Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
If the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia was based upon the overwhelming desire by Crimeans that Crimea become again a part of Russia such as Crimea had been until 1954, instead of upon Russia’s ‘conquest’ of Crimea such as Obama has charged, then the economic sanctions that Obama placed against Russia on the basis of that annexation is on false ground, and has no authentic justification in law or in fact. Also, in that case, NATO’s subsequent military buildup against Russia, purportedly to protect NATO against ‘another such conquest by Russia’, would be based upon this same lie: the lie that Crimea’s becoming again a part of Russia was something other than a legitimate carrying-out of any people’s sovereign right, of self-determination of peoples — a right that the West recognizes for Catalonians in Spain, and for Scotch in UK, but not for Crimeans in Ukraine. Consequently, essential to addressing this crucial matter is forthrightly to address misrepresentations that are commonly asserted regarding it, and also to address in a credible way what the motivations might be for any such commonly asserted misrepresentations of this historically crucial matter. In other words: an unusually frank discussion is necessary here, which does not mince words where outright lies have been stated and become widespread in The West, and which instead presents the facts that stand forth the most clearly upon the basis of the evidence that is of the very highest reliability and credibility concerning each respective point in question in the matter. The most reliable evidence is presented here, and is consistently in favor of the Russian position, and against The West’s (the U.S. and its allies) position, on this crucial, even mega-historical, issue.
This question’s importance derives from its concerning the validity, or not, of the rationale for the economic sanctions against Russia, and of the NATO military buildup against Russia on Russia’s borders (which latter buildup now threatens World War III). Nothing is more important than this.
On the American/NATO side of this dispute, both the sanctions and the military buildup against Russia have been alleged to be justified responses to Russia’s ‘conquest’ of Crimea, from Ukraine. However, Russia contends that there was no such ‘conquest’ of Crimea, and that Crimeans’ separation from Ukraine and joining Russia was instead an entirely voluntary act by Crimeans — a fulfillment by Crimeans of their fundamental right of self-determination of peoples — and that it was precipitated by what Russia alleges to have been a “coup” in Ukraine that overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian President for whom 75% of Crimeans had voted, and so created a suddenly intensified desire of Crimeans to break away from Ukraine, and to rejoin with Russia, of which Crimea had been a part until Crimea was involuntarily transferred from Russia to Ukraine by the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. The Russian government claims that Russia has protected the right of Crimeans to make this crucial choice, and that Russia enabled Crimeans voluntarily to rejoin Russia, after Crimeans had been forced to become part of Ukraine in 1954 — and, now, after the “coup” in Kiev, Crimeans intensely wanted to rejoin Russia. Russia contends that The West, not Russia, has been, and is, insisting upon dictatorship regarding the Crimean people, by The West’s refusal to respect the right of self-determination of peoples, to the Crimean population, whom Russia has protected and enabled in March 2014 peacefully to exercise that inalienable right, which any people possess the peaceful right to do.
No one can deny that the overthrow of Victor Yanukovych — the democratically elected President of Ukraine, who had won 75% of the votes of the people of Crimea — led directly to the movement of the Crimean people to separate themselves from being ruled by the newly installed, post-overthrow, Ukrainian government. Without the violent overthrow of Yanukovych, there would have been no reason for Crimeans to have been in fear, as they overwhelmingly were. But the question remains of whether the separation of Crimea from Ukraine was a legitimate act of self-determination of peoples, by the Crimeans, in response to a coup (such as Russia contends to have been The case), or was it instead a ‘seizure’ of Crimea by Russia — a seizure against which The West legitimately retaliated by economic sanctions, and now by sending arms (including nuclear weapons) and troops to Russia’s very borders?
So, this question of whether or not the overthrow of Yanukovych was a “coup” — an illegitimate takeover of the Ukrainian government — is absolutely central to world history, at the present stage. If it was a coup, then all of The West’s sanctions and arms-buildups against Russia are on fraudulent ground and thus entirely illegitimate; but if it was not a “coup,” then at least an argument can be made by The West, that The West’s response to Russia’s subsequent actions (especially The West’s response to Russia’s accepting the broadly expressed will of the Crimean public to quit Ukraine and rejoin Russia) isn’t disproportionate to Russia’s actions — (even if Russia did what The West alleges, such as ‘seizing’ Crimea — if it can legitimately be called that).
