A new guest column at The Professors’ Blog by the British Human Rights advocate John Goss. It gives a historical insight into the Ukraine events starting with the orchestrated Maidan disruptions, and the subsequent escalation into a civil war. In true terms, a US proxy civil war aimed to get Russia involved, the author indicates. A must-read analysis.
A previous version of this analysis, “What the Left Should Learn about Ukraine”
was published at News Junkie Post 20 July 2015.
History of the Ukrainian civil war, February 2014 – February 2015
Prior to what became known as Euromaidan, there were several attempts by the West at regime change in Ukraine. These were known as color revolutions and put into power corrupt right-wing politicians like Yulia Tymoshenko, who was in prison prior to the takeover. Previously these regime changes took place at the ballot box. Euromaidan was a mass protest on Maidan Square in Kiev against the austere policies of the elected President Viktor Yanukovich who, like all heads of state, was living in luxury while ordinary people were suffering. Ukraine looked towards the West, and the majority wanted closer ties and even inclusion in the Euro-zone.
The protest was genuine but there were Western-funded elements who used it as a means to create regime change without an election, in other words a coup d’etat. It is well-known today that Victoria Nuland had hand picked the replacement prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom the West had been sponsoring via his rather misleadingly named foundation, Open Ukraine. Since before the coup, its partners included the NATO information and documentation center, Chatham House, the United States State Department, and other organizations through which money can be channeled tax-free.
Elections were due to take place in March 2015. Protests were largely peaceful until on February 18, 2014, when a number of shooters opened fire on a crowd. This triggered further events in which Yanukovich fled in fear for his life. The Western mainstream media covered the Maidan Square protests in some detail, an important fact considering such sparse coverage of the genocide which has taken place in its aftermath, further indicating that our media was, and is, a complicit servant in the overthrow and installation of an illegal regime. According to a leaked telephone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian Foreign Minister, and Catherine Ashton, then Vice President of the European Commission, the gunmen who opened fire in Maidan Square were firing on both sides and were not from the Yanukovich government. Channel 4 did pick up on this. Neither Paet nor Ashton has denied that the intercepted phone call was genuine.
On May 2, 2014, at least 46 people were killed in an organized massacre where many were locked in a Trade Union building which was then set on fire. Kiev has made no serious effort to find out who the perpetrators of this massacre were, because it is quite certain this leads to the very top of government. Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli knows about fascist regimes and illegally installed dictatorships, having been imprisoned under General Pinochet. He now lives in Sweden and has followed the Ukrainian civil war from the start. Some of the pictures posted on his blog are not for the squeamish but show the reality of brutal forces in a formerly peaceful country. It was pro-junta forces who had been massacring their own people.
Odessa, which has a large populace of Russian speakers, was targeted because, like the people of Donbas many do not wish to be governed by the puppet regime installed by the US in Kiev. Since coming to power, Communism has been banned and Communists cannot stand for election to the Verkhovna Rada (Kiev parliament). There has been a ban on Russian-language programs, and cable companies do not carry Russian channels, which has led to a five-fold increase in the sales of satellite dishes. This pushed a Kiev member of parliament (MP) to instruct the police to smash all the satellite dishes. The murder, or murder made to look like suicide, of opposition politicians and journalists is almost pandemic.
Eric Draitser was born in the United States, but he has a special connection with Ukraine considering that his father emigrated from Odessa to the US. He has advice for those of us on the left. “The question facing leftists internationally is no longer whether they believe there are fascists in Ukraine, or whether they are an important part of the political establishment in the country; this is now impossible to refute. Rather, the challenge before the international left is whether it can overcome its deep-seated mistrust of Russia, and consequent inability to separate fact from fiction, and unwaveringly defend its comrades in Ukraine with the conviction and aplomb of its historical antecedents.”
This message from Eric Draitser cannot be underestimated. There are good thinking people on the left who have been so conditioned in the UK that they do not know what kind of government the West has brought to power in Kiev. Lack of mainstream media coverage of what is actually going on is one problem. The other is the continuous vilification of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and all things Russian without any justification. Some people believe to impose sanctions on Russia was the right decision. Some even believe Russia caused the civil war. This is what Draitser calls this deep-seated mistrust, and it seriously needs to be addressed.
The civil war that followed the deposing of Yanukovich was escalated as soon as Petro Poroshenko became president. Before coming to power he promised to bring peace to Eastern Ukraine. Pravy Sector and Azov forces, many of whose fighters are openly fascist and openly deify the fascist Stepan Bandera, have spearheaded the Kiev government’s attack on its own people living in the East. In this conflict, at least 6,500 people have been killed including many women and children (more than twice as many as were killed in Palestine in another genocide that went on in the same period). Prior to this, there had not been a civil war in Ukraine since the Russian Civil War of 1922.
