Most of mainstream American media echo the official U.S. position that Russia is the only aggressor in Ukraine. Here is a collection of articles and quotations from senior U.S. diplomats, academics, military personnel, think tanks, and journalists that explain U.S. responsibility for provoking the crisis.
I hope the collection is useful as a resource for the peace movement.
To be clear, it is not at all my intention to claim that President Putin is innocent. His invasion of Ukraine was a crime — similar to the U.S. criminal invasions of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and (via proxies) many other countries. My aim is to quote experts and articles explaining the extent to which U.S. shares responsibility for the crisis. U.S. actions provoked Russia to act defensively. U.S. provocations included aggressive NATO expansion and support for Russia’s enemies in the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Ukraine. The U.S. exploited the conflict between pro-Russian separatists in the east and south of Ukraine and pro-Western Ukrainians to provoke and weaken Russia.
If you are aware of other articles or quotations I should add to this list, please email me at ThinkerFeeler@gmail.com.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock says in Ukraine: Tragedy of a Nation Divided
Interference by the United States and its NATO allies in Ukraine’s civil struggle has exacerbated the crisis within Ukraine, undermined the possibility of bringing the two easternmost provinces back under Kyiv’s control, and raised the specter of possible conflict between nuclear-armed powers. Furthermore, in denying that Russia has a “right” to oppose extension of a hostile military alliance to its national borders, the United States ignores its own history of declaring and enforcing for two centuries a sphere of influence in the Western hemisphere.
For a critical response to Matlock, see this piece by Robin Knight.
Matlock also wrote Today’s Crisis Over Ukraine
What President Putin is demanding, an end to NATO expansion and creation of a security structure in Europe that insures Russia’s security along with that of others is eminently reasonable. He is not demanding the exit of any NATO member and he is threatening none. By any pragmatic, common sense standard it is in the interest of the United States to promote peace, not conflict. To try to detach Ukraine from Russian influence—the avowed aim of those who agitated for the “color revolutions”—was a fool’s errand, and a dangerous one. Have we so soon forgotten the lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
See also Warnings about Ukraine from top Western strategic thinkers.
Thomas Friedman in the New York Times wrote This Is Putin’s War. But America and NATO Aren’t Innocent Bystanders.
The mystery was why the U.S. — which throughout the Cold War dreamed that Russia might one day have a democratic revolution and a leader who, however haltingly, would try to make Russia into a democracy and join the West — would choose to quickly push NATO into Russia’s face when it was weak.
A very small group of officials and policy wonks at that time, myself included, asked that same question, but we were drowned out.
Friedman quotes George Kennan, senior U.S. diplomat during the Cold War, as saying, “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves.”
Kennan also said, “were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial complex would have to remain, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”
The 2019 RAND Corporation study Overextending and Unbalancing Russia “examines nonviolent, cost-imposing options that the United States and its allies could pursue across economic, political, and military areas to stress —- overextend and unbalance — Russia’s economy and armed forces and the regime’s political standing at home and abroad. ” It includes the paragraph
Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.
The highlighted words indicate that the authors were quite aware that U.S. provocations would cause Russia to respond militarily.
Likewise, the similar RAND study Extending Russia — Competing from Advantageous Ground shows a chess board and includes the words
The steps we posit would not have either defense or deterrence as their prime purpose, although they might contribute to both.
An opinion piece in the NY Times by Christopher Caldwell puts much of the blame for the situation in Ukraine on the U.S.: The War in Ukraine May Be Impossible to Stop. And the U.S. Deserves Much of the Blame. For example, it says something that many mainstream media commentators are hesitant to admit:
In 2014 the United States backed an uprising — in its final stages a violent uprising — against the legitimately elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych, which was pro-Russian.
Caldwell gives a longer analysis of the Ukraine crisis in Complications of the Ukraine War.
William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, wrote How the U.S. Lost Russia—and How We Can Restore Relations in Sept of 2022. In it, he writes,
Many have pointed to the expansion of NATO in the mid-1990s as a critical provocation. At the time, I opposed that expansion, in part for fear of the effect on Russian-U.S. relations….Still, the first step in finding a solution [to the war in Ukraine] is acknowledging the problem and recognizing that our actions have contributed to that hostility.
In an otherwise hawkish Foreign Affairs essay from May, 2022, The Price of Hegemony: Can America Learn to Use its Power?, neocon Robert Kagan writes:
Although it is obscene to blame the United States for Putin’s inhumane attack on Ukraine, to insist that the invasion was entirely unprovoked is misleading. Just as Pearl Harbor was the consequence of U.S. efforts to blunt Japanese expansion on the Asian mainland, and just as the 9/11 attacks were partly a response to the United States’ dominant presence in the Middle East after the first Gulf War, so Russian decisions have been a response to the expanding post–Cold War hegemony of the United States and its allies in Europe. Putin alone is to blame for his actions, but the invasion of Ukraine is taking place in a historical and geopolitical context in which the United States has played and still plays the principal role, and Americans must grapple with this fact.
Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News, wrote Evidence of US-Backed Coup in Kiev.
In 2014, John Pilger wrote a prescient article in The Guardian: In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia. In it he writes
Having masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev, Washington’s planned seizure of Russia’s historic, legitimate warm-water naval base in Crimea failed. The Russians defended themselves, as they have done against every threat and invasion from the west for almost a century.
But Nato’s military encirclement has accelerated, along with US-orchestrated attacks on ethnic Russians in Ukraine. If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role will justify a Nato-run guerrilla war that is likely to spill into Russia itself….
Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run personally by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of “special units” from the CIA and FBI setting up a “security structure” that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by.
Subsequently, Putin showed restraint and tried to find a peaceful accommodation with NATO, but hawks in the US and UK escalated the arming of anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.
See here for an update on that article.
WikiLeaks revealed a 2008 cable from William J. Burns (U.S. Ambassador to Russia) which stated:
NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains “an emotional and neuralgic” issue for Russia, but strategic policy considerations also underlie strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.
According to Univ. of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer, Burns told Condelezza Rice that Russian leadership were united in agreeing that NATO membership for Ukraine was a red line for them. Still, the U.S. persisted. Mearhsheimer said, “The fact is that we pushed NATO right up to Russia’s doorstep, and the Russians said that this was unacceptable.” He also thinks that the major threat to the U.S. is China, and the U.S. proxy war with Russia is a distraction from that challenge.
Likewise, according to this Truthout interview with Noam Chomsky,
in 2008 when he was ambassador to Russia and Bush II recklessly invited Ukraine to join NATO, current CIA director William Burns warned that “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin).” He added that “I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.” More generally, Burns called NATO expansion into Eastern Europe “premature at best, and needlessly provocative at worst.” And if the expansion reached Ukraine, Burns warned, “There could be no doubt that Putin would fight back hard.”
Burns was merely reiterating common understanding at the highest level of government, back to the early ‘90s. Bush II’s own Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recognized that “trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching, … recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests.”
The glaringly obvious record of provocation is, presumably, the reason for the tacit rule that the Russian assault must be called “unprovoked,” a term otherwise scarcely if ever used but required in this case in polite society. Psychologists should have no problem explaining the curious behavior.
Note: Chomsky condemns the invasion and says that it was unjustified even though it was provoked.
Yale Professor Emeritus of political science and the former director of the MacMillan Center’s Program in European Union Studies, David R. Cameron wrote Frustrated by refusals to give Russia security guarantees & implement Minsk 2, Putin recognizes pseudo-states in Donbas and invades Ukraine . It includes:
More than anything else, it was the refusal of Ukraine to implement the provisions of Minsk 2 – especially the provision that would give the predominantly Russian-speaking regions a special constitutional status – that caused Russia to threaten military action against Ukraine.
From Modern US Warmongering Is Scaring Henry Kissinger:
In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, immortal Hague fugitive Henry Kissinger says the US is acting in a crazy and irrational way that has brought it to the edge of war with Russia and China:
Mr. Kissinger sees today’s world as verging on a dangerous disequilibrium. “We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to.”
Newsweek reports in Henry Kissinger: Ukraine Should Give Up Territory to Russia to Reach Peace that Kissinger said,
Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.
Alfred de Zayas, a former senior lawyer with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says in The Ukraine War in the Light of the UN Charter:
The war in Ukraine did not start on 24 February 2022, but already in February 2014. The civilian population of the Donbas has endured continued shelling from Ukrainian forces since 2014, notwithstanding the Minsk Agreements. These attacks on Lugansk and Donetsk significantly increased in January-February 2022, as reported by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
I was the UN representative for the elections in Ukraine in March and June 1994 and criss-crossed the country, including Crimea. Without a doubt, the vast majority of the population there and in the Donbass are Russian and feel Russian. This brings up the issue of the jus cogens right of self-determination of peoples, anchored in articles 1 and 55 of the UN Charter (and in Chapters XI and XII of the Charter) and in Art. 1 common to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Wittner seems to forget that the US and EU supported the illegal coup d’état against the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, and immediately started working together with the Putsch-regime in Kiev, instead of insisting in re-establishing law and order as provided for in the Agreement of 20 February 2014.
In 2014, Foreign Policy published The Loan That Launched A Crisis, which says
Late last year, with Ukraine’s state coffers running low because of overspending on political priorities like subsidizing natural gas and increasing the wages of government workers, President Viktor Yanukovych faced a choice. The European Union offered a trade deal that promised to boost Ukraine’s sluggish economy in exchange for harsh and politically unpopular austerity measures. Russia offered $15 billion and didn’t ask Yanukovych to change much of anything. Unsurprisingly, he rejected the EU deal and opted for Moscow’s bailout instead. Thousands of angry Ukrainians took to the streets in protest, and they haven’t left.
The U.S., the IMF, and pro-Western groups in Ukraine worked hard to align Ukraine with the West. This background is important to understand the context of the Russian invasion.
From Truthout: Claims Over Broken Promises About NATO Simmer at the Heart of the Ukraine Crisis
The U.S. expansion of NATO reflected an attitude of recklessness and hubris. According to former Defense Secretary William Perry, the predominant view of Russia in the Clinton administration was: “Who cares what they think? They’re a third-rate power.”
