• America has funneled more than $5 billion into Ukraine to amputate it from Russia.
By Richard Walker —
As the blame game over the downed airliner in Ukraine ratchets up, the truth about Western meddling in the country has been buried in Washington’s determination to attack Russia economically and deny any role in the crisis in Ukraine.
For the Cold War warriors on Capitol Hill and in some European capitals, any opportunity to portray Russian President Vladimir Putin as the devil and Russia as a major threat to Western interests is welcomed. Yet it was not Putin who armed the militias now causing havoc in Syria, Iraq and Libya or who advocated supporting an Israeli call for bombing Iran.
The crisis in Ukraine has, however, galvanized opposition to Putin in Washington and within parts of the European Union (EU), with only Germany calling for a more constructive approach to Russia by suggesting closer diplomatic links to resolve any major disagreements, including over Ukraine.
Lost in much of the anti-Putin rhetoric is the fact that since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Washington has funneled at least $5 billion to groups in the country. There has been no accounting for how that money was actually spent, or who received it.
However, the objective of giving this considerable sum was clear: The aim included moving Ukraine toward Europe with promises of EU membership and lots of social benefits and infrastructure funding.
Western officials did not care that this would deeply impact Russia. In fact, it was a violation of promises not to “leapfrog” over Germany made by United States officials under President Ronald Reagan shortly before communism fell.
For years, Ukraine has had the deep-sea port of Sevastopol that traditionally housed Russia’s Black Sea fleet and was of major strategic significance for Moscow since it enabled the Russian navy to reach out of the Black Sea and into the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Ukraine also has major oil and gas resources off the Crimean coast and was an engineering powerhouse, making planes and other products for the Russian economy.
Russia was aware of Western meddling and had made it clear to Washington there was the potential for conflict if it continued.
According to a former Russian diplomat, who agreed to speak to this writer on condition of anonymity, Putin told President Barack Obama in 2013 he would draw a red line at Crimea if any attempt were made to break up Ukraine.
“There was a clear pattern that suggested Washington saw potential for removing Ukraine from Russian influence,” he said. “Some reports reaching Moscow confirmed NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] would also settle for a divided Ukraine. There is now real potential for a Cold War that will be felt well beyond Europe, especially if more concerted efforts are made to hurt Russia economically. Russia is like the bear that will retaliate if it is being hurt. Forgotten is the failure of Obama to fulfill a promise he made in 2009 to reset relations with Russia. The truth is Russia is an important cog in world affairs and the United States can only benefit from closer relations. It is something I believe most Americans and Russians would welcome, but ordinary people are not the deciders, unfortunately.”
In December 2013, evidence of Western meddling was revealed by Victoria Nuland, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for Europe, who admitted $5 billion had been spent to advance the “aspirations of the people of Ukraine to a stronger, democratic government.” In January 2014, Nuland ran into a diplomatic whirlwind when a telephone call she made about Ukraine found its way onto the Internet. In the call, she was heard to say “Fuck the EU” because it was not moving fast enough to fulfill Washington’s promises to grant Ukraine EU membership.
Her undiplomatic language, combined with her revelation about the $5 billion, showed the lengths to which Washington was prepared to go to reshape Ukraine. Effectively, it was more than just meddling. It was a blatant attempt to alter the sovereign rights and aspirations of an independent nation.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.