Diary

Secretary of State Clinton, Part 5: Laying the Foundations of a Coup

Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, right, accompanied Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria. The diplomats defended President Barack Obama’s policy to defeat Islamic State militants in Syria in the wake of Russian intervention that both say has dangerously destabilized the battlefield was defended during the hearing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In this series, I have examined Clinton’s friends at the State Department, her role in the Arab Spring and Libya, and the personal animosity between her and Putin.  Next, I look at her role in the 2014 Ukrainian Maidan revolution.

The seeds of the revolution were planted while she was Secretary of State, but came to fruition after she left.  The Maidan Revolution in Ukraine occurred in February 2014 when a series of violent events involving protesters, riot police, and unknown snipers in Kiev caused the collapse of the government there.

The Maidan revolution came to a head in February 2014.  Stepping back, Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych was elected in 2010 to a six-year term.  He was, admittedly, not an honorable man and used patronage and other instruments of state power to strengthen his party.  The resulting corruption alienated many in the country.  As Ukraine’s economy lagged behind its European neighbors like Poland which had instituted Western-style market reforms, the Ukrainians became more restless.  The breaking point came in November, 2013 when Yanukovych reneged on signing an agreement to join the European Union.  

Arseny Yatsenyuk, leader of an opposition party, took to social media and called for protests and two days, 50,000-200,000 protesters took to the streets in Kiev and attempted to storm government buildings causing riot police to fight back injuring over 400 people.  Almost daily protests followed, often attended by high-profile politicians from Europe.  On November 30, more violent protests occurred and another 100 people were injured when riot police stormed a monastery where some protesters took refuge.

While the protests were gaining momentum through December 2013, State Department Undersecretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, said she had visited the protests and had even handed out cookies.  We later became aware that the United States was hardly a disinterested bystander in the revolution.  Geoffrey Pyatt was the US ambassador to Ukraine at the time.  

 

In one phone call intercepted by Russian intelligence, they discuss their preference for a replacement president and note that Yatsenyuk would be the best choice.  This is the infamous phone call where Nuland exclaims, “Fuck the EU” and occurred while Yanukovych was still president and negotiating with opposition leaders for a coalition government.  Pyatt noted the complex relationship between opposition leaders Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Vitali Klitschko.  

With Tyahnybok, it was his association with an opposition party- Svoboda- which had extremist ties.  He had previously been involved in the Ukrainian Orange revolution in 2004.  At that time, Tyahnybok had described the denied incoming president as the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” running the Ukrainian state.  He also said the “Moskali, German, and kikes and other scum wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”  Svoboda also had clear-cut ties to many neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.  As for Klitscko, the Nuland-Pyatt call indicated that he would be more useful in a long-term, not interim, government.  

Pyatt suggested that they needed someone with international prestige to “midwife” the protests.  Nuland noted that vice president Joe Biden’s national security adviser was in constant contact with her and that Biden would be open to be that person.  Eventually, on February 24, 2014 president Yanukovych stepped down and was replaced by their preferred man.  Two days later, EU Foreign minister Catherine Ashton dispatched the Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Paet, to Ukraine to determine if it had been a revolution or a coup.  He reported back that it had been a coup and was engineered by someone within the new government, but he did not know who.  

Oleg Tsarev, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, stated publicly on November 20, 2013 a “tech camp” was established in the US embassy in Ukraine to train activists in social media protest organizing based on the techniques perfected by Eric Schmidt of Google and Jared Cohen who organized the Youth summits.  Tsarev claims to have hacked into the machinations and discovered that these camps were held throughout Ukraine in November 2013 and highlighted the successful use of social media campaigns by activists to spur unrest and protests in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt to bring about a change in governments.  In all, about 300 Ukrainians participated in the training camps.  

By mid-February the protests had grown increasingly violent.  On the 18th, protesters marched on the parliament building as they were considering opposition demands for a new constitution and government.  By midday, protesters began throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at police and they responded with stun grenades and tear gas.  There were reports of sniper fire.  In the aftermath of February 18, 20 people laid dead.

February 20th was a fateful day.  It was then reported that protesters had captured a member of the security forces and his identification showed he belonged to the MVD- the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.  Protesters then marched on the October Palace as gunfire was heard.  Radio Liberty- an American propaganda outlet- showed footage of alleged government snipers firing on protesters.  

On the 21st, the EU had brokered a truce where it was agreed that a new provisional government would be formed and the 2004 constitution restored.  However, some opposition leaders demanded nothing less than the resignation of the president who defiantly refused.  It was later learned that he was spirited out of Ukraine by Russian forces.

