The PBS NewsHour invited on just about the worst person in the U.S. government to help Americans understand the crisis in Ukraine, writes Mike Madden.
[Segment starts at 2:51]
By Mike Madden
Special to Consortium News
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who choreographed the 2014 coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically-elected government and set the current crisis in motion, was invited by PBS NewsHour on Dec. 7 to explain the standoff in Ukraine.
Typical of Western media, the story began with Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, which took place in March 2014. The crisis actually began a week earlier with the violent overthrow of democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014. While accusations flew of Russian aggression, invasion and annexation, there was not a word about the U.S. instigated coup or Nuland’s role in it.
For the sin of declining a Western aid package loaded with austerity measures, and accepting instead an unencumbered Russian package, Yanukovych became a target for U.S. regime change. Undersecretary Nuland’s role in the coup is essential to the story.
While Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy appeared on-stage in Kiev with far-right opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok in support of the coup, Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt passed out cookies to anti-government protesters in Maidan Square. This would be like Russian parliamentarians and diplomats coming to Washington to encourage protesters to overthrow the U.S. government.
Behind the scenes, in an intercepted phone call with Pyatt, Nuland can be heard plotting the make-up of a government to succeed that of Yanukovych. “Yats is the guy” she said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, America’s preferred leader for the Ukrainian people.
Her plan for the other two opposition leaders, Vitali Klitschko and Oleh Tyahnybok, was to keep them out, saying “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government” and “What he [Yatsenyuk] needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside.” As for Europe’s competing interests in the outcome of the affair, she infamously said “Fuck the EU.”
Nuland had told the U.S.-Ukrainian Foundation on Dec. 13, 2013, that Washington had spent $5 billion over a decade to support Ukraine’s “European aspirations,” in other words to pull it away from Russia.
To Nick Schifrin, the dutiful PBS reporter interviewing her, this episode was either not relevant, or an impolitic intrusion upon his esteemed guest. Or he was woefully uninformed.
While the United States was issuing stern warnings of restraint to Yanukovych, neo-Nazi tip-of-the-spear insurrectionists were stockpiling clubs, guns and Molotov cocktails in Maidan Square. With violence rapidly escalating, a deal was brokered between the government and the opposition on Feb. 21, 2014. Yanukovych agreed to immediate power sharing and early elections. In exchange, the opposition agreed to de-escalate the situation on the streets.
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The opposition did not disarm as agreed. Smelling blood in the water, they went on the offensive again the next day. They overran security forces and ransacked government buildings. Snipers in opposition-occupied buildings shot police and protesters alike. Ultimately, over 100 people died, including more than a dozen police. Yanukovych and many of his Party of Regions allies fled for their lives. Ukraine’s democratically elected government fell on Feb. 22.
Neither Nuland nor Schifrin acknowledged this date, or any of the described events as contributing to the current crisis. It all fell outside their timeline.
“Yats” was sworn in as prime minister on Feb. 27, 2014. The U.S. now had its government in place. As violent as the coup had been, the real bloodbath was about to begin.
The Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, populated by a large number of ethnic Russians, did not recognize the coup government, whose first act was to outlaw the public use of the Russian language (which it later reversed). The Donbass immediately sought autonomy from Kiev. It saw the U.S.-installed regime as illegitimate and hostile to its interests and culture. In essence, it was defending a democratic election.
In April 2014, the Kiev regime launched “anti-terrorist” military operations against the breakaway provinces. Worse yet, it turned a blind eye to the real terrorists, neo-Nazi paramilitary squads like the Azov Battalion, that moved into the region. A bloody civil war was now underway, instigated by Kiev’s willingness to kill its own people in the Donbass. To date, the war has claimed 14,000 lives.
NATO and U.S. officials said regular units of the Russian military crossed a few kilometers into Ukrainian territory on August 2014, which Russia denied, when the separatist forces had been pushed eastward toward the Russian border and hundreds of civilians had been killed. On Aug. 25, 2014, 10 Russian paratroopers were captured 20 km inside the Ukrainian border.
Nuland called this “Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine.” The incursion would be more properly characterized as Russia exercising the liberal interventionists’ favorite Responsibility to Protect doctrine.
As happened in Georgia in 2008, a government militarily attacked its own people and Russia intervened to drive the military forces back and protect the local population. In that 2008 case, a European Union investigation determined that Georgia, not Russia, was the aggressor.
The U.S. had also claimed that Russia “invaded” Crimea in March 2014, when Russia already had troops stationed there under an agreement with Ukraine. “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who voted in the Senate for what a real invasion looks like: the 2003 U.S. unprovoked attack on Iraq — on a completely trumped-up pretext.
