While working behind the scenes to shape the post-Maidan Ukrainian government to their liking, powerbrokers in Washington — Biden included — have done all they could to downplay the U.S. role.
by Alexander Rubinstein
Part 2 - Biden’s role in fueling the revival
It is widely known by international observers of Ukraine that Joe Biden, as vice president, served as Obama’s chief operative when it came to matters pertaining to the country.
In late 2013, Biden seemed to have been a key player in former President Victor Yanukovych’s bid to secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Later, Biden would go on to boast that, “after three months into the demonstrations,” he personally told Yanukovych to “walk away” from Ukraine. Yanukovych has lived in exile in Russia since the takeover.
As the U.S. and violent protests were turning up the heat on the government, the U.S. was doing all it could to mold the government to its liking, and Biden played a pivotal role in this process.
In February 2014, leaked recordings emerged of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, plotting to unite the Ukrainian opposition to take over the government. They sought to use Biden as an intermediary with the three main leaders of the opposition, hoping he could get the details of the U.S. plan for the country to “stick” with the trio.
“So Biden is willing,” Nuland assured Pyatt.
Washington had its favorite of the three picked already. The most popular of them had little political or economic experience (he was a professional boxer), while the other guy, Oleh Tyahnybok, had longstanding ties to neo-Nazis, which would have legitimized Russian claims that the uprising was of a fascist nature. Tyahnybok is the leader of the Svoboda Party, a fascist organization that refers to the Holocaust as the “light period” and bans Jews from participation.
One Svoboda leader had posted a Facebook message to Jews in 2017 who were upset with a statue of Symon Petliura, who murdered tens of thousands of Jews: “If you want to live with us, get used to our rules, and if not, go to your land or be punished.”
In the leaked audio, Pyatt said the “problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys.”
Nuland responded by saying she thought their favored opposition leader, Arseniy Yatseniuk, needed “Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know.”
This is the plan that Nuland said Biden was “willing” to help further.
By April, Biden was delivering aid packages personally to the opposition. In Ukraine, he met with “leading members of parliament, including several candidates for the presidency — speaking to them of Ukraine’s “heroism” and humiliations. “We want to be your partner, your friend in the project. And we’re ready to assist,” Biden reportedly said.
Among those he met with: Oleh Tyahnybok.