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I read this from the Harper's Magazine, and here is original article.

But perhaps Ukraine’s clearest departure from the standard model of European liberalism is its proliferation of armed far-right factions, considered by analysts and ordinary Ukrainians alike to be the secretly funded private armies of the elite oligarch class. They fought in the trenches outside Donetsk and now patrol city streets, enforcing a particular vision of order with the blessing of overstretched and underfunded police departments. In some regions, they serve as official election monitors.

I do not quite understand the sentence "They fought in the trenches outside Donetsk and now patrol city streets, enforcing a particular vision of order with the blessing of overstretched and underfunded police departments.".

Is the blessing here used in a positive way, or a sarcastic way?

  • positive: The police departments indeed bless the private armies, since the police departments themselves do not have enough fund to patrol the city streets, and the privates armies help them carry out their duty.
  • sarcastic: The police department should stop those private armies from patrolling the streets, but they are not able to do that, since they are overstretched and underfunded. In such a sense, the blessing here is more of a sarcasm.

I was wondering which explanation is correct? or I totally misunderstood the whole sentence...

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The word "blessing" has many meanings, which you can find in an English dictionary. In its original usage it referred to a religious rite, but over time it has come to also simply mean "approval". That is the meaning in this sentence here. The police approved the efforts of these private armies, presumably because they brought at least some semblance of order -- something that they did not have the resources to do themselves.

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  • Ohhhh, I see. Thank you :). I looked up the dictionary, and the phrase with somebody’s blessing means with someone's approval. – TooSchoolForCool Jan 18 at 7:09

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