Understanding the Ukraine Story

The impeachment hearings and trial of Donald Trump were filled with talk of Russian aggression against Ukraine and threats to the United States. But what would it be like if we switched the roles of Russia and the U.S.?

Imagine if we substitute the U.S. for Russia and the country “invaded” was Canada, rather than Ukraine, the government overthrown was in Ottawa and not Kiev, and the provinces embroiled in a foreign-backed civil war have been Nova Scotia and New Brunswick rather the provinces of Eastern Ukraine? This report, written in 2016, may make it easier to understand what has been really going on in Ukraine. Clicking on the links is key to understanding the real story.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The United States has “invaded” Canada to support the breakaway Maritime provinces that are resisting a Moscow-engineered violent coup d’etat against the democratically elected government in Ottawa.

The U.S. move is to protect separatists in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia after Washington annexed Prince Edwards Island in a quickly arranged referendum.

The Islanders voted over 90 percent in favor of joining the United States following the Russian-backed coup. Moscow has condemned the referendum as illegal.

Hard-liners in the U.S. want Washington to annex all three Maritime provinces, whose fighters are defying the coup in Ottawa after Moscow installed an unelected prime minister.

Russian-backed Canadian federal troops have launched so-called “anti-terrorist” operations in the breakaway region to crush the rebellion, shelling residential areas and killing hundreds of civilians.

The violent coup.

The Canadian army are joined by Russian-supported neofascist battalions that played a crucial role in the overthrow of the Canadian government. In Halifax, the extremists have burned alive at least 40 pro-U.S. civilians who had taken refugee in a trade union building.

Proof that Russia was behind the overthrow of the elected Canadian prime minister is contained in a leaked conversation between Georgiy Yevgenevich Borisenko, foreign ministry chief of Moscow’s North America department, and Alexander Darchiev, the Russian ambassador to Canada.

According to a transcript of the leaked conversation, Borisenko discussed who the new Canadian leaders should be six weeks before the coup took place.

Russia moved to launch the coup when Canada decided to take a loan package from the IMF that had fewer strings attached than a loan from Russia.

Russia’s Beijing ally was reluctant to back the coup. But this seemed of little concern to Borisenko who is heard on the tape saying, “Fuck China.”

Minister handing out cookies in the square.

Weeks before the coup Borisenko was filmed visiting protestors who had camped out in Parliament Square in Ottawa demanding the ouster of the prime minister. Borisenko is seen giving out cakes to the demonstrators.

The foreign ministers of Russian-allied Belarus and Cuba also marched with the protestors through the streets of Ottawa against the government. Russian media has portrayed the unconstitutional change of government an act of “democracy.” Russian senators have met in public with extreme right-wing Canadian coup leaders, praising their rebellion.

Borisenko said in a speech that Russia had spent $5 billion over the past decade to “bring democracy” to Canada.

Senator meeting far-right coup leaders.

The money was spent on training “civil society.” The use of non-governmental organizations to overthrow foreign governments that stand in the way of Russia’s economic and geo-strategic interests is well documented, especially in a 1991 Washington Post column, Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups.”

The United States has thus moved to ban Russian NGOs from operating in the country.

The coup took place as protestors violently clashed with police, breaking through barricades and killing a number of officers. Snipers fired on the police and the crowd from a nearby building in Parliament Square in which the Russian embassy had set up offices just a few floors above, according to Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Son Gets Job After Coup

Russian lawmakers compared President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler for allegedly sending U.S. troops into the breakaway provinces and for annexing Prince Edward Island in an act of “American aggression.” The Maritimes have had long ties to the U.S. dating back to the American Revolution.

Russia says it has intelligence proving that U.S. tanks have crossed the Maine border into New Brunswick, but have failed to make the evidence public. They have revealed no satellite imagery. Russian news media only reports American-backed rebels fighting in the Maritimes, not American troops.

Washington denies it has invaded but says some American volunteers have entered the Canadian province to join the fight.

Russia’s puppet prime minister now in charge in Ottawa has only offered as proof six American passports of U.S. soldiers found in New Brunswick.

