How It All Started

I want to share this video of the famous footage of the Ukrainian revolution of 2013. I want the people who are still attached to the narrative of “the CIA-sponsored regime change in Ukraine” to watch.

This is only a tiny part of the footage that doesn’t transmit even one 1% of how it really was. A true people’s revolution that brought democracy, change, real reform, and real freedom.

A few months later, Russia invaded. Once the reforms that began back then started to become obvious and massive, Russia invaded again. Anybody who knows anything about the region finds the narrative about CIA coups and NATO expansions to be ludicrous. The revolution was real and wonderful.

Turn up the sound because the music is good, too.

57 thoughts on “How It All Started

  1. You haven’t mentioned it, but it is important to note that the song “Soldiers of Light” commemorating heroes of Ukrainian revolution in the video is … in Russian.

    Putin’s propaganda presented democratic Ukraine as “anti-Russia” similar to the way Palestinian identity is based on being anti-Israeli. Only Palestinians wouldn’t use Hebrew on such occasions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A group of journalists went to interview the soldiers of the Azov Batallion that the propaganda has turned into Ukrainian ultranationalists. The journalists were shocked to hear that most of the soldiers speak Russian.

      “How come you speak Russian to your fellow fighters?” they asked one soldier.

      “Eh, that’s nothing,” he said. “Prepare yourselves because you won’t be able to get over this easily. I’m a Jew. And so is my buddy over there.”


      1. There’s another thing I’ve been meaning to say about the imaginary language problem in Ukraine. Arestovich, who is the spokesperson for the Ukrainian government and probably the second in popular attachment after Zelensky, speaks such poor Ukrainian that even my husband understands him. On February 22, 2022 he was referring to himself as Russian as a short-hand for “Russian-speaking Ukrainian.” And nobody cared. Arestovich is so beloved that there is a new word in the Ukrainian language based on his last name. Arestovliaty now means to soothe. There is no language conflict in Ukraine.


  2. “Anybody who knows anything about the region finds the narrative about CIA coups and NATO expansions to be ludicrous. The revolution was real and wonderful.”

    Why the insistence on a single explanatory variable for such a complex set of social, political and economic events?

    Why does it have to be either/or? I can understand debating the relative weighting of causal variables but not dismissing counter-narratives out-of-hand.

    Based to no small extent on the analysis of Yuliya Yurchenko, I found this a really interesting read.


    1. “This prompted widespread protests, which were egged on by senior EU and American politicians, despite the growing involvement of far-Right nationalists. Eventually, amid escalating unrest and violence, Yanukovych fled to Russia. But while his opponents in western Ukraine celebrated, his eastern supporters perceived a “fascist” coup against their democratically-elected president.”

      This is sad, tired Russian propaganda.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also, please note who originally invented the habit of calling the people you don’t like “fascists.” Justin Trudeau today is what Putin was in 2002.


      2. “This is sad, tired Russian propaganda.”

        How is this not just name-calling?

        Surely you’re not suggesting that someone like Yuliya Yurchenko is Putin’s stooge? In her Ukraine and the empire of capital from marketisation to armed conflict she concludes that endogenous social cleavages rather than exogenous factors (ie Putin’s Russia) were most significant in the emergence of the myths of “Two Ukraines.”


        1. She might be a sincere fool, who knows. I know academics who sincerely believe that men can give birth. Sincerity isn’t a sign of intelligence or insight.


        2. Yuliya Yurchenko is an economist who lives in the UK. I suggest that she is influenced by the sweet Russian oligarch cash plundered from the Russian people and pumped into the UK economy.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. The article starts by saying that the Ukrainian elites “were too busy plundering the remnants of the Soviet economy, with officials and their criminal-business networks transforming themselves into powerful, predatory oligarchs while the rest of their society fell into penury”.

      And then it proceeds as though this is not what happened in Russia and is not how it is run today. It takes all of Putin’s arguments at face value, completely ignoring the fact that Putin’s main motivation is to stay in power and steal money for himself.