What can it mean for Russia to be said to have “seized” Crimea? No one questions that the overwhelming majority of Crimeans wanted to quit Ukraine and join Russia after Yanukovych was overthrown — one Western poll of Crimeans after Crimea had separated from Ukraine and joined Russia showed that 82.8% of Crimeans said “Agree,” and only 6.7% (less than a tenth as many) said “Disagree,” to the statement “The results of the referendum on Crimea’s status likely reflect the views of most people here,” and another Western poll after Crimeans had done it, confirmed that over 90% of Crimeans supported the change. Did they not have the right of self-determination of peoples, which even The West recognizes in The West, such as for Catalonians in Spain, for Scotts in UK, and for Quebecois in Canada? (Though Western-controlled bodies such as the OSCE in post-coup Crimea, announced that condition #5 for automatic recognition, which is “their parent state shall flagrantly violate their human rights”, had not been met, overwhelming evidence existed to the contrary and was blatantly ignored, even while the OSCE’s investigator acknowledged that “There is a real risk of bloodshed”, and much bloodshed had already occurred but was simply being ignored by her. So, the official statements on this matter were based upon who held real power, not on application of authentically neutral and ethically founded principles; and thus granted the post-overthrow, now Western-backed, Ukrainian government everything they wanted. ‘The international community’ failed the people of Crimea, and made a farce out of ‘international law’ in this case — especially if the overthrow of Yanukovych was a coup.)
The West and its international organs are enforcing the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev’s arbitrary 1954 transfer of Crimea to Ukraine, and are utterly denying the residents of Crimea their sovereign right of self-determination, even denying their right to reverse that dictator’s arbitrary action, which was taken 60 years prior to Crimea’s 2014 Russia-reunification referendum. The West has now taken on the dictatorial role (denying Crimeans the right of self-determination), which The West had claimed to have opposed in principle during the Cold War.
As Himanil Raina said in regard to the authority of the post-overthrow Ukrainian government, in the case of Crimea: “A greater problem however relates to the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government itself given the Russian position that the government came to power by means of a coup d’état,” and, “Ultimately, regardless of the West’s assertions on any other point, the fact is that Yanukovych was elected to power via elections declared fair by Western monitors themselves. As Kym Bergman has commented, baying mobs no matter what their size present no justification to remove a constitutionally elected President from power.” Raina wasn’t alleging that the overthrow of Yanukovych necessarily was a “coup,” but instead that even if it was a democratic revolution, the government it produced was illegitimate and thus possessed no authentic status of national government under the Ukrainian Constitution, for it to cite that Constitution against Crimeans’ intrinsic right of self-determination.
Only fools don’t care about getting to the truth here, because the truth here answers the question of whether the violator of international law in our time, and the source of the present buildup toward World War III, is Russia, by accepting the overwhelming desire of the Crimean people to separate from Ukraine and to rejoin with Russia, or whether the violator is instead The West, by the West’s now sanctioning Russia and militarily threatening to invade Russia on account of Russia’s having accepted the will of the Crimean people to rejoin with Russia.
This question of whether the separation of Crimea from Ukraine was in response to a coup in Ukraine, is thus the central question in our era of history: the question of whether the source of blame for bringing the world to its current brink of nuclear war is partly Russia’s and is partly The West’s (for The West’s overreacting to Russia’s ‘illegitimate seizure of Crimea’); or whether it’s instead entirely The West’s fault (for The West’s having, to begin with, illegitimately seized Ukraine by a U.S. coup, and then having exacerbated its own guilt in the matter, by fraudulently charging and sanctioning and threatening Russia for having ‘seized’ Crimea).
STRATFOR’S POSITION ON THIS
On 20 December 2014, I reported that in a Russian business publication published in the Russian language the day before, the head of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor, George Friedman, was quoted as telling that publication in an interview, that the overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych in February of that year had been “the most blatant coup in history.”
