Ukraine: From coup d’état to war

A brief history of Ukraine from 1991 til today, which aims to fill in a few of the gaping holes in the western corporate media narrative.

Ukraine’s notorious Azov battalion is just one of many openly fascist militias in the country, all of which are connected both to the Ukrainian coup government and to the CIA. Their supremacist ideology is perfect preparation for fighting against Russians, whether inside or outside the territory of the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. That is why the ‘tradition’ of Ukrainian nazism was carefully kept alive by imperialist sponsors of Ukrainian exiled communities from the end of WW2 until the 1990s, when it could be reintroduced on the ground in the conditions of post-Soviet economic collapse and plunder.

The lack of information about the events in Ukraine is so great that many people wonder what is really happening and why. This article by Swedish communist Mario Sousa is an attempt to fill in some of the background that is missing in imperialist media.


On 1 December 1991, Ukraine declared itself an independent country, even though the Soviet Union only ceased to exist just over three weeks later, on 25 December 1991. In Ukraine, as in the other Soviet republics, the political right took over power in government and society.

Ukraine was at that time a highly-developed industrial country with modern industries (food, machinery, metals, electricity, chemicals, construction, water), mines (iron, coal, manganese, titanium, mercury, sulphur, lime, potassium carbonate) and agriculture (meat, milk, wheat, buckwheat, rye, potatoes, sugar beet, corn, vegetables, sunflower seeds), enterprises employing thousands of workers worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and a population of 52 million people. The unemployment rate was then 1.9 percemt.

If any of the former Soviet republics had a good chance of doing well as an independent state, it was Ukraine.

Collapse in living standards in post-Soviet Ukraine

But something went wrong. By the end of 2021, before Russian forces entered the country, Ukraine’s population (including Crimea), had gone down to 41.4 million people. There were about ten million fewer inhabitants in 2021 in capitalist Ukraine than in Soviet Ukraine, a decrease of about 20 percent. It is interesting also to note that in 2020 and 2021 alone, the number of inhabitants decreased by about three million people. As for the unemployment rate, in 2020 it was 9.5 percent, despite the fact that the country’s labour force had decreased by four million people.

Something serious had hit Ukraine. What? Capitalism and imperialism affected Ukraine.

When the political right took power in 1991, a robber’s train of privatisations of factories and industries started. Ukraine then had a large number of very well-developed modern factories and industries with thousands of workers. Most of it was taken over by a number of adventurers with all sorts of legal and illegal tricks under new laws on the privatisation of the socialist estates.

Factories and industries were taken over by thieves who sold everything that could be sold – machines, cars, trucks, warehouses, premises, everything – mostly to foreign interests at cheap prices. Huge amounts of property that had taken generations to build up were sold, to become part of the foundation for new purchases and speculation with multiple estates. There was chaos in the economy. In this chaos, the state stopped collecting income tax and the newly rich stopped paying taxes completely. A country without debts during the Soviet era soon became a deeply indebted country. Today, Ukraine is over $100bn in debt.

The economic chaos in Ukraine was led by the United States through a number of organisations, mainly the CIA, USAid, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Victoria Nuland became the US government official who led this attack on Ukrainian democracy. According to Nuland, the USA invested $5bn in destabilising Ukraine and pushing it to follow the lead of the United States. The money was used to corrupt politicians and officials, support the newly rich, and also to build up right-wing parties that completely distanced themselves from Russia and from Soviet values.

Fascism a favoured tool of the CIA

One of the CIA and Nuland’s major efforts was to build up the National Socialist party, which later changed its name to Svoboda (Freedom). But despite all the money and corruption, the United States did not get what it wanted. Most Ukrainians continued to have sympathies for the friend in the east. None of the elections after 1991 could provide a basis for a new path for Ukraine away from Russia.

This became very visible in the 2004 presidential election. When the elections were over and the votes were counted, a president, Viktor Yanukovych, who wanted to maintain contacts with Russia, had once again been elected. A major campaign was launched to change the election results. After months of well-paid demonstrations and protests against Yanukovych for ‘electoral fraud’ – the Orange Revolution – Ukraine’s supreme court called new presidential elections for January 2005.

