The EU is a hurry to sign the long-awaited association treaty with Ukraine, while the new leaders in Kiev are turning to Washington for support. Whose interests were at stake during the Ukrainian revolution? Should the promises of the West be trusted by the new authorities? Sophie talks to former US intelligence officer Scott Rickard to find out the answers to these questions.
Sophie Shevardnadze: You’ve said the US government has been preparing the revolution in Ukraine for years; it’s invested $5 billion so far in the uprising. Where you got this information? Do you have a proof that that’s the case?
Scott Rickard: Well, it’s public information. You have the folks at the National Endowment for Democracy who have been doing this since the unfortunate overthrow of your grandfather [Eduard Shevardnadze, former president of Georgia – Ed.]. The Rose Revolution – there were, at least, thousand NGOs operating in Georgia at the time, in the early 2000s, that were very responsible for the opposition movements that happened in Georgia. This has been the ‘color revolutions’ that started pretty much alongside of George Soros and all of the other folks that have been involved along the way. It’s something that has become sort of status quo with American manipulation of foreign governments. It’s not something that comes as a surprise to me.
SS: You’ve mentioned Georgia and Orange Revolution in Kiev 10 years ago, approximately – and back then, there was a lot of talk about America and George Soros funding them and he didn’t deny actually doing it. What about now? Would you say that exactly the same thing is taking place, because many people argue that it’s not the case this time.
SR: Oh, it’s absolutely the same thing. USAID is implicated, Pierre Omidyar is implicated, you’ve got the National Endowment for Democracy which has over 50 NGOs operating there now. You also have the ties into Tymoshenko and notorious bosses of bosses, Semion Mogilevich who has been sidekick for the American government preceding the wars against Russia in Afghanistan. Semion Mogilevich was a huge supplier of weapons and a huge supporter of American aggression against Russia in Afghanistan in the ’80s.
SS: You’ve mentioned Pierre Omidyar as founder of eBay and also George Soros. When we talk about big capital and big capital players, we are talking about private businesses who are spending their money on revolution, as you put it. What’s in it for them?
SR: Well, most of the money is coming from USAID and NGOs, and NGOs are actually funded by the government. The US government actually funds the National Endowment for Democracy, and a lot of these folks are really closely tied to [Max] Shachtman that worked for Nixon back in the late ’60s and who created this organization, and [Carl] Gershman now, who heads the National Endowment for Democracy is yet another protégé of that whole Shachtmanite issues.
You don’t have to look very far into Ukraine – the most powerful, most well-known foreigner in the Ukraine today is Yaakov Bleich. Rabbi Bleich is the number one guy that they go to, to get information for the State Department about what’s going on with the government in Ukraine. He’s been there for 15 years and even John Kerry on his last visit had a private meeting with the rabbi and the rabbi is tied directly into these sort of National Endowment for Democracy organizations.
SS: But funding social groups or organizations – is it the same thing as funding the revolution?
SR: Well, of course if they are tossing Molotov cocktails and not having peaceful, and what I would say, intellectual dialog using communications and paper and creating, what I would say, town halls and discussions – that is funding the revolution, if you’re inciting violence and the money is basically going to organization that may incite violence against the standing government. That is inciting the revolution and I think it’s illegal by international laws, by far – the US has done it in half a dozen nations in the last 10 years.
SS: The revolutions that you’ve mentioned – the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the revolution that took place or is taking place right now in Ukraine – many would tell you that those are also, besides everything else, a result of acute social protest. I mean, surely you can’t deny genuine popular discontent – even the Russian president said “the grievances of people on Maidan are justified to an extent.”
SR: I absolutely agree. The popular discontent is one thing, but throwing thousands of Molotov cocktails is a completely different thing. Put yourself in the US – if we had a foreign government funding $5 billion to Canada or Mexico, or maybe a former state that seceded and those people in those protests were throwing Molotov cocktails at government facilities, I can guarantee you they would not show near as much constraint as the Ukrainian government and Russian governments have shown.
SS: The violence that broke out in Kiev – you’re saying that was also planned? Or did things just simply get out of control?
SR: Saying “things are planned” or “gotten out of control” – it’s a fine line. There are individuals who are very well-trained. These NGOs operate on every level. They operate on this peaceful side and they also operate on the violence side. It’s pretty clear that Americans have been wildly successful around militarizing jihad and violence and any kind of operations. Even Graham Fuller, who was very instrumental in overthrowing the governments in the some of the former Soviet States prior to the 2000 timeframe, really, the demise of the former Soviet states, these guys were very calculated about working with violent organizations to create uprisings.
You know, Israel was meddling also in Georgia, and the US almost went to war because of senators like John McCain. These are situations that continue, and nobody has been really held accountable, because the kind of rhetoric that’s played out in the news is pretty much propaganda and that’s putting it lightly.
SS: What Kiev has on its hands right now is a burgeoning black market of firearms in Kiev. Do you see that becoming a serious problem?