Subsequently (on 17 January 2015), that complete interview was translated into English, where the entire context of his statement on this important matter can be seen and evaluated.
Perhaps because Mr. Friedman’s firm relies heavily upon, and cooperates with, the U.S. CIA, he publicly renounced the publication of his statement on this matter, when he headlined on 21 April 2016 at the website of the convicted Wall Street fraudster Henry Blodget, Business Insider, “George Friedman: Russia is winning the internet”, and Friedman there portrayed “the Russians” as master deceivers, and mentioned in this regard, as if it were being said only in passing:
I was a minor player in one such event last year. On a visit to Russia, I told the business journal Kommersant that if the US were behind a coup in Kiev, it would have been the most blatant coup in history, as the US government openly supported the uprising and had provided some funding for the demonstrating groups.
In other words, it was no coup. The Russian news service Sputnik published what I said, cutting out a few odds and ends, and quoted me as saying that Ukraine “was the most blatant coup in history.” The neat part is that they didn’t make it up. I did say it. They just left out the words before and after the statement. Since I was of no importance in the United States, they had to promote me as someone significant, which on the whole was nice of them.
(If you have absolutely nothing to do someday, check the internet and Twitter, and you will find me saying the United States staged the most blatant coup in history.)
Most Russians and most Americans didn’t notice this turn of events. But in a systematic campaign to saturate the internet, the Russians fed the quote back into some major Russian print publications, then back onto the internet, until it resonated and fed back on itself.
Multiply this twisting of my statement several thousand times with the abuse of statements or near statements from other people, and the echo effect can reach a saturation point where the Russian narrative on what happened in Kiev becomes widely accepted.
So: who is lying here? Is it “the Russians”? Or is it George Friedman (now saying “it was no coup”)?
Let’s go back to the entire passage in which he had said that the overthrow of Yanukovych was “the most blatant coup in history,” as it had been translated on 17 January 2015 (so that we can see the complete context there — and the boldface here is my own emphasis, not his):
At the beginning of this year there existed in Ukraine a slightly pro-Russian though very shaky government. That situation was fine for Moscow: after all, Russia did not want to completely control Ukraine or occupy it; it was enough that Ukraine not join NATO and the EU. Russian authorities cannot tolerate a situation in which western armed forces are located a hundred or so kilometers from Kursk or Voronezh.
The United States, for its part, were interested in forming a pro-Western government in Ukraine. They saw that Russia is on the rise, and were eager not to let it consolidate its position in the post-Soviet space. The success of the pro-Western forces in Ukraine would allow the U.S. to contain Russia.
Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d’etat organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history.
KOMMERSANT: You mean the termination of the agreement of February 21, or the entire Maidan?
GEORGE FRIEDMAN: The whole thing. After all, the United States openly supported human rights groups in Ukraine, including financially. Meanwhile, Russia’s special services completely missed these trends. They didn’t understand what was taking place, but when they did realize what was going on they were unable to take action to stabilize the situation, and then they misjudged the mood in East Ukraine.
KOMMERSANT: In other words, the Ukrainian crisis is the result of the confrontation between Russia and the United States?
GEORGE FRIEDMAN: Here you have two countries: one wants a Ukraine that is neutral. The other wants Ukraine to form part of a line of containment against Russian expansion. One cannot say that one party is mistaken: both are acting based on their national interests. It’s just that these interests don’t jive.
The article by Friedman denying that he had actually meant that the overthrow of Yanukovych was “the most blatant coup in history,” and that really “it was no coup,” was subsequently cited by readers at reddit, in order to (so they thought) ‘disconfirm’ a news report that I had just published on 7 June 2016, which was headlined “Germany Preparing For War Against Russia”. That article was criticized at reddit for two reasons. One was that the website which had published it, rinf.com, is little-known and is therefore “an ‘alternative news’ source. it might be an alternative to reality.” In other words: it was criticized because the website that published it wasn’t part of the newsmedia that are big enough so that the people who control the U.S. newsmedia buy it out or else put it out of existence altogether. This news-medium, RINF, isn’t among the few dominant ones. But, in any case, the attack was ad-hominem, and therefore irrelevant.