There remains some confusion over the snipers who fired on the protesters.  It was later noted, based on a doctor’s testimony, that the wounds inflicted on the protesters came from the same sniper rifle fire as those that killed some police officers.  Others suggested that the snipers were acting based on rules established during Soviet times where snipers were trained to fire on both sides of a protest in order to escalate tensions to justify a more robust police retaliation.  Later reports allege that two of the snipers involved had been trained in Georgia and were paid $1,000 and another $5,000 upon their return and that the only thing they knew from people in Tbilisi was that it was for a US-backed operation

Where does Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State come in?  She was, after all, at this time sipping Chardonnay in Chappaqua and writing her memoirs (again).  Petro Poroshenko had financed the Maidan protests from afar.  He was an associate of Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk.  While still Secretary of State, Poroshenko, who later became president of Ukraine in 2014, pledged $29 million to the Clinton Global Initiative.  

Internal emails later published by WikiLeaks reveal communications between Clinton’s inner circle and Pinchuk urging Hillary Clinton to arrange a meeting between Pinchuk and Bill Clinton.  The goal was to bring him or “other western leaders” to Kiev to show their support for the Poroshenko government.  The idea was to show the world that the presumed future president- Hillary Clinton- was a supporter of Ukraine in general, and Poroshenko in particular.  These emails were sent to John Podesta.  In fact, while at the State Department, records show that $8.6 million had been given by Pinchuk to the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013.

Of course, the Clinton Foundation denies that any political matters were associated with the Pinchuk donations, but those donations were flowing into the Foundation starting in 2008 and continued throughout Hillary’s tenure at State.  It is also no coincidence that many of those trained through the Clinton Global Initiative ended up in the resulting Ukrainian government.  In 2004, Pinchuk was a main driver behind the Yalta European Strategy (YES) group that began meeting in Kiev every year.  They boast some heavy hitters among annual speakers.

At this point, one does not doubt that the Maidan revolution was a US-orchestrated coup.  The plan was hatched sometime in 2011 and set into motion, out of the US embassy in Kiev, in late 2013, probably sensing that the iron was hot to strike.  The two groups that led the coup- Right Sector and Svoboda- has fascist leanings and the latter was linked to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine and throughout Europe.  Under the banner of ending corruption in Ukraine they staged a bloody coup that forced out a leader duly elected and who no one expected would ever win reelection in 2016.  Instead, Ukraine became possibly more corrupt after the coup and remains so today.  The head of the Stratfor Group described it as the most blatant example of a coup in history.

Did Pinchuk ever get his meeting with Clinton?  No.  However, we do know that Doug Schoen, a close associate of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, was a go-between with Pinchuk and the Clinton Foundation.  Schoen arranged meetings with David Kramer  of the McCain Institute, among others.   Schoen had previously connected Pinchuk to senior State Department officials while Clinton was Secretary to pressure Yanukovych to release Yulia Tymoshenko- a political rival- from jail.  We know that Pinchuk had lent his private plane to both Clintons and that in 2011 he traveled to Los Angeles as an invited guest at Bill Clinton’s birthday party.  Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary said that in her time as Secretary of State, Pinchuk never appeared on her schedule.  However, in a later discovered email sent between Dennis Cheng, an official at the Clinton Foundation, and Huma Abedin, Pinchuk was placed on the guest list for a dinner at Clinton’s private home in 2012.

It was later discovered that Melanne Verveer, a senior official specializing in Ukraine at the State Department, often relayed messages between Pinchuk and Clinton while she was Secretary of State.  One such message was dated February, 2010.  In September 2011 Verveer relayed a message from Pinchuk directly to Clinton claiming that Yanukovych wanted to strengthen economic ties with the rest of Europe.  Remember that one of the instigating factors in the Maidan revolution/coup was his backing out of such a deal and turning towards Russia instead.  

A final bit on Pinchuk is in order since he is on the advisory board of the Atlantic Council.  They have been quite active in Ukraine with their Ukraine In Europe Initiative.  In 2017, they announced a cooperative relationship with Ukrainian energy giant Burisma.  That company had hired Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in 2014 not long after the Nuland-Pyatt phone call.  

As concerns the Council, the New York Times ran an unflattering article stating that they are an influential think tank in formulating US foreign policy that often reflects the desired policy of their donors and members.  Some of the members of the Atlantic Council include Dimitri Alperovich, a Ukrainian who founded tech security firm CrowdStrike.  There is also James Clapper who was Obama’s Director of National Intelligence and who authored the intelligence estimate in early 2017.   Another member is Evelyn Farkas who was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia.  She was behind the plan to disseminate intelligence gathered on Trump using the excuse they feared that when Trump assumed office he would destroy the “evidence.”

Next: A brief history of Russian espionage