      For example, when the article mentions Yanukovych, Putin’s puppet, it says “Yanukovych’s subsequent persecution of his opponents drew the ire of Washington and Brussels, but this only reinforced his preference for stronger ties with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), reflecting the economic needs of his eastern base.”

      Yanukovych’s preference was dictated by his own economic needs of stealing as much as possible from the state while executing the policy of his Russian master. He built himself a palace with a private zoo, and one of the big stories from the 2014 revolution was that the estate wasn’t sacked, as it had happened in other countries with other dictators, but rather toured by Ukrainian families like a museum.

      The article treats everything the Russian side says as the truth.

      “Russia has made perfectly clear that it will not tolerate the expansion of the Western sphere of influence up to its borders. It wants at least a neutral buffer zone between itself and Nato, and ideally a friendly sphere of influence among its post-Soviet neighbours.”

      Russia’s kleptocratic government doesn’t want a revolution, like those in Ukraine. It needs to keep its post-Soviet neighbors poor because them rooting out corruption and raising their living standards might inspire the Russian people to revolt.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. This is a word-for-word repetition of what the Russians have been saying for years. And not a single effort is made to include the Ukrainian side of the story.


        1. I understand that people who haven’t watched the Russian TV and read the Russian press for 20 years don’t recognize this as very standard Russian propaganda. But I can’t unsee what I have seen and pretend that I haven’t heard all this verbatim but in Russian hundreds of times.


        1. “Kettle calling pot black…”

          Not exactly. Everybody (including all the Ukrainians I’ve heard talk about the issue) recognizes that corruption has (and will continue) to be a blight in Ukraine. That’s not a problem that gets solved in a few months or even years.

          But… Ukraine has been slowly (and imperfectly) trying to emerge from that especially through reforms which make certain types of corruption less viable. Meanwhile Russia…. has not, if anything it is getting more corrupt while in complete denial of the fact.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. “Not exactly.”

            Maybe not exactly, but close enough.

            The point of the article I posted was that Ukraine’s corrupt elites along with the deeply polarized political divisions in the country have importantly contributed to setting the domestic stage for the international crisis caused by the Russian invasion – completely and totally criminally wrong as it was.

            It’s far more complex than the ethno-nationalist view that Putin is an evil lunatic Stalin/Hitler, Russians are killer monsters, etc. etc. Darkly, this is the line taken by the permanent war party in the west who gifted us the reunification of Germany, the bloody dissolution of Yugoslavia, Nato expansionism, Iraq, Trump’s pee-pee dossier, and so so much more.

            In the end, peace must be made with your enemies (especially if you are the weaker party, a lesson the Palestinian gangster bosses have never learned.)

            Let us all earnestly pray (or hope) that the encouraging signs coming out of Turkey today represent the first steps toward peace and the return of refugees to their homes. Lord have mercy!


            1. I’m not seeing any encouraging signs at all but let’s definitely pray. As we speak, Russians are bombing the Khmelnitsky region, which is in the Western part of Ukraine. There’s zero de-escalation anywhere. To the contrary, Russians have stepped up the attacks as the talks started.


              1. “zero de-escalation anywhere”

                Nothing the Russian government says can or should be believed. when I hear less aggressive talk I assume they’re about to ramp up attacks.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. As always. I scroll through the Western media reports as fast as I can and only look at what people on the ground are reporting.


            2. “more complex than the ethno-nationalist view that Putin is an evil lunatic Stalin/Hitler, Russians are killer monsters”

              You do realize Russian state tv now regularly broadcasts that Ukraine shouldn’t exist as a country and the Russia should invade Lithuania and Poland. Apparently there’s been a recent turn towards saying that Ukrainians are inherently evil (exterminationist talk, basically).

              How do you negotiate with that? Especially since the Russian government has a long history of unilaterally breaking agreements?