The new election with organised electoral fraud was won by US-backed candidate Viktor Yushchenko. There followed five years of struggle to definitively separate Ukraine from Russia. During these years, Viktor Yushchenko was a disaster for the country, with several government reshuffles, constant parliamentary disarray and new elections.

In the run-up to the October 2010 presidential election, Yushchenko’s chances of a new presidential term were non-existent. It didn’t help that two weeks before election day in January 2010, in a desperate attempt to win support, he made fascist UPA leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera the national hero of Ukraine.

Yushchenko received 5.5 percent in the first round of voting, against Viktor Yanukovych’s 35.8 percent and Yulia Tymoshenko’s 24.7 percent. After five years in power, Yushchenko was definitely exhausted. The second round of voting in February 2010 was won by Viktor Yanukovych with 48.95 percemt against Yulia Tymoshenko’s 45.47 percent. Once again, Ukraine had a president who wanted to keep the country’s links to Russia. But Yanukovych also wanted an open door to Europe and began negotiating an association agreement with the European Union.

There was great excitement ahead of the parliamentary elections in October 2012. US billions continued to roll in to support the fascists in Svoboda, and to the right generally in the form of two new parties, Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland and Vitaliy Klitschko’s Udar. The parliamentary elections in October 2012 were crucial for Ukraine’s future. The election was clearly won by President Viktor Yanukovych’s Regional party, which together with the Communist party of Ukraine (UKP) gained a majority in parliament.

The UKP received 2.687 million votes, rising from 5.39 percent and 27 parliamentary seats to 13.8 percent and 32 parliamentary seats, clearly indicative of an electoral shift to the left. This was a confirmation of the great 1 May 2012 demonstration in Kiev, in which about 100,000 people participated.

It must have been at this point that the United States decided on an armed coup d’état in Ukraine. All bourgeois-democratic paths of bribery and corruption had been tried to separate Ukraine from Russia, but nothing had paid off. There remained an armed coup d’état with fascist storm troopers from Svoboda, the only ones in Ukraine who could carry out such a mission for the USA via their CIA handlers.

The Maidan fascist coup

In western Ukraine, Svoboda had grown into a large party capable of organising demonstrations with thousands of supporters, including a large and well-trained guard force of violent young men. The situation in Ukraine in 2012, after over 20 years of theft and corruption had created very poor living conditions and high unemployment for the workers, was one of great dissatisfaction with the politicians and great distrust of state power. In the process, the multibillionaires were becoming increasingly wealthy.

In this situation, the political right pushed for relations with the EU and the USA. Imperialist propaganda, especially in favour of joining the EU, became ubiquitous in society, via newspapers, radio and television. The EU became for many the great saviour that would rescue Ukraine from misery and decay. The number of people who placed their hopes for a good future on increased economic relations with the EU grew significantly. The pressure on Yanukovych to finalise an association agreement with the EU increased.

In 2013, Ukraine was bankrupt, with a great need to borrow money to be able to pay for the country’s needs: the administration, schools, hospitals, etc. President Yanukovych began negotiations with the west over a large loan. The World Bank and IMF offered $15bn, but with three conditions that had to be implemented before the loan could be considered.

The first was to lift the ban on selling land. This was then an unacceptable demand for the vast majority of Ukrainians. The second requirement was that pensions should be reduced and the retirement age raised. The third demand was that the Ukrainian government should end oil and gas subsidies to the population and businesses.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, however, offered Ukraine a $15bn loan without any conditions. In addition, President Putin promised lower prices for oil and gas. President Yanukovych accepted Russia’s offer.

This decision was followed by a massive campaign against Yanukovych in all the media, accusing him of being against the EU – a campaign that never ended and pressured the government of Ukraine and the president. The mood in the country became politically unstable; many people found it difficult to take a stand.

In this tense situation, the US (via the CIA) started concrete preparations for an armed coup d’état. In October 2013, 90 Ukrainian fascists from Svoboda gathered with other far-right extremists to receive training at the Warsaw police academy. They were to lead an armed fascist coup d’état in Kiev. Among millions of unemployed young men, they would pick up their troops, with the CIA and the billionaires providing the money.

