The other side of the truth
by Daniele Ganser
Tuesday Mar 15th, 2022 7:15 AM
Without U.S. President Obama’s breach of international law eight years ago, Putin’s illegal military invasion probably would not have happened… It is time to stop settling for half-truths from one side or the other and tell the story of the conflict in a complete and balanced way.
[This article published on 3/12/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-andere-seite-der-wahrheit.]
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine – a violation of the UN’s ban on violence and therefore illegal. Almost exactly eight years earlier, on Feb. 20, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama had the government in Ukraine overthrown in order to draw the country into NATO. This coup is the root of the Ukraine war. Just like Putin’s invasion, Obama’s behavior was a violation of the UN’s ban on violence and therefore illegal. It is time to stop settling for half-truths from one side or the other and tell the story of the conflict in a complete and balanced way.
We hear only half the story
Currently, we read and hear a lot in the media about Putin’s invasion, which is rightly criticized. But we read and hear virtually nothing about the Obama coup. Why are we only told half the story?
Did the U.S. really overthrow the government in Ukraine? Why did almost no one notice it at the time? And what historical evidence is there to support this? I often receive questions like these and similar ones these days.
As a historian and peace researcher, I have been researching U.S. overt and covert wars for years, and in my book Illegal Wars, I also described the coup in Ukraine. “It was a Western-sponsored coup, there is little doubt about it,” already recognized former CIA employee Ray McGovern (1).
In Berlin, one year after the coup on May 10, 2015, I gave a lecture on the events in Ukraine, where I showed that President Obama had indeed overthrown the government in Ukraine. Those who wish can watch the lecture here (2).
Confrontation of the nuclear powers
The Ukraine war is a particularly delicate international conflict because it pits the United States and Russia against each other, both of which have nuclear weapons. As with the Cuban Missile Crisis, both sides are playing with hidden cards and trying to draw Ukraine into their sphere of influence.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The weakness of Moscow gave Washington its first opportunity to extend U.S. influence into Eastern Europe and to admit former Warsaw Pact member states formerly controlled by Moscow into NATO.
NATO’s eastward expansion and the Bucharest summit.
Although the United States had promised Russia that NATO would not expand, that is exactly what happened. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary became NATO members in 1999. And at the NATO summit in the Romanian capital of Bucharest in April 2008, U.S. President George Bush declared that Ukraine would also be admitted to NATO.
Russia was incensed, because Ukraine borders directly on Russia. And there were cautionary voices in the U.S. as well. “Imagine the outrage in Washington if China forged a powerful military alliance and tried to get Canada and Mexico to join it,” warned American political scientist John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. According to Mearsheimer, the West has provoked the Russians unnecessarily and is therefore guilty of the crisis in Ukraine (3).
Senator John McCain on the Maidan
On the Maidan, the central square of Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, increasing numbers of people demonstrated against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov in late 2013. Well-known former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko led the demonstrations and made flaming speeches in close coordination with the United States.
In this tense situation, influential U.S. Senator John McCain flew to Ukraine and visited Klitschko and the protest camp on the Maidan on December 15, 2013. The U.S. senator encouraged the protesters to overthrow the Ukrainian government (4).
Imagine the outrage in Washington if a well-known Russian parliamentarian flew to Canada to support protesters in the capital, Ottawa, to overthrow the Canadian government.
That is exactly what the United States did in Ukraine.
The U.S. embassy in Kiev is coordinating the protests
Leaders of the Maidan protests were in and out of the U.S. Embassy, taking their orders there. Some protesters were armed and used violence against police. “The Americans were recognizably forcing confrontational developments,” recalled Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, who was ousted (5).
At the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, it was U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who supported the protesters, thereby destabilizing Ukraine. Ambassador Pyatt was in direct contact with ex-boxer Klitschko. The well-organized demonstration on the Maidan grew larger and larger, and tensions in Kiev increased.
Current U.S. President Joe Biden was also directly involved in the coup, as he too supported the demonstration on the Maidan. In December 2013, Biden, then vice president under Obama, called President Yanukovych that night and threatened him with punishment if he allowed police to clear the Maidan. Yanukovych subsequently withdrew the planned eviction (6).
