Euromaidan Protests, Ukraine 2014 The Ukraine President Who Wanted Neutrality For His Country The world is still buzzing about Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. You may have been surprised to hear Putin indicate that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began much earlier than February of 2022 when Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine. Putin said that he felt that the conflict began with the Euromaidan Coup in Ukraine ten years earlier. It was then that bloody riots took place in the capital city of Kyiv. Specifically in Maidan Square, hence the name. During those bloody riots, over 100 Ukrainians were killed, and absolute chaos broke out, first provoking the then President, Viktor Yanukovich, to send in troops and later creating a massive backlash that would see Yanukovich resign from the Presidency and flee to a self-imposed exile in Russia. For those of us in America, this appeared to be a spontaneous uprising of the people against an oppressive central government. It went unnoticed that working behind the scenes were three Americans, three who became the driving force behind first the Ukrainian Coup and later, as it morphed into a Proxy War with the Russian Federation. Euromaidan Demonstrations, 2014 It’s been a decade since the events in Ukraine have overtaken the world. History was made in February 2014, when a rebellion in the streets of Kyiv, the resignation of a President, and the annexation of Crimea galvanized the world. Suddenly, the international community divided into two camps, the pro-Ukrainian and the pro-Russian. Fully eight years before the Russo-Ukraine War began, all the elements of all-out war were in place, managed by three Americans, Victoria Nuland of the US State Department, George Soros of the Renaissance and Open Society Foundations, and Joe Biden, at the time Vice President of the United States. They were the diplomat, the head of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), and the US Vice President. Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych Our story begins in the closing days of 2013. The President of Ukraine was Viktor Yanukovych, serving out his last year of a four-year term. When first elected, Yanukovych was considered a pro-European Union, pro-American President. It followed, then, that he would be anti-Russian, something that fits nicely with the European and American future for Ukraine. However, Yanukovych had other ideas. He felt that Ukraine ought to be neutral, not choosing either side, Russia or the EX/US. For Ukrainians, this had been its historical and geographic position — a crossroads of trade and commerce between Scandinavia and Europe to the North and West and Russia and Assia to the east. Yanukovych resisted any effort to align with either side. It places Yanukovich in a delicate position; he must walk the fine line between Russia and the West and keep the Ukrainian people informed of his evolving strategy. Two significant events showed just how difficult this balancing act was. The Port Of Sevastopol When first elected to the Presidency, he chose to renew the Russian lease on the Port of Sevastopol, the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Russia and Ukraine signed in 1997 with a term of 20 years. Although it had ten years to run, Yanukovich thought he could cut a better deal by re-negotiating the lease early. Indeed, he achieved a reduced price for Russian natural gas used to make the lease payments. It was a win for the Ukrainian people, who enjoyed the lower energy costs. But in the West, it was considered befriending Russia, something the EU/US would not tolerate. The European Union By 2013, the European Union and the United States began to exert tremendous pressure on Yanukovich to align more closely with the West. The European Union proposed that Ukraine sign an “Association Agreement.” It’s an agreement that stops short of full membership in the EU but closely aligns the “Associate Country” with the EU. Turkey has been a long-standing Associate Member of the European Union. And you’d need help telling the difference between full and associate membership. Turkey is bound by the same restrictions and prohibitions as a full member and is expected to give priority to other EU Member States in trade and commerce. For Yanukovich, this was the first necessary step in admitting Ukraine as a full member of the EU. Receiving an invitation to one of the most significant multi-state associations in the world must have been a heady time for Yanukovych. Yanukovich was likely elated at the EU’s offer and inclined to sign up. Impetuously, he announced that he would shortly sign the EU Association Agreement. However, this would become a fatal mistake for Yanukovych’s Presidency. Either he failed to understand the full ramifications of becoming an EU Associate or forgot that another offer was likely coming from Russia. Whatever the reason, Yanukovich changed his mind. After telling the world he would sign the EU’s Agreement, he reversed and said he would NOT. Instead, he signed a trade agreement with Russia. And like all of Yanukovich’s significant deals, this was a sound financial agreement that would provide Ukraine with inexpensive energy costs, especially natural gas, and much-needed aid and assistance with the Ukrainian Nuclear Power plants, just like the Sevastopol Agreement. In Yanukovich’s World, remember he’s an economist; this was a rational decision. He received a better deal from Russia, and so he took it. It was that political blind spot that we talked about earlier. He failed to comprehend that this change in direction would deliver a mortal blow to his Presidency. That sharks were already circling. George Soros Fans The Flames Of Rebellion George Soros. On November 21, 2013, Yanukovich announced that he would reject the European Union’s Offer of Associate Membership and instead sign a trade agreement with Russia. It was when things began to spin out of control. It is unlikely that Yanukovich, or anyone in his Government, could have anticipated what would occur. There was too much at stake and too many different parties involved. America began to make its presence known. At all