However, by 2005, Svoboda had begun to purge its more extreme elements, broke with other European neo-Nazi groups and attempted to take on a more moderate hue. It has since clashed with other neo-Nazi groups, including the radical Right Sector at Euromaidan during the protests that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych. Along with moderation came political success, with Svoboda’s vote increasing from a negligible proportion to around 10.4% in the 2012 elections. Some Ukranian neo-Nazi groups also had members elected as independents, although failed to gain inclusion in the new government. That Ukrainian Nazis were key allies of German Nazis in World War II is not lost on Russian politicians. This then feeds into Russian concerns over what one former British diplomat posted to Moscow has referred to as its own "arc of instability", which ranges from Belarus bordering Poland to the west, Moldova and Ukraine to the south-east and the troubled Caucasus region of Abkhazia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan and the rest to the south and south-west. Without its outer layer of the old Soviet bloc states to the west, unable to fully control otherwise independent former Soviet states and with ethnically distinct regions variously attempting to separate, Russia, in its darker moments, is afraid. This fear provokes a bombastic assertion, as if to ward off past nightmares. In its more rational moments, Russia seeks future security through the Eurasia Union trading zone. But it remains brittle when challenged -- hence Russia’s intervention in the now less pliable Ukraine. There is little economic value in creating Crimea as an internal part of the Russian state, and even its strategic value is less than it once was; Russia has other Black Sea bases. But this effective annexation is an assertion of regional dominance, which has been to date successful. Assuming a continued lack of Ukranian compliance, Russia’s next step is likely to be "assisting" ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine also break away. The West will continue to protest, without a united voice. But Russia’s "facts on the ground" are just that, and no one is going to war over Ukraine, probably including Ukrainians themselves. *Professor Damien Kingsbury is director of the Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights at Deakin University
Cornered, the Russian bear likely to show its teeth in region
Russia's increasing aggression in the Ukraine is a result of its deep-seated fear of outside aggression. Without a pliant Ukraine, Russia may take more drastic measures.