'Yats' Is No Longer the Guy
Exclusive: Several weeks before Ukraine's 2014 coup, U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State Nuland had already picked Arseniy Yatsenyuk to be the future leader,
but now "Yats" is no longer the guy, writes Robert Parry.
Robert Parry | April 11, 2016
In reporting on the resignation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk,
the major U.S. newspapers either ignored or distorted Assistant Secretary of
State Victoria Nuland's infamous intercepted phone call <http://qr.de/bbwZ>
before the 2014 coup in which she declared "Yats is the guy!"
Though Nuland's phone call introduced many Americans to the previously obscure
Yatsenyuk, its timing - a few weeks before the ouster of elected Ukrainian
President Viktor Yanukovych - was never helpful to Washington's desired
narrative of the Ukrainian people rising up on their own to oust a corrupt
Instead, the conversation between Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Geoffrey Pyatt sounded like two proconsuls picking which Ukrainian politicians
would lead the new government. Nuland also disparaged the less aggressive
approach of the European Union with the pithy put-down: "Fuck the E.U.!"
More importantly, the intercepted call, released onto YouTube in early
February 2014, represented powerful evidence that these senior U.S. officials
were plotting - or at least collaborating in - a coup d'etat against Ukraine's
democratically elected president. So, the U.S. government and the mainstream
U.S. media have since consigned this revealing discussion to the Great Memory
On Monday, in reporting on Yatsenyuk's Sunday speech in which he announced
that he is stepping down, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal
didn't mention the Nuland-Pyatt conversation at all.
The New York Times did mention the call but misled its readers regarding its
timing, making it appear as if the call followed rather than preceded the
coup. That way the call sounded like two American officials routinely
appraising Ukraine's future leaders, not plotting to oust one government and
The Times article <http://durl.me/bxs9wn> by Andrew E. Kramer said: "Before
Mr. Yatsenyuk's appointment as prime minister in 2014, a leaked recording of a
telephone conversation between Victoria J. Nuland, a United States assistant
secretary of state, and the American ambassador in Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt,
seemed to underscore the West's support for his candidacy. 'Yats is the guy,'
Ms. Nuland had said."
Notice, however, that if you didn't know that the conversation occurred in
late January or early February 2014, you wouldn't know that it preceded the
Feb. 22, 2014 coup. You might have thought that it was just a supportive chat
before Yatsenyuk got his new job.
You also wouldn't know that much of the Nuland-Pyatt conversation focused on
how they were going to "glue this thing" or "midwife this thing," comments
sounding like prima facie evidence that the U.S. government was engaged in
"regime change" in Ukraine, on Russia's border.
The 'No Coup' Conclusion
But Kramer's lack of specificity about the timing and substance of the call
fits with a long pattern of New York Times' bias in its coverage of the
Ukraine crisis. On Jan. 4, 2015, nearly a year after the U.S.-backed coup, the
Times published an "investigation" article declaring that there never had been
a coup. It was just a case of President Yanukovych deciding to leave and not
That article reached its conclusion, in part, by ignoring the evidence of a
coup, including the Nuland-Pyatt phone call. The story was co-written by
Kramer and so it is interesting to know that he was at least aware of the
"Yats is the guy" reference although it was ignored in last year's long-form
Instead, Kramer and his co-author Andrew Higgins took pains to mock anyone who
actually looked at the evidence and dared reach the disfavored conclusion
about a coup. If you did, you were some rube deluded by Russian propaganda.
"Russia has attributed Mr. Yanukovych's ouster to what it portrays as a
violent, 'neo-fascist' coup supported and even choreographed by the West and
dressed up as a popular uprising," Higgins and Kramer wrote
<http://durl.me/bxsabg>. "Few outside the Russian propaganda bubble ever
seriously entertained the Kremlin's line. But almost a year after the fall of
Mr. Yanukovych's government, questions remain about how and why it collapsed
so quickly and completely."
The Times' article concluded that Yanukovych "was not so much overthrown as
cast adrift by his own allies, and that Western officials were just as
surprised by the meltdown as anyone else. The allies' desertion, fueled in
large part by fear, was accelerated by the seizing by protesters of a large
stock of weapons in the west of the country. But just as important, the review
of the final hours shows, was the panic in government ranks created by Mr.
Yanukovych's own efforts to make peace."
Yet, one might wonder what the Times thinks a coup looks like. Indeed, the
Ukrainian coup had many of the same earmarks as such classics as the
CIA-engineered regime changes in Iran in 1953 and in Guatemala in 1954.
The way those coups played out is now historically well known. Secret U.S.
government operatives planted nasty propaganda about the targeted leader,
stirred up political and economic chaos, conspired with rival political
leaders, spread rumors of worse violence to come and then - as political
institutions collapsed - watched as the scared but duly elected leader made a
In Iran, the coup reinstalled the autocratic Shah who then ruled with a heavy
hand for the next quarter century; in Guatemala, the coup led to more than
three decades of brutal military regimes and the killing of some 200,000
Coups don't have to involve army tanks occupying the public squares, although
that is an alternative model which follows many of the same initial steps
except that the military is brought in at the end. The military coup was a
common approach especially in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s.
But the preferred method in more recent years has been the "color revolution,"
which operates behind the façade of a "peaceful" popular uprising and
international pressure on the targeted leader to show restraint until it's too
late to stop the coup. Despite the restraint, the leader is still accused of
gross human rights violations, all the better to justify his removal.
Later, the ousted leader may get an image makeover; instead of a cruel bully,
he is ridiculed for not showing sufficient resolve and letting his base of
support melt away, as happened with Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran and Jacobo
Arbenz in Guatemala.
But the reality of what happened in Ukraine was never hard to figure out. Nor
did you have to be inside "the Russian propaganda bubble" to recognize it.
