What is your understanding of the Ukrainian crisis? That the Ukrainian people rebelled against an arrogant and authoritarian president, Viktor Yanukovich, who tried to quell the protests, killing dozens in the process and getting himself ousted in the end. Russia got all hot and bothered and invaded the Crimea out of spite. The impression you will have got from all of this is that the people want Ukraine to join the EU, while Yanukovich and Moscow above all are opposed to this. The end.
But the reality is quite different and rather more interesting. To understand what is really going on, we need to look further back, to about twenty years ago, when one of the sharpest minds of the US Administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who remains a very influential figure to this day, pointed to Ukraine as a key nation in terms of geostrategic balances. It was a country that needed to be removed from Russia’s grasp and brought into the sphere of NATO and America. This is when a ferocious chess game began between Washington and Moscow. Or rather a long war, fought with non-conventional weapons.
Using “peaceful revolutions” for example. The method was inspired by the theories developed by the American Gene Sharp and was applied for the first time in Serbia, in 2000, during the fall of Slobodan Milošević. It works like this: mass protests which may appear spontaneous at first glance are in fact carefully planned and executed through non-governmental organisations, humanitarian associations and political parties. Protests escalate and events amplified by the international media with inside help from the institutions, notably the army, consequently causing the fall of the “tyrant”. The State Department was impressed by the Serbian experiment and decided to apply it elsewhere: in the Georgian Rose Revolution in 2003 and the year after that in Ukraine, when the liberal candidate, Viktor Juschenko defeated Yanukovich himself during the Orange Revolution.
A masterpiece, but a masterpiece which woke Putin up. The aforementioned methods did not slip his attention and overcome by the fear that these could spread to the streets of Moscow, he declared a “new cold war” against the United States. Relations between the two went from cordial to icy. Russia began planning how to get Ukraine back using non-conventional methods themselves, namely gas, economic sabotage, social unrest, spin techniques that aimed to de-motivate and weaken the Orange coalition parties. The result was that in 2010 Yanukovich was elected president and Ukraine moved away from the American sphere of influence and back over to the Russian one.
This brings us to today, with the addition of another surprising variant. The protest has gone from peaceful to violent. And who is responsible for this? Certainly not the foreign soldiers fighting on the front line but the extremists. And these extremists are quite something! As is known, the attacks on Kiev’s ministries were not carried out by Ukrainian pensioners but by well-prepared and heavily armed Neo-Nazi paramilitaries. Pacifists were just an extra reinforcement, offering media support above all. Those who actually kicked Yanukovich out were anti-Semitist guerrilla fighters, fanatics and extremists. Real low lives who got the timing just right: the uprising reached its climax just as the Winter Olympics were underway in Sochi, at the very moment when Russia could not afford to ruin the image come back it was making with the Olympics. Kiev was burning but the Kremlin was forced to keep quiet.
A sophisticated and masterful and officially authorless operation which did nevertheless spark a reaction from the Kremlin once the curtain of the Olympics came down. A reaction that was less refined but no less ruthless. Obama never imagined that Putin could occupy Crimea, just as the Kremlin didn’t expect Kiev’s America-friendly guerrillas to come out to play. They surprised each other. And it’s not the end yet. The dirty and asymmetrical war that is currently underway will drag on for a long time, as international public opinion watches on dumbfounded yet again.