Note: This is part of a series. You can read part one and part two here.

The oligarchs and their special interest in volunteer battalions add more risk to Ukrainian stability. An excellent example of this occurred when Ihor Kolomoisky caused unprecedented political backlash resulting in his resignation after a stand-off with security forces when he mismanaged the operational funds of Battalions of Territorial Defense (BTD) Dnipro-1 in March, 2015.

Ihor Kolomoisky blundered by sending armed men to maintain control over Ukrnafta—a state-owned energy company of which Kolomoisky was a minority shareholder and in control of the management and Ukrtransnafta, Ukraine’s state-owned oil pipeline operator. Men like Kolomoisky are detrimental to the democratic government and professional military, reducing their ability to maintain the rule of law and order and to defend the sovereignty of the nation.

Kolokoisky has dramatically shifted power and destabilized the system, impacting the government’s ability to transition effectively with the will of the people. If Ukraine is to successfully take control of this situation, the government will have to finance volunteer battalions alone. The building of a professional army is required to fight and win wars, as well as maintain peace and security. The BTDs and Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (UVC) already lack developed professional military training, discipline, doctrine, and an effective chain of command. It is up to Ukraine to develop its volunteers into professional warfighters or else allow them to continue to be little more than armed mobs.

Forming the volunteer battalions was the strategic causality of government intent to forge a standing army following Euromaidan comprised of citizen-soldiers the people would trust in the aftermath. This gave Kiev the capability to swiftly deploy manpower to counter the pro-Russian separatist forces. The initial organizational and operational table of allowances of the volunteer battalions have, of course, since increased.

Meanwhile, the number of battalions have decreased as the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (MIA)—through the structural assembly of the national guard—has absorbed or disbanded some battalions. In the case of the Azov battalion, the MIA has placed them indirectly under their command. This is not unusual in Ukraine: Political parties have historically aligned themselves with armed citizens.

The boldest symbol of this kind of alliance is the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The battle flag of the UPA can regularly be seen throughout the country, flying from homes and apartments, across the field in the countryside, or displayed on the front lines. The UPA has roots as a partisan army in World War II and was active until 1956 against the Soviet Union, communist Czechoslovakia, and Poland following the German occupation. They are similar to the volunteer battalions of today where citizens volunteer to fight for their nation.

Ukraine has continued to have varying militias sanctioned, emboldened, and politically organized by this conflict because the standing military was simply incapable of fighting the pro-Russian separatists alone. The biggest push to all Ukrainians came with the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia. Only 6,000 of Ukraine’s 140,000 military personnel were ready for combat when Russia came for Crimea.