Victoria Nuland’s five billion dollars
At the U.S. State Department, Victoria Nuland was responsible for the coup. Nuland was a senior aide to President Obama as Deputy Secretary of State under U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Under President Donald Trump, Nuland lost influence but was reappointed by President Joe Biden as secretary of state at the State Department. In Ukraine, Nuland wanted to overthrow Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov and President Viktor Yanukovych to draw the country into NATO, as agreed at the Bucharest summit.
The leaders of the demonstration on the Maidan not only took their orders from the U.S. Embassy, but also their pay.
In December 2013, two months before the coup, Nuland had stated in a lecture, “We have invested more than five billion dollars to help Ukraine ensure prosperity, security, and democracy” (7).
This also led to criticism in the United States. Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul publicly asked:
“We’ve heard U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland brag that the U.S. has spent five billion dollars on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that okay?” (8).
That some of the protesters in Ukraine were paid was an open secret at the time. “There are people like U.S. billionaire George Soros who finance revolutions. Soros also supported the Maidan, paid people there – they earned more in two weeks on the Maidan than during four working weeks in Western Ukraine,” Ukraine expert Ina Kirsch told the Wiener Zeitung. “There is enough evidence that people were paid both on the Maidan and on the counter-event, the ‘Antimaidan,'” said Ina Kirsch, who was on the ground in Kiev. “There were prizes for every service. I know people who collected money from the counter-demonstration on the Antimaidan in the morning, then went over to the Maidan and collected money again there. This is nothing unusual in Ukraine” (9).
Fuck the EU: The Phone Call Before the Coup
The key evidence of U.S. involvement in the coup in Ukraine is an intercepted telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt that they had on February 7, 2014, just days before the coup.
In the phone conversation, Nuland says of who should form the new government in Ukraine after the coup. “I don’t think Klitsch should be part of the new government, I don’t think that’s necessary and not a good idea,” Nuland determines. “I think Yatsenyuk is the right man, he has the necessary experience in economics and politics.”
Indeed, Arseniy Yatsenyuk became prime minister in Ukraine after the coup. Ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko had to settle for the post of mayor of Kiev. This proves that Victoria Nuland planned and successfully carried out the coup for the USA. Ban Ki-moon of the UN “could help make this watertight, and you know what, fuck the EU,” Nuland said verbatim in the wiretapped conversation, which led to some outrage from German Chancellor Angela Merkel (10).
Snipers escalate situation on Feb. 20, 2014
In late February, the situation on the Maidan escalated. On February 20, 2014, a massacre occurred when unidentified snipers fired at police and protesters from various houses, leaving more than 40 dead. Chaos broke out. Immediately, the incumbent government of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Berkut police unit were blamed for the massacre, although they had no interest in the situation escalating, as they did not want to overthrow themselves. “The world must not watch a dictator slaughter his people,” commented boxer Vitali Klitschko, who wanted to overthrow the government, in the German tabloid Bild.
The regime change was successful: President Yanukovych was ousted and fled to Russia. He was replaced by billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who as president immediately declared he wanted to lead Ukraine into NATO.
Obama speaks out about the coup
A year after the coup, U.S. President Obama spoke to CNN about the transition of power in Ukraine, but obscured the U.S. role. “Putin was caught on the wrong foot by the protests on the Maidan,” Obama said. “Yanukovych fled after we negotiated a deal to transfer power.” CNN viewers did not learn that Obama had actually overthrown the government in Ukraine (11).
Putin talks about the coup
But the Russians knew that the U.S. had organized the coup and were very upset. “I believe that this crisis was created willy-nilly,” President Putin told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. NATO countries could have prevented the coup, Putin expressed his conviction.
“If America and Europe had said to those who committed these unconstitutional acts: ‘If you come to power in such a way, we will not support you under any circumstances. You must hold elections and win them,’ then the situation would have been completely different” (12).
The secession of Crimea
President Vladimir Putin had no intention of giving up Ukraine without a fight. Immediately after the fall of Yanukovych, he gave the order in the early morning hours of February 23, 2014, to begin “reclaiming” Crimea. Russian soldiers in green uniforms without insignia occupied all strategic points in Simferopol, the largest city on the Crimean peninsula, on February 27, 2014.