              1. “How do you negotiate with that?”

                In the anarchic world of international politics, Great Powers can be both law-makers and law-breakers as relative power will in almost every case determine the outcome of disputes between them and minor powers in their region.

                Minor powers have, by definition, few resources to bring to the bargaining table save enlisting the militaries of other Great Powers to fight on their behalf.

                Stoking Great Power rivalries by minor powers that seek to pursue their particular regional interests against a neighbouring Great Power is a catastrophic formula that in the age of nuclear weapons threatens the life of the whole world.

                “Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted-and few have been able to resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another. There is a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God is always on one’s side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be willed by God also.

                The lighthearted equation between a particular nationalism and the counsels of Providence is morally indefensible, for it is that very sin of pride against which the Greek tragedians and the Biblical prophets have warned rulers and ruled. That equation is also politically pernicious, for it is liable to engender the distortion in judgment which, in the blindness of crusading frenzy, destroys nations and civilizations-in the name of moral principle, ideal, or God himself.” (Hans Morganthau)

                It’s up to Finland, Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic states etc. to work out peaceful relations with their neighbours, including Russia, and it is folly for the west to be drawn into providing “security guarantees” to them. But the west’s permanent war party loves to play at this game because of the political, financial and economic benefits it directly provides them.

                The situation of Mexico and Canada is analogous. As minor powers, their sovereignty has never been absolute, it’s up to them to be mindful of, and accommodate to, the interests of the Great Power they border. If Canada or Mexico formed a hostile military alliance with China or Russia to “protect themselves against the U.S.A.,” world peace would be threatened as the Americans would never go all laissez-faire and say – “OK, do what you want, you’re a sovereign country.” lol lol And, while we’re at it let’s not stop at Canada and Mexico – Cuban missile crisis? Monroe Doctrine? estimated 40 successful interventions in the 20th century to change latin american governments Americans didn’t like?


              1. Ukraine recently passed legislature to prevent the oligarchs from financing elections. Putin’s godson Medvedchuk was very upset. Russia started a campaign that “oligarchs’ rights are human rights.” This was all just a few months ago. In basic terms, it means that Putin would no longer be able to finance an opposition party in the Ukrainian parliament through Medvedchuk. So it wouldn’t be possible to slow down the economic reforms anymore.

                Liked by 1 person

        2. Why are you bringing up Ukraine? I never said it’s not corrupt. I didn’t say I disagreed with what the article stated in the beginning. I was talking specifically about Russia, and the fact that the article treated it as a non-corrupt country.

          When I say “treat as a non-corrupt country”, I’m referring specifically to disregarding the ruling classes self-interest and treating what they say as the truth.


  3. I’ve been watching this video in a loop four times in a row, with tears in my eyes.
    While I do not want to banalise anything as complex as the Ukrainian revolution, this looks as if it’s just people who want to live in their own country and be left the d**n alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “up to Finland, Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic states etc. to work out peaceful relations with their neighbours, including Russia”

    How is that possible when russia does not want peace but instead wants perpetual military expansion? the only ‘peace’ available by your criteria is absorption into Russia (which has been very clear that that’s what it wants.
    You continue to talk about Russia (at present) as a more or less conventional “great power”. It’s not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russia’s official position is that Ukraine should not exist. How can you have a relationship with somebody who is dedicated to ending your existence?

      It’s an axiom in psychology that you can’t fix a relationship on your own. Both sides have to want to fix it and participate in the process of fixing.


      1. “Both sides have to want to fix it and participate in the process of fixing.”

        Indeed. But “both sides” here are 1) Putin’s Russia and 2) the west’s permanent war party. Neither side is currently demonstrating any interest in being “fixed.”

        Ordinary Ukrainians, and ordinary citizens of the whole world, are innocents, caught in the middle of this dance of death.

        Ukraine’s political elites are decidedly not among the innocents here (as is argued in the link I posted above.)