On Sunday 24 November 2013, for the first time, a large demonstration against the government of Yanukovych gathered in the centre of Kiev on Independence Square, Maidan. Demonstrations continued on Sunday 1 December and Sunday 8 December. It is estimated that at these demonstrations around 200,000 people gathered. Ukraine’s government and president were under huge strain, even though Yanukovych had clearly won the 2010 presidential election and his party had also won the 2012 parliamentary elections, gaining 12 extra parliamentary seats.

On Wednesday 11 December 2013, events took a new dramatic turn. Three thousand men with sticks and weapons invaded Independence Square, the Maidan, and large tents were set up as their quarters. These approximately 3,000 men were paid fascists and unemployed young men who wanted to make money. They were given 850 hryvnia a day, which amounted to about $100 at that time. A preschool teacher in those days would be receiving 700 hryvnia a month. Those in the square earned an annual salary in ten days.

The demands of the square were the immediate resignation of the government and President Yanukovych, with the threat to take over the parliament and the presidential and government buildings. The police were ordered to erect a human wall in the streets leading from the square to these buildings. Those who occupied the square beat the police with stones, sticks and iron chains in well-coordinated attacks.

Representatives of the three parties of the parliamenmtary opposition appeared on the Maidan to support the fascists in the square. They were Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, Vitaliy Klitschko of Udar and Oleh Tyahnybok of the openly fascist Svoboda. The three were giving speeches: fascists and right-wing liberals were united.

The violence on the Maidan became even more extensive, now that it was approved and supported by elected parliamentarians. There followed a war of fascists against the police during January and February 2014. The police had clearly been ordered not to arrest anyone and not to crack down on the fascists. They were only there as a wall to prevent the fascists’ passage towards parliament and government buildings.

The police got beaten so much that it’s hard to believe if you haven’t seen the footage. With batons, stones, petrol bombs and iron chains; with trucks and finally with firearms. The number of wounded police officers was huge, but the attackers were neither arrested nor counter-attacked. Afterwards, when the fascists won power in Kiev and all of Ukraine, it turned out that two of the police generals who led the police on the Maidan were members of Svoboda.

But on Thursday 20 February 2014, after three months of combat, the situation at the Maidan took an unexpected turn. The police began to attack the fascists and soon gained an advantage. At the end of the day, the police took over much of Maidan Square and pushed the fascists into a corner. When the fascists were at a disadvantage and were about to lose, great pressure from the USA/EU started for the negotiation of a peace agreement between the Ukrainian government and the fascists in the square, a well-organised move to ensure that all would not be lost by imperialism – not least, the five billion dollars invested by the USA to take over Ukraine.

This well-organised movement was led by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt. Bildt made contact with three other EU foreign ministers, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France’s Laurent Fabius and Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski, with proposals to end the violence on the Maidan through an agreement between Yanukovych and the opposition; an agreement the EU would guarantee.

The basis of the agreement was that the government would call new presidential and parliamentary elections, that the fascists would leave the Maidan and that the government would withdraw the police. The very next day, Friday 21 February 2014, the agreement was finalised and approved by the EU and the three foreign ministers. On Friday evening, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski handed over the agreement to President Yanukovych, who soon gave his approval.

Very early Saturday morning, most of the police force of several thousand men left the Maidan to fulfil their part of the agreement. But, take note, without the fascists having left the Maidan! After the police had left, developments on the Maidan moved very quickly. Police left behind about 200 men. The fascists, who still numbered a couple of thousand, were left free to do as they pleased. They attacked the policemen; several policemen were killed, 60 policemen were taken prisoner by the fascists, and the rest fled.

After that, the fascists stormed parliament and government buildings, took them over, established their power there, began to patrol the streets of Kiev, from which the police had completely disappeared, and took over the entire city. In a matter of hours, the fascists seized power in Ukraine. The coup d’état in Kiev was a fact. Imperialism had won.

Quickly, the fascists and the political right took over parliament, the government and the administration. Many MPs fled Kiev fearing for their lives. Parliament did not have the number of members required to make laws, but that was no obstacle for the coup-plotters. People who had been on the ballot but hadn’t received enough votes to get elected were now allowed to take up the vacancies and to vote. And when that wasn’t enough, members pressed several voting buttons at the same time.

