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"Moscow Must Burn": Ukraine's "Christian Taliban" Pledges Anti-Russian "Crusade"

"Like the majority of Ukrainian people, I think (the new leadership) is bad ... They steal a lot. When Yanukovich was stealing, that was bad. But these people are clearing up when the country is at war, so they are guilty on two counts. This is marauding."

Those are the words of Dmytro Korchynsky, the commander of "Saint Mary", a volunteer battalion that, like Ukraine’s official forces, is fighting to subdue the Russian- backed separatists who control the eastern part of the country. 

Korchynsky - who spoke to Reuters - shares his generalized disaffection for the Poroshenko government with other Ukrainians who feel that little has changed since the ouster of Viktor Yanukovich. 

"The (Maidan) revolution was interrupted by the aggression (in the east) and the patriots left Maidan and went to the east to protect Ukraine. Only 10 percent of people in positions of power are new; the rest are all the same, pursuing the same schemes they always did", says Serhiy Melnychuk, an MP and volunteer battalion founder who also sat down with Reuters. 

Over the course of the last year, Ukraine has become the battleground for a proxy war between Russia and the West. It’s one of several pieces currently in play on the geopolitical chessboard, and its citizens, like those of Yemen and Syria (fellow pawn nations), have been forced to endure a humanitarian crisis while more "consequential" countries sort out how the spoils will be divided and how borders will be redrawn.

Some Ukrainian nationalists however, have chosen to take matters into their own hands, taking up arms against the separatists and likening themselves to a "Christian Taliban" bent on ensuring that "Moscow burns."

Here’s more from a Reuters special report on Ukraine’s "maverick battalions":

From a basement billiard club in central Kiev, Dmytro Korchynsky commands a volunteer battalion helping Ukraine's government fight rebels in the east. 

 

A burly man with a long, Cossack-style moustache, Korchynsky has several hundred armed men at his disposal. The exact number, he said, is "classified."

 

In the eyes of many Ukrainians, he and other volunteer fighters are heroes for helping the weak regular army resist pro-Russian separatists. In the view of the government, however, some of the volunteers have become a problem, even a law unto themselves.

 

Dressed in a colorful peasant-style shirt, Korchynsky told Reuters that he follows orders from the Interior Ministry, and that his battalion would stop fighting if commanded to do so. Yet he added: "We would proceed with our own methods of action independently from state structures."

 

Korchynsky, a former leader of an ultra-nationalist party and a devout Orthodox Christian, wants to create a Christian "Taliban" to reclaim eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. He isn't going to give up his quest lightly.

 

"I would like Ukraine to lead the crusades," said Korchynsky, whose battalion's name is Saint Mary. "Our mission is not only to kick out the occupiers, but also revenge. Moscow must burn."

 

Most of Ukraine's almost 40 volunteer battalions grew out of squads of protesters who battled the Berkut riot police during the protests on Kiev's Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, which began in November 2013. 

 


 

After the protests toppled President Viktor Yanukovich, pro-Russian separatists rose up in the east of Ukraine in April, 2014, demanding independence from the new government in Kiev, which they called a "fascist regime." In response, several leaders of the Maidan protests raced east with fellow protesters to try to stop the rebel advance.

 

Numerous brigades and battalions formed haphazardly, with most leaders accepting anyone willing to fight. Serhiy Melnychuk, who founded the Aidar battalion in eastern Ukraine and is now a member of parliament, said he signed up people between the ages of 18 and 62 and "from the homeless to pensioners."

 

Irregular though theses forces were, some acquired weapons from the Defense Ministry, officials and battalion leaders said. Others received money and equipment from wealthy oligarchs. They became powerful forces in the struggle against pro-Russian separatists. 

 

In his billiard club headquarters, commander Korchynsky of the Saint Mary battalion made his disdain for the government plain. "Like the majority of 

Ukrainian people, I think (the new leadership) is bad ... They steal a lot. When Yanukovich was stealing, that was bad. But these people are clearing up when the country is at war, so they are guilty on two counts. This is marauding."

 

He said the revolution that began with the Maidan had been interrupted, but would one day be completed. He did not say when.

 

If so, he will have to confront Poroshenko. On July 16, the president, decried the problems posed by unspecified "internal enemies" of the country.  He told parliament: "I will not allow anarchy in Ukraine."

So in the end, we suppose the question is whether US weapons shipments to Kiev will be handed out to Ukraine's "Christian Taliban" and whether they, like their namesake, will one day turn those weapons back on the US once the Russians have been expelled. 

Scratch that. The real question is this: what does George Soros think?