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Ukraine good, Russia bad? Delingpole’s Swiss intelligence officer tells a different tale, Part 2

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IN THE first of the edited extracts of James Delingpole’s podcast with retired Swiss intelligence officer Colonel Jacques Baud which we published yesterday, he explained Putin’s ‘legitimacy’ case for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In today’s extracts Delingpole starts by asking Baud if he agrees with the view that in 2014 a legitimate Ukrainian president was deposed by the CIA and other forces and replaced by ‘a Western puppet’, thus beginning the injustice which led to what’s happening now.

COLONEL JACQUES BAUD:  Yes, that’s correct. We probably have to go into more details. In fact, there are three phases, if you want, in what happened in 2014. 

The first phase is the controversial agreement between Ukraine and the European Union – I don’t want to go into too much detail – but to summarise it, Ukraine wanted to have a free trade agreement with the European Union, and for that they had to abandon some economic ties with Russia. Russia was not against the treaty between Ukraine and the European Union, but they said, ‘Well, we have to find a way to work in a tripartite way and to discuss a way to accommodate the three parties.’ 

And that was refused by the President of the European Commission, Mr Barroso. He refused that. And he said, ‘No, that’s . . . no question of compromise.’ And that led to some discontent in the population. And the first, you had these events in Maidan (Independence Square), the first one was, let’s say, a popular one. The population was disappointed and went in the streets to express their disappointment. And that was still peaceful. But then you had some individuals, especially in the United States, who saw an opportunity here to use that situation to topple the government. And that’s when you had those right-wing extremists that came into the game. So that’s a second Euromaidan, so to say. 

And then it became violent, because those guys were quite violent. They were extremists or fanatics. And then came this famous phone call between Victoria Nuland, who was responsible for Eastern European affairs in the State Department, and the US ambassador in Kiev, where they just selected who would form the new government of Ukraine. The new government of Ukraine was, in fact, picked by the US, to summarise that. 

Yanukovych was toppled and the new government was obviously not elected, so not democratically elected. The problem came just after that, because the first decision that was made by the newly non-elected parliament was to abolish the law on the official languages. You know, Ukraine is a multilingual, multi-ethnic type of country where you have, obviously, Russian-speaking, you have Ukrainian-speaking, you have also Hungarian-speaking and Romanian-speaking minorities. 

These languages had all an official status, meaning that the population could have schools and interaction with the administration in their own language. But as the Nationalists came to power in 2014, on 23rd February 2014, they just abolished this (2012) law and made Ukrainian the only official language. 

That’s where the problem started, really, because then you had in all the southern parts of Ukraine – that means Crimea, but also all the different oblasts – Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk – you had, literally, riots and rebellions. And all these different parts of Ukraine started to arm themselves and started to fight. 

In the Crimea, the problem had its own dynamics, because what we always fail to recall about Crimea is that Crimea was made independent in 1991, before Ukraine, before the disbandment of the Soviet Union.  In January 1991, the population of Crimea asked to have a referendum of autonomy and to be separated from Ukraine and to be subordinated or linked to Moscow directly. And this referendum came to the point that Crimea became an autonomous socialist republic within the Soviet Union, directly depending on Moscow and no longer on Kiev. 

Two months later, in March 1991, the government in Moscow decided to make an all-republics referendum to know if they maintain the Soviet Union or not. And this referendum came to the conclusion that the Soviet Union should be maintained.  In some way, confirming the previous referendum of Crimea. 

So Crimea was one of those socialist republics within the Soviet Union. In early December 1991 Ukraine became independent, a request by referendum, and just a few weeks later, the Soviet Union was disbanded. So at the end of 1991, you had Crimea as an independent socialist republic. You had Ukraine as an independent socialist republic. 

The problem is that Ukraine didn’t accept the decision of having an independent Crimea. There was a kind of legal struggle between the authorities in Crimea and the authorities in Kiev over several years. In 1995, the government of Kiev toppled the government in Crimea and annexed Crimea. And that’s the point.

In 2014, when the problem of the language came to the surface, Crimea said, ‘Well, stop, now we make a new referendum and we go back to the situation that we had previously and we ask to be directly related to Moscow and no longer to Kiev.’ So, and that’s the part of history that has been totally ignored, because otherwise you cannot explain the referendum of 2014, you know. 

DELINGPOLE: So remind me when it was that Putin sent his forces in to reclaim Crimea, was that in response to the Maidan coup?

BAUD: He never sent troops. . . that’s an interesting point. Between 1991 and 2014, Ukraine considered Crimea as part of its territory. They had an agreement with Russia to have Sevastopol, which is the main Russian naval base in the Black Sea. And together with this naval base, the Russians were allowed to have up to 25,000 troops, mainly marine infantry, submarines and things like this. But not only that, also for logistics and that. So in 2014, there were no new troops sent to Crimea. You had already, in fact, the status in Crimea at that time, you had about 20,000 Russian troops stationed in Crimea. 

The agreement between Ukraine and Russia allowed those troops to organise their own security in case of incidents. That’s what happened as you started to have troubles at the end of February 2014, those troops started to go outside of their garrisons and started to organise security around their places. 

They were also allowed to go to the airport in order to keep a kind of lifeline between Crimea and Russia. They were allowed to make the airport secure.

The Ukrainian armed forces and the Ukrainian army at that point was territorially organised, meaning that those Ukrainian soldiers based in Crimea were mostly Crimeans. So when the trouble started, those Ukrainian soldiers, they didn’t shoot at their Crimean fellows. They just changed side. They removed their insignias, not to be confused with the regular army, they just removed their insignias and they became those little green men. That’s exactly what happened.

All my sources are Ukrainian, or Russian opposition, so I’m not taking any information from Putin or Russia. And the Ukrainian deputy of the Rada said on the Ukrainian media that at that time you had 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Crimea. Out of these 22,000, 20,000 changed sides and became those little green men. 

DELINGPOLE: So, I find that in itself fascinating, because I think so few people know about this. I think they probably imagine that when Putin annexed Crimea it was a kind of Hitler-style land grab, you know, something similar to the Sudetenland or something like that. But actually this was merely being true to the democratic wishes of the people of Crimea.

BAUD: That’s correct. This is correct. This is why, you know, I always said, from the way you understand a crisis, the way you solve it. If you don’t understand a crisis, you can’t solve it. And that’s exactly the problem we have. We tend to discard a lot of facts in our understanding of these crises because, obviously, there are political agendas behind that. But by doing so, we tend, of course, to provide an image that prevents any political solution, you know? That’s exactly the stalemate in which we are right now. 

You can listen to the whole conversation on the James Delingpole Podcast here.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngellhttps://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/the-editors/
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @KathyConWom on Twitter.

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