Then appeared there the second reason, in this response at reddit:
It’s not true.
First off, notice that the article calls the Ukrainian Revolution a coup. More several times, the article delves into a full digression that just repeats it.
Second, the author has written several absurd articles, I suggest you look him up.
Third, the website itself. It declares itself as an “alternative” news source. Never a good sign. Further, they have written articles about 9/11 being an inside job, and Sandy Hook being a false flag. That’s never a good sign.
Fourth, let’s take a look at their source, shall we. Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten. AWikipedia#DeutscheWirtschafts_Nachrichten)https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Maier(Journalist)#Deutsche_Wirtschafts_Nachrichten article about them shows that it is considered to be a conspiracy website.
All in all, no, it’s not trustworthy.
The assumption there that I agree with everything at that site, or even that all of the articles and authors there are relevant to the article of mine that was posted there, was obviously false, but it’s significant because it displays a common way of ‘thinking’, which reinforces the lies that the owners of the standard ‘news’media wish to spread. After all: if an article at RINF is ‘unworthy’ because it’s at RINF, then an article at, for example, The New York Times is ‘worthy’ because it’s at The New York Times — ‘news’ is trusted only if it comes from the aristocracy and their agents. In that case: dictatorship is easy.
I tracked the sources cited against Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, in that wikipedia article (which was the only source cited by the commenter, and which source was indeed a prominent one in my article that this person was attacking), and found no indication that anything against DWN was noted there beyond the ordinary types of post-publication editorial corrections which are made by all serious newsmedia, including by extremely famous ones. Consequently, the reader-comments at reddit were disbelieving on false grounds, and were believing on false grounds. The readers were apparently so determined to rationalize their existing beliefs, as to be critical against whatever disconfirms them, and to accept, on shoddy (if any) grounds, whatever they can find that they think somehow discredits the allegations that are contrary to their existing beliefs (basically rationalizing, on an ad-hominem level, against an ad-rem argument, which they find personally unpalatable to believe).
Any reader of the present article can make up his or her own mind on the matter at hand, simply by clicking onto the links that are being here provided. I don’t rely on anyone’s trust — only on solid (carefully vetted) sources, which are in the links.
Before proceeding directly onto the broader issue of the evidence that the overthrow of Yanukovych was a coup (which central issue any reader here is now invited to skip directly down to, if so choosing), it might be worth pointing out in the present context, that the readership at reddit tends to be rabidly predisposed to detest Russia. Here is just one other contemporaneous example of that evidence of the success of this heavy indoctrination by the American ‘news’ media displayed at reddit, so as to make clear the widespread prejudice (perhaps due to Western ‘news’ reporting) that exists on this serious matter:
On 20 May 2016, a “u/Met5anvartija” posted at reddit.com a Reuters headline “Russia proposes joint airstrikes on Syria rebels with U.S.-led coalition” (with no functioning link to the Reuters news report, which is at many sites, such as here), and many readers at reddit (there were 90 comments posted there as of the present writing) insisted that Russia supports (Al Qaeda in Syria) Al Nusra, and that (quoting here “inevitablelizard”), “America does not actively or deliberately send supplies to jihadist groups like Nusra.” The gist of the comments was that the U.S. is anti-jihadist and that therefore the Russian proposal “Will never work. The ‘rebels’ Russia wants to bombs aren’t the same ‘rebels’ America wants to bomb”; to which another commenter replied, “Depends. America gladly bombs Al-Nasura [sic], an Al-Queda affiliated group.” Basically, the attitude of the majority was that Russia’s government isn’t fighting against “Al-Nusara,” but America’s government is. The facts are exactly contrary to that assumption. Earlier similar examples of reader-comments at reddit were posted responding to an article “Americans Accept Saudi Royals as Friends of America”, which had indicated that both the Sauds and the U.S. have been backing Al Nusra and other jihadist groups in Syria. So, both ‘friends’ and ‘foes’ of America are being identified by the American public on the basis of what the owners of the media present to Americans as constituting such. Americans evidently trust ‘their’ media (even if they overwhelmingly say they don’t). This trust is displayed at reddit, and this unfortunate reality explains the criticism that reddit’s readers commonly direct against articles which violate the basic assumptions of America’s newsmedia.
