by Gordon M. Hahn
Recent and future releases of audiotapes between U.S. officials like U.S. presidential hopeful and former VP Joseph Biden, Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, among others to come are revealing (www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N4PmqyJrTI). The new audiotapes conclusively prove that the Barack Obama administration used the threat of withholding economic assistance and IMF assistance in an effort to block then Ukrainian General Prosecutor Viktor Shokhin (poisoned twice in the process) from investigating the corruption of Biden’s and Kerry’s sons at the Burisma energy company where they became board members solely by virtue of their fathers’ political office. In other words, Biden and Kerry committed the very same act in more blatant and now proven fashion that the Democratic Party accused President Donlad Trump of engaging in (without the requisite evidence) and were trading on their public office and dragging through the mud Ukraine’s state sovereignty. This, of course, comes on top of recent revelations in document releases showing that Democratic Party and Obama Administration officials and operatives were bald-facedly lying when they told the public that there was conclusive evidence of the alleged Russian hack of the DNC server, Trump’s ‘collusion’ with Putin, and the army of Putin trolls, all of which amounted supposedly to a ‘Russian attack on American democracy.’ In reality, both in the U.S. and Ukraine, the Democratic Party and the Obama administration were concerned with almost everything besides democracy.
Because of this shocking level of corruption and later imperial arrogance, Western policy in Ukraine suffers from grave self-contradictions. First, in playing the Ukrainian nationalist card and even the ultra-nationalist and neofascist cards by, among other things, ignoring these extremists’ role in the Maidan regime’s original sin of the 20 February 2014 snipers’ massacre, Washington and Brussels have unleashed a dangerous animal onto the Ukrainian and world stage. At the same time, Western policy has completely violated – one is attempted to use the word ‘raped’ – one if not the things most sacred to these extremists: Ukraine’s national sovereignty. Second, by pursuing Western goals through bribery and kickbacks for both the companies and offspring of Western, especially America’s elite, Washington is once and for all being fully deprived of one of America’s greatest resources in the past—its championing of democracy and the rule of law. We will leave aside for the moment the long experience in recent decades of using nefarious means rather than the power of the American example of, and access to information about democracy.
Weimar Maidan Mythology and Reality
The inclination to mythology – taking representations of reality for reality itself – is a clear mark of decline in the rationalism that undergirds democracy and of vulnerability to authoritarian socialist and nationalist trends. It has long been a clear fact that it was the ultra-nationalist and neofascist wings of the Maidan demonstrations that fired on innocent demonstrators and police in an effort to escalate the conflict and bring down the unpopular but legally elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych. See Ivan Katchanovski’s groundbreaking work on this, my own examination https://gordonhahn.com/2016/03/09/the-real-snipers-massacre-ukraine-february-2014-updatedrevised-working-paper/, and see also https://strana.ua/articles/analysis/250173-massovye-falsifikatsii-v-spiske-nebesnoj-sotni-rassledovanie-eleny-lukash-i-andreja-portnova.html?fbclid=IwAR0xb26ExjPBUY2XF65N-Jh4S0OdgE1vAFcrWibPuU7zRMKVMAQnW3MweZo, for example). Yet despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the U.S. and other Western governments continue every year on the anniversary of the ‘Maidan’ to hail the ‘heavenly hundred’ civilian victims allegedly shot down by Yanukovych’s ‘Berkut’ riot police. This founding lie – along with the incorporation of ultranationalists, neofascists, and their sympathizers into the Maidan regime’s government, parliament, and siloviki and the arming of their organizations under government protection during the Donbass civil war – has unduly empowered a series of ultranationalist and neofascist parties and organizations, such Right Sector, Azov, the National Corps, C-14 and many, many others, all but dooming a Ukrainian democracy already profoundly compromised by massive corruption that exceeds even that in Russia. They engage in terrorist and criminal murders across Ukraine with impunity, with protectors in the MVD and SBU postponing, undermining, and ultimately burying investigations against them (the most recent examples: https://vesti.ua/people/novyj-vozhd-dlya-pravyh-chto-stoit-za-neobyavleniem-podozreniya-sternenko). The Maidan regime’s second full-fledged president Volodomyr Zelenskiy has been unable to rein in these groups, and his own administration is increasingly divided between those who sympathize with radical nationalists and those who do not, incapacitating his presidency and its potential for cleaning up Ukraine.
The new audio tapes prove what many of us have warned of all along: that ever since Maidan’s seizure of power, Ukraine has been run from Washington, to a lesser extent Brussels, and almost marginally from Kiev. This puts the blame for the rise of extreme nationalism in Ukraine very much on the West’s shoulders. The new tapes, for example, reveal that the Obama administration and Biden personally approved candidates for various high offices in Kiev, including prime ministers, prosecutors, and head of other departments. In the tape, Biden and Poroshenko openly discuss U.S. funding for the parliamentary party, Self-Help (Samopomishch), with the then Ukrainian President Poroshenko asking Biden to have funding to the party cut off, since it left his parliamentary coalition leaving it without a majority in the Rada (www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N4PmqyJrTI). Samopomishch includes several ultra-nationalist members and is led by the Mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lvov (Lviv), a hotbed of ultranationalism and neofascism.
