What’s Going On in Ukraine? Part 1: History

Introduction

The mainstream media is awash with feverish condemnations of Putin for invading Ukraine. Western governments and mainstream media are, of course, completely untrustworthy when it comes to any issue of foreign policy. In particular, prior to the Official Covid Narrative, they lied endlessly about Russia: Russia hacking emails to send them to Wikileaks, Russia swinging the election with Facebook ads, the bizarre Skripal psyop, and let’s not forget Russia freezing Americans to death. There have also been half assed attempts to maintain the Russia fear narrative throughout the Covid psyop: the Navalny narrative and the return from the dead of Boshirov and Petrov for one news cycle. In order to start to address this question, we have to be aware of the actual history of Ukraine, western intervention in that country, and how the US and NATO provoked Russia to act.

The Post-Soviet Space & Western Involvement: A Brief History

Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, as eventually the USSR became 15 different successor states. The largest of these is the Russian Federation, which existed in a state of shambles throughout the 1990s under the leadership of the alcoholic Boris Yeltsin. During this period Russia’s influence outside its borders massively waned as it was consumed with issues such as economic crisis, a rampant mafia, and possible further territorial losses in places such as the Caucasus.

The Western powers used this period to consolidate a bulwark against Russia by expanding NATO. The Baltic states – who always had more anti-Soviet/Russian sentiment – joined NATO in 2004 along with several other former socialist republics that were not part of the USSR. The other post-Soviet states remain outside of NATO, but there has been talk of trying to get certain other post-Soviet states (mostly Georgia and Ukraine) into the bloc.

The West has attempted to install and maintain anti-Russian, pro EU/neo-liberal governments in the post-Soviet states and former socialist republics, with varying degrees of success. This has involved the sponsorship of colour revolutions and the promise of EU integration. For example, the West opposed Shevardnadze’s government in Georgia (ousted in the 2003 Rose revolution) and Lukashenko’s government in Belarus (who they have tried and failed to oust several times, as recently as 2021).

The EU has also been involved in attempting to get 6 of the post-Soviet states to sign an Association Agreement. This plan was known as the ‘Eastern Partnership’ and started in 2009, targeting Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and most notably Ukraine. Some of these states, like Georgia, were fully on board, whereas others, such as Belarus and Armenia, were not (these countries preferred the Eurasian alternative promoted by Russia).

This initiative was portrayed by the EU as a technocratic and economic agenda, primarily about trade deals and reforms to make said countries more in line with neo-liberal ideology, such as deregulation. In reality such initiatives were designed to weaken Russia, the carrot to the regime change stick.

The ‘Euromaidan’ Coup, The Azov Battalion and The Donbass

The details of the Euromaidan Coup have been outlined in detail in multiple articles, both written at the time and more recently.

The Official Narrative of the Euromaidan is something like this. The corrupt, unpopular and pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych was ruling over Ukraine. The EU reached out an olive branch to Yanukovych in terms of of an Association Agreement, a deal beneficial to both parties that would improve and modernise Ukraine’s economy and help to harmonise it with the EU. However, Yanukovych, after negotiating this deal, rejected it under pressure from Putin.

The Ukrainian people desired integration with Europe and were outraged by Yanukovych’s choice for Russia over the West. So they went into the streets en masse to oppose Yanukovych’s unpopular decision. His strategy of police brutality failed. Following this, his unpopularity led him to flee the country and to be replaced by a pro-European leader who was in line with the desires of the Ukrainian people.

Of course, there are massive problems with this narrative. It is true that that the (more Russian speaking) east of Ukraine supported Yanukovych much more than the west. He was elected in 2010 in replacement for the more pro-Western Yushchenko (I won’t get into the complications of the ‘Orange Revolution’ here). Ukraine is roughly divided on east/west lines politically, with the east being more pro-Russian and having more Russian speakers.

It is also the case that the failure to sign the Association Agreement acted as the trigger for regime change. After Yanukovych decided not to sign the agreement, protesters took to the streets. However, there are multiple divergences in reality from the official narrative:

  • Firstly, the association agreement was not as benign as it was originally portrayed. As Stephen F. Cohen points out: “[The agreement] included protocols requiring Ukraine to adhere to Europe’s “military and security” policies, which meant in effect, without mentioning the alliance, NATO.”
  • Secondly, the role of Neo-Nazis in the coup is brushed over, if mentioned at all by the Western media. There were multiple fascist groups involved with the protests, who idolise Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. These groups included Svoboda, a far right organisation led by Oleh Tyahnybok, and Right Sector.
  • Thirdly, the US government admitted spending “5 billion dollars ‘assisting Ukraine’. This includes 180 million dollars on ‘development programs’ for ‘judges, members of parliament [and] political parties’.”
  • Fourthly, the US Deputy Secretary of State at the time, Victoria Nuland, was also involved in maneuvering behind the scenes to ensure a government acceptable to Washington. Nuland met with the far right leader Tyahnybok personally. There is also a leaked call in which Nuland takes part, discussing how the government would be reconstituted after the coup, with Nuland identifying who should and should not go into government.

Furthermore, the situation in Donbass has been completely ignored by the mainstream media. The media acts as if Putin started a war in Ukraine, when there was already one: the shelling of the people of Donbass by the Ukrainian government. The people of Donbass rejected the coup in 2014 that massively increased the power of violent neo-Nazi groups, and instead formed the Donetsk & Lugansk People’s Republics.

Journalist Eva Bartlett, who has visited Donbass, talks about some of the atrocities committed by the Kiev government in this article.

Conclusion

Western governments and the mainstream media have misrepresented the situation in Ukraine in order to promote a pro-imperialist narrative. The situation in 2014 is directly linked to the current situation in Ukraine, which will be considered in further articles.

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