In this way, a new acting speaker was elected: notorious fascist Oleksandr Turchynov, who also became the country’s new acting president. Another well-known fascist, Andriy Parubiy, a member and founder of Svoboda, was elected supreme security officer of Ukraine. Parubiy was the highest leader of the Maidan fascists and founder and leader of the new neo-nazi organisation Right Sector.

The junta v the people

The first two laws of the coup parliament speak plainly as to who the new rulers were. It abolished the ban on Nazi propaganda and adopted a ban on using Russian as an official language. Ukraine, under the Soviet Union and thereafter, had had two official languages, Ukrainian and Russian.

Now the billionaires were free to do as they pleased, and several were acquiring armies of their own. Private armies were prohibited by the Law of Ukraine. But the minister of the interior for the coup government, billionaire Arsen Avakov, issued a decree authorising the formation of private armies. The first to acquire a private army, billionaire Igor KolomoyskyIsraeli persecution of Palestinians taken to a new level in January, had been one of the main operatives in preparing and supporting the coup d’état. Starting with a force of 400 mercenaries, his army quickly increased to 1,700.

Igor Kolomoysky’s force became the basis of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion. Note that this Kolomoysky is a practising jew and that Russian is his mother tongue. Business and money come first for some people.

A reorganisation of the police was carried out. Many were fired and some were charged with participating in the police force during the Maidan. A new police chief, Vadim Trojan, who was also deputy supreme commander of the Azov battalion, was appointed in Kiev. Several of Trojan’s cronies in Azov accompanied him into the police force and became his subordinate chiefs in the capital city. After a few months, Trojan was appointed Ukraine’s national chief of police.

All over Ukraine, people rose up in opposition to the coup d’état. Large demonstrations took place in many cities of Ukraine: Kharkov, Odessa, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Mariupol, Nikolayev, Zaparozhe, Dnipropetrovsk, Simferopol, Sevastopol. Their slogans were against the coup d’état, against the EU, against fascism. On 11 March 2014, Crimea held a referendum in which a large majority of the people participated and a large majority voted for accession to Russia.

Before the referendum, the fascists had tried to take over Crimea. Billionaire Igor Kolomoysky from Dnepropetrovsk sent a caravan of buses with mercenaries to take over the Crimean capital Simferopol and secure Crimea for the new Ukrainian rule. After some successes against people who had not expected a violent confrontation, Kolomoysky’s mercenaries had to face people from Sevastopol who had organised themselves against the fascists. Kolomoysky’s mercenaries were badly beaten and forced to flee.

Similar events took place in Donetsk, but here Kolomojsky’s men suffered greater losses. The buses that Kolomoysky sent to Donetsk were completely destroyed, and the fascists had to seek refuge with the police, who had to take some to the hospital and sent the others back to Dnepropetrovsk in new buses.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the fascists gained the upper hand. In Odessa, where the people had demonstrated several times against the fascist coup d’état in demonstrations with tens of thousands of participants, the mood was completely against the new fascist rulers. One of these demonstrations became historic. The large antifascist demonstration of tens of thousands of people walked through Primorsky boulevard towards the square where the statue of Duc de Richelieu stands above the great Potemkin’s staircase down to the port of Odessa. A group of fascists supporting Kiev had occupied the square and the antifascists were going to confront them.

Slowly, the antifascist demonstrators came out shouting the slogans, ‘Odessa Russian city’ and ‘Fascists shall not pass here’. Slowly, the antifascist protesters confronted the fascists, forcing them closer and closer to Potemkin’s staircase. In the end, the antifascists conquered the entire square and the fascists were forced to descend the staircase, the only way out of the square.

Such a strong antifascist mood in a large city like Odessa, the CIA knew, could only be broken with a massacre. The disorganised people in the large demonstrations then become frightened and hesitant. One such massacre was organised to take place on 2 May 2014 in Odessa. A train of football hooligans came to Odessa on this day before a match against the Odessa football team. Also on the train were mercenaries from billionaire Igor Kolomoysky’s force, who incited people to attack an antifascist meeting in the main square outside the trade union house.