Now there is incessant talk about another Russian invasion, though there was no word when the first one ended. Schifrin told PBS viewers that Russian military drills and a troop build-up today within in its own borders signals that Russia is “ready for escalation,” though it is questionable how many troops there are, and where they are based.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s vow to send more U.S. troops to NATO’s eastern allies; NATO exercises near Russia’s borders and the supply of $450 million in weaponry to Ukraine are presented as the proper order of things: neither threatening, aggressive nor escalatory.
Two key demands by Russian President Vladimir Putin, namely, that Ukraine never host U.S. missiles or join NATO, were dismissed by Nuland saying, “Those are decisions for Ukraine to make and for NATO to make, not for the Kremlin to make.”
Schifrin could have reminded Nuland that the United States promised Russia in 1991 that NATO would not expand east of the newly reunified East and West Germany, but he didn’t. He also could have asked her if stationing missiles on the island of Cuba in 1962 was a sovereign decision to be made by Cuba and the Soviet Union, but he did not.
By excising her outsized role, PBS allowed Nuland to blame the entire crisis today on Russia.
It is clearly not the job of establishment media to challenge powerful government figures in any meaningful way. Its job is to build enmity in its audience toward official state adversaries and to cast government actions in the best possible light. PBS NewsHour has demonstrated that it is very good at its job, indeed.
Mike Madden is a member of Veterans For Peace and resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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I just forced myself actually to watch Victoria F*** the EU Nuland and she seemed almost human except for the words she spoke. The supply of so many US weapons and “help” and the call upon EU members!!to join in, to guard Ukraine’s safety from the wicked Putin who has now to expect more illegal draconian cruel sanctions. If this is democracy and human rights, who needs them???
Russia has NO right of course to safety or independence or territorial integrity, to have binding agreements which are kept by the other side, to respect for its “redlines” which now are at 600 miles from the “not one inch east of Germany”promised, and up against the borders of Russia. Russia is considered unreasonable to want this from NATO, a “defensive force”!!! of no danger to Russia!!! Who is the enemy and who decided to make Russia an enemy, and has threatened it for thirty years and more???
As for Ukraine itself and Nuland, the only plan on the table, accepted by Ukraine, France and Germany and also Russia and Belarus, is the Minsk Agreement of 2015, in which Kiev must hold talks with the Donbass leaders and arrange a special status for that part of Ukraine.
Kiev steadfastly refuses to even try to do this,and France and Germany in their cowardly way have not pushed this ahead as they were delegated to do. Stalemate, so the US?NATO of course want violence, their default position.
I’ve long ago stopped expecting the US government to itself provide or to allow by others the dissemination of anything resembling the “truth” (an accurate representation of actual historical events) about anything that has transpired in the country of Ukraine since the American-fomented coup d’etat in February of 2014. Every bit of commentary on the matter that comes out of or passes through Washington is entirely fiction and fascistic propaganda.
In a similar vein, whether there will eventually be a military war (there already is an intense economic war with most of the offensive fusillades emanating from the United States) between “America” and Russia will be entirely the choice of the despots residing in Washington who eagerly seem to want such a conflict. They are mad and they will destroy not just this country and Russia, but the entire world if they force their will on us all. Better this country should collapse into chaos from internal dissension or economic catastrophe before such a thing happens. Helluva thing to have to say about one’s own country, but it’s become a monster, with no respect for life or the truth, that must be stopped.
Thank you Mike for enduring that PBS travesty and reporting on it to those of us who don’t have the patience to listen to the BS and the staggering lies of omission. The entire article gives much needed CONTEXT to the whole situation, something that I long-ago gave up expecting from the MSM, after seeing how they reported the Vietnam War, Panama invasion, Chilean coup, Balkans bombings, etc etc, and especially the 2003 Iraq War (crime). That last one was the final tipping point for me, since even the US MSM admitted that the reason for the whole ‘war’ was wrong (though they tried to paint it as an ‘honest mistake’), but the US voters still saw fit to re-elect ‘W’ and the other Republicans who so actively promoted it. With that kind of politicians, media, and public support (based on a casual indifference to reality), I see little hope that the US & world will avoid a nuclear war in the next 100 years — all I’m hoping for now is that it will be a limited nuclear exchange, though obviously that’s a very tenuous proposition.
PBS = National Bulls#!t System.
NPR = National Propaganda Radio
There are people working tirelessly to insure that we never have another leader like the JFK of 1963.