At least some senior figures were alarmed by the U.S.’s arrogance. Former CIA Director Robert Gates later criticized NATO’s eastward expansion, arguing that it was a bad move since Gorbachev was “led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”
In 1995, 20 former U.S. officials wrote an open letter stating that NATO’s planned expansion risked “convincing most Russians that the United States and the West are attempting to isolate, encircle, and subordinate them.” The letter also stated that the Russians “pose no threat to any state to the west, nor is there any evidence of an imperialistic surge among the Russian people.” Even Paul Nitze — an architect of the Cold War and a longstanding anti-Soviet hardliner — signed the letter. Then in 1997, veteran Soviet expert George F. Kennan declared, “Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era.” U.S. policymakers were warned about the likely consequences of their actions.
James W. Carden wrote in Simone Weil Center’s America’s Crisis of Reality and Realism: A Symposium (Part I):
The de facto alliance of Ukrainian westernizing liberals and the fascist Ukrainian far-Right which together drove the so-called Revolution of Dignity in 2013-14 ignored their obligation to respect the democratic process. The violent overthrow of the duly elected Ukrainian president was praised in the US and in certain European capitals as a victory for the “right” of Ukrainians to choose their European future, but was in fact a violation of their obligation to respect the results of a democratic election – and by extension their obligation to respect the will of their fellow citizens in the southern and eastern parts of the country.
Fiona Hill in the New York Times’ Putin has the U.S. right where he wants it:
At the time, I was the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia, part of a team briefing Mr. Bush. We warned him that Mr. Putin would view steps to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO as a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action. But ultimately, our warnings weren’t heeded.
NATO and U.S. hypocrisy about Ukraine is summarized in Helena Cobban’s A Korea-style armistice for Ukraine?:
Residents of the country’s eastern provinces have been hammered hard by the Ukrainian military, over the course of several years now. Their fate has been almost ignored in Western media.
In Ukraine today, there is only one internationally recognized state and Russia’s claims that the populations of Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kherson should be allowed to secede have not been widely recognized internationally. NATO, however, which in 1999 energetically and by military means supported Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, and many of whose members supported the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, is not in a great position to object to the principle behind Russia’s claims.
Caitlin Johnstone’s The Mass Media Used To Publish Perspectives On Ukraine That They Would Never Publish Today quotes from the 2014 opinion piece by Seumas Milne, in The Guardian: :
the Ukrainian president was replaced by a US-selected administration, in an entirely unconstitutional takeover,” and about “the role of the fascistic right on the streets and in the new Ukrainian regime…. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia…… [Y]ou don’t hear much about the Ukrainian government’s veneration of wartime Nazi collaborators and pogromists, or the arson attacks on the homes and offices of elected communist leaders, or the integration of the extreme Right Sector into the national guard, while the anti-semitism and white supremacism of the government’s ultra-nationalists is assiduously played down.” He says that “after two decades of eastward Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure.
Johnstone quotes from another Guardian essay, by John Pilger: In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia, which says that Washington
masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev ….Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run personally by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of ‘special units’ from the CIA and FBI setting up a ‘security structure’ that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup.
The United States withdrew from the following arms treaties:
- Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty
- Strategic Arms Reduction (START II)Treaty
- Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
- Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran deal
- Open Skies Treaty
- Conventional Armed Forces Treaty (Russia withdrew after alleged NATO non-compliance)
The book Not One Inch by M.E. Sarotte, Professor of Historical Studies at Johns Hopkins University, says that the U.S. missed an opportunity to work more collaboratively with Russia by expanding NATO eastward. The phrase “Not One Inch” refers to promises given to Russian leaders by U.S. and NATO allies about NATO expansion towards Russia.
The December 24, 2021 email newsletter from the New York Times reports that no written or even verbal agreement was made with Russian leaders about NATO refraining from moving east towards Russia:
Soviet forces would fully withdraw from East Germany, allowing Germany to reunify under NATO-allied West German control, in exchange for significant financial support from the West. The Soviet Union was in dire economic straits at the time, and Mr. Gorbachev under intense domestic political pressure.
Mr. Gorbachev understood, and according to his own notes conveyed, that this meant accepting NATO eastward expansion.
“I told Baker: We are aware of your favorable attitude toward the intention expressed by a number of representatives of East European countries to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact in order to join NATO later,” he wrote in his notes from a May 1990 meeting, according to Dr. Sarotte’s translation.
Almost the same argument is made in this New Yorker piece.
But This 2009 NY Times opinion piece by Sarotte says that “there were mixed messages and diplomatic ambiguities.” Specifically, Secretary of State James Baker and Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany
journeyed to Moscow within a day of each other. On Feb. 9, 1990, Mr. Baker asked Mr. Gorbachev, “Would you prefer to see a unified Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position?” Mr. Gorbachev, according to Mr. Baker, answered that “any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.”
Kohl of Germany assured Mr. Gorbachev, as Mr. Baker had done, that “naturally NATO could not expand its territory” into East Germany. … Mr. Kohl’s foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, visiting the Kremlin as well, assured his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, that “for us, it stands firm: NATO will not expand itself to the East.”
But the U.S. soon pushed back on such promises.
George Washington University’s National Security Archive reports NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard. “Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner.”
Vladimir Putin swears that Washington betrayed a promise that NATO would move “not one inch” eastward and justifies renewed confrontation as a necessary response to the alliance’s illegitimate “deployment of military infrastructure to our borders.” But the United States insists that neither President George H.W. Bush nor any other leader made such a promise.
As quoted in Ukraine war follows decades of warnings that NATO expansion into Eastern Europe could provoke Russia
In June 1997, 50 prominent foreign policy experts signed an open letter to [President Bill] Clinton, saying, “We believe that the current U.S. led effort to expand NATO … is a policy error of historic proportions” that would “unsettle European stability.”
YouTube video of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar in Ukraine (December, 2016)
Surrounded by Ukrainian soldiers in U.S.-style Army fatigues, and with Senator Amy Klobuchar watching, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain promise to help Ukraine stop Putin. After each statement, a Ukrainian translates for the Ukrainians.
Lindsey Graham: “2017 will be the year of offense. All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia. Enough of Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price. Our fight is not with the Russian people but with Putin. Our promise to you is to take your calls to Washington, inform the American people of your bravery, and make the case against Putin to the world.”
McCain: “I believe we will win, I am convinced we will win, and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win, We have succeeded not because of equipment but because of your courage. So, I thank you, and the world is watching, and the world is watching because we cannot allow Vladimir Putin to succeed here, because if he succeeds here he will succeed in other countries.”
They stand for a photo and applaud.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR): ‘Disinformation’ Label Serves to Marginalize Crucial Ukraine Facts
For example, the New York Times (4/11/22) claimed that US support for the 2014 “Maidan Revolution” that ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a “conspiracy theory” being peddled by the Chinese government in support of Russia.
But the U.S. clearly did aid the overthrow, as documented in this compendium, and as was admitted even in the NY Times (see the opinion piece by Christopher Caldwell, quoted above). Furthermore, according to FAIR:
When the Times covered the Russian annexation of Crimea, it acknowledged that the predominantly ethnic Russian population there viewed “the Ukrainian government installed after the ouster last weekend of Mr. Yanukovych as the illegitimate result of a fascist coup.” But now the newspaper of record is using allegations of disinformation to change the record.
Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, wrote (and he confirmed by email):
Under basic principles of international law, high level government officials acting within the scope of their official authority can bind a state under international law. It does not have to be in writing. Over the years I have dealt with some of the top Soviet/Russian international lawyers. They know these rules as well as I do. Clearly, these commitments would preclude the concerned NATO states from admitting Ukraine as a NATO member. It is time for them to put this binding commitment into writing as Russia has demanded in order to solve this matter.
I point out, by the way, that just because Gorbachev didn’t get in writing the promise not to extend NATO eastward, that doesn’t mean that it’s smart and wise to extend NATO eastward.
Cato Institute’s The U.S. and NATO Helped Trigger the Ukraine War. It’s Not ‘Siding With Putin’ to Admit It.
Moscow’s cruel overreaction deserves emphatic condemnation. However, the culpability of the United States and its NATO allies also is sizable. Moving an alliance that one great power dominates to the border of another major power is inherently destabilizing and provocative.
Those people who are familiar with even the basics of international relations should grasp that point; it was inexcusable that so many U.S. and NATO leaders apparently did not do so.
One can readily imagine how Americans would react if Russia, China, India, or another peer competitor admitted countries from Central America and the Caribbean to a security alliance that it led—and then sought to add Canada as an official or de facto military ally. It is highly probable that the United States would have responded by going to war years ago. Yet even though Ukraine has an importance to Russia comparable to Canada’s importance to the United States, our leaders expected Moscow to respond passively to the growing encroachment.
They have been proven disastrously wrong, and thanks to their ineptitude, the world is now a far more dangerous place.
The Center for American Progress published this essay in the Washington Post in 2004:
Events in Ukraine have inspired most people living in the free world. Ukrainian democrats stood together in the freezing cold to demand from their government what we citizens of democracies take for granted: the right to elect their leaders in free and fair elections. But not all observers of Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” are so elated. Instead of democracy’s advance, some see a U.S.-funded, White House-orchestrated conspiracy to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, weaken Russia’s sphere of influence and expand Washington’s imperial reach. These skeptics range from presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, columnist Patrick Buchanan, and left-wingers in the Nation and the Guardian.
This odd collection of critics is a little bit right and a whole lot wrong.
Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities — democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc= — but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews and several others to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries and the Soros-funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same.
In the run-up to Ukraine’s presidential vote this fall, these American and European organizations concentrated their resources on creating conditions for free and fair elections. …
The essay goes on to deny that this meddling was significant enough to violate norms. Rather, it aided pre-existing, native groups and wasn’t directly under control of the Bush administration.
This 2004 article from The Guardian, US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev accuses the U.S. of playing a more active, leading role in regime change in Ukraine.