SR: Of course, anytime that you have an unpoliced society, and you begin the chaos, it’s much easier - because the patrols are less likely - it’s much easier for people to smuggle things in and out of places. Just look at the last three years in Syria how successful the foreign intelligence operatives and mercenaries that have been operating there, have basically destroyed Syria by the hands of foreigners. And this is what would be in store for Ukraine if the Russians don’t protect the sovereignty of that nation from the foreign interventionists.
SS: If you look at things generally, do you think all these other protests going on around the world – because there are many of them, there is civil unrest in Turkey, there is a whole lot going on in Thailand, in Bosnia-Herzegovina - is there a force behind them? Is it the same force or are there different players involved?
SR: Obviously, the times that we are going through now and kinds of austerity that the European Union has gone through, specifically Greece, they’ve had probably the worst of the worst, and then you have what’s happening in Ukraine with austerity measures. People start suffering from an economic explosion that really is in the opposite direction. We’re looking at times like leading to World War I and World War II, where there was a lot of economic despair, and these are the kind of things we are seeing today because immensely inflated economic environment that has been created by the World Bank and the IMF and all the regular suspects that have created false market and a false narrative of around the domestic products in one country versus the domestic products in the other. And that’s why you’ve got countries like Ukraine - the income in Ukraine, the disparity comparatively to the US is almost 10 to 1 - that’s the kind of things that people are dealing with in developed nations and I think that’s the kind of thing that they are uprising against their governments, because some of the governments are corrupt and the people are noticing it.
Now, is it induced – obviously it is induced when it’s in the best interest of the US and it’s very clear that the US has spent billions of dollars on this over the past, I’d say, at least two or three decades.
SS: Apart from establishing a NATO presence in Ukraine, do you see any other reasons for the US involvement in the country?
SR: It’s also economic and it’s militarily strategic. Can you imagine if the Americans took over the ports in Crimea and also, can you image the kind of revenue that they would be able to generate from the gas pipelines, just as they’ve done through Dagestan, Georgia, as well as in Chechnya – these are business individuals who understand the economics of doing business, just like they do with the oligarchs under Gorbachev.
Many people made money during the Glasnost period, and they stole a lot of the wealth from Russia during that period, when Gorbachev and your grandfather were working closely with the West. That was a time at which, obviously, some oligarchs came to power, and some were more honest than others, and you have that same sort of effect that will happen in Ukraine, because Ukraine has a lot of great resources and as well it has the transit lines for a lot of fuel going to Europe. That’s the main income, that’s helped Russia bounce back -three times Russia had to bounce back recently from the kinds of impact that the West has ganged up on Russia, and it’s five times if you include World War I and II and actually, the Bolshevik movement as well. So the Russians had played comeback many times when they were ganged up by sort of a NATO alliance, because that alliance has been there for quite some time.
SS: With everything that’s going on right now, Ukrainians are saying, the interim government says “can you blame us for wanting to be part of NATO?” What about you? Do you understand why they want to be part of NATO?
SR: Yeah, of course – if you look at the way that Ukraine is broken up today, there is really only about 15 or 20 percent Russians in major Ukraine, and probably 60 percent, maybe 70 percent in Crimea. So it’s predominantly Ukrainian – you have a lot of folks there, who were very anti-Russian because of the terrible things that Stalin did and then obviously you have the folks that were taken out of the area during World War II, because they sided with Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. So there is a lot of different factions and, on the west side, it’s mostly agriculture, and on the east side it’s mostly industrial, so most of the actual financial gains will come from the east and most of the agricultural gains will come from the west.
At the same time it’s much predominantly Ukrainian society and there is a form of nationality that I can understand, you know, why they might want to have it. But I think what you’ve run into is that they’ve fallen into the trap, the EU can’t handle another boat anchor - you know, they don’t need another failed economy, they are failing already. It certainly is, strategically, from the military perspective, and from NATO’s perspective, they’ve been peeling off former Soviet state after former Soviet state, after they promised not to do so, so it’s think it’s not in good faith what the West is doing.
SS: If EU can’t give the money, as you’re saying, what can NATO give them?
SR: It’s what NATO gives every country – they give them massive amounts of financing, they got a lot of financing infrastructure behind it, and they’ll create a lot of jobs around just the administration of that kind of activity. Look at the announcement in January, making Lithuania one of the leadership roles in the strategic alliance in NATO – they’re moving closer and closer to the cusp of… and there’s a lot of money that comes with that. There’s a lot of maintenance of the military infrastructure, airbases, facilities, builders - it comes with the good price tag.
SS: So you’re saying NATO will give Ukraine money?
SR: Absolutely, NATO doesn’t just expect you to invest all your money…NATO is very complimentary when it comes to helping their allied partners in their infrastructure needs, and that includes everything, it includes fuel lines, it is a strategic military initiative.
SS: If what you’re saying is the case, then it would really 100 percent positive development for Ukraine to be part of NATO; I’m not saying for Russia, I’m saying for Ukraine.