Sorry, I mean “american advisers”, with the quotes
Thanks for this great article.
There is an episode that struck me at the time but that we haven’t talked much about.
It was when Debatselvo’s cauldron closed, a rumor was circulating that American advisers were there.
It seemed to me to be quickly confirmed when Merkel and Hollande surprisingly rushed to Minsk, after having treated all previous Kremlin demands for negotiations with the utmost contempt
They negotiated all night and gave in by early morning to almost all of Russia’s demands.
The submission of Europe to American interests will never cease to amaze me.
Thanks for the heads up because family and friends think pbs only tell the truth;-) I’ll be sending to them.
Judy Woodruff, host of PBS Newshour, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. That, alone, must make us skeptical of the “objectivism” of the PBS Newshour.
The Ukraine is essentially two countries; one to the East of the Dnieper river – one of the longest in Europe – and the other to the western part of Ukraine. In the East, not only are Donetsk and Lugansk are two major cities in the Donbass, but there is also Kharkov, Nikolaev, Zaporizhzhya, Moriupol, Berdyansk, Kherson , this belt of Russian speakers runs along the southern borders north of the Crimea, right on to Odessa in the west which is dominated by the Russian speakers. This is predominantly a Russian speaking, industrialised part of the Russian side of the Dnieper. By contrast the West of the Ukraine is dominated by Lviv who speak in the Ukrainian language and the Ukrain once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The division is a bit like the US west with its civil war division between north and south, and just as fraught.
The western Ukraine has large groups of minorities: Poles, Hungarians and Romanians within its borders and is backward and rural. All the industry was in the East of the country. The most reactionary elements in Ukrainian society were in the west. Right-wing followers of Stepan Bandera and his fascist band (UPA) have always envisioned a partition the country between East and West. This cleavage between East and West was very deep and likely in time will be permanent. NATO is surely fishing in troubled waters and has virtually set up base camp in Lviv as the jumping off point to the total annexation of the country with a longer-term via to colonise it and use it as a spring-board for an attack on Russia. Little wonder that the Russians, both in Russia and the Eastern Ukraine, take umbrage at this.
Thanks for sharing this with those of us who aren’t familiar with this deep historical cultural divide in Ukraine.
That helps a lot clarifying what has been going on in that part of the world.
If our government took a moment to consider that we have no business fomenting additional friction between these two cultures and worse yet siding with the groups whose families helped Hitler, they’d stop the selfish meddling for profit.
Instead, morally and ethically bankrupt, they line up with the fascist side fomenting Cold War animosities.
It’s so sad that we – misrepresented unfortunately by Nuland (and the other guy talking), apparently with Biden and the UN guy on board, and we hear the words that our side wants to land “jelly side up” on this meddling.
The people in our state dept sound like sociopaths/psychopaths…..
How does such hubris continue to get away with the havoc they always wreak?
A short but excellent summary of what Ukraine’s all about, Francis, one feels sorry for the people, except for the Bandera worshippers the rest of the plebeians are hard working, loyal and peaceful, why do they keep voting for presidents that do nothing but ruin the country more and more beggars belief, the last one Zelensky turned into a drug addict, broke every promise he made to get elected, truly sad.
It is interesting how this propaganda drumbeat is perceived at the edges of NATO. I peruse Virtual Poland (Polish acronym WP), a news portal in Poland that has a nice feature: unmoderated comment stream for every article. Recently, almost every day there is a new article about Russian threat and Ukraine. So what Russophobic Poles think about it?
Big majority of comments is very skeptical or condemning USA. One issue is that Poles seem much less Russophobic than the government, and, importantly, the bulk is very hostile to “Banderowcy”, people who view followers of Stepan Bandera as heroes, while those “heroes” murdered at least 100 thousands Poles. Because the current Ukrainian government allows to erect monuments to those heroes, use their names for streets or sport stadiums, it is very much disliked.
The other thing is that dislike of Russians in Poland is VERY different than in UK or USA. These people are not particularly different. Take a popular stereotype among NYT commenters “potato farmers from Urals”. We Poles are proud potato farmers! We have 100 potato dishes! Vodka is pretty much the same, variations in borsht and cabbage soup small, Russian poets have good translations in Polish (easier when languages, proverbs etc. are similar). In USA, “experts” have free rein how to paint those exotic eastern savages with unfathomable Slavic souls.
There is some troll contamination in comments, and troll attacks, in both directions, but in general, the sheer variety of skeptical comments and close relationship to internal Polish conflicts, idiomatic phrases etc. convinces me that the skepticism is wide and genuine.