[W]hile the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Jeffrey Sachs wrote this excellent critique of U.S. foreign policy: The West’s Dangerously Simple-Minded Narrative About Russia and China. The overwrought fear of China and Russia is sold to a Western public through manipulation of the facts. It includes:
[C]onsider the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, which was painted in the Western media as an act of unprovoked perfidy. Years later, we learned that the Soviet invasion was actually preceded by a CIA operation designed to provoke the Soviet invasion! [That is a link to an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski.]The same misinformation occurred vis-à-vis Syria. The Western press is filled with recriminations against Putin’s military assistance to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad beginning in 2015, without mentioning that the US supported the overthrow of al-Assad beginning in 2011, with the CIA funding a major operation (Timber Sycamore) to overthrow Assad years before Russia arrived.
The Western narrative about the Ukraine war is that it is an unprovoked attack by Putin in the quest to recreate the Russian empire. Yet the real history starts with the Western promise to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not enlarge to the East, followed by four waves of NATO aggrandizement: in 1999, incorporating three Central European countries; in 2004, incorporating 7 more, including in the Black Sea and Baltic States; in 2008, committing to enlarge to Ukraine and Georgia; and in 2022, inviting four Asia-Pacific leaders to NATO to take aim at China.
Nor do the Western media mention the US role in the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych; the failure of the Governments of France and Germany, guarantors of the Minsk II agreement, to press Ukraine to carry out its commitments; the vast US armaments sent to Ukraine during the Trump and Biden Administrations in the lead-up to war; nor the refusal of the US to negotiate with Putin over NATO enlargement to Ukraine.
See also Sachs’ interview on Democracy Now: “Dangerous” U.S. Policy & “West’s False Narrative” Stoking Tensions with Russia, China.
Sachs played a large role in advising the first post-Soviet government in Russia and was disappointed that the U.S. refused to grant Russia the sort of economic aid that it gave to Poland, as reported here; the clear intent, says Sachs, was to weaken Russia, which suffered a terrible depression, far worse than the 1929 Great Depression.
Chris Hedges’ Chronicle of a War Foretold; also says that the U.S. broke multiple promises to the Soviets about NATO expansion.
There was a near universal understanding among diplomats and political leaders at the time that any attempt to expand NATO was foolish, an unwarranted provocation against Russia that would obliterate the ties and bonds that happily emerged at the end of the Cold War.
How naive we were. The war industry did not intend to shrink its power or its profits. It set out almost immediately to recruit the former Communist Bloc countries into the European Union and NATO. ….
There would be no peace dividend. ….
Once NATO expanded into Eastern Europe, the Clinton administration promised Moscow that NATO combat troops would not be stationed in Eastern Europe, the defining issue of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations. This promise again turned out to be a lie. Then in 2014 the U.S. backed a coup against the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who sought to build an economic alliance with Russia rather than the European Union.
Eighty page document listing the so-called National Endowment for Democracy’s funding for projects in Ukraine, referenced in Washington rushes to hide its ‘octopus’ NED funding in Ukraine.
For example, the list shows us that a Ukraine group ‘InformNapalm’, set up “to debunk myths and expose secrets of the Russian hybrid war” and which claims to be “a purely volunteer endeavor which does not have any financial support from any government or donor”, is actually US Government funded. The group publishes anti-Russian propaganda on its website in 31 languages.
Other sources show us that the U.S. Government funds Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi linked Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (the KVPU), through its NED funded partner the AFL-CIO’s ‘Solidarity Center’. There are few sectors which the NED has not penetrated….
As the New York Times pointed out in 1997, the NED was set up under the Reagan administration in the 1980s “to do in the open what the Central Intelligence Agency has done surreptitiously for decades”. Since WW2 Washington, “usually acting covertly through the CIA, has installed or toppled leaders on every continent, secretly supported political parties of close allies like Japan, fomented coups, spread false rumors, bribed political figures and spent countless billions of dollars to sway public opinion.”
Consortium News editor Joe Luria’s detailed documentation on the role of Nazis in Ukraine and U.S. support for them: On the Influence of Neo-Nazism in Ukraine.
MSNBC: Russia’s Ukraine invasion may have been preventable
The U.S. refused to reconsider Ukraine’s NATO status as Putin threatened war. Experts say that was a huge mistake.
The U.S. may want to be the only great power in the world, free to expand its hegemony with impunity, but it is not. Refusing to see this is dangerous for us all.
Article in Truthout from 2015 explaining how neocons instigated regime change in Ukraine using Neo-Nazis to harass Russia: The Ukraine Mess That Nuland Made.
According to the LA Times’ Russia feels threatened by NATO. There’s history behind that, “some of Russia’s security concerns are real. Offering to discuss them doesn’t qualify as appeasement… Thirty years ago, Russia had a buffer zone of satellite states to its west. Now it has only the unimpressive presence of Belarus.” The essay quotes Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine: “There are some concerns on the Russian side that are legitimate.”
Edward Lozansky, President of the American University in Moscow wrote, “The tragic events that we have now in Ukraine are the direct results of Washington’s post-Cold War policy that rejected post-communist Russia’s proposals for friendship, and win-win cooperation.”
Yahoo News: CIA-trained Ukrainian paramilitaries may take central role if Russia invades
The CIA is overseeing a secret intensive training program in the U.S. for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel, according to five former intelligence and national security officials familiar with the initiative. The program, which started in 2015, is based at an undisclosed facility in the Southern U.S., according to some of those officials.
Likewise, Yahoo News (March 16, 2022): Exclusive: Secret CIA training program in Ukraine helped Kyiv prepare for Russian invasion
As part of the Ukraine-based training program, CIA paramilitaries taught their Ukrainian counterparts sniper techniques; how to operate U.S.-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles and other equipment; how to evade digital tracking the Russians used to pinpoint the location of Ukrainian troops, which had left them vulnerable to attacks by artillery; how to use covert communications tools; and how to remain undetected in the war zone while also drawing out Russian and insurgent forces from their positions, among other skills, according to former officials.
After Russia’s 2014 incursion, the U.S. military also helped run a long-standing, publicly acknowledged training program for Ukrainian troops in the country’s western region, far from the frontlines. That program also included instruction in how to use Javelin anti-tank missiles and sniper training.
Patrick Lawrence: When Correspondents Came Home, Part 2:
John Pilger, the Australian–British correspondent and filmmaker, remarked after the U.S. cultivated the 2014 coup in Kyiv, “The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember.” …
Those readers and viewers who confined their sources of information to the mainstream got some impossibly black-hats, white-hats version of events in Ukraine after the February 21 coup—which was not a coup but a “democratic revolution.” This was just as the policy cliques in Washington wanted it. The U.S. role in the putsch, the presence of neo–Nazis among the putschists, the antidemocratic character of a duly elected president’s overthrow, the new regime’s subsequent bombardment of civilians in the eastern provinces—an eight-year campaign—the wholesale discrimination since against Russian speakers and critical media, the assassinations of opposition political figures, Washington’s use of Ukraine in its longtime drive to subvert Russia—all of this was left out.
Likewise, American media barely covered the fact that the U.S. enlisted the support of Islamic extremists (al-Qaeda) in Syria: “the arming of jihadist fanatics against the secular Assad government, of the savage murders, kidnappings, and torture the CIA effectively financed.”
Douglas Valentine, author of The CIA as Organized Crime, describes some of the history of CIA meddling in Ukraine in this video: The CIA — 70 years in Ukraine.
In the Consortium News article 2022 — Year of Major Power Conflict Over Ukraine former Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott blames the U.S. for provoking Russia in Ukraine and says that Russia may respond by stationing advanced hyper-sonic missiles in Eastern Europe or off the coast of the U.S.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) published the excellent What You Should Really Know About Ukraine. I’ll quote at length.
The West Wants Investor-Friendly Policies in Ukraine
The backdrop to the 2014 coup and annexation cannot be understood without looking at the US strategy to open Ukrainian markets to foreign investors and give control of its economy to giant multinational corporations.
A key tool for this has been the International Monetary Fund….
In Ukraine, the IMF had long planned to implement a series of economic reforms to make the country more attractive to investors.
In 2013, after early steps to integrate with the West, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych turned against these changes and ended trade integration talks with the European Union. Months before his overthrow, he restarted economic negotiations with Russia, in a major snub to the Western economic sphere.
The US Helped Overthrow Ukraine’s Elected President
During the tug of war between the US and Russia, the Americans were engaged in a destabilization campaign against the Yanukovych government. The campaign culminated with the overthrow of the elected president in the Maidan Revolution—also known as the Maidan Coup—named for the Kiev square that hosted the bulk of the protests.
As political turmoil engulfed the country in the leadup to 2014, the US was fueling anti-government sentiment through mechanisms like USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), just as they had done in 2004. In December 2013, Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a long-time regime change advocate, said that the US government had spent $5 billion promoting “democracy” in Ukraine since 1991. The money went toward supporting “senior officials in the Ukraine government…[members of] the business community as well as opposition civil society” who agree with US goals.
The NED board of directors includes Elliott Abrams, whose sordid record runs from the Iran/Contra affair in the ’80s to the Trump administration’s effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government. In 2013, NED president Carl Gershman wrote a piece in the Washington Post (9/26/13) that described Ukraine as the “biggest prize” in the East/West rivalry. After the Obama administration, Nuland joined the NED board of directors before returning to the State Department in the Biden administration as undersecretary of state for political affairs.
One of the many recipients of NED money for projects in Ukraine was the International Republican Institute. The IRI, once chaired by Sen. John McCain, has long had a hand in US regime change operations. During the protests that eventually brought down the government, McCain and other US officials personally flew into Ukraine to encourage protesters.
US Officials Were Caught Picking the New Government
The Washington Post (2/6/14) acknowledged that the call showed “a deep degree of US involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine’s to resolve,” but that fact rarely factored into future coverage of the US/Ukraine/Russia relationship.
Washington Used Nazis to Help Overthrow the Government
There’s a Lot More to the Crimean Annexation
The facts above give more context to Russian actions following the coup, and ought to counter the caricature of a Russian Empire bent on expansion. From Russia’s point of view, a longtime adversary had successfully overthrown a neighboring government using violent far-right extremists.