THE BROADER ISSUE
Beyond that narrow issue of what Mr. Friedman (a widely respected expert) had to say on this subject, of whether or not it was a “coup,” the evidence is overwhelming, and is as conclusive as any can be in important historical questions such as this (important especially because its outcome might become a nuclear World War III), that the overthrow of Yanukovych was, indeed, a “coup,” and that the breakaway of Crimea from Ukraine was a direct consequence of that coup.
Extensive video documentation exists demonstrating that it was a coup, and even demonstrating that the Obama Administration had selected Ukraine’s post-coup leader 22 days prior to his being formally appointed by the Ukrainian parliament. Furthermore, the only detailed scholarly study of the evidence that has been performed, came to the same conclusion — that it was a coup, no ‘revolution’. The last month before the coup, was incredibly violent, with Obama’s hired fascists attacking the government’s securitly forces brutally: Here in videos taken of the events is some of the bloodshed from the prior month, on January 21st, then January 22nd, then January 25th. Those are well-trained thugs terrifying the police — which is exactly the opposite of the way those events were described by U.S. officials and their press. Moreover, immediately after the overthrow, when the EU sent its own investigator into Kiev to report back on how the overthrow had taken place, he too reported that it had been a coup. Subsequently revealed was that the Obama Administration had started preparing the coup inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev by no later than 1 March 2013 — almost a year prior to the coup. Also, the even earlier preparation for the coup, extending through decades, on the part of CIA-affiliated ‘nonprofit’ or NGO organizations (funded by Western aristocrats and their corporations), laying the groundwork for this coup, has been brilliantly documented at some online sites. And the Obama Administration’s own careful planning of the coup existed even as early as 2011.
None of this information has been widely published — it’s virtually not at all published in The West. Though the potential audience for it might be vast (especially since Western publics, in their taxes, pay much of the tab for this operation and yet receive none of the benefits from the resultant looting of Ukraine, which goes all to aristocrats in the U.S. and allied aristocracies), the market in The West for reporting it, is virtually nil, because the market is The West’s news media, and they’ve all (except for a few small ones like this) been taken over by the aristocracy, and serve that aristocracy — not the public (their audiences, whom they’re in business to deceive in the particular ways that the aristocracy wants). The aristocracy’s companies advertise in, and thereby fund, most of those ‘news’ media, and the aristocracy’s governments (“oligarchies”) fund the rest — and the public pays for that, too, not just by being manipulated to vote for the aristocracy’s (or ‘oligarchy’s’) politicians, but by being taxed to pay what the NGOs and their aristocrats don’t (so that the public are buying the weapons etc.). It’s a vast money-funnel, from the many, to the few, with the ‘news’ media being an essential part of it.
Though the transfer of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia is treated by Western ‘news’ media as having been a ‘conquest’ by Russia, and as being Russia’s ‘seizure’ of Crimea, and Russia’s ‘stealing’ Crimea, nothing of the sort is true (and Crimeans had good reason to be terrified of the Obama-coup regime that had just been installed, from which Russia saved Crimeans), but the lie needs to be promulgated in the West, in order for the aristocracy’s invasion of Russia to be able to be organized and carried out (if they’ll go all the way in this).