Thanks for the article, but I didn’t listen to Nuland and company; I just can’t put my head in the garbage can any more. How and why we have slipped all of DC to this level is beyond me. Nobody wants to hear it, but perhaps it’s our Germanic heritage and an American Thirties is just in the cards. I read mainstream and alternative news from here and in several other languages constantly and deeply, yet I have never heard any other cogent explanation of our leadership collapse.
So, women in high places will bring us peace. I’m waiting.
I think Truman was right. He should never have let the bug into the establishment and sanctified them. They now own the country.
An interesting fact is that both Nuland and Blinken are the grandchildren of Ukrainians (find “Blin-Needle gang” online!) Hardly an objective pair, whose opinions must be well-known to Biden and the rest. We always hear the story starting from “annexation”, never overthrow,violence by “us”. Never referendum, bloodless takeover of Crimea which has been Russian for centuries except 1954-2014, planned NATO base for Sebastopol, the only warm-water port Russia has, by arrangement with Ukraine. Of course, the “troops massing on the border, about to invade”, are 100 km away, inside Russia. The only “option on the table” (Minsk 2015) has been refused by Kiev. Russia does not want Ukraine or even to “annex” the Donbass, just an agreement for special status. This is common in many countries.
Nuland is so bad that the latest visit after the Putin-Biden “summit” was NOT by her-even Blinken may have realized how mistrusted she is after the earlier Moscow visit. The USA has a knack of ensuring that its “diplomats” are the most antagonistic people to the “enemies” which the USA insists on making of anyone who is not a vassal.
Terrific comments. And shame on PBS, though the sentiments expressed here about their coverage (of most things) is the norm now.
There are only two possible explanations for such irresponsible programming — ignorance or propaganda. Hard to take seriously the first.
PBS is not new to this. Their “Frontline” feature ran a hit piece-cum documentary on North Korea some seven years ago that was eerily similar in style to an early horrifyingly gritty David Fincher film. The dynamics of the relationship between Washington and the DPRK over the last 70 years was almost completely elided. I’d put PBS on the same level as NPR. The “public” aspect has become so cynically co-opted and warped that it neither can ultimately be said to be working in the public’s interest.
I have long thought that it would be better for Ukraine to become a neutral country as Austria and Switzerland are today. This would give the buffer that Russia desires on its western front. I read an article online in about 2006 on “AntiWar.com” where Pat Buchanan wrote about Russia wanting a buffer there. This would be in line what they wanted when they spoke of no Nato expansion beyond Germany with Bush 41 in 1991. Those of us alive during the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis remember how the US reacted to Soviet missiles at our doorstep. Too bad we do not have a JFK today when he worked with Khrushchev to hammer out a deal preventing another world war.
The US should not push the big bear. They do not have the conventional weapons the west have. In a confrontation or war, should they have to protect their homeland and run out of conventional weapons, they would most likely, have to turn to the nuclear options. No one knows what happens when a war begins.
I saw the interview with Nuland come on on PBS as we watch their news. I did not watch it. Can’t stand being lied to as much as she does.
” They do not have the conventional weapons the west have.”
You, like so many Americans, are in for a big surprise if this is what you believe. While the U.S. was busy blowing through $ trillions for U.S. MIC stockholders on Edsels like the F-35, Russia was busy using their much smaller bank account to develop advanced weapons that have put them years ahead of U.S./NATO in both defensive and offensive weapons. Their having put up with all of the West’s egregious incursions and insults was only waiting on the day where they had the confidence and wherewithal to ‘walk the talk.’
Unlike the U.S. and its never-ending and ever-losing wars on lesser states, the Russians (and Chinese) have remained low key and biding their time, avoiding—unless absolutely necessary—overt provocative acts that led to crises requiring military acts to resolve. This while the U.S. in hegemonic ‘exceptionalist’ thrall, stalked and bullied, and bombed any and all mercilessly in wanton acts that contributed nothing to world stability and peace, but hella truckloads of dough to our war profiteers on Wall Street.
And now the day has come. The barking dogs at the Pentagon are all of a sudden looking wide-eyed over their shoulders; are suspiciously silent. That’s what dogs do when wolves show up in their vicinity. Real wolves. Real wolves eat dogs, and dogs know it. It’s baked in their genetic memory bones.
And revenge is a dish best served cold. That is, dispassionately. Efficiently. Why?