The Crimean peninsula, which was part of Russia until it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954, is home to one of two Russian naval bases with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas, one of history’s most important maritime theaters. A Crimea controlled by a US-backed Ukrainian government was a major threat to Russian naval access.
The peninsula—82% of whose households speak Russian, and only 2% mainly Ukrainian—held a plebiscite in March 2014 on whether or not they should join Russia, or remain under the new Ukrainian government. The Pro-Russia camp won with 95% of the vote. The UN General Assembly, led by the US, voted to ignore the referendum results on the grounds that it was contrary to Ukraine’s constitution. This same constitution had been set aside to oust President Yanukovych a month earlier.
All of this is dropped from Western coverage.
The US Wants to Expand NATO
The US Wouldn’t Tolerate What Russia Is Expected to Accept
Calling Russia’s Attack ‘Unprovoked’ Lets US Off The Hook by the same author is similar.
FAIR’s Hawkish Pundits Downplay Threat Of War, Ukraine’s Nazi Ties says:
In 2014, the US supported anti-government protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of democratically elected, Russia-aligned Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych (Foreign Policy, 3/4/14).
Last summer, the US and Ukraine led multinational naval maneuvers held in the Black Sea, an annual undertaking called Sea Breeze. The US-financed exercises were the largest in decades, involving 32 ships, 40 aircraft and helicopters, and 5,000 soldiers from 24 countries (Deutsche Welle, 6/29/21).
The US has given Ukraine $2.5 billion in military aid, including Javelin anti-tank missiles (Politico, 6/18/21).
It also quotes The Nation (5/6/21) as reporting
Shortly after the Maidan uprising of 2013 to 2014 brought in a new government, Ukraine began whitewashing Nazi collaborators on a statewide level. In 2015, Kyiv passed legislation declaring two WWII-era paramilitaries—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—heroes and freedom fighters, and threatening legal action against anyone denying their status. The OUN was allied with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust; the UPA murdered thousands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles on their own accord.
Every January 1, Kyiv hosts a torchlight march in which thousands honor Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, who headed an OUN faction; in 2017, chants of “Jews Out!” rang out during the march. Such processions (often redolent with antisemitism) are a staple in Ukraine….
Ukraine’s total number of monuments to Third Reich collaborators who served in auxiliary police battalions and other units responsible for the Holocaust number in the several hundred. The whitewashing also extends to official book Bans and city
wide veneration of collaborators.
The typical reaction to this in the West is that Ukraine can’t be celebrating Nazi collaborators because it elected [Volodymyr] Zelensky, a Jewish president. Zelensky, however, has alternated between appeasing and ignoring the whitewashing: In 2018, he stated, “To some Ukrainians, [Nazi collaborator] Bandera is a hero, and that’s cool!”
The USSR suffered about 20 million deaths in WWII from Nazi invaders. It is not surprising that Russians would feel threatened by right wing opponents on its borders.
Rand Report Prescribed US Provocations Against Russia
For these same reasons of geography and history, Ukraine is a major component of a US/NATO effort to undermine Russia. Current Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, said that over 20 years the US invested $5 billion in the project to turn Ukraine. The culmination was a violent coup in February 2014. Since 2015, the US has been training ultra nationalist and Neo-Nazi militias. This has been documented in articles such as “U.S. House admits Nazi role in Ukraine” (Robert Parry, 2015), “The US is arming and assisting neo-nazis in Ukraine while the House debates prohibition.”(Max Blumenthal, 2018), “Neo Nazis and the far right are on the march in Ukraine” (Lev Golinken in 2019) and “The CIA may be breeding Nazi terror in Ukraine” (Branko Marcetic Jan. 2022).
Univ of Chicago youtube video: Why is Ukraine the West’s Fault? Featuring John Mearsheimer.
Watch: John Mearsheimer & Ex-CIA Ray McGovern Discuss Why “Ukraine Is Going To Get Wrecked”
Presented by the Committee for the Republic in Washington, the discussion features University of Chicago professor and international relations analyst John Mearsheimer, as well as ex-CIA Russia specialist Ray McGovern. It should be noted that McGovern’s CIA career spanned 27 years, which in the latter part included serving as the agency’s presidential briefer at the White House.
Also part of the discussion is Jack Matlock, last US ambassador to the Soviet Union, as well as Ted Postol, MIT professor of technology and international security. Additionally, Susan Eisenhower, grand-daughter of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, was part of the panel.
The video describes U.S. provocations toward Russia, including withdrawal from treaties, expansion of NATO, and aiding in the 2014 revolution in Ukraine.
The Cato Institute (not a radical Marxist outfit!) wrote America’s Ukraine Hypocrisy which includes:
The extent of the Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s politics was breathtaking. Russian intelligence intercepted and leaked to the international media a Nuland telephone call in which she and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffey Pyatt discussed in detail their preferences for specific personnel in a post‐Yanukovych government. The U.S‑favored candidates included Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the man who became prime minister once Yanukovych was ousted from power. During the telephone call, Nuland stated enthusiastically that “Yats is the guy” who would do the best job.
Nuland and Pyatt were engaged in such planning at a time when Yanukovych was still Ukraine’s lawful president. It was startling to have diplomatic representatives of a foreign country—and a country that routinely touts the need to respect democratic processes and the sovereignty of other nations—to be scheming about removing an elected government and replacing it with officials meriting U.S. approval.
Washington’s conduct not only constituted meddling, it bordered on micromanagement. At one point, Pyatt mentioned the complex dynamic among the three principal opposition leaders, Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Vitali Klitschko. Both Pyatt and Nuland wanted to keep Tyahnybok and Klitschko out of an interim government. In the former case, they worried about his extremist ties; in the latter, they seemed to want him to wait and make a bid for office on a longer‐term basis. Nuland stated that “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary.” She added that what Yatseniuk needed “is Klitsch and Tyanhybok on the outside.”
The two diplomats also were prepared to escalate the already extensive U.S. involvement in Ukraine’s political turbulence. Pyatt stated bluntly that “we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing [the political transition].” Nuland clearly had Vice President Joe Biden in mind for that role. Noting that the vice president’s national security adviser was in direct contact with her, Nuland related that she told him “probably tomorrow for an atta‐boy and to get the details to stick. So Biden’s willing.”
Both the Obama administration and most of the American news media portrayed the Euromaidan Revolution as a spontaneous, popular uprising against a corrupt and brutal government.
A February 24, 2014, Washington Post editorial celebrated the Maidan demonstrators and their successful campaign to overthrow Yanukovych. The “moves were democratic,” the Washington Post concluded, and “Kiev is now controlled by pro‐Western parties.”
It was a grotesque distortion to portray the events in Ukraine as a purely indigenous, popular uprising. The Nuland‐Pyatt telephone conversation and other actions confirm that the United States was considerably more than a passive observer to the turbulence. Instead, U.S. officials were blatantly meddling in Ukraine. Such conduct was utterly improper. The United States had no right to try to orchestrate political outcomes in another country—especially one on the border of another great power. It is no wonder that Russia reacted badly to the unconstitutional ouster of an elected, pro‐Russian government—an ouster that occurred not only with Washington’s blessing, but apparently with its assistance.
You can hear the audio of the (alleged) Nuland-Pyatt phone call on YouTube: Марионетки Майдана (Maidan Puppet)
Vladimir Golstein, chair of the Department of Slavic Studies at Brown University, wrote in What Is the Difference Between Kosovo & Donbass?:
In 2014, after the U.S.-backed violent coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically-elected president, the coup regime outlawed the Russian language and neo-Nazi gangs began attacking Russian speakers, including burning dozens of people alive in a building in Odessa. Twelve days after that incident, the largely ethnic-Russian oblasts of Lugansk and Donetsk declared independence from Ukraine.
Like in Kosovo, both provinces held referendums that returned overwhelming majorities for independence. Kiev responded by launching a war against these Russian speakers who the regime called “terrorists.”
The U.S. supported the separatists in Kosovo but not the separatists in Ukraine.
Modern Diplomacy’s US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev says, “Incontrovertible proofs will be presented here not only that it was a coup, but that this coup was organized by the U.S. Government — that the U.S. Government initiated the ‘new Cold War’.” I don’t know the nature of that publication. It might be socialist.
The Guardian’s US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev from 2004 accuses the U.S. of supporting the opposition.
But while the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.
Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
Root cause of Ukraine conflict named by ex-German SPD leader
Oskar Lafontaine, the former head of the ruling Social Democrats, has blamed the conflict in Ukraine on NATO’s refusal to listen to Moscow… In an interview with left-wing newspaper Junge Welt published on Saturday, Lafontaine contends that “for a long time, we have been in a situation where Russia and China have been militarily encircled by the US.” The former SPD leader said Moscow had made it clear to NATO for 20 years that Ukraine should not become part of the military alliance – a scenario, which, according to Lafontaine, would mean US missiles deployed on the Ukraine-Russia border.
This academic paper Taking the risk out of civil society: harnessing social movements and regulating revolutions from a conference says
[S]ince 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been ‘promoting democracy’ globally, in many ways, doing overtly that which had been previously carried out covertly. … What explained the sudden interest of the western media in this contested election? And why, when millions of Yanukovich’s supporters marched throughout the Donetsk region in late November, did the media ‘miss’ them? It seems that the answer to these questions is intimately tied in with the interests of foreign (or more specifically US) ‘democracy promoters’, who provided the opposition with around US $65 million in the two years running up to the election (Kelley 2004). Indeed, visual evidence of this aid was apparent at the massive Kiev protests, where food, clothing, medication and local accommodation was provided for free (Mulvey 2004)
West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center published in 2020
The Nexus Between Far-Right Extremists in the United States and Ukraine
Abstract: Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups in the United States and Europe have become more active and dangerous in the last decade and have developed a much deeper online presence. This has helped them establish closer transnational contacts. One common preoccupation for both individuals and groups has been the conflict in Ukraine, where a well-established far-right extremist movement and its associated militia have consistently engaged with and welcomed far-right ideologues and fighters from other parts of Europe and North America.
