The other side of the truth

Expressis-Verbis would like to thank Dr Daniele Ganser for making this article available on our Expressis-Verbis pages. The article was first published on RUBIKON, one of the many interesting information platforms we have linked to on the “What if” page. As a thank you, we have of course also translated this article into French and English.

Dr. Daniele Ganser

Daniele Ganser ist ein Schweizer, Historiker und Friedensforscher und leitet das Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research (SIPER). Er untersucht die Themen Frieden, Energie, Medien, Krieg und Terror und will mit seinen Vorträgen und Büchern jene Menschen stärken, die sich für Frieden, gewaltlose Konfliktlösung, erneuerbare Energie und Aufklärung engagieren. Mehr Infos finden Sie auf:

Without US President Obama’s breach of international law eight years ago, Putin’s illegal military invasion would probably not have happened.

On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine—a violation of the UN ban on violence and therefore illegal. Almost exactly eight years earlier, on 20 February 2014, US President Barack Obama had the government in Ukraine overthrown to pull the country into NATO. This coup is the root of the Ukraine war. Just like Putin’s invasion, Obama’s behaviour was a violation of the UN’s ban on violence and therefore illegal. It is time to stop settling for half-truths from one side or the other and tell the story of the conflict in a complete and balanced way.

We only hear half the story

Currently, we read and hear a lot in the media about Putin’s invasion, which is rightly criticized. But we read and hear practically nothing about the Obama coup. Why are we only being told half the story?

Did the USA really overthrow the government in Ukraine? Why did almost no one notice at the time? And what historical evidence is there for this? I often receive questions like these and similar ones at the moment. 

As a historian and peace researcher, I have been researching the USA’s open and covert wars for years and also described the coup in Ukraine in my book “Illegal Wars”. “It was a Western-sponsored coup, there is little doubt about it,” already recognized the former CIA employee Ray McGovern[1].

In Berlin, one year after the coup on 10 May 2015, I gave a lecture on the events in Ukraine, where I showed that President Obama had indeed overthrown the government in Ukraine. Anyone who wants to can watch the lecture here.[2]

Confrontation of the nuclear powers

The Ukraine war is a particularly delicate international conflict because it pits the USA and Russia, both of which have nuclear weapons, against each other. As in the Cuban Missile Crisis, both sides are playing with hidden cards and setting out to pull Ukraine into their sphere of influence. 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The weakness of Moscow gave Washington its first chance to extend US influence to Eastern Europe and to admit the former Warsaw Pact member states formerly controlled by Moscow into NATO. 

NATO Enlargement and the Bucharest Summit

Although the USA had promised Russia that NATO would not expand, this is precisely what happened. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary became NATO members in 1999. And at the NATO summit in the Romanian capital Bucharest in April 2008, US President George Bush Jr. declared that Ukraine would also be admitted to NATO.

Russia was incensed because Ukraine borders directly on Russia. And there were also cautionary voices in the USA. “Imagine the outrage in Washington if China forged a powerful military alliance and attempted to get Canada and Mexico to join it,” warned American political scientist John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. According to Mearsheimer, the West has provoked the Russians unnecessarily and is therefore guilty of the crisis in Ukraine [3].

Senator John McCain on the Maidan

On the Maidan, the central square of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, more and more people demonstrated against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov at the end of 2013. The well-known ex-boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko led the demonstrations and gave flaming speeches in close coordination with the USA.

In this tense situation, the influential US Senator John McCain flew to Ukraine and visited Klitschko and the protest camp on the Maidan on 15 December 2013. The US senator encouraged the protesters to overthrow the Ukrainian government[4].

Imagine the outrage in Washington if a well-known Russian parliamentarian flew to Canada to support protesters in the capital Ottawa to overthrow the Canadian government.

This is exactly what the US did in Ukraine.

The US Embassy in Kiev coordinates the protests

The leaders of the protests on the Maidan went in and out of the US Embassy and took their orders there. Some protesters were armed and used violence against the police. “The Americans visibly forced the confrontational development,” recalls Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, who was overthrown[5].

