"Ukraine Has a Place for All:" The Strange Views of Right Sector

Right Sector, one of the more important Euromaidan self-defense units, has caught the eye of our media with their radical stances, violent confrontations with police, and apparent similarities with National Socialists.

While the media heavily focused on their rabid nationalism and potential anti-Semitism, what’s been overlooked is some of their strange views on race and their own country. The leader of the group, Dmytro Yarosh, gave an interview to Ukraine’s Pravda where he outlined his organization’s view, motivations, and objectives.

Some of it is good material that identitarians should agree with, but there’s one response that demands skepticism:

As far as we understand, the Freedom (Svoboda) Party is closest to you in ideological views…

Yes. We have a lot of common positions when it comes to ideological questions, but there are big differences. For instance, I don’t understand certain racist things they share, I absolutely don’t accept them. A Belarusian died for Ukraine, and an Armenian from Dnipropetrovs’k died for Ukraine. They are much greater comrades of mine than any, sorry, Communist cattle like Symonenko, who play for Russia but are ethnic Ukrainians.

Stepan Bandera once advocated three ways of dealing with non-Ukrainians. It’s very simple. You deal with them as comrades – and this is for those who fight with you for Ukraine, regardless of their nationality. You deal with them in a tolerant way – for those who live on the land and do not oppose our struggle; thus, we treat them normally, Ukraine has a place for all. The third way of dealing with them is in a hostile way – and this is for those who oppose the Ukrainian people’s national liberation struggle. And this is in any state; any people takes exactly these positions.

Social nationalism is very complicated for me, because it is my belief that nationalism does not require anything extra; it is enough. Oleh (Tiahnybok – Ukrains’ka Pravda), too, has lately tried to go the way of traditional nationalism. Thank God. Although there isn’t much of a point talking about ideological discussions during a revolution. Finally, our guys stand at the barricades just like guys from Svoboda. This unites us.

Bear in mind that this is a translated article and some of the meaning might’ve been changed, but there are some definitely strange points that come out of this quote.

One is that Right Sector seems to opposes racial nationalism and believes that all citizens of Ukraine can be good nationalists, regardless of their ethnicity. Two, that “Ukraine has a place for all”…does this mean any person on the planet can become a Ukrainian if it is a place for all? Finally, there’s a resistance to any type of nationalism that isn’t just plain, vanilla nationalism.

Now this could be simply Yarosh trying to make his group look more sympathetic in the eyes of a hostile media, but these are bizarre statements to make for a group that is frequently smeared as a band of neo-Nazis and seen as heroes by some right-wingers. Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the more mainstream Svoboda Party, made a much more agreeable statement when speaking with the Israeli Ambassador (of all people!) by indicating that he simply wants for Ukraine what Israeli nationalists want for their own country.

His view of nationalism has eerily similarities to that of American civic nationalism. Yarosh's belief that his country has a place for all and it’s not just a country for ethnic Ukrainians is remarkably similar to those conservatives who dismiss the idea that America is a white nation and think any person can be a good American.

His dismissal of Svoboda’s interesting concept of social nationalism#Nationalism) and knee-jerk-like hatred for Russia shows that his nationalism really hasn’t progressed much past that of a soccer “ultra.”

Ultimately, despite their cool propaganda, Right Sector is dedicated to a type of ideology that is not in our interests. They’re dedicated to a type of civic nationalism where the interests of preserving a state(that is basically a mish-mash of territories and ethnic groups cobbled together by Nikita Khrushchev) is more important than that of preserving their race or even that of their own ethnic group.

What kind of nationalism is that?