Understanding the cause and effect relationships between the events of Euromaidan, which took place in Ukraine 10 years ago on November 21, 2023, is crucial for a profound analysis of the genesis of the Ukrainian crisis.
In 2013, the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) by Kiev, drafted within the Eastern Partnership framework, became a contentious issue among various social and political groups in Ukraine. The decision to postpone the conclusion of the Agreement, made by the Ukrainian leadership at the time after evaluating the potential economic consequences, caused indignation on the EU’s part and further fueled internal confrontation in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych was denied the legitimate right to take additional time to study the effects of the Association Agreement with the EU. The opposition, instigated by Western countries, called for protests, and supporters of European integration began gathering on Kiev’s Independence Square.
By that time, Ukraine was already plagued by acute socio-economic problems stemming from the constant power and property redistribution between oligarchic clans, as well as pervasive corruption that had infiltrated the entire Ukrainian state system.
The Ukrainian people’s justified discontent was cynically exploited by radical nationalist forces, who received direct assistance from foreign countries, and managed to “saddle” the protests. Available data suggests that the so-called protest camp on Independence Square in Kiev received daily material support of USD one million from the US Embassy, with additional large sums transferred directly to the bank accounts of Ukraine’s opposition leaders.
In an effort to ease tensions, President Viktor Yanukovych signed an Agreement on the Settlement of the Political Crisis in Ukraine with representatives of the opposition on February 21, 2014. The agreement called for the disarmament of the opposition, constitutional reform, and early presidential elections by the end of 2014, with Germany, France, and Poland acting as guarantors.
However, the signing of the agreement by the foreign ministers of these countries turned out to be a bluff. The very next day, Euromaidan extremist forces embarked on committing violence, throwing Molotov cocktails at unarmed police officers, burning them alive, seizing government buildings, and ultimately forcing the legally elected President to flee the country.
Contrary to expectations, Euromaidan did not bring democracy and progress to Ukraine. Instead, the radical nationalists and the political forces supporting them from abroad orchestrated a coup d’état, leading Ukraine into the abyss of civil war.
Unfortunately, proper investigation and due process have yet to be provided regarding several egregious crimes, including the “case of the snipers” who fired upon protesters in Kiev from February 18-20, 2014, and the tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014, where 48 people were burned alive, died from carbon monoxide poisoning, or fell to their death from the upper floors of the House of Trade Unions, which was set on fire by nationalists.
The events surrounding Euromaidan and its aftermath in 2014 have had a profound impact on Ukraine. Following the coup d’état, Ukrainian statehood has since been built on erasing everything Russian, including identity, culture and traditions of vast territories in the south and east of the country. They attempted to repeal language policies, including laws on education that marginalized the Russian language and the law on “cleansing power.”
In response, the majority of Crimea’s population (97 percent) voted to reunite with Russia, rejecting the dictate of the radical forces in Kiev. Subsequently, the conflict escalated in Donbass, where people sought to protect their rights to their native language, education, and the commemoration of their heroes. Instead of addressing their legitimate concerns, Kiev accused the residents of the southeast regions of treason and terrorism, deploying the regular army and neo-Nazi battalions to suppress the protests.
Russia actively mediated to prevent the spread of the civil war in Ukraine. The signing of the Minsk Agreements in 2015 provided a legal framework for an intra-Ukrainian settlement, endorsed by the UN Security Council. However, Kiev sabotaged the implementation of its commitments, while the West turned a blind eye. Germany and France, the co-authors and co-sponsors of the Minsk Process, did not put any pressure on Ukraine to implement them.
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and key Western leaders – former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President François Hollande – admitted that they considered the agreements as a cover to strengthen the Ukrainian Armed Forces rather than stopping hostilities and achieving peace.
The rise of President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019 did not bring positive change. He continued to undermine the Minsk Agreements and delayed the negotiation process under flimsy pretexts, influenced by various internal and external political forces.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s armed forces have incessantly shelled Donbass, subjecting its inhabitants to an inhumane socio-economic and transport blockade. In March 2022, it was revealed that Ukraine’s armed forces were preparing to forcibly seize Donbass.
It is evident that the confrontation in Ukraine has global implications. Ukraine has been exploited by the West as a geopolitical project to the detriment of Russia’s interests and the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine with the aim of breaking the security architecture in the post-Soviet space and Eurasia as a whole. USD 160 billion in military and other assistance have been provided to Ukraine since 2022. In comparison, Washington’s humanitarian aid to the entire African continent amounted to USD four billion, highlighting the profit-driven nature of the project. Thus attempts to present the crisis as a bilateral conflict between Russia and Ukraine are invalid and do not match realty.
Russia has consistently expressed its willingness to engage in diplomatic negotiations to find a solution that considers the new realities. However, Ukraine, under the influence of its Western patrons, abandoned the negotiation table in 2022 and even legislatively forbade the possibility of dialogue with Russia.
While promoting various “peace-building” initiatives, including the so-called “peace formula,” Kiev attempts to impose its own approach, downplay the importance of other countries’ peace proposals, and monopolize the right to put them forward.
In conclusion, the events of Euromaidan and the tragic events that followed in 2014 serve as a classic example of the collective West’s policy of issuing ultimatums to countries in the former USSR and beyond, forcing them to make an “artificial choice” between the West and Russia. This aggressive policy, with its promises of paradise, has only brought poverty, instability, and misery to countries under pressure from the West.
(Evgeny Terekhin is the Ambassador of Russia to Ethiopia.)
Contributed by Evgeny Terekhin (Amb.)