The Europeans, spearheaded by the British MI6, worked very hard to engineer the coup which deposed the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev Saturday, Feb. 22. Three months in the making, the takeover was stalled in less than 48 hours by the country’s empty coffers.
With all its sympathy, the European Union was in no hurry to follow up on British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s rash statement that Britain had its checkbook ready to help the new Ukraine.
Fine, said the interim government in Kiev, we need $21 billion (!) to stabilize the economy.
Tuesday, Feb. 25, British Foreign Secretary William Hague decided the smart thing to do was to fly urgently to Washington to discuss with Secretary of State John Kerry what to do next.
Before they met, Hague commented that the US via the International Money Fund, as well as Britain and the European Union, would have to stump up the funds for putting the new Ukraine on its feet.
But after talking to Kerry, he sang a different tune:
“Ukraine needs to meet conditions for an IMF lending program,” said Hague as he left the State Department. “It is important for economic reform to take place and for a pervasive culture of corruption over many years to be tackled effectively for international community to be able to see that there will be continuity and determination to tackle these issues, and therefore long-term international support can be given on a reasonable basis.”
He went on to say that he would need to consult with Moscow on the matter.
British push protesters to radical steps
By then it was clear to Ukraine’s acting president Oleksander Turchino that the funds for governing Ukraine even provisionally – which may have been promised – were way out of reach. Neither the US, the IMF or the EU would be writing any checks until the conditions Hague outlined were met – a tall order, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report.
Thursday, Kerry made the gesture of offering a US guarantee for $1 billion worth of credit. Even that drop in the ocean of Kiev’s needs will be hard to come by.
According to sources in Kiev, the upshot of the Kiev protest departed from the original script prepared by Western European secret services, including France and Germany – with the British MI6 in the forefront of the action.
They had intended the Kiev uprising to produce a national unity government representing the various opposition factions and driving hard toward affiliation with the European Union. It was meant to bend Yanukovych to the opposition’s will – not oust him.
Fellow Europeans accused British agents of pushing the protest leaders into more radical steps than intended. Some of the pro-Western hotheads, mostly from Lviv, became confused over their final goals.
Foreign Secretary Hague, as the minister in charge of the MI6 Secret Service, was kept abreast of events in Kiev.
As an incidental gain, he saw an opportunity for Prime Minister David Cameron to repair some of the damage wrought by his government’s inadequate handling of the flood disasters in some of Britain’s most prosperous areas. He urged Cameron to use the turmoil in Kiev to restore some of his lost prestige.
Why the British-led European plan went off the script
But the premier decided to play it safe and leave it to Hague to handle the political mess developing in Kiev.
In Washington it was realized that if the British hadn’t cheered the Kiev protesters on too far, hailing them as freedom fighters ready to lay down their lives on the barricades, Yanukovych might still be in power instead of on the run, and a national unity government in place to restore order in Kiev.
A German intelligence agent talking to DEBKA Weekly pointed to two British miscalculations:
1. They underestimated the fragility of Yanukovych’s government. It was so fundamentally rotten, that no more than a gentle nudge was needed to blow it away and put the president to flight.
2. They also misjudged Russian President Vladimir Putin’s likely response to the challenge to Moscow. London counted on the three months of protest at the heart of Kiev blowing up into a major crisis between the Russian ruler and President Barack Obama and the eventual use of Russian military force – if not in Kiev, then in the Russian-speaking southeast and the Crimean Peninsula, home to Russian naval bases. London would then be on hand to broker a resolution of the crisis.
But Putin coolly appraised the situation in Kiev, said the German source, before taking action. Like the Obama administration, he had no intention of forking out a single dollar to haul Ukraine out of its economic morass. Well acquainted with the players in Kiev, he appreciated that any financial assistance reaching the country would flow straight into the pockets of local politicians and oligarchs who are the real powerhouses in the Ukraine capital.
The EU, through its British foreign policy coordinator Catherine Ashton, who visited Kiev this week, tried, say DEBKA Weekly’s sources, to take charge of stabilizing the situation in Kiev and providing liaison between Washington and Moscow.
In fact Obama and Putin interacted directly to safeguard a relationship which has a higher priority for the US President than Ukraine. The hot potato of stabilizing Kiev was left to the Europeans to handle.