SR: Well, I wouldn’t say that either. Let’s say that NATO does want to come in - they [Ukraine] also will have to pay debts to their debt masters - so they [NATO] will bring the banking system with them, and it’s very evident that very few of the new, as well as the existing EU economies…because NATO won’t come in as a state, run only…you know, European Union will have to come alongside it. So will have some financial gain, but it won’t be the kind of the financial gain that will satisfy all Ukrainians. It will satisfy a portion of the Ukrainians that are siding with the NATO alliance.
SS: The new interim Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has been seeing Obama in the White House lately. Do you think he can count on the unconditional help from the US?
SR: Sadly, I think the Americans are going to foot this bill. There is no way that the EU is going to be able to come up with that kind of funding. Russians have already offered $30 billion and that was probably the best deal that they were going to get. Even John Hulsman said in last week’s interview that you did, that they weren’t playing honestly or they just weren’t being serious enough, but the fact is that they just can’t afford it in the EU.
So the Americans will end up footing the bill with the economy that’s totally busted anyway. The only reason it’s still alive is because they were granted global currency rights by the British Empire, after the Bretton-Woods conference, but it is total farce at this point, because it’s all basically paper money that doesn’t really exist in this world. They are just adding another piece of debt to the American fallacy of an economy.
I’ll be honest with you, I would think Ukraine should be able to see through this and work through this, and actually use their industry and create their own economy and stay away from it. I think the Western economy is poison.
SS: You keep saying that the EU can’t afford Ukraine, but the EU is now saying that they will sign an association agreement with Ukraine at the end of May. Is EU membership a prospect, do you think?
SR: Oh, for sure, if they can do that. That’s a coup de grace for them, they are obviously looking for that… it’s the sort of a NATO expansion mode, I mean it’s the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, and last time I looked I didn’t think that Ukraine was very close to the North Atlantic. That’s the problem that I have with this. You talk about hegemony - the growth and the imperialistic nature of the West – there is no need to keep adopting nations to this alliance. I don’t think there is any threat from Russia, and certainly no threat from the Ukraine to the NATO alliance.
SS: What about these sanctions that the U.S. and the EU are promising? How serious can they be against Russia, because, I mean, sanctions are nothing new to Russia, but they rarely represent any serious threat to its economy. What exactly is the US trying to do with their sanctions?
SR: Well, sadly, the Americans have been sanctioning Iran and other countries illegally - I think it’s an act of war – and obviously it wouldn’t cripple the Russian economy, but it would certainly inhibit their success. They would slow down the amount of success that they are having. The kinds of sanctions that they’ll go after will probably be looking for alternative fuel supplies for Europe and going after any kind of freezing of international accounts. They’ve already stolen quite a bit of assets from the Russian investors and Russian bankers who were banking in Cyprus. That was a theft of assets in the Cyprus banking infrastructure by the European Union, and many Russians who banked offshore in Cyprus took a big hit.
SS: Exactly how far though can the US go? How far can it afford to go in confrontation with Russia over Ukraine?
SR: It won’t be as easy for them to do it to Russia as they did to Iran, and I don’t think they’ll be able to go anywhere near to the damage that they’ve done to Iran. At the same time they are looking at a scenario whereby that kind of pressure that they do put on Russia…you know, it will cripple some of the outlying industry that is associated with that, throughout Turkey and throughout Europe. So they’ll be shooting themselves in the foot and also having to look to other markets. Now, that being said, the Americans are looking at developing other resources, but that will take time.
SS: But what about Europe, we didn’t follow up on that part of the question. Europe – it is under pressure from the US, but it says it isn’t ready for serious sanctions against Russia, despite all. Will it ever be?
SR: Merkel is ruffling feathers with her commentary and obviously Germany and Russia have very good ties on a lot of different projects other than the petrochemical industry. I would say that a lot of Germans would rise up against Merkel for that, because I think a lot of Germans see through the fallacy of the EU and of the NATO alliances and then they are probably more wiser and obviously one of the most successful EU nation states, because the Germans are very industrious and extremely successful at their endeavors. I don’t that it would last very long, certainly in Germany and in other successful EU states.
SS: Germany is the strongest economy in Europe, it’s probably the only economy that’s actually on the rise. Everything else is sort of hanging on Germany…
SR: Well, England claims to be on the rise.
SS: …It is kind of on the rise, but it is really just floating. Europe is promising $35 billion to Ukraine. I mean, we keep saying “Europe is broke, Germany is the only country that takes care of all the other European countries,” how can they afford to give $35 billion to Ukraine which isn’t even a member of the Union?
SR: I really don’t think they can. I can’t wait to see [British MEP] Nigel Farage’s commentary on this. He is one of my favorite guys who speaks at the European Union. I think he’ll just tear them apart, because he knows the truth is that they don’t have the money. I guarantee, the German people will not be happy about footing the bill for the Ukraine.
SS: If they don’t have the money, then what’s the point of promising it?
SR: I think the Americans are basically going to float a blank check to play their cards, and hopefully the Ukrainian people will wise up and realize that they are basically taking ‘funny money’.