Bill Clinton’s Role in the Crisis Over Ukraine
ABC News: Ukraine nationalists march to honor wartime partisan leader
Jan 1, 2022.
Hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists held a torchlight march in the capital of Kyiv to mark the birthday of Stepan Bandera, the leader of a rebel militia that fought alongside Nazi soldiers in World War II.
Reuters: Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem “As Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and its proxies continues, Kiev must also contend with a growing problem behind the front lines: far-right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.”
From The Nation: America’s Collusion With Neo-Nazis by former Princeton Professor Stephen F. Cohen. “Neo-fascists play an important official or tolerated role in US-backed Ukraine.”
The pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic Russians and others in Odessa… reawakened memories of Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during World War II. … [Today] stormtroop-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other ‘impure’ citizens are widespread throughout Kyiv-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s…
“The police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neo-fascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kyiv has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms…, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more.
The Irish Sun: Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi militia preparing to ‘fight to the death’ in Russia war with guerrilla forces & ‘Mad Max’ tanks
From 2014, Counterpunch’s Washington’s Iron Curtain in Ukraine says:
NATO leaders are currently acting out a deliberate charade in Europe, designed to reconstruct an Iron Curtain between Russia and the West.
With astonishing unanimity, NATO leaders feign surprise at events they planned months in advance. Events that they deliberately triggered are being misrepresented as sudden, astonishing, unjustified “Russian aggression”. The United States and the European Union undertook an aggressive provocation in Ukraine that they knew would force Russia to react defensively, one way or another.
They could not be sure exactly how Russian president Vladimir Putin would react when he saw that the United States was manipulating political conflict in Ukraine to install a pro-Western government intent on joining NATO. This was not a mere matter of a “sphere of influence” in Russia’s “near abroad”, but a matter of life and death to the Russian Navy, as well as a grave national security threat on Russia’s border.
A trap was thereby set for Putin. He was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. He could underreact, and betray Russia’s basic national interests, allowing NATO to advance its hostile forces to an ideal attack position.
Or he could overreact, by sending Russian forces to invade Ukraine. The West was ready for this, prepared to scream that Putin was “the new Hitler”, poised to overrun poor, helpless Europe, which could only be saved (again) by the generous Americans.
Melvin A. Goodman,senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, professor of government at Johns Hopkins University, and a former CIA analyst wrote in Can the United States Provide an Off-Ramp For Putin?, “If you believe that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked, then perhaps you should read no further. And, if you believe that Vladimir Putin will allow the United States and Europe to bring Ukraine into the Western security orbit, then once again you should read no further.” Nonetheless, he summarizes the provocations and the reasons why Ukraine is vital to Russia.
How the US Started a New Cold War with Russia and Left Ukraine to Fight It
President Biden has called the Russian invasion “unprovoked,” but that is far from the truth. In the four days leading up to the invasion, ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documented a dangerous increase in ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine, with 5,667 violations and 4,093 explosions.
Most were inside the de facto borders of the Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics, consistent with incoming shell-fire by Ukraine government forces. With nearly 700 OSCE ceasefire monitors on the ground, it is not credible that these were all “false flag” incidents staged by separatist forces, as U.S. and British officials claimed.
In the larger context though, Ukraine has become an unwitting victim and proxy in the resurgent U.S. Cold War against Russia and China, in which the United States has surrounded both countries with military forces and offensive weapons, withdrawn from a whole series of arms control treaties, and refused to negotiate resolutions to rational security concerns raised by Russia.
Excellent analysis: This MintPress Study Reveals That Ninety Percent Of Recent Opinion Articles In The New York Times, The Washington Post And The Wall Street Journal Have Taken A Hawkish View On The Ukraine Conflict.
Written By Pundits Tied To The National Security State Promoting NATO As A Defender Of The Free World and Describe Putin As Hitler Incarnate.
Washington – Amid tough talk from European and American leaders, a new MintPress study of our nation’s most influential media outlets reveals that it is the press that is driving the charge towards war with Russia over Ukraine. Ninety percent of recent opinion articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have taken a hawkish view on conflict, with anti-war voices few and far between. Opinion columns have overwhelmingly expressed support for sending U.S. weapons and troops to the region. Russia has universally been presented as the aggressor in this dispute, with media glossing over NATO’s role in amping tensions while barely mentioning the U.S. collaboration with Neo-Nazi elements within the Ukrainian ruling coalition.
According to the above article, a big part of what’s going on is trying to prevent Russia from exporting gas:
The United States has repeatedly demanded Europe cancel this [Nord Stream 2] project, insisting that Europe service its energy needs from Middle Eastern dictatorships under U.S. control or directly from the U.S., at around four times the price of Russian gas.
Max Blumenthal in the GrayZone: The US is arming and assisting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, while Congress debates prohibition
Neo-Nazis Not Top of Mind for Senate Democrats Pushing Weapons for Ukraine
Last month, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced legislation to give Ukraine $500 million for arms purchases … But it makes no mention of reports to oversee whether U.S weapons go to white supremacists like the Azov Battalion, a unit in the Ukrainian National Guard with ties to the country’s far-right, ultranationalist National Corps party and Azov movement. Last year, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to label the Azov Battalion a foreign terrorist organization, saying it “uses the internet to recruit new members and then radicalizes them to use violence to pursue its white identity political agenda.”
Why The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault, written by John J. Mearsheimer, appears in Foreign Affairs (2014). It says the “United States and its allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement …At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too.”
In 2008, Bill Bradley gave a speech to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in which he is harshly critical of, and saddened by, NATO’a decision to expand eastward. “We kicked them when they were down.” It encouraged authoritarianism in Russia. “It was a blunder of monumental proportions.” “If we had really done a strategic partnership [with Russia] … imagine how Iran would be different today. Imagine how Central Asia would be different.” “We’ve created a problem that could have easily been avoided. We’ve lost a partner that could have been enormously important over the long term and particular with regard to the issues that most threaten us today.”
The Nation’s Russia, Ukraine, and The New York Times says
The root cause of the crisis, as Mearsheimer argues in detail, was the decision to fortify Ukraine as a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. This began with the expansion of the European Union and NATO, was heated up by the US-sponsored Orange Revolution, and finally ignited with the US-backed Ukraine coup of 2014.
In Consortium News’ How Not to Explain the Ukraine Crisis, author Mike Madden says that the U.S. is the aggressor, having orchestrated the overthrow of a democratically elected pro-Russian leader of Ukraine. Madden says the U.S. allied itself with neo-Nazi insurrectionists. The article criticizes PBS reporter Nick Schifrin for not challenging Victoria Nuland over U.S. aggression in Ukraine.
Schifrin could have reminded Nuland that the United States promised Russia in 1991 that NATO would not expand east of the newly reunified East and West Germany, but he didn’t. He also could have asked her if stationing missiles on the island of Cuba in 1962 was a sovereign decision to be made by Cuba and the Soviet Union, but he did not.
Two Jewish journalists, Max Blumenthal and Alexander Rubenstein wrote
How Ukraine’s Jewish president Zelensky made peace with neo-Nazi paramilitaries on front lines of war with Russia
While Western media deploys Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewish heritage to refute accusations of Nazi influence in Ukraine, the president has ceded to neo-Nazi forces and now depends on them as front line fighters.
- The president’s Jewishness as Western media PR device
- Backed by Zelensky’s top financier, neo-Nazi militants unleash a wave of intimidation
- Zelensky failed to rein in neo-Nazis, wound up collaborating with them
- After Prime Minister attends neo-Nazi concert, Zelensky honors Right Sector leader
- Ukrainian state-backed neo-Nazi leader flaunts influence on the eve of war with Russia
- “If we get killed…we died fighting a holy war”
- Besides authorizing the release of hardcore criminals to join the battle against Russia, Zelensky has ordered all males of fighting age to remain in the country. Azov militants have proceeded to enforce the policy by brutalizing civilians attempting to flee from the fighting around Mariupol.