The Maidan regime was born in an environment of great powers consistently violating its state sovereignty in violation of international law. Indeed, both Russia and more blatantly the West have been violating international law by their meddling in Ukrainian politics for years; a practice which peaked on the Western side during the Maidan protests and since. These great powers violated the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations(https://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1964/06/19640624%2002-10%20AM/Ch_III_3p.pdf). The Budapest Memorandum much cited by Western officials and pundits after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 to prove Putin had violated international law and the ‘rules of the game,’ pledged Russia and the U.S. to a “commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the so-called ‘Helsinki Final Act, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” (“Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances,” Council on Foreign Relations, 5 December 1994, www.cfr.org/arms-control-disarmament-and-nonproliferation/budapest-memorandums-security-assurances-1994/p32484). Taken together or simply in its essential parts, the activity of Nuland, Pyatt, McCain and Smith seems to constitute a violation of the Helsinki Final Act’s clauses banning the interference of member-states of the OSCE in the domestic politics of its other member-states, specifally the Final Act’s Section VI on ‘Non-Intervention in Internal Affairs’ [“Helsinki Final Act, Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Helsinki, 1975,” Osce.org, http://www.osce.org/mc/39501?download=true, p. 5, last accessed 4 February 2016; for more detail see Gordn M. Hahn, Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and the “New Cold War” (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Publishers, 2018), pp. 188-9].
Born under the shadow of Western interference, the Maidan regime has plodded on the prepared path ever since February 2014. Ukrainian journalists have long been reporting on the West’s domination of post-Maidan Ukrainian politics, so Ukrainians, perhaps especially nationalists, are well aware of this problem. “American business” and George Soros are seen by many as taking over the country (https://vesti.ua/politika/amerikanskij-biznes-zahvatit-ukrainu-o-chem-zelenskij-dogovorilsya-s-pompeo and https://vesti.ua/strana/liberalnyj-dzhihad-2020-kuda-fond-sorosa-budet-vkladyvat-v-etom-godu). The popular Vesti agency lamented Zelenskiy’s inability to strengthen either Ukraine’s autonomy and integration into Europe: “The fact that the road to Europe had to be paid for like an African refugee traversing the Mediterranean Sea with losses because of the war, poverty because of unlimited corruption, and chaos as a result of authorities’ incompetence from long ago has irritated Ukrainians. Zelenskiy promised to correct all this. A picture was painted for his voter of peaceful successful Ukraine that without humiliation and fawning before the West would normalize its relations with Europe and stand on the track of stable development” (https://vesti.ua/politika/obshhestvennaya-ekspertiza-tem-li-putem-idem-panove). Experts lament Ukraine’s loss of sovereignty (https://vesti.ua/politika/ekspertiza-pomoshh-ili-poterya-suvereniteta-chto-ne-tak-s-kreditami-mvf). Foreign specialists compose majorities in the board rooms of Ukraine’s key state and semi-state enterprises such as Naftogaz Ukrainy, UkrEnergo, UkrZalizytsya, and others (https://vesti.ua/strana/varyagi-ili-okkupanty-kak-otnositsya-k-inostrantsam-v-nashej-ekonomike). Yet along with failed Eurointegration and kowtowing to the West, Ukraine remains dependent on Russia, despite efforts to cut ties, simply because of Soviet-post-Soviet infrastructural integration. Thus, Ukraine’s atomic energy stations still run on Russian fuel (https://vesti.ua/politika/zapad-rossiya-kitaj-mozhet-li-ukraina-samostoyatelno-reshat-svoyu-sudbu). This is a bad formula anywhere, but especially in today’s Ukraine; then add in coronavirus and an attendant deep recession or depression.
Ukrainian nationalists, ultra-nationalists and neofascists cannot and will not brook for long the crushing of their sacred state’s sovereignty—‘Glory to Ukraine’ is their motto. Ukrainian nationalism will not tolerate the invasion of the new Varangians. Russia’s heavy hand has been replaced by the deceptively lighter but no less compromising and increasingly decrepit hand of mentors from the West. In secret, Ukraine’s new Western colonizers hold forth funds in return for the appointment of their favorites or even citizens to government offices in Ukraine and Ukrainians’ efforts to block corruption investigations. Simultaneously, they publicly condemn Russia’s imperial hand and corrupting influence on Kiev and claim that building democracy and fighting corruption are core Western and American values and norms. By pursuing Western goals through bribery and kickbacks for both the companies and offspring of America’s elite, Washington has now reduced to nil its once great resource: the image of what U.S. President Ronald Reagan once called ‘the shining city on the hill,’ which is, alas, no more. What Ukrainians are now calling “international corruption” in “Bidengate” is with no mistake nothing other than American legal and financial corruption, which reached unprecedented heights under President Obama (Jonathan Turley, “A Question of Power: The Imperial Presidency, 21 May 2014, https://jonathanturley.org/2014/05/21/a-question-of-power-the-imperial-presidency/ cited in https://gordonhahn.com/2016/11/04/the-american-devolution-and-its-global-implications/).