In addition, there was also the far eastern, Donbass, region of Ukraine, which also refused to accept the coup that overthrew Yanukovych, and which likewise separated itself from Ukraine after the coup. Donbass had voted 90% for Yanukovych — even higher than did Crimea. Barack Obama and his followers blamed Russia for supposedly trying to ‘seize’ Donbass too. However, on 17 September 2014, a leader of Donbass announced “We will build our own country” because Putin had made clear to Donbass’s leaders that he wasn’t going to allow Donbass to become a part of Russia as he had done in the case of Crimea. Then, on Monday 6 April 2015, the Moscow Times bannered “Putin Refused Poroshenko’s Offer to ‘Take Donbass’ — Forbes”, and reported that “President Vladimir Putin in February turned down an offer from his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko to ‘take the Donbass’ — the area in the country’s east that is currently partly controlled by pro-Russian insurgents — and asked Poroshenko whether he was ‘out of his mind,’ Forbes magazine reported Monday.” That day, Forbes had headlined (with perhaps intentional obscurantism so as not to attract attention to, or make waves about, this matter), “Donbass Russia: Putin talked about the unexpected assertion by Poroshenko”, and reported that “at a closed meeting with the Board” of a Russian business association, “one of the participants at the meeting, who requested confidentiality, confirmed to Forbes, that Putin had told the businessmen of an unexpected proposal from Poroshenko to take Donbass and his refusal to do that. ‘Poroshenko offered Russia to take the Donbass and provide its financial support’ [said the source].” The confusingly written news story provided half-baked explanations as to why Putin said no, and then concluded by quoting one ‘expert’ who said that, “The offer from Poroshenko that Russia ’take Donbass’ does not look believable — perhaps the phrase was uttered as a joke.” That was no ‘expert’: he evidently didn’t even know about Putin’s having earlier told Donbass leaders that Russia wasn’t going to accept Donbass into Russia. So: the Western accusations that Russia wants to ‘grab’ Donbass are also lies (Putin wants to help the residents there as much as possible short of adopting the burden of restoring that region, which Obama’s people — his Ukrainian forces — have bombed and destroyed to hell).
Finally, in regards to the legitimacy-or-not of the overthrow of Yanukovych, all of the arguments that have been put forth by the Obama Administration and its Ukrainian regime (and the rest of The West), arguing that the overthrow of Yanukovych was legitimate, were decisively disproven by an extraordinarily honest and thorough — and starkly clear — anonymous web-posting, “Yanukovych’s Removal Was Unconstitutional”, wherein the Ukrainian Constitution’s provisions for the “ways in which a president can be removed from power” were contrasted with the steps that actually were taken by Ukraine’s parliament in order to remove Yanukovych, and it showed that, definitely and incontestably, Yanukovych was not Constitutionally removed from power. The successor government — including all its actions and assertions that were made against both Crimea and Donbass — were illegal, even under Ukrainian law. The West hasn’t got a legal leg to stand on in this entire matter, but has instead trumped that by its sheer and raw coercive power, in a global world order that is thereby exposed as being lawless in the most profound sense: truly a law-of-the-jungle world-order.
In any case, The West is continuing to accuse Russia of attempting to ‘seize’ Donbass, after Russia had allegedly ‘seized’ Crimea — and a global nuclear war could ultimately result from these Western lies. But the master-lie is The West’s Big Lie, that the overthrow of Yanukovych “was no coup.”
The aggressor is clearly The West, not Russia. And that is where the danger comes from. And, on a deep level, despite The West’s propaganda, this fact is even widely recognized around the world, even before Obama’s outright coup in Ukraine.
If there were any international justice, the economic sanctions would be against the U.S. and its vassal-aristocracies such as the EU, and Russia would be prosecuting those aristocrats in the International Court of Justice, and suing the governments that they control.
The biggest challenge for incoming U.S. President Donald Trump will be whether he will carry on this putrid international policy of its founder, his 1990 predecessor, President George Herbert Walker Bush, and all of Bush’s successors up till the present, or else, finally, end the Cold War on the Western side, just as it was ended on the Eastern side in 1991 by the dissolution of the East’s military alliance the Warsaw Pact: by ending NATO. He would have available to assist him in that heroic action only the warning by an even earlier U.S. President, Dwight Eisenhower, who fatally warned on 17 January 1961:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.
After 24 February 1990, all U.S. Presidents since have baldly flouted that warning and done exactly 100% the opposite: the will of America’s aristocrats, not really of any democracy at all. And Obama’s coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and subsequent abuse of not only Ukrainians, but also of Russians (not to say more), is an even more dangerous culmination of that flouting, than was George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq (which entailed not at all the danger of precipitating WW III). No penalty is too high for such persistent utter betrayal and lying. This deserves the highest penalty of all.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.