Son gets job on energy company board after his father’s government backs violent coup.

The Maritime Canadian rebels have secured anti-aircraft weapons enabling them to shoot down a number of Royal Canadian Air Force transport planes.

A Malaysian airlines passenger jet was also shot down over Nova Scotia killing all on board. Russia has accused President Obama of being behind the incident, charging that the U.S. provided the anti-aircraft weapon.

Moscow has refused to release any intelligence to support its claim, other than statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Canada’s economy is near collapse and is dependent on infusions of Russian aid. This comes despite a former Russian foreign ministry official being installed as Canada’s finance minister, only receiving Canadian citizenship on her first day on the job.

Despite installing a Russian to run Canada’s economy, President Putin told the U.N. General Assembly that Russia had “few economic interests” in the country. But Russian agribusiness companies have already taken stakes in Albertan wheat fields. And Ilya Medvedev, son of Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, as well as a Lavrov family friend joined the board of Canada’s largest oil company just weeks after the coup.

Russia’s ultimate aim, beginning with the imposition of sanctions on the U.S., appears to be a color revolution in Washington to overthrow Obama and install a Russian-friendly American president.

This is clear from numerous statements by Russian officials and academics. A former Russian national security advisor whom Putin consults on foreign policy said the United States should be broken into three countries.

He has also written that Canada is the stepping stone to the United States and that if the U.S. loses Canada it will fail to control North America.

Versions of this article first appeared on The Duran and Consortium News in 2016.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

25 comments for “Understanding the Ukraine Story

  1. Andrew Thomas
    February 17, 2020 at 13:20

    ‘All our war criminals have been rehabilitated.’
    Maybe some of your comrades in the National Guard were rehabilitated, if they were picked out as ‘bad apples’ to be thrown to the wolves, kind though they may have been. But you can’t be rehabilitated from a shaming you never received. The architects and engineers of the horror you had to endure never were shamed or even abashed by their epic criminality. They not only didn’t need to be rehabilitated, their status as well-intentioned patriots and experts never experienced a dip. They hold forth now in MSM/Beltway land, their sinecures, while always comfortable, never more so than now. I will not thank you for your service. I do thank you for your honesty, integrity, and your bravery in speaking the truth so that the rest of us may be enlightened by you.

  2. February 17, 2020 at 11:07

    VERY GOOD – with one minor exception. Crimea, up until 1953 was a part of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics) and was never a part of Ukraine. Prince Edward Island was never a part of the U.S.

    I have considered a similar scenario where the south, including Virginia, became an independent sovereign nation which was hostile toward Washington and the north. Then supposing that Russian forces participated in a joint military exercise in the Virginia Tidewater region (Norfolk, Hampton, Chesapeak, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth – most of which is one vast military complex). How would Washington react?

  3. February 16, 2020 at 10:44

    When I tried to post this article on Facebook, Facebook said there was a “problem” the first time. I always post twice. Because, usually, the first time the article doesn’t display. It only shows part of the address. But if you delete and post again it will display.

    But I probably shouldn’t have said that. It doesn’t matter. We are being subjected to many levels of censorship anyway.

  4. February 16, 2020 at 10:37

    Except in the actual case Crimea is ACTUALLY Russian. Crimea was assigned to Ukraine in 1953 by Kruschev, I think. That was when Ukraine was an integral part of the Soviet Union. Ukraine was also an integral part of the Russian Empire. It’s capital, Kiev, was once a Russian capital.

    • Realist
      February 17, 2020 at 04:15

      In any case, it’s for darned sure not the prerogative of the American regime in Washington to dictate who governs Crimea… or Venezuela, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Syria, or Libya, or Yemen, or Bolivia, or Cuba, or Iran…, like it has done for the chunk of Serbia called Kosovo. Assuming the power unto itself to appoint all national governments has led to massive death, destruction, displacement of peoples, economic collapse and world chaos. The fools even think they can take control of the Russian and Chinese polities, powerful large nations far older and more evolved than the barbarians running Washington. Plus it is the height of hypocrisy and hubris for a country that claims to promote freedom, democracy, self-determination and free markets. The result is never that for the countries it targets with its military aggression and its economic sanctions. Quite objectively, America has really been a major force for evil and suffering in this world during its history, whether it’s made a small number of highly privileged people enormously wealthy or not.