Poroshenko, a chocolate, and now media, oligarch cannot be trusted. He said he would sell his chocolate concern, Roshen, to concentrate on politics when he became president but failed to do so. He signed the Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 protocols but failed to adhere to their conditions. Not very long after Minsk 2, he was stating openly that it was a pseudo agreement and the fighting would not stop until the self-declared people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were controlled by Kiev and they would fight till the last drop of blood was spilled — he did not mention his own blood. Different interpretations were put on what he said by East and West media. His signature on the foot of an agreement is as worthless in terms of honesty and integrity as that of Herr Adolph Hitler. Thanks to a Wikileaks document it is known that Poroshenko has long been a puppet of the US: at least since 2006 when he accused Tymoshenko of being unprincipled, which is really only a euphemism for her true character. Poroshenko is just as bad and, in another leaked cable from the US, it is shown that the Americans knew that their man in Ukraine was corrupt too. “In response to questions about the logic of making Poroshenko Rada speaker, Bezsmertny said there was no other way to create an Orange coalition. Poroshenko’s reputation was tainted by serious corruption allegations, but he wielded significant influence within Our Ukraine, and his interests had to be accommodated — it was as simple as that, Bezsmertny emphasized.”
In early 2015, President Barack Obama finally admitted that the US had organized regime change, and Victoria Nuland, some fifteen months previously, told a press conference that the US had invested $5 billion over the last 20 years to assist Ukraine in its goals to become supposedly democratic. This was after Yanukovich failed to sign up to a Greece-type austerity deal with Europe, preferring to continue trading with its Russian partner. The plans for regime change had already been started at least a month earlier when the then Ukrainian MP, Oleg Tsarnov, revealed that US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, was running the non-governmental organization (NGO) Techcamp from the US embassy. The purpose of Techcamp was to train Ukrainians on how to use the media for misinformation while they prepared for a civil war. Throughout Tsarnov’s speech, the fascist parliamentarians are heard chanting abuse, trying to drown out the message. Oleg Tsarnov’s fellow Party of Regions MP, Oleg Kalashnikov, was murdered on April 15, 2015 outside his home after receiving threats from an extreme right-wing group Mirotvoretz (‘Peacekeeper’) due to his anti-fascist outspokenness. Mirotvoretz is supported by Ihor Gerashchenko, a senior advisor to the internal ministry of Ukraine.
What the civil war has economically cost the people of Ukraine
In all wars, it is rarely those who start them who get killed in them. The NATO countries have a terrible record in bombing and occupying formerly peaceful countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, to relieve them of their natural resources and leave them as failed states. More recently US support has been for proxy wars waged by Ukraine on its own people, Israel on Palestine and Saudi Arabia on Yemen. The aim has always been the same, regime change to impose a puppet or pliable government, or alternatively to create conditions of perpetual war until whoever eventually comes to power ends up in dollar debt to financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to rebuild their countries. During the Ukraine civil war, for the first time in its history, the IMF, under the directorship of Christine Lagarde made loans to a country at war. Just as the war was starting, in response to a question asking if strict monetary decisions might push Ukraine into the arms of Russia, Lagarde told Judy Woodruff:
“You are right about qualification, meaning that IMF money doesn’t come free.
“IMF — the IMF lends financing to countries, provided that countries do for themselves what they need to do to restore the economy to be able to finance themselves without our support. So, we lend money, and the country takes a road to recovery, makes the hard choices, decides for itself what its economic future will be.
“And it includes what you said, dealing with corruption, restoring the governance, dealing with the right price of energy, restoring the fiscal situation, and making structural reforms that will help Ukraine get back on a solid track.”
In other words the IMF lends to a country in order to create austerity deliberately for its residents, while enriching the suspect banking fraternity. The National Bank of Ukraine, which is the country’s lender of last resort, is run by a governor and a council of seven members from the Rada plus a further seven chosen by the president. In June 2015 Christine Lagarde made a statement on the progress of the IMF’s ongoing loans to Ukraine which suggests this structure is about to change. She welcomes a parliamentary decision “to strengthen the National Bank of Ukraine’s independence . . .” This is part of the ‘far-reaching and structural reforms’ imposed by the IMF as part of the deal to create growth. The Ukraine economy has all the makings of another Greece.
Since the civil war started, the Ukrainian currency, the Hryvnia, has sunk in value, its purchasing power being half what it was before the start of the conflict. At the height of the fighting it was only one third of its former value. What makes it even more arduous for ordinary people is that utility bills have risen and 28 percent of families could not afford to pay their energy bills last winter. Kiev has defaulted on its due payments to Russia for gas. There are protests against the current government not reported in our media. Known as Financial Maidan, longstanding demonstrations have been going on since December 2014. This continues, with protestors calling for Yatsenyuk to resign.