At the US Embassy in Kiev, it was US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who supported the demonstrators and thereby destabilised Ukraine. Ambassador Pyatt was in direct contact with ex-boxer Klitschko. The well-organised demonstration on the Maidan grew bigger and bigger and tensions in Kiev increased. 

The current US President Joe Biden was also directly involved in the coup, as he too supported the demonstration on the Maidan. In December 2013, Biden, then vice president under Obama, called President Yanukovych at night and threatened him with punishment if he let the police clear the Maidan. Yanukovych then withdrew the planned eviction[6].

Victoria Nuland’s five billion dollars

At the US State Department, Victoria Nuland was responsible for the coup. Nuland was a senior aide to President Obama as Deputy Secretary of State under US Secretary of State John Kerry. Under President Donald Trump, Nuland lost influence, but was reappointed by President Joe Biden as Secretary of State at the State Department. In Ukraine, Nuland wanted to overthrow Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov and President Viktor Yanukovych to pull the country into NATO, as decided at the Bucharest summit. 

The leaders of the demonstration on the Maidan not only took their orders from the US Embassy, but also their payment. 

In December 2013, two months before the coup, Nuland had declared in a lecture: “We have invested more than five billion dollars to help Ukraine guarantee prosperity, security, and democracy”[7].

This also led to criticism in the USA. Former US Congressman Ron Paul publicly asked: 

“We heard US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US has spent five billion dollars on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that okay?” [8].

That some demonstrators in Ukraine were paid was an open secret at the time. “There are people like the US billionaire George Soros who finance revolutions. Soros also supported the Maidan, paid people there—they earned more in a fortnight on the Maidan than during four working weeks in Western Ukraine,” Ukraine expert Ina Kirsch told the Wiener Zeitung. “There is enough evidence that people were paid both on the Maidan and at the counter-event, the ‘Antimaidan’”, said Ina Kirsch, who was on the ground in Kiev. There were prizes for every service. I know people who collected money from the counter-demonstration on the Antimaidan in the morning, then went over to the Maidan and collected money again there. This is nothing unusual in Ukraine”[9].

Fuck the EU: The phone call before the coup

The key evidence of US involvement in the coup in Ukraine is an intercepted telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on 7 February 2014, just days before the coup. 

Nuland says in the telephone conversation who should form the new government in Ukraine after the coup. “I don’t think Klitsch should be part of the new government, I doubt that’s necessary and not a good idea,” Nuland determines. “I think Yatsenyuk is the proper man, he has the necessary experience in economics and politics.” 

In fact, Arseniy Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister in Ukraine after the coup. The ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko had to settle for the post of mayor of Kiev. This proves that Victoria Nuland planned and successfully carried out the coup for the USA. Ban Ki-moon of the UN “could help make this watertight, and you know what, fuck the EU,” Nuland said verbatim in the wiretapped conversation, which led to some outrage from German Chancellor Angela Merkel[10].

Snipers escalate the situation on 20 February 2014

At the end of February, the situation on the Maidan escalated. On 20 February 2014, a massacre took place when unidentified snipers shot at police officers and demonstrators from various houses, leaving more than 40 dead. Chaos broke out. Immediately, the incumbent government of President Viktor Yanukovych and his police unit Berkut were blamed for the massacre, although they had no interest in the situation escalating, as they preferred not to overthrow themselves. “The world must not watch a dictator slaughter his people,” stated boxer Vitali Klitschko, who wanted to topple the government, in the German tabloid Bild.

The regime change was successful: President Yanukovych was ousted and fled to Russia. He was replaced by the billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who as president immediately declared that he wanted to lead Ukraine into NATO.

Obama talks about the coup

One year after the coup, US President Obama spoke to CNN about the change of power in Ukraine, but obscured the role of the US. “Putin was caught on the wrong foot by the protests on the Maidan,” Obama said. “Yanukovych fled after we negotiated a deal to transfer power.” That Obama had actually toppled the government in Ukraine was not revealed to CNN viewers[11].

Putin talks about the coup

But the Russians knew that the US had organized the coup and were outraged. “I believe that this crisis was created willy-nilly,” President Putin told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The NATO countries could have prevented the coup, Putin expressed his conviction.