Because returning to a state of peace is the goal. That’s the difference between Russian national and foreign policy; it’s the opposite of that of the West under U.S. control. Which is a nation-state out of control under the command desires of sociopaths, and not its own common citizen people. And that’s all about to change.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. My remark “They do not have the conventional weapons the west have.” comes from the late Stephen Cohen a number of years ago. I wondered about its veracity today so I appreciate your comments.
Totally agree about what the US is doing with its focus on wars in different parts of the world. I hope that someday the US will elect leaders who are able to focus on peace in this country and around the world. Not peace on US terms alone but a peace that is good for everyone.
We watched the Maiden coup on RT at that time in 2013-14. I remember hearing the cries of friends about Crimea voting to unite with Russia. I reminded them of the fascists in Odessa burning down a building with 30 people in it. If anyone tried to escape, they were shot. I said that that had a lot to do with Crimeans voting to unite with Russia as this same thing could happen in Crimea.
The evil clowns running the US government are racing into a military cataclysm. At least their predecessors had the good sense to avoid attacking anyone who could fight back. These clowns, however, are too arrogant and ignorant to follow that rule.
The actions of the US (Nuland, McCain and Co.) typifies everything that is so wrong with America. So when a person like Nuland is appointed yet again to a role in government by a new President, you just know that nothing is going to change. Then when she is interviewed on national media and represented as being something of an authority on that particular subject, it is clear that the MSM knows that the American public will swallow anything, as they have for years and that they will continue to do so.
That’s the crime. In the main, a country full of fine people controlled by evil governments and a crooked media to add weight to the lies.
Where else would you read the truth on this disgraceful episode but on Consortium News.
Mike, thanks for a clear overview. Will be forwarding.
That picture of “Cookies” Nuland on the big screen perhaps didn’t completely ruin my day, but did make me throw up in me mouf more than a little. A graphic and obscene “In yo face, America!”— a “This is who We are and this is what We do.” Ostensibly in “our” name and therefore to our collective shame.
Ask yourself, how have these people, how do these unelected people gain and hold onto such power to drive us to such unthinkable brinksmanship that an overwhelming majority of our citizenry DO. NOT. WANT.!?
What democracy we may have had has been long now subsumed into the private and personal grievances and narratives of outcome for only a tiny collective of minorities and that said c-minority presumes to speak for this nation? How is this allowed? What is the mechanism that promotes such destruction to put such evil continuously in power? Our fates and the fate of the world dragged either mute and silent or kicking and screaming against our will for their desired and very subjective ends. If you’re not asking yourself these questions and pondering what to do about them you are forever stuck in abject ignorance or likely personifying, like me, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”
The Nuland/Kagan nexus operating out of Brussels distills what ails us almost too perfectly. Merry effin’…. whatever.
Nuland/Kagan nexus may give rise to a “conspiracy theory”. First, they seem to descent from Ukrainian Jews. Second, their goals seem to diverge quite a bit from Zionists goals: Israel refused to comment on Crimea issue in any way, and tries to maintain as civil relations with Russia as possible in spite, or perhaps because, their divergent positions on Syria. Russia could be more energetic is bolstering Syrian air defenses (not cheap, so as for not quite patchy) and Syrian retaliation potential in the face of constant Israeli violations, bombing here and there. This conflicts boils slowly. Then there is a little fact that some of the richest Jewish tycoons are Jews loyal to Putin.
Thus conspiracy theory: a minority of Ashkenazi Jews remembers their Khazarian ancestry and want to restore Khazarian Kaganate consisting of Ukraine and southern Russia. So far, the kaganate got Ukraine and a Kagan, but the project cannot be completed without the fall of Russia. This is a joke, but “Nuland/Kagan nexus” behaves if it were true.
Incoherence as an art form, truth doesn’t stand a chance when the US electorate is so incredibly maleable and the Deep State prepared to do anything at all to stay in power, both in the US and in the world.
Great call on your part GCM.
As long as U.S. presidents are simply happy to be elected and agree to be resigned to serving as mouth pieces for the MICCIMAT and the Deep State the “Shit Shows ” will rule the day in D.C.
Victoria Nuland and her husband Robert Kagan do not have hidden histories. It doesn’t take a long study of the their work to see clearly their neocon roots and basic beliefs.
The question for Biden then becomes what the hell are you thinking? After what I’ve seen so far I suspect his answer might be a simple, “What I think makes no difference!”
Unfortunately for Americans this answer reflects his true position.
FYI Robert Kagan is of Lithuanian Jewish decent. You cannot make this stuff up.
New year coming same ole shit show with the same ole no talent bit actors wielding unlimited power. What could go wrong?