Western mentors cautiously prepare the ground for the expansion of world history’s most powerful military alliance, NATO, beyond the Dnepr, to the rest of Russia’s western border, claiming this is to protect the community of democracies, to which Kiev can now aspire, from a corrupt Russia. This may be one purpose, but is it necessary especially as it puts Ukrainians on the front line of what the West itself claims is a rabidly aggressive Putin. On this background it is no wonder that some Ukrainian ultras (and their Western compatriots and allies, such as Alexander Motyl and Andreas Umland) are proposing the formation of a eastern European ‘Intermarium’ from the Baltic to Black Seas to counter both Western and Russian encroachment. In the ‘West’ writ large, it is not just Russian Slavophiles or Russian and Ukrainian nationalists who reject Western tutelage and condescension. Even Moderate Ukrainians have shown some sensitivity to Western condescension. Ukrainian émigré American historian Orest Subtelny reflected what one might call the ‘insult of Westernization’ or the ‘condescension of Westernizers’ by relating Ukrainians’ Russian-like resentment of Polonization centuries past when he noted the “colonization or, as 19th century Polish historians liked to put it, the ‘civilization’ of Ukraine” [Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History (Toronto, Canada: Toronto University Press, 1988), pp. 40-41].
Another perhaps more insidious form of American corruption for both Washington and Kiev is the infiltration into and capture of America’s foreign and security policy apparati by identity and ethno-nationalist groups’ representatives. The beast of Ukrainian extreme nationalism has sunk its teeth deep into US government and security organs. The ubiquity of ethnic Ukrainians in both the Russiagate and Ukrainegate scandals is breathtaking: Democratic Party Director for Ethnic Affairs Alexandra Chalupa, Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC) Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (offered the Ukrainian Defense Minister’s position by Zelenskiy), U.S. District Attorney for New Jersey Bogdan Vitvitskii (in one of the recently released audiotapes Poroshenko requested Biden to send Vitvitskii on the basis of an American recommendation to Kiev to become Washington’s overseer in the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office), among many others. Vitvitskii is just one of numerous Ukrainian diaspora members in America assigned to key posts representing the U.S. in Ukraine. Both of the most previous U.S. ambassadors were deeply involved in Ukrainian domestic politics. Former U.S. embassy official Natalya Jaresko became Ukraine’s Finance Minister under Poroshenko, and the tapes reveal an effort by the U.S. to get her appointed to prime minister’s position. Moreover, many in America’s Ukrainian diaspora are descendants of members of Ukraine’s World War II-era neo-Nazi organizations, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Partisan Army, and they have close ties to successor and OUN and UPA wannabes that engage in political violence and terrorism both in Ukraine and abroad, including attempts at such by their trainees here in the U.S. (https://gordonhahn.com/2020/04/07/report-the-new-terrorist-threat-ukrainian-ultra-nationalist-and-neo-fascist-terrorism-at-home-and-abroad/). It may be worth noting in this regard that, as Ivan Katchanovski notes, in the years before and during WW II an OUN terrorist was involved not only assassinations of the Polish minister of internal affairs, the French foreign minister and the king of Yugoslavia but also was recruited by the Nazis to kill U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (www.academia.edu/3378079/The_Politics_of_World_War_II_in_Contemporary_Ukraine, p. 220, citing archival documents).
U.S. policy’s superpower maximalism has led it to become a generator of violent revolutions and an apologist for ultra-nationalism and neofascism. In addition, Democratic Party presidential nominee and former U.S. vice president now has the dubious honor of having a criminal investigation against him being opened in Kiev. This is something the notorious autocrat, imperialist, ‘mafia state’ leader, and perpetrator of the annexation of Crimea Vladimir Putin has not ‘achieved.’
Ukraine has become little more than a pawn in increasingly hubristic Washington’s pernicious game to deepen America’s economic presence globally, expand NATO and Western arms sales, and crush Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian democracy and national wealth are of secondary importance, significant only as potential resources for pursuing the ultimate ends. As a result, unless something changes fundamentally in Washington and Brussels, both Ukrainian democracy and the shining city on the hill will die slow agonizing deaths. If what comes next in Kiev is a Russia 2.0 that may be the best of Ukraine’s and the world’s alternative futures. As for the shining city itself, all bets are off as to whether the republic can be kept.
About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org.
Dr. Hahn is the author of the forthcoming book: The Russian Dilemma: Aspiration, Trepidation, and the West in the Making of Russia’s Security Culture (McFarland, 2021) He has authored four well-received books: Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.
Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.