As early as March 16, 2014, 97 percent of Crimea’s population voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Since then, the Crimean peninsula no longer belongs to Ukraine, but to Russia.
Neither the U.S. nor Russia has complied with international law in the Ukraine war. First, Obama broke international law with the coup on February 20, 2014.
In response, Putin also broke international law with the occupation of Crimea on February 23, 2014. Russia’s occupation of Crimea “was a breach of applicable international law (…) the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine under international law were disregarded,” explains Dieter Deiseroth, formerly a judge at the Federal Administrative Court. The West now sharply criticizes Putin, although he himself “has repeatedly violated and continues to violate applicable international law in numerous cases (Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, drone war, Guantanamo et cetera), which has severely damaged his credibility” (13).
The Donbas splits off
After the coup in Kiev and the secession of Crimea, Ukraine plunged into civil war. The new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk tried to bring the whole country under his control with the army, the secret service and the police. But not all soldiers, police and intelligence officers followed the coup government’s directives. In Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, which borders Russia, the Donetsk and Lugansk districts declared that they would not recognize the coup government in Kiev. The separatists occupied police stations and administrative buildings, arguing that the new government had no legitimacy because it had come to power illegally.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk vehemently rejected this and declared that all separatists were terrorists. CIA Director John Brennan flew to Kiev to advise the coup plotters. On April 15, 2014, the Ukrainian army, with U.S. support, began its “anti-terrorist special operation,” attacking the city of Slavyansk in the Donetsk district with tanks and armored personnel carriers. This began the Ukrainian civil war that claimed more than 13,000 lives in eight years and led to Putin’s illegal invasion on February 24, 2022.
The coup in Kiev does not give Putin the right to invade Ukraine, breaking international law. But if we in the West ignore the 2014 coup, we will never be able to understand the Ukraine war.
Sources and Notes:
(1) Ex CIA officer Ray McGovern. These are the real culprits in the Ukraine war. YouTube, September 21, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juw4E4O_XeI.
(2) Dr. Daniele Ganser: Ukraine 2014, an illegal coup, Berlin May 10, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sMfNmx0wKo.
(3) John Mearsheimer: Why the West is to blame for the Ukraine crisis. Foreign Affairs, September 1, 2014.
(4) John McCain tells Ukraine protesters, “We are here to support your just cause.” The Guardian, December 15, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/15/john-mccain-ukraine-protests-support-just-cause.
(5) Stefan Korinth, “There is no blood on our hands.” NachDenkSeiten, October 22, 2015; https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=28031#foot_0.
(7) ARD Monitor: NATO as Warmonger in Ukraine, March 14, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpw5qIZ7QeM.
(8) Ron Paul: Reckless Congress ‘declares war’ on Russia. Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. December 4, 2014.
(9) Gerhard Lechner: Open questions about events on the Maidan. Ina Kirsch on the many mistakes that led to the severe Ukraine crisis. Wiener Zeitung, February 20, 2015, https://austria-forum.org/af/Wissenssammlungen/Essays/Politik/Maidan.
(10) Victoria Nuland’s slip. US diplomat apologizes for “Fuck the EU.” Spiegel Online, February 7, 2014, https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/us-diplomatin-victoria-nuland-entschuldigt-sich-fuer-fuck-the-eu-a-952016.html.
(11) U.S. President Barack Obama in conversation with CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria, February 1, 2015. YouTube: Fareed Zakaria Obama CNN Interview February 3, 2015.
(12) Vladimir Putin: Interview with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, June 6, 2015.
(13) Marcus Kloeckner: “Whoever orders the use of nuclear weapons is acting criminally.” Telepolis, April 2, 2015, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Wer-den-Einsatz-von-Atomwaffen-anordnet-handelt-verbrecherisch-3371089.html.
Daniele Ganser, PhD, is a Swiss historian specializing in contemporary history since 1945 and international politics. His research focuses on peace studies, geostrategy, covert warfare, resource struggles and economic policy. He directs the “Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research” in Basel.