Why Putin went to war with Ukraine? An Extract by Irina Martin

Why Putin went to war with Ukraine? An Extract by Irina Martin

Whilst comparing the underlying explanations the question still remains: why Putin went to war with Ukraine?

Although Russian conduct raises major concerns, official Russia is not at war with Ukraine.  Instead, Putin started a spoiler activity in the east of Ukraine as soon as Ukraine moved closer to becoming part of NATO in a response to the security dilemma he had been presented with.  This is exactly what Russians declared they would do acknowledging the Bucharest Summit Memorandum in 2008.

As per Article 5, NATO provides security to the EU where there is a need to do so.  It is important to understand that EU’s security interests are closely aligned with the US’s security interests.  Thus, if Ukraine expressed an interest in joining the EU in pursuit of an image of European democracy, disregarding the NATO component of the equation, Ukraine’s integration into the EU would have possessed as much threat to Russia as its willingness to join the NATO. 

Embodying democratic values has been a popular theme in US’s history.  Going back to the middle of the 20th century examples of US’s democracy promotion are evident:  the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad Coup, where the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953 was masterminded by the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project) and backed by the United Kingdom (under the name “Operation Boot”). 21,22 Sixty years later CIA had acknowledged the coup and confirmed that it was carried out “under CIA direction” and “as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government” 23;

20.   Clandestine Service History: Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran, Mar. 1954: p iii.

21.   Tauris, I., Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization, 2007, pp. 775

22.   Bryne, Malcolm, CIA Admits It Was Behind Iran’s Coup, 18 August 2013

the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, a covert operation carried out by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that deposed the democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz and ended the Guatemalan Revolution.  Code-named Operation PBSUCCESS, it installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas, the first in a series of US-backed dictators who ruled Guatemala24;

the 1973 Chilean coup d’état was a watershed event in both the history of Chile and the Cold War when Allende was overthrown by the armed forces and national police, following an extended period of social and political unrest between the right dominated Congress of Chile and the elected socialist President Salvador Allende, as well as economic warfare ordered by US President Richard Nixon. 25 The United States government, which had worked to create the conditions for the coup promptly recognized the junta government established by Allende and supported it in consolidating power.25  The list is certainly not exhaustive, however, evident of the long-standing democracy promotion policies of the US.  

Promoting western democratic values in various parts of the world requires funding.  During the International Business Conference at Ukraine in Washington – National Press Club – December 13, 2013, Victoria Nuland – Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs said: “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions

23.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

24.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_Chilean_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government – all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of Ukraine’s European aspirations. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.” Nuland said the United States would continue to “promote Ukraine to the future it deserves”. 26 The funds for the democracy promotion come from various organisations and individuals, the most active of which is the National Endowment for Democracy. 

The National Endowment for Democracy – Fact Find

National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private non-profit organization, which seeks to develop and strengthen democratic institutions around the world27.  The organisation is financed by the US Treasury and since its inception in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy has acted as an instrument of US foreign policy.  It is the brainchild of Allen Weinstein, an American historian, educator, and federal official who was a professor at Brown, Columbia and George Washington Universities.  The first Director of the NED, Carl Gershman, openly admitted that the fund was a CIA front.  In 1986, he made the following statement: “We should not have to do this kind of work covertly.  It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the Endowment was created.  28 

25.   Nuland Victoria Admits: US Has Invested $5 Billion in The Development of Ukrainian, Democratic Institutions published 9 February 2014, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm, last accessed 3 July 2016

26.   http://www.ned.org/about/history/

27.   Douglas-Bowers, Devon, NGOs: The Missionaries of Empire, Global Research, 3 March 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/ngos-the-missionaries-of-empire/29595, last accessed 04 August 2016

Each year the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) makes direct grants to hundreds of nongovernmental organizations worldwide working to advance democratic goals and strengthen democratic institutions. 

In 2012, NED funded about 1236 projects in 92 countries around the world.  Grant amounts vary depending on the size and scope of the projects 29.  

The Russian version of Wikipedia, Ruxpert, provides the following definition for the NED:  National Endowment for Democracy is the US Foundation associated with the CIA and 95% financed from the US treasury founded in 1983 by the US Congress. Under the guise of “supporting democracy” NED is engaged in the promotion of US interests in the world, arranging colour revolutions, opposing anti-American governments and promoting pro-American power 30.

The National Endowment for Democracy official website states that the organisation funded the opposition movement “Solidarity” in Poland, “Charter 77” in Czechoslovakia, “Otpor” in Serbia leading to believe that NED has funded a number of important colour revolutions near Russia’s borders. 27   NED is associated with The International Republican Institute led by a well-known anti-Russian statesman, Senator John McCain.  32

28.   http://www.ned.org/apply-for-grant/en/, last accessed 04 August 2016

29.   http://ruxpert.ru/%D0%9D%D0%B, last accessed 04 August 2016)

30.   http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2013-NED-Annual-Report-audit.pdf, last accessed 04 August 2016

31.   Hamburger, Sarah, A Hidden Agenda: John McCain and the International Republican Institute, The senator’s ties to the infamous quasi-governmental organization require far greater scrutiny.  Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 25 June 2008, http://www.alternet.org/story/89431/a_hidden_agenda%3A_john_mccain_and_the_international_republican_institute, last accessed 04 August 2016

In 2014, NED sent $ 9.3 million ($ 1.3 million more than the year before) to support non-profit organizations in Russia.  Nadia Duke, the daughter of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army fighter 33 heads the NED Russian operations.  The Russian division of NED supported several dozen organizations, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, the movement “For Human Rights” and Russian independent, non-governmental polling and sociological research organisation Levada Centre.30

In 2013, Ukraine has received more grants from the NED, than any other country in Europe. The amount allocated to Ukrainian non-governmental organizations in 2014, increased by 1.5 times compared to 2011.

In 2015, NED claimed in their report that the grants provided by them played an important role in the initial phase of Euromaidan in Kiev in 2013-2014.  According to the data released in 2015 NED’s Annual Report in the years between 2011 to 2014 NED committed nearly $ 14 million to the Ukrainian non-profit organizations and played a significant role in the media coverage of the events on Maidan 31.  The report specifically states that “Endowment grantees played important roles in the peaceful protests in Kyiv”.  The report also states that $ 115.8 thousand were allocated for the training course organised by the NED for the Ukrainian journalists at the beginning of 2014.  The journalists who attended the lectures were provided with protective equipment and first aid kits implying that NED could have been in the know about the preparation for riots and clashes with the Ukrainian law enforcers.

32.   https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Endowment_for_Democracy, last accessed 14 August 2016

In principle, it is very hard to denounce democracy promotion.  The idea of other countries becoming democracies is noble.  However, it’s not simply a story about promoting virtuous political order, it is important to understand the intentions of those who forcefully promote liberal democracy.  As examples above demonstrate, United States’ end result in promoting democracy is to bring forward and assign to power the pro-American leaders.  If such leader later falls out of favour with the United States, United States uses its power to overthrow that democratically elected leader, as was the case with Hosni Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. 34