    • OlyaPola
      February 17, 2020 at 10:31

      “Crimea was assigned to Ukraine in 1953 by Kruschev”

      1954 by the politburo, but that is not the most important question if the purpose is illumination – the most illuminating questions are why, what and where is “Ukraine”.

      “Ukraine was also an integral part of the Russian Empire.”

      During the period say from 1816 until 1917 the entity described presently as “Ukraine” was partly to be found in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire.

      During the period say from 1922 until 1939 the entity described presently as “Ukraine” was partly to be found in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Soviet Union.

      During the period from 1939 until 1941 (21 months in total) the entity described presently as “Ukraine” was largely undergoing integration through various means into the” Soviet Union.”

      During the period from 1941 until 1944 the entity described presently as “Ukraine” was to be found in various administrative constructs under the “control” of the Third Reich.

      Throughout the periods and entities outlined above there were various coercive policies implemented to use inter-ethnic/inter-“nationality” conflicts as tools of control which engendered increasing blowback leading to states of “civil war”.

      This civil war continued in the entity described presently as “Ukraine” under varying guises when the Red army moved into/through the area in 1944 and continued until at least 1954.

      Facilitators of the civil war in the entity described presently as “Ukraine” from 1816 onwards, with a lessening of activities from 1941 until 1944, included the British empire to be joined in competition by the “United States of America” from 1922 to 1942 and from 1943 to 1944, with an acceleration of effort from May 1945, including but not limited to training/equiping re-insertion teams and developing emigre political networks to participate in a clandestine war against the Soviet Union consistent with discussions of the Imperial General Staff held in London in March 1943 (1 month after the surrender of invading forces at Stalingrad in February 1943).

      In order to aid this effort a “new” German intelligence agency, BND was “created/rebranded” on the basis of the “former” Nazi intelligence agency the SD, and attempts were made to co-ordinate the efforts of BND/CIA/MI6; BND/MI6 assigning increased emphasis to efforts in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, whilst BND/CIA assigned increased emphasis to “Ukraine” given that many assets involved in this effort had been SD assets.

      This effort was “undermined” by 1953/54 and as a political reward/gesture/salve Crimea was transferred to the “jurisdiction” of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialists Republic became a member of the United Nations, and Mr. Bandera ceased living in Munich, the co-ordinating centre of the BND/CIA efforts in “Ukraine” .

      The emphases of efforts made by this triumvirate post 1954 were largely but not wholly directed at Czechoslovakia,DDR/ East Germany, Hungary and Poland; the “orange revolution” tactics/strategy being developed/implemented throughout, including in the former Soviet Union from 1979 onwards.

      From 2005 onwards the triumvirate realised that the efforts of orange revolution had not been as fruitful as expected in the Russian Federation, and hence mindful of Josef Pilsudski’s observation of 1912 that “Without Ukraine Russia is a land of forests and rivers”, the emphasis was increased on Ukraine undermining Euclid’s contention that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

      The Cold war was never cold and never ended, although emphases varied, and hence not a particular “surprise”.

  5. zhenry
    February 16, 2020 at 04:46

    Especially initially too many BBC sources used on how the conflict started: The initial US provocation is almost completely submerged.

  6. AnneR
    February 15, 2020 at 13:34

    This is the question that most, if not all, Americans ought to have been asking themselves for over 70 years. Russia/USSR has been invaded by western Europeans, eastern Europeans, Central and far eastern Asians on about thirteen occasions from the Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus in the 13th C onward, including “visits” by the Swedes, Napoleon’s bid (like the Germans they got a bit frostbitten), the Polish grabbing of Belarus and West Ukraine, the Nazis and so on. Given how antsy we get at the prospect (or our ruling elites get) of being “taken over,” “threatened,” why are so bloody many incapable of understanding why Russians/Soviets might be a touch edgy about NATO forces being right on its border, about US bases with missiles and likely nukes a hairsbreadth from their towns, villages, cities? Because what we feel, do, believe about our country’s security is apparently unjustified in, forbidden to other countries.