The Hill: Congress bans arms to Ukraine militia linked to neo-Nazis
Media Are Now Whitewashing Nazis They Had Previously Condemned lists scores of mainstream news articles documenting neo-Nazis in Ukraine:
- 15,000 Ukraine nationalists march for divisive Bandera – Jan 1 2014 – USA Today
- Is the US backing neo-Nazis in Ukraine? – Feb 25 2014 – Salon
- How the far-right took top posts in Ukraine’s power vacuum – Mar 5 2014 – Channel 4
- Rein in Ukraine’s neo-fascists – Mar 6 2014 – CNN
- Denying the Far-Right Role in the Ukrainian Revolution – Mar 7 2014 – FAIR
- The Neo-Nazi Question in Ukraine – Mar 11 2014 – Huffpost
- Yes, There Are Bad Guys in the Ukrainian Government – Mar 18 2014 – Foreign Policy
- Analysis: U.S. Cozies Up to Kiev Government Including Far Right – Mar 30 2014 – NBCnews
- Profile: Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist Right Sector – Apr 28 2014 – BBC
- The Neo-Nazi Question in Ukraine – May 11 2014 – Huffpost
- Fascism returns to the continent it once destroyed – May 12 2014 – TNR
- Ukraine conflict: ‘White power’ warrior from Sweden – Jul 16 2014 – BBC
- Preparing for War With Ukraine’s Fascist Defenders of Freedom -, Aug 30 2014 – Foreign Policy
- German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers – Sep 9 2014 – NBCnews
- Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat – Sep 10 2014 – Guardian
- Volunteer Ukrainian unit includes Nazis – Mar 10 2015 – USA Today
- US House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine – Jun 14 2015 – Consortium News
- Why Ukraine’s New Ultranationalist Party Will Not Last – Oct 19 2016 – Atlantic Council
- Ukraine’s Hyper-Nationalist Military Summer Camp for Kids | NBC Left Field (vid) – Jul 13 2017 – NBCnews
- The reality of neo-Nazis in Ukraine is far from Kremlin propaganda – Nov 9 2017 – The Hill
- The US is Arming and Assisting Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, While Congress Debates Prohibition – Jan 18 2018 – The RealNews Network
- In Ukraine, Ultranationalist Militia Strikes Fear In Some Quarters – Jan 30 2018 – RFERL
- Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem – Mar 19 2018 – Reuters
- America’s Collusion With Neo-Nazis – May 2 2018 – The Nation
- Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline) – Jun 20 2018 – Atlantic Council
- Ukraine, Anti-Semitism, Racism, and the Far Right – Oct 16 2018 – Atlantic Council
- Azov, Ukraine’s Most Prominent Ultranationalist Group, Sets Its Sights On U.S., Europe – Nov 14 2018 – RFERL
- Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine – Feb 22 2019 – The Nation
- Ultranationalism in Ukraine – a photo essay – Apr 11 2019 – Guardian
- There’s One Far-Right Movement That Hates the Kremlin – Apr 17 2019 – Foreign Policy
- Is America Training Neonazis in Ukraine? – Dec 8 2019 – DailyBeast
- The Azov Regiment has not depoliticized – Mar 19 2020 – Atlantic Council
- Like, Share, Recruit: How a White-Supremacist Militia Uses Facebook to Radicalize and Train New Members – Jan 7 2021 – Time
- Profile: Who are Ukraine’s far-right Azov regiment? – Mar 1 2022 – Aljazeerah
- How Ukraine’s Jewish president Zelensky made peace with neo-Nazi paramilitaries on front lines of war with Russia – Mar 4 2022 – Grayzone
- Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t – Mar 6 2022 – NBCnews
- Right-wing Azov Battalion emerges as a controversial defender of Ukraine – Apr 6 2022 – Washington Post
Amnesty International has documented some of the crimes committed by fascist groups in Ukraine:
Ukraine: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for impartial inquiry into events in Odesa on 2 May – May 8 2014
Ukraine: A deadly rocket attack highlights the need for civilian protection in eastern Ukraine – Jul 16 2014
Ukraine: Abuses and war crimes by the Aidar Volunteer Battalion in the north Luhansk region – Sep 8 2014
Ukraine: Summary killings during the conflict in eastern Ukraine – Oct 20 2014
Ukraine: The Authorities’ Inaction Emboldens Rising Violence by The Far-Right – May 16 2018
Ukraine: Swift, decisive action required to bring perpetrators of two fatal attacks against Roma to justice – Jul 2 2028
Ukraine: Address attacks against activists and human rights defenders – Oct 3 2018
Ukraine: First-ever Pride march in Kharkiv marred by violence, underscores multiple failures by the authorities – Dec 23 2019
Black Agenda Report says:
The presence of neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine was widely known then, not only by the media, but also, obviously, by US lawmakers. As a result, Congressmen John Conyers of Michigan and Ted Yoho of Florida drew up an amendment to the House Defense Appropriations bill (HR 2685) that was to “limit arms, training, and other assistance to the neo-Nazi Ukrainian militia, the Azov Battalion.” The bill passed unanimously in the House and the Senate but was ultimately removed from the final appropriations bill …..
The Atlantic Council even admitted to Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem as early as 2018 in an article titled, Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, (RT) Didn’t Write This Headline).
Salon: In the rapidly worsening Ukraine fiasco, the U.S. is reaping exactly what it sowed
U.S. media spins a one-sided narrative of Russian aggression — but decades of U.S. meddling is what got us here
The U.S. coup was calculated to put Russia in an impossible position. If Russia did nothing, post-coup Ukraine would sooner or later join NATO, as NATO members had already agreed in principle in 2008. NATO forces would advance right up to Russia’s border and Russia’s important naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea would fall under NATO control.
If Russia had responded to the coup by invading Ukraine, on the other hand, there would have been no turning back from a disastrous new Cold War with the West. To Washington’s frustration, Russia found a middle path out of this dilemma, by accepting the result of Crimea’s referendum to rejoin Russia, but only giving covert support to the separatists in the East.
In 2021, with Nuland once again installed in a corner office at the State Department, the Biden administration quickly cooked up a plan to put Russia in a new pickle. The U.S. had already given Ukraine $2 billion in military aid since 2014, and Biden has added another $650 million to that, along with deployments of U.S. and NATO military trainers.
Ukraine has still not implemented the constitutional changes called for in the Minsk agreements [limited autonomy for Russia-allied regions in the east], and the unconditional military support the U.S. and NATO have provided has encouraged Ukraine’s leaders to effectively abandon the Minsk-Normandy process and simply reassert sovereignty over all of Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea.
In October, Ukraine launched new attacks in Donbass. Russia, which still had about 100,000 troops stationed near the Ukrainian border, responded with new troop movements and military exercises. U.S. officials launched an information warfare campaign to frame Russia’s troop movements as an unprovoked threat to invade Ukraine, concealing their own role in fueling the threatened Ukrainian escalation to which Russia is responding. U.S. propaganda has even preemptively dismissed any actual new Ukrainian assault in the east as a Russian false-flag operation.
Commondreams: There Is No Wisdom in Pretending That Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Don’t Exist:
Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and its founders Oleh Tyahnybok and Andriy Parubiy played leading roles in the U.S-backed coup in February 2014. Assistant Secretary Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt mentioned Tyahnybok as one of the leaders they were working with on their infamous leaked phone call before the coup, even as they tried to exclude him from an official position in the post-coup government.
After the coup, Right Sector helped to consolidate the new order by attacking and breaking up anti-coup protests, in what their leader Yarosh described to Newsweek as a “war” to “cleanse the country” of pro-Russian protesters. This campaign climaxed on May 2nd with the massacre of 42 anti-coup protesters in a fiery inferno, after they took shelter from Right Sector attackers in the Trades Unions House in Odessa.
After anti-coup protests evolved into declarations of independence in Donetsk and Luhansk, the extreme right in Ukraine shifted gear to full-scale armed combat. The Ukrainian military had little enthusiasm for fighting its own people, so the government formed new National Guard units to do so.
Right Sector formed a battalion, and neo-Nazis also dominated the Azov Battalion, which was founded by Andriy Biletsky, an avowed white supremacist who claimed that Ukraine’s national purpose was to rid the country of Jews and other inferior races. It was the Azov battalion that led the post-coup government’s assault on the self-declared republics and retook the city of Mariupol from separatist forces.
After the coup, Right Sector helped to consolidate the new order by attacking and breaking up anti-coup protests, in what their leader Yarosh described to Newsweek as a “war” to “cleanse the country” of pro-Russian protesters. This campaign climaxed on May 2nd with the massacre of 42 anti-coup protesters in a fiery inferno, after they took shelter from Right Sector attackers in the Trades Unions House in Odessa.
After anti-coup protests evolved into declarations of independence in Donetsk and Luhansk, the extreme right in Ukraine shifted gear to full-scale armed combat. The Ukrainian military had little enthusiasm for fighting its own people, so the government formed new National Guard units to do so.
Right Sector formed a battalion, and neo-Nazis also dominated the Azov Battalion, which was founded by Andriy Biletsky, an avowed white supremacist who claimed that Ukraine’s national purpose was to rid the country of Jews and other inferior races. It was the Azov battalion that led the post-coup government’s assault on the self-declared republics and retook the city of Mariupol from separatist forces
On March 5, 2022, NBC News reported
Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t.
Not acknowledging this threat means that little is being done to guard against it.
…Just as disturbing, neo-Nazis are part of some of Ukraine’s growing ranks of volunteer battalions. They are battle-hardened after waging some of the toughest street fighting against Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine following Putin’s Crimean invasion in 2014. One is the Azov Battalion, founded by an avowed white supremacist who claimed Ukraine’s national purpose was to rid the country of Jews and other inferior races. In 2018, the U.S. Congress stipulated that its aid to Ukraine couldn’t be used “to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.” Even so, Azov is now an official member of the Ukraine National Guard.
Hareetz (Israel): Rights Groups Demand Israel Stop Arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine
Human rights activists petition the court to cease Israeli arms exports to Ukraine since some of these weapons reach neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine’s security forces
The Azov militia was established in Ukraine following the Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. The militia’s emblems are well-known national socialist ones. Its members use the Nazi salute and carry swastikas and SS insignias.
Moreover, some of them openly admit they have neo-Nazi sentiments and that they are Holocaust deniers. One militia member said in an interview that he was fighting Russia since Putin was a Jew. An Azov sergeant said that he was a national socialist, although he was not in favor of genocide, and as long as minorities in Ukraine did not demand special rights he would have no problem with them.
Even if these weapons are currently directed at Russians, one should take into account the reasonable possibility that in the future they will be used to achieve other goals, perhaps aimed at minority groups in the country.
Michael Brenner (Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh; Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS-Johns Hopkins), wrote in an email list, “The American strategy is now crystal clear. Arrange a provocative incidence around the Donbass that sparks a Russian reaction that could be used to confirm the specious claims of a Russian plans for invasion. That means doing exactly what we are accusing Moscow of planning – clever ‘projection’ tactic. Then, force the West Europeans to go along with economic sanctions (including NORD Stream II’s annulment) that would make them more dependent on the U.S. – confirming their vassal status as conferred 75 years ago.”
David Lindorff wrote, in The US’s Aggressive Expansion of NATO Created This Horror; The US Can and Should End It
It was the US, after all, which helped foment and orchestrate the 2014 Maidan Coup in Kiev that ousted the elected leader of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych because, while popularly elected, he was steering the country towards an economic pact with Russia instead of with the European Union.
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft: NATO expansion and the origins of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Despite available evidence, many in Washington try to downplay the Atlantic Alliance’s push eastward as a driving force for Putin’s war.”
The claim that Putin is solely motivated by imperialism is part of a pattern in Western coverage of the war. When Putin uses nationalist rhetoric that suggests a dim view of Ukrainian independence from Russia ― almost always in public-facing speeches that are meant at least as much for domestic consumption ― commentators seize on it to declare he’s driven purely by expansionist thinking. When he brings up grievances over NATO, which he has done in both public and in private with Western officials, it’s ignored or downplayed.