“If America and Europe had said to those who committed these unconstitutional acts: ‘If you come to power in such a way, we will not support you under any circumstances. You must hold elections and win them’, then the situation would have been entirely different”[12].

The secession of Crimea

President Vladimir Putin had no intention of giving up Ukraine without a fight. Immediately after the fall of Yanukovych, he gave the order in the early morning hours of 23 February 2014 to start “taking back” Crimea. Russian soldiers in green uniforms without insignia occupied all strategic points in Simferopol, the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula, on 27 February 2014. 

As early as 16 March 2014, 97 percent of the population of Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Since then, the Crimean Peninsula no longer belongs to Ukraine, but to Russia. 

Neither the USA nor Russia complied with international law in the Ukraine war. First Obama broke international law with the coup on 20 February 2014. 

In response, Putin also broke international law with the occupation of Crimea on 23 February 2014. Russia’s occupation of Crimea “was a breach of applicable international law (…), the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine under international law were disregarded”, explains Dieter Deiseroth, formerly a judge at the Federal Administrative Court. The West is now sharply criticizing Putin, although he himself “has repeatedly violated and continues to violate applicable international law in numerous cases (Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, drone war, Guantánamo et cetera), which has severely damaged his credibility”[13].

The Donbas splits off

After the coup in Kiev and the secession of Crimea, Ukraine plunged into civil war. The new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk attempted to bring the whole country under his control with the army, the Secret Service and the police. But not all soldiers, police and Secret Service personnel followed the instructions of the coup government. In the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine bordering Russia, the Donetsk and Lugansk districts declared that they would not recognize the coup government in Kiev. The separatists occupied police stations and administrative buildings, arguing that the new government had no legitimacy because it had come to power illegally. 

Prime Minister Yatsenyuk vehemently rejected this and declared that all separatists were terrorists. CIA Director John Brennan flew to Kiev to advise the coup plotters. On 15 April 2014, the Ukrainian army began its “anti-terrorist special operation” with US support, attacking the city of Slavyansk in the Donetsk district with tanks and armoured personnel carriers. This was the beginning of the Ukrainian civil war, which claimed more than 13,000 lives in eight years and led to Putin’s illegal invasion on 24 February 2022. 

The coup in Kiev does not give Putin the right to invade Ukraine and thus break international law. But if we in the West ignore the 2014 coup, we will never be able to understand the Ukraine war.

Sources and notes:

(1) Ex CIA Offizier Ray McGovern. Das sind die wahren Schuldigen am Ukraine Krieg. YouTube, 21. September 2014,
(2) Dr. Daniele Ganser: Ukraine 2014, ein illegaler Putsch, Berlin 10. Mai 2015,
(3) John Mearsheimer: Warum der Westen an der Ukraine-Krise schuld ist. Foreign Affairs, 1. September 2014. 
(4) John McCain tells Ukraine protesters: „We are here to support your just cause.“ The Guardian, 15. Dezember 2013,
(5) Stefan Korinth: „An unseren Händen klebt kein Blut.“ NachDenkSeiten, 22. Oktober 2015;
(6) Ebenda.
(7) ARD Monitor: Die NATO als Kriegstreiber in der Ukraine, 14. März 2014,
(8) Ron Paul: Reckless Congress ‚declares war‘ on Russia. Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. 4. Dezember 2014.
(9) Gerhard Lechner: Offene Fragen zu Ereignissen auf dem Maidan. Ina Kirsch über die vielen Fehler, die zu der schweren Ukrainekrise führten. Wiener Zeitung, 20. Februar 2015,
(10) Victoria Nulands Ausrutscher. US-Diplomatin entschuldigt sich für „Fuck the EU“. Spiegel Online, 7. Februar 2014,
(11) US-Präsident Barack Obama im Gespräch mit CNN-Journalist Fareed Zakaria, 1. Februar 2015. YouTube: Fareed Zakaria Obama CNN Interview 3. February 2015.
(12) Wladimir Putin: Interview with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, 6. Juni 2015.
(13) Marcus Klöckner: „Wer den Einsatz von Atomwaffen anordnet, handelt verbrecherisch.“ Telepolis, 2. April 2015,