        1. What can the West’s permanent war party do to change the Russians’ belief that Ukraine should not exist? What steps could they take, in your opinion? I’m all for the end of Western or any other warmongering. But in this particular situation, how does it help Ukraine?


          1. “But in this particular situation, how does it help Ukraine?”

            Clarissa, I feel your pain, you come by it most honestly, but please understand… I don’t share it.

            The fate of the state of Ukraine is not the issue for me — rather, the plight of millions Ukrainians who have been victimized by an unjust and brutal invasion and the fate of billions of innocents elsewhere who face extermination because of the terrible forces that have been unleashed by this war are my issue.


        2. The two sides are not Putin and the West. They are Putin and Ukraine. Ukrainians are getting help from the West with weapons, but it’s their bodies that they are putting in the line of fire to defend their country. Your concern for the millions of Ukrainians doesn’t seem to extend far enough to give them agency or consider their wishes.


          1. Ukraine was independent briefly in 1918 and then since 1991. Before and in between these dates, Ukrainians experienced every sort of genocide, horror, enslavement, death, etc. So it isn’t Ukrainian statehood that’s causing this.

            This whole conversation is reminding me of how back at Yale I tried to tell my very leftwing classmates about Holodomor. They were very interested until I mentioned that the US didn’t cause it in any way. Then they immediately lost interest.


            1. Yes, this is when modern Ukraine was independent. But whenever I think of Ukraine’s independence, I always recall the Zaporozhian Sich (see and – a Cossack state that existed on the portion of the territory of modern Ukraine for at least a century, formally losing its independence from Russia in 1764, with its army destroyed in 1775.

              I just wanted to highlight this for other readers. The end of the Ukrainian national anthem references Cossacks. One of the translations is

              “Soul and body shall we lay down
              For our freedom
              And show that we are brethren
              Of the Cossack nation”

              Other translations have it as “Cossack kin” or “Cossack line”.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Exactly. And the story of the Sich and its tradition of democracy is fascinating. I researched it in college (back in Ukraine), and it was mega cool.


            2. According to Galeev, Stalin used the money from selling the grain to hire Americans to build his factories.


    2. “You continue to talk about Russia (at present) as a more or less conventional “great power”. It’s not.”

      Of course, it is, because… 6000 nuclear warheads.

      The rules of international politics are brutal. The international system is essentially Hobbes’ state of nature.

      As above, weak powers that border Great Powers can destabilize the whole international system by drawing other Great Powers into their disputes. And, the west’s permanent war party lives to stoke the fires of international conflict everywhere – they’re just plain evil.

      I’m not willing to have my family nuked (and the whole world destroyed) to further the interests of nationalists in Russia’s border states who have been enabled by the west’s permanent war party. It’s a marriage made in Hell.


      1. // conventional “great power”. It’s not.”
        Of course, it is, because… 6000 nuclear warheads.

        North Korea has nukes too, and?

        Yesterday I read a Russian blogger, who is a patriot of his country btw, describing Russia as a second class gas station, while Saudi Arabia f.e. is a first class one.


  5. How do you ‘work out peaceful realations” with your neighbors if this is your neighbor?


    1. Completely explicit. Putin said it openly. Every TV channel and news outlet is saying it openly and daily. Influencers scream it in their videos (I posted one yesterday). Regular people say it in daily conversations. All of us has a Russian relative, friend, colleague, etc. Most of us have heard “I hope you die” from them. Yes, completely unprovoked. At best, they simply end all contact, like you’ve done something to them.

      I don’t know why this is hard to believe. After only two years, people were banning the “unvaccinated” from their homes. There were demands to take away their children. And that’s only after 2 years. What would happen after 22?

      It’s not about “if Ukraine does that, they will be satisfied.” It’s now at the level of not only “Ukraine should not exist,” it’s on the level of “Ukrainians should not exist.”