In fact, it’s ignored even when he brings it up in those public speeches. Many remain convinced Putin’s pre-invasion speech is proof positive of NATO’s irrelevance to this war ― even though he mentioned it 40 times. Even his famous 7,000-word essay presenting a vision of Russians and Ukrainians as “one people” was framed around unspecified “Western powers” manipulating Ukraine’s politics as part of an “anti-Russia project” to make the country a “springboard against Russia.” One doesn’t have to agree with this interpretation to simply recognize it exists.
From Quincy Institute’s Ukrainian Lobbyists Mounted Unprecedented Campaign on U.S. Lawmakers in 2021:
As tensions with Russia reach a boiling point, lobbyists from Ukraine are working feverishly to shape the U.S. response. Firms working for Ukrainian interests have inundated congressional offices, think tanks, and journalists with more than 10,000 messages and meetings in 2021, according to an analysis of Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, filings for a forthcoming report from the Quincy Institute.
More specifically, the far-reaching campaign has been focused on stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Ukrainian officials argue is as much of a threat to their security as Russian troops. If completed, the pipeline would allow Russia to export natural gas directly to Germany and the rest of Europe, jeopardizing the billions Ukraine currently earns from transiting Russian gas to Europe.
The Ukraine lobby amplifies the voices of those pushing for more aggressive U.S. responses to the current crisis, but Ukrainian interests are far from the only players in this behind-the-scenes lobbying battle. The U.S. defense sector, for example, spent more than $117 million on lobbying in 2021. With U.S. weapons manufacturers making billions in arms sales to Ukraine, their CEOs see the turmoil there as a good business opportunity.
In this YouTube video you can hear Tulsi Gabbard saying, four days before Russia’s invasion,
They actually want Russia to invade Ukraine. Why would they? Because it gives the Biden administration a clear excuse to levy draconian sanctions… against Russia and the Russian people and number two, it cements this cold war in place. The military industrial complex is the one who benefits from this. They clearly control the Biden administration. Warmongers on both sides in Washington who have been drumming up these tensions. If they get Russia to invade Ukraine it locks in this new cold war, the military industrial complex starts to make a ton more money …. Who pays the price? The American people … the Ukrainian people … the Russian people pay the price. It undermines our own national security but the military industrial complex which controls so many of our elected officials wins and they run to the bank.
Ukraine Is A Pawn On The Grand Chessboard relates the war in Ukraine to the foreign policy notions expressed in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book “The Grand Chessboard” from 25 years ago.
Yahoo News: Pope Francis Says NATO Started War in Ukraine by ‘Barking at Putin’s Door’
The Crisis in Ukraine Is Not About Ukraine. It’s About Germany, from the Unz Review. presents the plausible view that a main purpose of the U.S. actions in Ukraine is to set up an excuse for canceling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, whose operations would otherwise cause Germany to develop closer ties with Russia.
Similar, plausible claims are made in CounterPunch’s America’s Real Adversaries are Its European and Other Allies, which describes U.S. military belligerence towards China and Russia as desperate actions of a failing state, no longer able to maintain its empire and its economic hegemony.
The success of China’s industrial policy with a mixed economy and state control of the monetary and credit system has led U.S. strategists to fear that Western European and Asian economies may find their advantage to lie in integrating more closely with China and Russia. The U.S. seems to have no response to such a global rapprochement with China and Russia except economic sanctions and military belligerence. That New Cold War stance is expensive, and other countries are balking at bearing the cost of a conflict that has no benefit for themselves and indeed, threatens to destabilize their own economic growth and political independence.
Without subsidy from these countries, especially as China, Russia and their neighbors de-dollarize their economies, how can the United States maintain the balance-of-payments costs of its overseas military spending? Cutting back that spending, and indeed recovering industrial self-reliance and competitive economic power, would require a transformation of American politics. Such a change seems unlikely, but without it, how long can America’s post-industrial rentier economy manage to force other countries to provide it with the economic affluence (literally a flowing-in) that it is no longer producing at home?
History Matters: Peter Kuznick on US/NATO Tensions, Russia/Ukraine, and Avoiding Catastrophic War
Mickey Huff, the third director of Project Censored, interviews American University historian Peter Kuznick, co-author with Oliver Stone of The Untold History of the United States. They discuss the current U.S. and NATO confrontation with Russia over Ukraine; summarize the recent history of Ukraine and U.S. relations, while placing current affairs in Cold War context; and emphasize the urgency of settling the crisis peacefully. Here is my summary.
The Nation’s 2019 article Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine says, “Five years after the Maidan uprising, anti-Semitism and fascist-inflected ultranationalism are rampant.”
This 2021 piece in Common Dreams Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? presents plausible background on the situation in Ukraine. The article discusses Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, who supported the government overthrow in Ukraine and imfamously said
“Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.
During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych.
The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies.
Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.
Council on Foreign Relations: Global Conflict Tracker: Conflict in Ukraine says
Violence in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian military has by conservative estimates killed more than 10,300 people and injured nearly 24,000 since April 2014. Although Moscow has denied its involvement, Ukraine and NATO have reported the buildup of Russian troops and military equipment near Donetsk and Russian cross-border shelling.
ABC News reports that Trump approved the sale of 210 Javelin missiles to Ukraine in March 2018: What are Javelin missiles and why they’re being mentioned repeatedly during the impeachment hearings
Al Jazeera reports Profile: Who are Ukraine’s far-right Azov regiment?
The far-right neo-Nazi group has expanded to become part of Ukraine’s armed forces, a street militia and a political party.
Andrew Bacevich of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft: “By casually meddling in Ukrainian politics in recent years, the United States has effectively incited Russia to undertake its reckless invasion.” (source: Boston Globe’s US can’t absolve itself of responsibility for Putin’s Ukraine invasion).
Gary Leupp, Professor of History at Tufts University, wrote in Counterpunch’s Putin, Lenin, Imperialism and the (Real) History of Ukraine:
In 2010 an anti-NATO president was democratically elected; the U.S. State Department oversaw a massive regime change effort to depict him as corrupt, anti-EU, impeding “Ukrainian’s European aspirations.” It succeeded in ousting him, and to some extent also succeeded in portraying the Maidan putsch, to the people of this country, as a democratic mass movement against a corrupt Russian puppet.
Leupp condemns Putin and compares his actions as follows: “Rather like the U.S. would be hell-bent on preventing the Warsaw Pact, when there was such a thing, from expanding to include Mexico and Canada. If you are looking for truly appropriate analogies, linger on that one.”
While hailed by the US as an expression of Ukraine’s democratic aspirations, the post-coup Ukrainian government was dominated by the right-wing forces that had brought it to power. At least five key cabinet posts went to members of the far-right Svoboda and another right-wing party, Right Sector, including the national security, defense, and legal ministries. Andriy Parubiy, the far-right co-founder of Svoboda’s origin party, was appointed the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. During the Maidan protests, Parubiy had served as the Maidan encampment’s “commandant” and head of its security.
In the fall of 2014, the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion was formally incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard, making post-Maidan Ukraine “the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces,” the Ukrainian-American journalist Lev Golinkin later observed.
Yatsenyuk, the Nuland-chosen technocrat, meanwhile presided over what NPR dubbed Ukraine’s “Spring Of Austerity” and what the prime minister himself described as a “kamikaze mission“, imposing the pension and heating subsidy cuts that the ousted Yanukovych had resisted.
While placating the “IMF Austerity Regime,” the coup government also set its sights on Ukraine’s ethnic Russian population, a major base of Yanukovych’s support. One of the post-coup parliament’s first votes was to rescind a law, long bitterly opposed by the far-right, granting regions the authority to declare a second official language.
The coup government’s anti-Russian sentiment culminated in a gruesome massacre in the city of Odessa….
The Odessa massacre helped accelerate the then-growing insurgency in the Donbas region, the eastern Ukrainian region dominated by ethnic Russians. Unwilling to live under a US-installed coup government led by far-right nationalists, rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk took up arms in the spring of 2014 with Russia’s limited support.
The US-backed government responded with both economic warfare and a Nazi-infused “Anti-Terrorist Operation.” The US-backed Yatsenyuk, by then well-versed in Washington-friendly neoliberal austerity, decreed that all residents of rebel-held Donbas would lose their public sector payments and pensions. Among those fighting the rebels, the New York Times quietly acknowledged in July 2015, were the “openly neo-Nazi” Azov battalion, as well as “an assortment of right-wing and Islamic militias” summoned from Chechnya. According to Ukraine’s interior ministry, Azov was among the first battalions to receive US military training for the war.
Summaries of U.S. hypocrisy, due to U.S. crimes comparable to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:
Andrew Bacevich: The ‘end of history’ … again?
Yet however distressing to admit, crimes committed by the United States in recent years, usually justified under the guise of liberating the oppressed and spreading democracy, have inflicted more damage on the international order than anything done by Russia. Moscow never promulgated a patently illegal doctrine of preventive war. We did. And the death toll resulting from U.S. campaigns undertaken subsequent to 9/11 — more than 900,000 killed according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project — exceeds by several orders of magnitude the number of Ukrainians killed (or likely to be killed) in the present conflict.
Hedges: The Lie of American Innocence
William D. Hartung, Nick Cleveland-Stout, and Taylor Giorno: Washington Should Think Twice Before Launching a New Cold War
Caitlin Johnstone’s Sure, Ukraine Is The First War The US Hasn’t Lied About
Joe Luria’s Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War
That essay covers similar ground to the current one you’re reading.
This New Yorker interview with Matt Duss, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former chief foreign-policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders contains
When the war started, many people on the left and across the political spectrum argued that the United States had, if not caused this conflict, played a role in exacerbating it by leaving NATO ascension for Ukraine on the table, by expanding NATO in the thirty years after the end of the Soviet Union. I’m curious what you thought of the arguments then, and what you think now?
I would go back even further. If we’re thinking about the roots of this conflict, let’s also look at the role that the U.S. and American economists played in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the kind of neoliberal shock therapy imposed on Russians that gave rise to the oligarchs in the first place, which in turn enabled the rise of Putin. This ties in to the point I was making before about understanding the role of this economic model in putting us in this situation.