Football hooligans and Kolomoysky’s mercenaries attacked the meeting of the antifascists, who took refuge in the trade union building. The fascists fired gunshots and threw petrol bombs at the building, with the result that dozens of people were murdered or burned inside, and many more were injured. After that, the people of Odessa became afraid, the antifascist demonstrations ended, and the fascists seized power over the city.

I wrote an article in the newspaper Proletären [the paper of the Communist Party of Sweden] about these events. Along with other articles, they became the reason for my expulsion from Ukraine in 2017, with a stamp in my passport, ‘Forbidden to enter Ukraine’.

Much the same tactic of assassination to intimidate was used by the Kiev fascists and the CIA in the city of Mariupol a week later, on 9 May 2014. The ninth of May is the Soviet Union’s Victory Day over Fascism, and is celebrated throughout the Soviet world with large demonstrations. So also in Mariupol in 2014.

The Kiev fascists wanted to stop the demonstrations and ordered the police to do so. When the police did not want to obey, Kiev sent a new police chief, along with an officer and some troops from the nazi Azov battalion who were outside the city. A confrontation took place in the police station between officers who did not want to obey the new police chief and the latter’s minions. In the commotion, one Mariupol policeman and one from Azov died. The Azov troops fled from Mariupol in a panic, killing many people in the course of their flight out of the city.

But the Azov fascists came back at full strength and bombarded the police station with tanks. The whole building went up in flames, and many policemen died. After that, the fascists took over antifascist Mariupol and organised dictatorial rule of the city. Many antifascists were dragged into the torture centre that Azov set up in the airport and some were murdered there.

Antifascist resistance in the Donbass

An opposite development occurred in the Donbass regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. There, the population organised themselves in struggle against Kiev and took over the administration with the support of the police and the army. Already on 11 May, a referendum for independence of the areas from the control of the Kiev junta took place, with a large turnout and over 90 percent yes votes. The next day, preparations for armed struggle began.

The events in Odessa and Mariupol were not to be repeated in Donetsk and Lugansk. The large turnout in favour of independence from Kiev-Ukraine gave Kiev no opportunity to intervene; life continued in these areas with a new antifascist government. Note that the referendum had another vote that won a large turnout but never materialised. That was the question of applying for accession to the Russian Federation. The issue never came up for discussion because Russia’s President Putin put a stop to it. According to Putin, the problem should be solved within Ukraine.

A couple of weeks after that, presidential elections took place in Ukraine, although the country was in a shambles and nothing worked in the administration. In this scandalous election, with just a 30 percent turnout, there was a given winner, the billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who had paid well for the coup d’état in Kiev.

Many expected Poroshenko to at least try to bring peace to the country. But the day after the election, all hope died, when the newly-elected Poroshenko proclaimed: “Within a week, we will take back Crimea and put an end to the terrorists in Lugansk and Donetsk!”

A terrible civil war began against Donetsk and Lugansk. In the absence of an army capable of taking battle, Poroshenko had to hire fascist mercenaries, who were paid by himself, by other billionaires, and by the CIA. Donetsk and Lugansk defended well and Poroshenko’s troops did not meet with any success. In the end, they bet everything on one card and attacked the city of Donetsk from the west and south in an attempt to storm it.

However, on 2 September 2014, Poroshenko’s fascists in the battalions of Azov, Donbass, Dnipro, Kharkov and Kherson were beaten and surrounded in the city of Ilovajsk. In the precess, the militias from Donetsk and Lugansk captured thousands of fascist mercenaries, Poroshenko’s only operational force. Poroshenko had no other troops to deploy to relieve those encircled in Ilovaysk. Surrender and imprisonment or death were the message of the antifascists. Desperate to get his mercenaries out, Poroshenko was all of a sudden in favour of negotiations.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko offered negotiations in Minsk, and so it was. Poroshenko and the rulers of Lugansk and Donetsk signed a truce on 5 September and the encircled mercenaries had to leave for Kiev. This Minsk 1 agreement was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament, along with laws on self-government for Donetsk and Lugansk for three years. This agreement was also supported by Russian President Putin, who continued to consider that the solution to the problems in Donetsk and Lugansk lay within the territory of Ukraine.

According to Petro Symonenko, the Ukrainian Communist party’s [UKP] chairman, in a statement in September 2014, the Ukrainian army and mercenaries lost 20,000 men in Donbass.