    An aside, but not ideologically unrelated: we are hearing much about the latest infection in China, about how (well, of course, it’s Communist China, ain’t it?) the government have been their usual authoritarian, dictatorial selves (hiding the realities, silencing doctors) and the numbers (infections and deaths) are much banged on about. WHO would seem to be getting agitated because of the time it is taking for Xi to let them in or some such.

    Yes – it must be horrible to be in the affected province, virtually imprisoned for who knows how long and scared besides. And for those who have lost loved ones, really truly awful. No gainsaying any of this.

    The death toll has reached 1,500 to date. (And interestingly China’s medical set up is very reminiscent of that over here: $$$.) Meanwhile according to the CDC’s website between the beginning of October 2019-through Feb 8 2020 the USA has had anywhere between 15, 000 to 36, 000 from this season’s Influenza epidemic (which would seem to be par for the course over here). Why aren’t the MSM all over this?? Well, it’s the ‘flu, ain’t it, and those people who won’t (as in can’t afford to) get vaccinated, don’t wash their hands….. Nothing to see here, ponder, accuse: the poor public health service here, the medical-health for-profit industry and the millions who cannot afford any of it. Nope. Let’s plug the Sinophobia (Russophobia needs to take a breath and find a new focus or an old one in new clothing).

  7. mary floyd
    February 15, 2020 at 13:20

    The most important takeaway in this article for me was that the US should be broken into three separate entities!
    That would work well for most Americans. All in all, this is a great piece, Mr. Lauria!

    • Franz
      February 16, 2020 at 23:18

      Excellent article.
      Too bad that as a rule, lies are the length of soundbites and the truth is the length of Joe Lauria’s article.
      It may explain why stupid people nurture so many bad and erroneous ideas.

  8. Dao Gen
    February 15, 2020 at 02:28

    Joe, you are The Truth. The only thing you left out, no doubt for reasons of space and time, was the immortal statement made by a leading member of the Russian Duma, who said during a stirring and well-received speech that, “Canada is our crucial first line of defense against the US. If Canada weren’t there to stop the Americans, we’d have to fight them right here on our own doorstep.”

  9. February 14, 2020 at 18:52

    A very creative way of making the point. Still do not understand the depth of what often appears to be heart felt hate for Russia by very powerful and smart people. Remember reading a comment by Phil Girardi early in the Trump tour when he remarked at the depth of dislike of Russia within the spook community. He wrote he was surprised and had, I think, been part of that community.

    • Eddie S
      February 15, 2020 at 14:51

      RE: “…depth of dislike of Russia within the spook community”.
      While I have no ‘special knowledge’ of the so-called ‘intelligence community’, there’s a few reasons for this that come to-mind:
      — Job preservation. The most obvious. The US wouldn’t need ~80% of those spooks if there
      weren’t big scary Russians/Chinese/Iranians/N.Koreans constantly plotting against the
      peaceful, benevolent US.

      — Spooks believe in what is mainly a distractionary ploy by US oligarchs/plutocrats. These
      wealthy interests don’t want to lose some of their wealth to social reforms, so they constantly
      financially support scare-mongering, which some spooks unquestioningly accept.

      — The profession tends to attract some of the more paranoid elements in our society, so
      they’re inclined that way by nature/personality.

    • John A
      February 16, 2020 at 05:23

      Resources. Looting all this is what the neoliberals want. Ukraine has very fertile soil, ideal for Monsanto to force its unwanted GMOs on Europe. Russia has oil, gas and all sorts of minerals. This is the source of the hatred, effectively how dare these subhumans stand in our way.

    • Bart Hansen
      February 16, 2020 at 18:54

      A recent puff piece on Ambassador William Taylor noted that his wife wore a bracelet with the words “[bleep] Putin” on it.

      “You’ve got to be carefully taught” – HT Oscar Hammerstein

  10. robert e williamson jr
    February 14, 2020 at 17:51

    Well one thing for sure we would not be seeing a female anchor on CNN bemoaning the fact the because of the coronavirus many popular kids toys might not be available here in the U.S. for the up coming holidays (?).