The real reason for the US proxy civil war was to get Russia involved. As such, multiple media attacks on Putin and his policies made daily reading and viewing, while our media was simultaneously bogged down with reports of Russia having government troops and tanks in Ukraine fighting against Kiev’s armies. These reports have been discredited time and again. Not one creditable photograph of these supposed Russian military columns has ever been produced. Earlier in 2015, President Putin went on state television discussing Crimea and the Ukraine civil war. He said if there were Russian troops in Ukraine the conflict would have been over in days. Here is an interview Pravda’s Inna Novokova conducted with Franz Klintsevich, first deputy head of the Russian Faction at the Russian parliament, which puts the Moscow point of view regarding Ukraine. He describes in disturbing detail what would happen to the US if it declared war on Russia and why he thinks Russia will have to clear up the mess after Ukraine collapses. The US is only a fair-weather friend and may already be holding much of Ukraine’s gold.
Vladimir Putin’s popularity has never been so high at home and abroad. He was one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential figures in the world for 2015. Due to the civil war in Ukraine, Russians have rallied around Putin. Open Ukraine, as previously mentioned, is funded by the West. Another Western-funded opposition party called Open Russia had already virtually disintegrated before the assassination of its leader Boris Nemtsov, an assassination which leaves a number of open questions beyond the scope of this article. The civil war in Ukraine has had exactly the opposite effect from what the West hoped to achieve: regime change in Russia. The cost to Ukrainians has been devastating.
More importantly, while our media has been drumming up the idea that Putin is a warmonger and everything he does is bad, he is actually a peacemaker. Sanctions have hurt Russia, and they have hurt Europe too. European countries were doing good trade with Russia before dollar diplomacy took control. It was Putin’s initiative to get Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Petro Poroshenko round the table to negotiate the Minsk agreements. What also seems to be forgotten is that Putin, although having a short KGB involvement, is a capitalist. Russia is an advanced capitalist country and has been for nearly 25 years. It is no longer the old Soviet Union. Indeed Putin could be a friend to Europe, but the West has chosen to try to alienate him and Russia in its pursuit of global hegemony.
Russia is not the threat though, make no mistake, it would defend itself, were it attacked. There is however an enemy. The Warsaw Pact alliance was set up as a response to the NATO alliance. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Warsaw Pact alliance was disbanded. There was no longer any need for NATO’s existence. Instead of winding down its resources, as might be done with munitions factories after a war, it has expanded its scope, swamping up almost all the former Warsaw Pact countries. This expansion is a big threat to Russia and to the countries with NATO bases. Ukraine was one of the last hurdles in a real-world global expansion reminiscent of the politically incorrect board-game Risk. Nearly all the modern large-scale wars have the jackboot footprint of NATO on them.
Editor’s Notes (Junkie Post publication): Photographs one, three, four, six,seven, eight, ten, and eleven by Sasha Maksymenko; photographs two, five, nine, twelve and fourteen from the US Department of State archive.
-  http://openukraine.org/en/about/partners
-  http://www.channel4.com/news/ukraine-catherine-ashton-phone-shoot-maidan-bugged-leaked/
-  https://professorsblogg.com/2014/05/15/odessa-massacre-firebombs-thrown-by-pro-junta-actvists-burn-alive-43/
-  http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150625/1023852222.html
-  http://newcoldwar.org/ukrainian-regime-persecutes-and-kills-opposition-politicians-and-journalists/
-  http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/27/kievs-repression-of-anti-fascism-in-odessa/
-  http://rt.com/news/258685-poroshenko-minsk-pseudo-peace/ and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/11605917/Ukraines-president-says-ceasefire-is-pseudo-peace.html
-  https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06KIEV1706_a.html
-  https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06KIEV2038_a.html
-  http://rt.com/op-edge/228379-obama-power-transition-ukraine/
-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gbVOr6n8Ww
-  http://newcoldwar.org/ukrainian-regime-persecutes-and-kills-opposition-politicians-and-journalists/
-  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/imf-chief-lagarde-hurdles-blocking-economic-growth/
-  http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2015/pr15285.htm
-  http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150116/1016989990.html
-  http://sputniknews.com/europe/20141223/1016155133.html
-  http://video.news.com.au/v/360359/Ukraine-Stop-Yatsenyuk-say-protesters-outside-parliament-in-Kiev
-  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30025138
-  http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/09-02-2015/129738-0/
-  http://newsjunkiepost.com/2014/07/30/ukraine-and-crimeas-vanishing-gold/
-  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/vladimir-putin-named-most-influential-figure-in-the-world-for-2015-by-time-100-readers-poll-10174956.html