Peace did not last long, however. Poroshenko was eager to gain control of Donetsk and Lugansk and started preparations for new military offensive against them. In January 2015, the new offensive was launched with new fascist battalions, in whose ranks were many of the previously captured mercenaries. This time, too, Poroshenko’s forces were unable to succeed. Their main attack was directed against the city of Debaltsevo, a railway and highway junction between Lugansk and Donetsk.

After a fierce struggle, Poroshenko’s forces in the Ukrainian army and the fascist battalions of Donbass, Dubayev and Khvbas were beaten and surrounded. Over 6,000 soldiers and mercenaries from the Kiev junta were trapped in a ‘sack’, while thousands more had already been killed or wounded. Poroshenko had no more forces to send in to free those encircled. The victory atmosphere in Donetsk and Lugansk was a fact. The question arose over a continued struggle against Kiev. Such a continuation would have had to have the support of Russia, materially and politically. But President Putin still wanted to see the problem solved within Ukraine.

Instead of a continued struggle, negotiations were agreed on. Poroshenko was again in a hurry for these, but hardly anyone took him seriously; he had to ask for help from the EU. German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande came to Minsk together with Poroshenko. Those who had written down and maligned Belarus and President Lukashenko now came and asked for a place for peace negotiations. Russian President Putin was also invited.

On 12 February 2015, the Minsk 2 agreement was signed by Poroshenko, Merkel, Hollande and Putin. It was actually the same agreement as before. Heavy artillery would be withdrawn 50km from the front, eastern Ukraine would gain greater autonomy, and the Russian language would be one of the official languages of the region, along with Ukrainian. After Minsk 2 was signed, the captured Kiev soldiers were allowed to leave the area.

Unfortunately, peace never came to pass. Poroshenko admitted on Ukrainian television in June 2022 that the Minsk agreements had just been intended to gain time to gather a larger and better armed army with which to capture the Donbass. Former German chancellor Merkel likewise admitted on 7 December 2022, in an interview in the German newspaper Die Zeit, that “it was clear to all of us that the conflict was stalling, that the problem had not been solved, but it gave Ukraine valuable time to become stronger”.

The war continued regardless, with new attacks by the Kiev fascists on the Donbass, and heavy weapons placed right at the line of contact between the combatants, although this had been prohibited by Minsk 2. There followed eight years of constant daily attacks without success but with many wounded and dead in Lugansk and Donetsk. During these years, the dead in Lugansk and Donetsk are estimated at over 14,000 people. It turned out, as the fascist Poroshenko had declared in his infamous speech at the Odessa Opera House, that the children of Donbass were allowed to live only in their basements, while Donbass pensioners who had worked all their lives and paid their contributions received no money.

This terrible reality continued when Ukraine got a new president in 2019. Volodymyr’s Zelensky’s most prominent election promises, whilch earned him a landslide victory in both presidential and parliamentary elections, were promises of peace. Zelensky promised to abide by the Minsk agreements and bring an end to the war in Ukraine. But that was not what happened. After a few months, Zelensky changed his mind and the focus of his policies became: increased war against the Donbass. As before, this was a war without successes, but with many dead.

The situation became more and more violent as Zelensky was transformed into an agitator for extended war. There was a steady accumulation of modern heavy weapons at the frontline in Donbass, and the number of soldiers in the Ukrainian army and mercenary forces was likewise increasing constantly. By the end of 2021, the combined force was estimated at over 100,000 men, equipped with modern weaponry gifted from the west, mainly the United States and the EU.

Preparing to extend the war

A plan for the Kiev fascists to take over the Donbass was once again in preparation. By the end of 2021, the situation was increasingly alarming for the people of the Donbass. It was at this time that President Putin made contact with several leaders in the west, including those of Germany and France, as well as with the United Nations secretary-general, to try and persuade them to force Kiev to respect the Minsk agreements. But Putin could not find anyone who would take an interest in this matter. Actually, everyone knew that soon the Kiev fascists would start a major invasion of the Donbass, and no one wanted to prevent this.