George Friedman, the founder of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, called
<http://chilp.it/23d3c52> Yanukovych's overthrow "the most blatant coup in
Which is what it appears if you consider the evidence. The first step in the
process was to create tensions around the issue of pulling Ukraine out of
Russia's economic orbit and capturing it in the European Union's gravity, a
plan defined by influential American neocons in 2013.
On Sept. 26, 2013, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman,
who has been a major neocon paymaster for decades, took to the op-ed page of
the neocon Washington Post and called Ukraine "the biggest prize" and an
important interim step toward toppling Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At the time, Gershman, whose NED is funded by the U.S. Congress to the tune of
about $100 million a year, was financing scores of projects inside Ukraine
training activists, paying for journalists and organizing business groups.
As for the even bigger prize - Putin - Gershman wrote: "Ukraine's choice to
join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism
that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find
himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia
At that time, in early fall 2013, Ukraine's President Yanukovych was exploring
the idea of reaching out to Europe with an association agreement. But he got
cold feet in November 2013 when economic experts in Kiev advised him that the
Ukrainian economy would suffer a $160 billion hit if it separated from Russia,
its eastern neighbor and major trading partner. There was also the West's
demand that Ukraine accept a harsh austerity plan from the International
Yanukovych wanted more time for the E.U. negotiations, but his decision
angered many western Ukrainians who saw their future more attached to Europe
than Russia. Tens of thousands of protesters began camping out at Maidan
Square in Kiev, with Yanukovych ordering the police to show restraint.
Meanwhile, with Yanukovych shifting back toward Russia, which was offering a
more generous $15 billion loan and discounted natural gas, he soon became the
target of American neocons and the U.S. media, which portrayed Ukraine's
political unrest as a black-and-white case of a brutal and corrupt Yanukovych
opposed by a saintly "pro-democracy" movement.
Cheering an Uprising
The Maidan uprising was urged on by American neocons, including Assistant
Secretary of State for European Affairs Nuland, who passed out cookies at the
Maidan and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had
invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations."
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, also showed up, standing on stage with right-wing
extremists from the Svoboda Party and telling the crowd that the United States
was with them in their challenge to the Ukrainian government.
As the winter progressed, the protests grew more violent. Neo-Nazi and other
extremist elements from Lviv and other western Ukrainian cities began arriving
in well-organized brigades or "sotins" of 100 trained street fighters. Police
were attacked with firebombs and other weapons as the violent protesters began
seizing government buildings and unfurling Nazi banners and even a Confederate
Though Yanukovych continued to order his police to show restraint, he was
still depicted in the major U.S. news media as a brutal thug who was callously
murdering his own people. The chaos reached a climax on Feb. 20 when
mysterious snipers opened fire, killing both police and protesters. As the
police retreated, the militants advanced brandishing firearms and other
weapons. The confrontation led to significant loss of life, pushing the death
toll to around 80 including more than a dozen police.
U.S. diplomats and the mainstream U.S. press immediately blamed Yanukovych for
the sniper attack, though the circumstances remain murky to this day and some
investigations have suggested that the lethal sniper fire came from buildings
controlled by Right Sektor extremists.
To tamp down the worsening violence, a shaken Yanukovych signed a
European-brokered deal on Feb. 21, in which he accepted reduced powers and an
early election so he could be voted out of office. He also agreed to requests
from Vice President Joe Biden to pull back the police.
The precipitous police withdrawal opened the path for the neo-Nazis and other
street fighters to seize presidential offices and force Yanukovych and his
officials to flee for their lives. The new coup regime was immediately
declared "legitimate" by the U.S. State Department with Yanukovych sought on
murder charges. Nuland's favorite, Yatsenyuk, became the new prime minister.
Throughout the crisis, the mainstream U.S. press hammered home the theme of
white-hatted protesters versus a black-hatted president. The police were
portrayed as brutal killers who fired on unarmed supporters of "democracy."
The good-guy/bad-guy narrative was all the American people heard from the
The New York Times went so far as to delete the slain policemen from the
narrative and simply report that the police had killed all those who died in
the Maidan. A typical Times report on March 5, 2014, summed up the storyline:
"More than 80 protesters were shot to death by the police as an uprising
spiraled out of control in mid-February."
The mainstream U.S. media also sought to discredit anyone who observed the
obvious fact that an unconstitutional coup had just occurred. A new theme
emerged that portrayed Yanukovych as simply deciding to abandon his government
because of the moral pressure from the noble and peaceful Maidan protests.
Any reference to a "coup" was dismissed as "Russian propaganda." There was a
parallel determination in the U.S. media to discredit or ignore evidence that
neo-Nazi militias had played an important role in ousting Yanukovych and in
the subsequent suppression of anti-coup resistance in eastern and southern
Ukraine. That opposition among ethnic-Russian Ukrainians simply became
This refusal to notice what was actually a remarkable story - the willful
unleashing of Nazi storm troopers on a European population for the first time
since World War II - reached absurd levels as The New York Times and The
Washington Post buried references to the neo-Nazis at the end of stories,
almost as afterthoughts.
The Washington Post went to the extreme of rationalizing Swastikas and other
Nazi symbols by quoting one militia commander as calling them "romantic"
gestures by impressionable young men. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's
'Romantic' Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers." <http://qr.de/bbw2>]
But today - more than two years after what U.S. and Ukrainian officials like
to call "the Revolution of Dignity" - the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government is
sinking into dysfunction, reliant on handouts from the IMF and Western
And, in a move perhaps now more symbolic than substantive, Prime Minister
Yatsenyuk is stepping down. Yats is no longer the guy.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for
The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book,
America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here <http://qr.de/bbw3> or as an
e-book (from Amazon <http://migre.me/tuydE> and barnesandnoble.com
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