But moving ahead to NATO, listen, I think you don’t have to believe Putin about NATO. You can refer to numerous U.S. officials who have noted that the growth of NATO right up close to Russia’s borders was a political problem for Russia. That includes former Defense Secretary Bill Perry, current C.I.A. director Bill Burns—both of whom have talked about how they understood this to be a problem for Russia.
The question is, how much does that actually explain what Putin has done? ….
Evidence that the U.S. has hindered diplomatic solutions to the crisis in Ukraine.
Ellen Taylor’s War Crimes, From Nuremberg to Ukraine is an eloquent, well-documented account of the history of U.S. meddling in Ukraine.
Ukraine – A Beginners’ Guide. Covers some of the same ground as this compendium, from a perspective further to the left.
Aaron Maté: Siding with Ukraine’s far-right, US sabotaged Zelensky’s historic mandate for peace
“Zelensky ran as a peace candidate,” [late Princeton professor Stephen F.] Cohen explained. “He won an enormous mandate to make peace. So, that means he has to negotiate with Vladimir Putin.” But there was a major obstacle. Ukrainian fascists, Cohen warned, “have said that they will remove and kill Zelensky if he continues along this line of negotiating with Putin… His life is being threatened literally by a quasi-fascist movement in Ukraine.”
Peace could only come, Cohen stressed, on one condition. “[Zelensky] can’t go forward with full peace negotiations with Russia, with Putin, unless America has his back,” he said. “Maybe that won’t be enough, but unless the White House encourages this diplomacy, Zelensky has no chance of negotiating an end to the war. So the stakes are enormously high.”
The subsequent impeachment trial, and bipartisan US policy since, has made clear that Washington has had no interest in having Zelensky’s back, and every interest in fueling the Donbas war that he had been elected to end.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting: Media Support ‘Self-Determination’ for US Allies, Not Enemies. For Kosovo, the U.S. was eager to help a minority region achieve independence. Not so with Donbas. Media reporting was biased in opposite directions in the two cases.
See also FAIR’s densely informative NATO Narratives and Corporate Media Are Leading to ‘Doorstep of Doom’.
Likewise, the Quincy Institute for Responsibile Statecraft says: Russia’s move in Ukraine has parallels with US actions in Kosovo
Kit Klarenberg: Anatomy of a Coup: How CIA Front Laid Foundations for Ukraine War
Bruce Gagnon gives an informative presentation about the recent history of Ukraine, though I disagree with his conclusion that Russai’s invasion was defensive and hence justified: Webinar: What could trigger nuclear war with Russia and China?.
Boris Johnson Pressured Zelenskyy to Ditch Peace Talks With Russia: Ukrainian Paper
Foreign Affairs acknowledges that a peace deal was almost reached in April, in a piece by John Bolton protege Fiona Hill (though it doesn’t assign the blame to Johnson):
According to multiple former senior U.S. officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’s Diplomacy Watch: Why did the West stop a peace deal in Ukraine? agrees with the allegation about Johnson:
The news highlights the impact of former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to stop negotiations, as journalist Branko Marcetic noted on Twitter. The decision to scuttle the deal coincided with Johnson’s April visit to Kyiv, during which he reportedly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to break off talks with Russia for two key reasons: Putin cannot be negotiated with, and the West isn’t ready for the war to end.
Report: Russia, Ukraine Tentatively Agreed on Peace Deal in April comments:
A major factor in the failed negotiated settlement was pressure from the West. According to a report from Ukrainska Pravda, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to stop negotiating with Russia when he visited Kyiv on April 9….
Johnson appeared to confirm the Ukrainska Pravda report when he told French President Emmanuel Macron in May that he “urged” Ukraine not to negotiate during his visit to Kyiv. The British leader, who is due to step down in September, visited Kyiv one last time as prime minister in August and again told the Ukrainians not to negotiate with Russia.
Numerous articles in document that Boris Johnson was adamantly opposed to a peace deal, though it’s not clear that he was responsible for squashing the April peace deal.
Peace deal with ‘crocodile’ Putin difficult, Ukraine needs more weapons, U.K.’s Boris Johnson says (May 27)
Ukraine must not settle for ‘s—-y peace’, Boris Johnson to tell G7 (June 21)
Boris Johnson strongly opposes a bad peace deal between Ukraine and Russia. (June 25)
Ukraine peace deal would give Putin ‘license to manipulate’, Boris Johnson tells Macron (June 26)
How Boris Johnson Sabotaged Ukraine Russia Peace Deal In April (Sep 2)
As reported here:
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview posted to his YouTube channel on Saturday that the US and its Western allies “blocked” his efforts of mediating between Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the war in its early days.
U.S. diplomats Michael Gfoeller and David H. Rundell in Newsweek: Lessons From the U.S. Civil War Show Why Ukraine Can’t Win :
Before the war, far right Ukrainian nationalist groups like the Azov Brigade were soundly condemned by the U.S. Congress. Kiev’s determined campaign against the Russian language is analogous to the Canadian government trying to ban French in Quebec. Ukrainian shells have killed hundreds of civilians in the Donbas and there are emerging reports of Ukrainian war crimes. The truly moral course of action would be to end this war with negotiations rather than prolong the suffering the of Ukrainian people in a conflict they are unlikely to win without risking American lives.
Good summary by Caitlin Johnstone: It’s Not Okay For Grown Adults To Say The Ukraine Invasion Was “Unprovoked”
Johnstone’s article Unprovoked! is excellent. It incnludes:
A few days after the invasion began in February of last year a guy named Arnaud Bertrand put together an extremely viral Twitter thread that just goes on and on and on about the various diplomats, analysts and academics in the West who have over the years been warning that a dangerous confrontation with Russia was coming because of NATO advancements toward its borders, interventionism in Ukraine and various other aggressions.
It contains examples such as John Mearsheimer explicitly warning in 2015 that “the West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path, and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked,” and Pat Buchanan warning all the way back in 1999 that “By moving NATO onto Russia’s front porch, we have scheduled a twenty-first-century confrontation.”
Empire apologists love claiming that the invasion of Ukraine had nothing to do with NATO expansionism (their claims generally based on brazen misrepresentations of what President Vladimir Putin has said about Russia’s reasons for the war), but that’s silly. The U.S. war machine was continuing to taunt the possibility of NATO membership for Ukraine right up until the invasion, a threat it refused to take off the table since placing it there in 2008 despite knowing full well that this threat was an incendiary provocation to Moscow.
Noam Chomsky: Propaganda Wars Are Raging as Russia’s War on Ukraine Expands
The Iraq War was totally unprovoked: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had to struggle hard, even to resort to torture, to try to find some particle of evidence to tie Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. The famous disappearing weapons of mass destruction wouldn’t have been a provocation for aggression even if there had been some reason to believe that they existed.
In contrast, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was most definitely provoked — though in today’s climate, it is necessary to add the truism that provocation provides no justification for the invasion.
A host of high-level U.S. diplomats and policy analysts have been warning Washington for 30 years that it was reckless and needlessly provocative to ignore Russia’s security concerns, particularly its red lines: No NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, in Russia’s geostrategic heartland.
According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project , U.S. wars since 9/11 killed 900,000 people, displaced 38 million people from their homes, and cost over $8 trillion. If you include the Vietnam War, the U.S. has killed millions of people.
The book The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World /a>, recommended by the New York Times in their daily email to reader, says that “In 1965, the U.S. government helped the Indonesian military kill approximately one million innocent civilians…. the brutal extermination of unarmed leftists was a fundamental part of Washington’s final triumph in the Cold War.” The book covers, especially, U.S. support for brutal regimes in Latin America.
Almost without exception, these were corrupt, disastrous wars and proxy wars — Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, Libya, and elsewhere. We overthrew democratically elected governments and installed autocratic regimes with death squads. We supported armed groups that later became our enemies, such as tthe Mujaheddin who later became Al Qaeda. Our wars created enemies. Our wars caused mass migrations that destabilized politics in Europe and the Americas.
We did this in the name of defending “democracy” and our strategic interests.
Those wars, proxy wars, and overthrows do not excuse Russian actions in Ukraine, but they should lead us to give pause to the mad rush to fight Russia. Don’t you think the C.I.A. and other groups might have done some things to provoke Russia?
Is it any surprise that Russia feels threatened when the U.S. surrounds Russia with bases and weapons, withdraws from arms treaties, helps install client states along its borders, and expands NATO closer and closer to Russia? Putin is an evil autocrat, but the U.S. needs to stop trying to be policeman of the world — just like the U.S. shouldn’t have fought Sadaam Hussein in Iraq.
If you back a bear in the corner, throw rocks at him, and poke him with sticks, don’t act surprised when he lashes out.
At the very least, the U.S. is guilty of reckless endangerment, because its own diplomats and think tanks warned that aggressive NATO expansion would provoke a military response. But I am convinced that the military response was expected and desired by the neocons who planned the crisis.
The Military-industrial complex — a self-licking ice cream cone — needed an enemy to justify its existence. Putin was a good choice.
Putin’s undeniable authoritarianism and brutality make it difficult to argue against U.S. efforts to weaken him. We can point out how the U.S. provoked him, how NATO expansion was unnecessary, how Putin wanted to integrate with the West, how U.S. wars and proxy wars were immoral, how we often supported brutal authoritarian governments, and how U.S. efforts to be policeman of the world often (or usually) fail and cause even worse blowback. And we can point out the risks and (opportunity) costs of our militarized foreign policy and of sanctions, including higher energy costs and possible nuclear annihilation. But we can’t pretend Putin is a good guy.
The U.S. could have made peace with Russia after the breakup of the USSR. We chose war. U.S. brinkmanship might succeed in weakening Russia; or it could result in disaster, for not just Ukraine and Europe, but also for the world. It will be costly in any case. The U.S. is willing to risk destroying Ukraine and sacrificing Europe’s energy needs to further its strategic interests.
Our duty is to denounce both Putin and U.S. militarized and aggressive foreign policy.
There’s no contradiction between denouncing Putin’s invasion and being honest about the hypocrisy, aggressive militarism, coups, election interference and other provocations of the U.S. and NATO.