the levels available, diplomatic, Non-Governmental, clandestine, various American operatives went into action. Initial demonstrations at Maidan Square At first, reactions on the streets of Kyiv were mild. A few dozen protesters gathered in Maidan Square in the center of Kyiv to protest what they felt was Yanukovich’s duplicitous action. Ukraine was, and still is, a divided nation. While there are many “Russian Speakers,” as we’ve noted, there are also a substantial number of Ukrainians who do not trust their neighbors to the north and east. These are the ones who still resent the sting of the Soviet Union and distrust all things Russian. To them, Yanukovich’s actions seemed like a double-cross. Enter the Renaissance Foundation, a division of George Soros’ Open Society. Soros is one of the most politically active of all global billionaires. A native of Hungary, Soros has marshaled his great wealth to incite societal change throughout Eastern Europe. It was Soros and his various Non-Governmental Organizations that fomented the so-called “color revolutions” throughout the region following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Crowds reached an estimated 800,000 at its peak. Twelve years later, he was more than ready to take on Ukraine. So, what began as a simple walking protest, the kind Americans used to see in the 1960’s, quickly morphed into a full-scale encampment within Kyiv. It became a city within a city, complete with reinforced barricades, tents, food service, and even a broadcast center. At its peak, more than 800,000 Ukrainians called Euromaidan their home for the duration. Temporary Kitchens were set up. As the Euronews said in their headline: “A Rather Modest Ukrainian Protest Turned Into A Revolution.” The logistics alone behind the Euromaidan Operation were substantial. People would need food and water, although many local businesses stayed open throughout the encampment. Demonstrators filled Sandbags with the only available resource: ice, with the bags stacked 5 meters high. They reinforced with ramparts to repel the tanks and other heavy equipment they expected the Government to throw at them. Tents became living quarters. On the street, all forms of communication were humming. Social media was alive with news from Maidan Square. Even television Channel 5 was carrying live reports. All this is from a state-of-the-art broadcast studio in the center of the encampment — Renaissance Foundation at work. The Press Center. On the home page of the Open Society, you can find this summary: Why did Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests begin? “In late November 2013, Ukrainians took to the streets in peaceful protest after then-president Viktor Yanukovych chose not to sign an agreement that would have integrated the country more closely with the European Union.As the protests in Kyiv’s Independence Square, or Maidan, continued into 2014, the Government began cracking down on the demonstrators. The size of the protests only grew in reaction and turned into what was termed “the revolution of dignity.” Those who remained on the Maidan risked assault, kidnapping, unlawful arrest, and loss of their jobs. On January 16, the Government introduced a series of repressive laws severely restricting civil society and the right to protest. On January 22, the first protesters were killed in clashes in Kyiv; in all, over 100 mostly civilian protesters died, the majority on February 20 and 21."https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/explainers/understanding-ukraines-euromaidan-protests Resentment naturally built on both sides of the barricades as hundreds of thousands of people crowded outside in the cold, with little to do, while Police tried to anticipate their next move. Some of the demonstrators wanted to strike first by taking out Yanukovich. They headed toward Yanukovych’s home. Former Ukraine Prime Minister Mykola Azarov related how a mob of 3,500 headed toward the Yanukovich residence, with designated groups “tasked with capturing him and implementing the “Libyan variant.” Yanukovych was to be murdered just like Gaddafi.” Muammar Gaddafi was the former leader of Lebanon, brutally murdered by a similar mob just three years before. (https://tass.com/world/775435). Yanukovich managed to escape. But back at Maidan Square, things continued to escalate, climaxing on February 21, 2022, when Ukrainian Police opened fire upon the demonstrators, killing dozens. Writing just a few days after February 21, 22, 2022, Matt Spetalnick describes a phone call between President Yanukovych and U.S. Vice President Biden. “As the bloodiest day of anti-government protests in Ukraine was drawing to a close last month, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called President Viktor Yanukovich for the second time in three days and delivered a blunt message. Pull back your security forces now and accept a European-brokered settlement, or you will be held accountable, Biden warned the pro-Russian leader. “It WILL catch up with you.” Initially defiant, Yanukovich sounded subdued by the end of the hour-long call, according to a senior U.S. official knowledgeable of the conversation. Within hours, Yanukovich signed a deal with the opposition and fled to Russia.” https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBREA2A1XZ/ It was probably to be expected that Yanukovich would flee to Russia. Like many Ukrainians, he was of Russian heritage. What is most remarkably about this conversation is less that he aided in Yanukovych’s resignation than that he identified Yanukovich as a pro-Russian sympathizer. For Biden, Ukraine would become the “sword” by which he could inflict the most pain upon the Russian State. As any careful observer will note, each appeal that Biden makes for more funds and weapons for Ukraine is always prefaced with “halting Russian aggression.” When the fighting ended, 104 demonstrators had been killed, along with 26 police officers. President Zelensky lays a wreath at the Maidan Square Memorial. President Yanukovich, most of the Government, and the Police all abandoned the city. The Rebels had won. Days later, Yanukovich showed up in Russia, where, to this day, he remains in