  6. So easy to maintain peaceful relations with people salivating at the idea of nuking you….


      1. All this talk of nuclear war has no doubt convinced Boris Johnson and the Brexit crowd that their special relationship with the US is worth more than any trade deals with The Continent.

        I am more interested in how the the French will deal with this. They have significant nuclear capability and would be much more affected by the use of nukes in Europe.


  7. Учительнице средней школы № 10 в городе Ревде Наталье Александровой пришлось уволиться. По ее словам, директор школы потребовала от педагога заниматься мониторингом соцсетей учеников, но женщина отказалась.

    В подтверждение Наталья предоставила E1.RU цифровую копию положения о мониторинге аккаунтов школьников. В документе требуется вести отчетность о том, подписаны ли подростки на противоправный или суицидальный контент, отрицают ли семейные ценности.

    — Меня уволили 3 марта с «черной меткой» в этом городе. Я устроилась в другом городе на работу. Родители моего класса написали директору 10-й школы Ревды письмо с требованием не мониторить соцсети, не нарушать права их детей, — рассказала Александрова. — В ответ меня за отказ от мониторинга уволили якобы из-за окончания срока договора. Вдогонку руководство разослало в полицию, прокуратуру документы, что я являюсь экстремисткой, раз отказываюсь от мониторинга.

    Учитель, если верить документу, должен выявить, сколько человек из класса имеют аккаунты в соцсетях «Вконтакте», «Одноклассники», Facebook (запрещена на территории РФ), «Фотострана», MySpace, Instagram (запрещена на территории РФ), «Мой Мир», «ДругВокруг» и аккаунт на Педагог должен установить «условных лидеров» (у кого больше всего подписчиков), признаки «девиантного поведения» у школьников, а также запрещенную информацию.

    «Запрещенкой» документ маркирует подталкивание к самоубийству, употреблению наркотиков, алкоголя, курению, занятию проституцией, бродяжничеству. В качестве опасных маркеров оцениваются «отрицание семейных ценностей», мат, порнография и «различные интернет-магазины». Учитель должен просматривать комментарии и друзей своих учеников, чтобы выявлять «неблагополучных» детей или взрослых в его окружении.

    Результаты мониторинга классные руководители должны сдавать социальным педагогам, а если на странице подростка выявлена «информация сомнительного содержания» — уведомить заведующего по учебно-воспитательной работе.

    По словам Натальи Александровой, мониторинг проводился с помощью системы «Герда». На сайте разработчика говорится, что «Герда» — это «старшая сестра в интернете». Она автоматически проверяет аккаунт ребенка на «вовлечение в суицидальные игры «Синий кит», «Розовый пони» и другие; вовлечение в опасные группы: зацепинг, руфинг и т.д.; интерес к криминальной культуре А.У.Е. (деятельность запрещена на территории РФ в 2020 году. — Прим. ред.); просмотр депрессивного контента».


    1. This is the first mention of Putin in the Russian media. The year is 1992 and the title says “A KGB Colonel ruined St Petersburg financially.”

      As Putin’s friends from that era recall, Putin’s favorite phrase from that era was “You are all wasting your time when all one should do is make money.” Putin didn’t make Russia. Russia made him. He was always just a ghetto guy who wanted to strike rich. But the way to do that in Russia and stay in power is through promoting war.


  8. ““both sides” here are 1) Putin’s Russia and 2) the west’s permanent war party.”

    You have a weird US-centric position on this conflict. Which is not fundamentally about anything the US (or ‘the west’) has or could have done.

    Russia invaded for lots of reasons. NATO might be somewhere in the mix but not in the top three (or even top five) reasons.

    Main reasons (as I understand them) in no particular order.

    To shore up his position in the hierarchy – he’d been losing power, reduced to a referee of disputes within the regime rather than setting the agenda. Starting a war was a way to make people remember who’s in charge….

    To shore up his support with the rank and file Russian population (not crucial but he prefers to have it rather than to not have it).