    Yes it did happen, hell I couldn’t make that up.

  11. DARYL
    February 14, 2020 at 15:45

    …or better yet, substitute Central America for Ukraine, and Panama(canal) for Crimea, then you have the makings of an even more salient parallel.

  12. Realist
    February 14, 2020 at 15:42

    The difference is that under your scenario the world would be a smoking heap of radioactive ashes already as the exceptional nation, unlike the ever cautious Russians, would have immediately made bombastic threats and then launched military attacks to protect its “security interests.” (Warring to “protect” security interests has replaced invasion and occupation to save souls.) Things would have escalated from there to its predestined thermonuclear climax, as they will in the real world if Uncle Sam doesn’t get a grip on his uncontrolled aggression, demanding whatever he wants whenever he wants it at the point of a gun. The world seems to be circling the drain whether or not Washington is allowed to micromanage the affairs of Russia, China, Iran and every last duchy, principality and people’s republic in addition to its own monumental mess it calls domestic affairs. We’ve only got two political parties in this madhouse and they are both equally bent on destroying civilisation if they can’t rule it all, which seems to be the only point they agree on. Each party thinks it preferable to allow an obscenely rich oligarch (what else should we call Trump or Bloomberg?) from the other side to rule rather than a “communist” like Bernie Sanders or a “naive peacenik” like Tulsi Gabbard to be elected president. If the space aliens land tomorrow and start recruiting colonists to populate newly terraformed planets in other solar systems, sign me up. Yeah, it’s become that absurd down here.

    • Dave P.
      February 16, 2020 at 03:22

      Well said. And as always a completely accurate summation.

    • February 17, 2020 at 11:52


  13. February 14, 2020 at 15:22

    Simply imperial rot and corruption of power on all sides.

    Neither Democrats nor Republicans have an exclusive on those qualities.

  14. Brian James
    February 14, 2020 at 15:21

    May 15, 2017 Ukraine: US-Installed Fascist Rule in Europe’s Heartland

    Will Donetsk Rejoin Russia? The nation shares a near-1,500 mile land and sea border with Russia. Stop NATO’s Rick Rozoff earlier explained Ukraine is “the decisive linchpin in plans by the US and its NATO allies to effect a military cordon sanitaire, severing Russia from Europe” – a sinister plot perhaps intended as prelude to nuclear war.

    see: globalresearch.ca/ukraine-us-installed-fascist-rule-in-europes-heartland-will-donetsk-rejoin-russia/5590150

    Sep 9, 2016 US funded Ukrainian army is terrorizing civilians, 2016

    Russell Bentley is a former US marine, that now fights for the Donbass, Eastern Ukraine, against the US-funded Ukrainian army.


  15. Mark Thomason
    February 14, 2020 at 12:37

    This is a useful approach. It needs added to it the language and culture element: as if the part that wants out of the Moscow coup shares our own language and culture, while the rest of Canada does not, and the rest of Canada had gone on a spree to suppress that language and culture. It is hard to find a parallel in Canada to those facts, but it is what happened in Ukraine.

    It is important to understanding to put oneself in the shoes of the other guys. It was once called walking a mile in the other guy’s moccasins, and given a Native wisdom attribution.

  16. February 14, 2020 at 12:01

    I do this exercise mentally fairly often. This is the first time I saw it done in print. I would like to do an automated process.

    • February 16, 2020 at 10:41

      After the US invasion of Iraq which led to much internal violence after 2004, Ron Paul came up with a what-if China had “brought democracy” to Texas. Paul suggested that the outcome wouldn’t have been too much different. That made people angry.

      I was in Mosul in 2004, Army National Guard, when everything went to hell. Paul Bremer came in to shut down the economy and all civil authority, while attempting to create a new “purified” authority. From my base I saw an explosion, which according to Reuters killed fifty people. “Of course these people are trying to kill us!” We were in their country after all!

      All our war criminals have been ‘rehabilitated.’

Comments are closed.