exile. For Ukraine, the country would never be the same. Gone was Yanukovych’s dream of a country like Switzerland, a neutral nation at the crossroads between Russia and Europe. Viktor Yanukovych reflects on his loosing the Presidency of Ukraine. Elected Or Selected, Victoria Nuland Takes Charge of Elections At precisely the same time that riots were occurring in Kyiv, Russia moved on to Crimea. In its history, Crimea has seen many flags fly over its lands, as many have come to concur that this peninsula lies on the strategic intersection of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. The citizens of Crimea had voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia,President Putin said that for years, he received requests from the “Russian-speaking” people of Crimea to escape the oppression of the Kyiv Government and join the Russian Federation. Russian Troops take Crimea. Interestingly, the citizens in Crimea had much the same opinion of the Kyiv government as those of the Maidan Revolution. Yet, when Crimea voted by 97% in favor of integrating with Russia, all of the Western powers rejected that referendum as illegitimate — on the one hand, accepting the premise of the Maidan Square Protesters that Kyiv was corrupt and needed to be opposed, but rejecting the same concept for Crimea. No matter what one feels about the legitimacy of the Russian annexation of Crimea, from a purely strategic perspective, it was nearly a flawless military action. Only five people died as Russian troops took control: 2 Ukrainian soldiers, 1 Russian soldier, and two civilians. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Washington was busy reacting to everything happening in Ukraine. After Russia took Crimea: “Vice President Joe Biden pressed President Barack Obama to take decisive action, and fast, to make Moscow “pay in blood and money” for its aggression. A Biden aide recalled that the president was having none of it.” Seattle Times, November 12, 2019 https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/what-joe-biden-actually-did-in-ukraine/ But while President Obama would not follow the Vice President’s admonishment that Russia pays with “money and blood,” nonetheless, he did appoint the Vice President as special emissary to Ukraine. Biden would join Victoria Nuland as the two ranking US officials in Ukraine there. Victoria Nuland. Ms. Nuland assumed the position of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs the year before. Ms. Nuland presented the world with the most iconic moment of the Maidan Demonstrations. She galvanized the protesters by leaving the US Embassy and delivering cookies to the demonstrators. A simple gesture that vividly demonstrated the United States’ support for overturning the existing Kyiv Government of Viktor Yanukovich. However, as the history of these events has unfolded in the intervening years, it is now apparent that Nuland’s role in guiding the 2014 Ukraine Coup went far beyond handing out cookies. The South China Morning News discovered a recording of a conversation between Ms. Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing the chances of Poroshenko getting enough votes to take the Presidency of Ukraine. Background: You may find this call difficult to follow. I certainly did the first time through. But what you have here is an insight into the US State Department managing the election process following the Maidan Coup. In it, Ms. Nuland talks about her desire for Vitali Klitschko to “remain outside of the new government.” Klitschko and his brother Wladimir are very popular boxers and martial arts experts. They both won many championships for Ukraine and had been slowly entering the political arena as Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko was a viable candidate for the Presidency of Ukraine. From Nuland’s point of view, if Klitschko entered the Presidential Race at this critical point in 2014, he might take votes away from her preferred candidate, Petro Poroshenko. Known as the “Chocolate King.” Poroshenko was one of the wealthiest men in Ukraine, due mainly to his founding of the Roshen Confectionery Company. Nuland election strategy worked to a “T.” Poroshenko’s main rival, Mayor Klitschko, withdrew from the race, and Poroshenko won comfortably. Vice President Biden congratulated the newly elected Ukraine President, Petro Poroshenko. As President, Poroshenko was entirely aligned with Nuland and the Americans. Abandoning Yanukovich’s hope for a neutral Ukraine, Poroshenko was staunchly anti-Russian. Adopting a one-language policy that would virtually outlaw all Russian speakers. He also pushed the “Russian Separatists” further into the Donbas Region. The two Donbas centers of Donetsk and Luhansk were among the first regions of Ukraine liberated by Russia during the current Special Military Operation (SMO). Conclusion The 2014 Ukraine Coup was now complete. The duly elected President, Viktor Yanukovich, was exiled to Russia. His dream of Ukrainian neutrality was to be no more. In his place, a solidly pro-US/EU President, Petro Poroshenko, would begin shutting down Russia-Ukraine relations while building Ukraine’s ties to Europe and the United States. In the decade since the Ukraine Coup, leaders worldwide have all changed. Most European countries have new prime ministers or presidents. Petro Poroshenko is no longer the President of Ukraine. But in the United States, the same trio continues at the top. Just this week, George Soros purchased the Audacy Group of 220 Radio Stations, thus becoming the second-largest radio network in the country, just in time for the 2024 US Election. Soros remains ever a political activist. Victoria Nuland has risen through the ranks at the US State Department and currently holds the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. She can continue influencing Ukrainian politics through State Department Policies from this position. Joe Biden, of course, is the President of the United States and continues to fight against Russia. For Biden, the past two years have seen Ukraine become the proxy of the United States to oppose Vladimir Putin aggressively. Follow me here on ThinkSpot for more stories from the ValueSide.