    To plunder Ukrainian resources (a major oil field was discovered in Eastern Ukraine in 2013) which is another reason why Russia invaded less than a year later…

    To end the socio-political threat of a successful Ukraine (Russians might not like that places like Poland and the Baltics have a higher standard of living but they’re considered more alien… their “little brothers” passing them by might give some Russians ideas that the government doesn’t want them to have).

    His place in history – he’s obsessed with the idea of being recorded as the leader that “rebuilt” some version of a Russian empire.

    I’m sure Clarissa can list a reason or two that I’ve looked over

    These are all reasons cited by experts and/or cultural insiders, none of whom pay much attention to NATO as a motivating factor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all this and something else. For a regular Russian person to accept that Ukraine exists as a country and a culture is extremely hard. Even for the kindest, most intelligent Russian people, it requires a gigantic effort. I’ve been at it for 15 years with my husband who always detested Putin. Only yesterday, we’ve had yet another conversation where I had to explain how we have always felt like a different culture. And he’s trying to understand but it never fully lands. And this is somebody with a sky-high IQ and zero interest in Russian imperial pretensions.

      The existence of Ukraine and Ukrainians who define themselves as “not Russians” is an existential conflict for Russians. It undermines their entire sense of self. I know this is hard to believe if you haven’t experienced it but it’s how things stand.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “You have a weird US-centric position on this conflict.”

      My position may be “weird” in your eyes but it is decidedly not “US-centric.” I’m not an American so I don’t carry that particular baggage. (In fact, in case you are not aware, it’s the birthright of every Canadian to know for certain that we are morally superior to the violent, unstable and avaricious republicans to our south. )

      The west’s permanent war party is centred in the U.S., it is very true, but it is not confined to the U.S. as is evidenced in continuing and expanding NATO, the Yugoslav civil wars, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on.

      I’m merely reflecting here some lessons from international relations theory. Although there are contending schools within, it finds its raison d’etre in studying past wars in order to prevent future conflicts. In that’s sense it’s a overtly prescriptive branch of social science, a stance that I am not inclined by my disposition to favour in academic study, but in the case of preventing wars I can make an exception.

      Finally, it seems to me, correct me please if am wrong, you are a supporter of nationalist causes and nationalist politicians. Generally, IR theory frowns on the politicization of nationalism as a highly destabilizing current in international politics. I think you can imagine the reasons why it might do so.


      1. “I’m merely reflecting here some lessons from international relations theory”

        Well social science theories rarely survive contact with reality.

        Question: Do you think Putin cares about JK Rowling? Or did he just mention her because some speechwriter knew that some westerners would latch onto to it and continue to think of him as the antithesis of wokeness.

        That’s the same reason he occasionally mentions NATO, not for internal consumption but to push some westerners’ buttons.

        “you are a supporter of nationalist causes ”

        Define “nationalist”…. I’m generally in favor of rule of law and self-determination. I don’t care at all whether Quebec stays in Canada or goes it alone (as long as the proper legal procedures are followed).
        I’m against Catalan independence for rule of law reasons.
        I don’t care about Belgian national unity and whether they stay together or break apart is no concern of mine.
        I’m neutral to a bit negative on Scottish independence (which doesn’t seem to be moving forward).
        I’m in favor of Hong Kong and Taiwanese independence because the Chinese Communist Party is morally abhorrent.

        I’m incredibly against Great Powers theory (and its handmaiden the ‘spheres of influence’ a doctrine that only benefits authoritarians.

        “the politicization of nationalism as a highly destabilizing current in international politics”

        not least because it can get in the way of what really matters – the free flow of capital.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Responding to cliff –
    “Nothing the Russian government says can or should be believed. when I hear less aggressive talk I assume they’re about to ramp up attacks.”

    Absolutely. The same goes for any conditions they agree to. The only way to prevent Russia from attacking countries on its Western borders again is to keep all the sanctions in place (and that may not be enough).

    Liked by 1 person

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