Another step to war came on 2 February 2022. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba declared that Ukraine would never give Donetsk and Lugansk special status under the Minsk agreements, a statement he repeated a week later. It was a clear message about what to expect and so it was perceived in Donetsk and Lugansk and also in Russia, which was one of the countries that signed and guaranteed the Minsk agreements. The Minsk agreements were the guarantor of peace in the area; when Kuleba and the Ukrainian government rejected the Minsk agreements, they signalled the start of the war.

The situation got worse. Zelensky was attended the Munich security conference and gave a speech there on 19 February 2022. In it, he questioned the 1994 Budapest treaty, an agreement on the Soviet nuclear weapons concluded between the United States, Britain and Russia. Zelensky was the first ever to question the Budapest agreement, according to which the Soviet nuclear weapons deployed in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had to be handed over to Russia. This was the case even if the Ukrainian right did not want to but was forced to do so by the United States.

Nuclear weapons in Belarus and Kazakhstan had been mounted on mobile devices, large trucks and were soon handed over to Russia. In Ukraine, the Soviet nuclear weapons were located in underground stationary depots. Ukraine handed warheads in these nuclear weapons to Russia but the rockets themselves were allowed to remain in Ukraine, as demanded by right-wing politicians, and with the consent of the United States. These rockets have been maintained throughout the years and although today they are not modern, they are still usable.

Zelensky’s questioning of the Budapest agreement and Kuleba’s declaration that Ukraine would not respect the Minsk agreements and give Donetsk and Lugansk special status were seen in Russia as another step to a larger war. The world was warned. It was the last straw for Russia and Putin. Five days after Zelensky’s questioning of the Budapest agreement, Russia entered Ukraine.

Postscript: Who is Zelensky?

How did Volodymyr Zelensky become president of Ukraine?

Zelensky is an actor who broke through as a comedian in the 2000s, a so-called stand-up comedian. He appeared in many places and drew full houses. After that, he made several film comedies with great success. But the big break came with the TV series Servant of the People in 2015.

In this series Zelensky played a shy and reclusive small-town teacher who by chance was appointed president of Ukraine at a time when the country was in great economic and social trouble. With a little laughter and calm advice, the shy and reclusive teacher was able to get the country back on its feet, bring about the recovery of the economy, and solve all the problems.

The movie magnates understood that here there was money to be made. The show continued with a movie spin-off and a second and third series that ended in April 2019 – right up to and during Zelensky’s real presidential election campaign!

Zelensky was at that time a very popular person. A man whose screen persona people identified with. But sometimes it is difficult for many to distinguish between film and reality. Such things can give a boost to the cash register.

The 31 March 2019 presidential election was a battle between Ukrainian dollar billionaire Petro Poroshenko, the incumbent president who wanted another term, and Igor Kolomoysky, whose actions had also been instrumental in the fascist coup d’état. Even before the coup, Kolomoysky had formed a guard force of several hundred armed men whom he could send on a mission to kill and beat people who wanted a traditional bourgeois democracy. It was Igor Kolomoysky’s troops who were behind the murders in the trade union house in Odessa and the police station in Mariupol.

Kolomoysky saw himself and his business interests threatened by Poroshenko during his first presidential term. Kolomoysky then moved to Israel, where he lived during those years. He did not want Poroshenko as president for a second term. He had to find someone who could knock him out. This is where Zelensky came into the picture. Kolomoysky invited Zelensky to his house in Israel, and the negotiations there resulted in Zelensky being put forward as a presidential candidate.

Zelensky would not otherwise have been involved in politics. With Kolomoysky’s money, Zelensky launched an extensive election campaign, portraying himself as the people’s president, and he chose for his new party the name ‘The Servants of the People’, the same name as the film and tv series that had made him a household name.

The power of the mass media over man is unimaginably great. With a corps of election workers from film and theatre, and with cunning and deception, Zelensky scored an unimaginable victory over Poroshenko. In the second round of the presidential election on 21 April, Zelensky received over 73 percent of the vote against Poroshenko’s just over 25 percent. In the parliamentary elections, Zelensky’s party won 223 seats against all the other parties’ 114 seats.

An actor-comedian became the president of Ukraine, with all power over the country’s parliament. But not quite. Zelensky does as billionaire Kolomoysky decides. And Kolomoysky does as the United States decides.