully into ultranationalist-neofascist mode. The other path is full-bore  inter-factional conflict and even internecine warfare, as the regime already is beginning to eat itself in ever more accusatory mutual recriminations. Thus, on the one hand, Zelenskiy takes a grave risk in moving to talks with Moscow, which will be regarded as treason by hardliners. But on the other hand, he will be blamed by some for being duped by the West for not taking a chance on the Istanbul peace or at least ceasefire when there was a chance in April 2022 only two months into the war.

Infighting is already mounting. Kiev’s mayor and a founding force of the Maidan regime Vitalii Klichko publicly stated that Zelensky is initiating police searches of his political rivals and possible presidential candidates. Klichko is currently under investigation for alleged corruption, while Zelenskiy’s money laundering from criminal oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskii has been left unexamined. In reacting to an interviewer’s question regarding rumors that he himself could become a nominee in presidential elections, which Zelenskiy recently said cannot be held as scheduled but only after the war, Klichko responded: “Such questions are often asked to me. And then Vladimir Aleksandrovich Zelensky starts to get nervous, and then secret police searches (obyski) begin against me or other people after such questions about the presidency” ( This is further confirmation of our assertions that Ukraine’s democracy was a very weak one at best and would fully self-destruct during the war ( and But the point here is that in such desperate conditions, power struggles and coup plots find fertile soil. I have already noted the civil-military tensions in Kiev ( Adding intra-civilian political warfare adds another layer of instability to the dynamic.

If the situation at the front deteriorates significantly, we can expect political disturbances in Kiev that could lead to a complete collapse of the Maidan regime and Ukraine’s defenses and even spark a civil war embedded within the present interstate war. In that event, the Russians will be able to mount a decisive counteroffensive, but this will not necessarily mean an end to the chaos. Moscow may be left with a series of nationalist warlords and insurgencies to quell for several years to come. Ukraine will be awash in weapons and no small numbers of outraged ultra-natinalists and neo-fascists even after a Russian victory no matter how one might define one. This will be especially true in very anti-Russian and russophobic western Ukraine. NATO will be more than happy to finance, arm and equip the Ukrainian neofascist underground and any other insurgent elements in order to complicate Moscow’s task and keep it bogged down and unable to drive to the Polish border.

In sum, for the last 18 months the Ukrainian time bomb has only just begun to explode. Things can get far nastier for all the parties involved, but they will nastiest of all for the Ukrainian people in the broader, now quaint civic sense of the phrase that includes both Ukrainians, Russians, and the few remaining Crimean Tatars.










About the Author 

Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, and

Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.

Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group.

1 comment

  1. Another interesting and informative article. Unfortunately, at least to this observer, your concluding remarks seem quite realistic.

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