Corporate interests behind U.S. backed coup in Ukraine

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist and former news producer in Washington , D.C. In a piece for Consortium News, “Corporate Interests Behind the Ukraine Putsch,” he connects the money behind yet another (cough!) U.S. backed, “humanitarian” intervention.

If you have been watching the news, you may know that Obama and his corporate overlords have recently ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych and installed an illegitimate, right wing, neo-nazi dominated, government who they think will better serve American corporate interests. Not that your evening news, of course, will report it that way. The Obama administration has vehemently denied the new Ukrainian regime (backed by U.S. money and weapons) is full of ultra-nationalist, neo-fascists. Max Blumenthal at OpEdNews thinks otherwise, as does Andrew Kramer of the New York Times,  and Michael Hughes of the Huffington Post. Hughes reports:

 Yet after simply Googling the terms “Ukraine” and “Neo-Nazi,” the official position of the United States government along with the stance taken by many in the American media both now seem quite dubious, if not downright ridiculous, especially considering that one would be hard-pressed to machinate the lineup that now dominates Ukraine’s ministry posts.

For starters, Andriy Parubiy, the new secretary of Ukraine’s security council, was a co-founder of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), otherwise known as Svoboda. And his deputy, Dmytro Yarosh, is the leader of a party called the Right Sector which, according to historian Timothy Stanley, “flies the old flag of the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators at its rallies. . . .”

The Svoboda party has tapped into Nazi symbolism including the “wolf’s angel” rune, which resembles a swastika and was worn by members of the Waffen-SS, a panzer division that was declared a criminal organization at Nuremberg. A report from Tel-Aviv University describes the Svoboda party as “an extremist, right-wing, nationalist organization, which emphasizes its identification with the ideology of German National Socialism.”

For some time, the U.S. has had Ukraine in its crosshairs with the intention of installing a corporate friendly government that would boost bottom lines, while serving to further isolate and weaken Russia. Toward that end, the Obama administration has spent $5 billion of your taxpayer money to fund a Ukrainian, anti-Russian opposition they think they can control. It went so well in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, what could go wrong?

What precipitated the coup?

In November of 2013, corruption-linked, Ukrainian president Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union over the hundreds of billions it would cost Ukraine to join the EU. Instead, he pivoted east and opened trade talks with Russia. Taking advantage of unrest among Ukranians who wanted closer ties to the EU, the U.S. decided it was an opportune time to topple the Yanukovych government.

It’s important to ignore the BS coming out of the White House and beltway media, and understand the real reason the U.S. is involved in Ukraine. What is happening in Ukraine is not about supporting “freedom,” “independence,” or democracy.” It’s not about making the lives of the people in Ukraine better. It’s not about furthering world peace. It’s about making Ukraine another profit center for Wall Street.

Sottile lists the main corporate players who will benefit from the coup.

He needs go no further than the Executive Committee of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council headed by President and CEO Morgan Williams. Williams, for decades, has been a consultant to corporations seeking to do business in Ukraine. Sottile writes:

And what a committee it is — it’s a veritable who’s who of Big Ag. Among the luminaries working tirelessly and no doubt selflessly for a better, freer Ukraine are:

  • Melissa Agustin, Director, International Government Affairs & Trade for Monsanto
  • Brigitte Dias Ferreira, Counsel, International Affairs for John Deere
  • Steven Nadherny, Director, Institutional Relations for agriculture equipment-maker CNH Industrial
  • Jeff Rowe, Regional Director for DuPont Pioneer
  • John F. Steele, Director, International Affairs for Eli Lilly & Company
  • Van A. Yeutter, Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Cargill

Cargill has been involved in Ukraine for over two decades, Sottile reports, primarily investing in grain elevators. The company recently acquired a major Ukrainian animal feed company, and on December 13, 2013, purchased a stake in a Black Sea port at Novorossiysk.

Not to be left behind, Monsanto has plans in the works to build a $140 million “non-GM (genetically modified) corn seed plant in Ukraine to serve an emerging GMO-unfriendly European market and Europe’s growing appetite for organic food.

Eli Lily has a keen interest in providing agricultural pharmaceuticals for the projected growth of Ukrainian meat exports..

Why is Big Ag so focused on the Ukraine?

Sottile explains the history of the region:

In many ways, the farmland of Ukraine was the backbone of the USSR. Its “fertile black soil” generated over a quarter of the USSR’s agriculture. It exported “substantial quantities” of food to other republics and its farms generated four times the output of “the next-ranking republic.”

Although Ukraine’s agricultural output plummeted in the first decade after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the farming sector has been growing spectacularly in recent years. While Europe struggled to shake-off the Great Recession, Ukraine’s agriculture sector grew 13.7% in 2013. . . .

According to the Centre for Eastern Studies, Ukraine’s agricultural exports rose from $4.3 billion in 2005 to $17.9 billion in 2012 and, harkening the heyday of the USSR, farming currently accounts for 25 percent of its total exports. Ukraine is also the world’s third-largest exporter of wheat and of corn. And corn is not just food. It is also ethanol.

Given the current upheaval and uncertainty in the Ukraine, and the fact that Russia is sure to retaliate, Sottile asks why is Big Ag forging ahead, undaunted?

The answer is that the seeds of Ukraine’s turn from Russia have been sown for the last two decades by the persistent Cold War alliance between corporations and foreign policy. It’s a version of the “Deep State” that is usually associated with the oil and defense industries, but also exists in America’s other heavily subsidized industry — agriculture.

It’s refreshing that Sottile states what is never mentioned in mainstream media—that, no matter who sits in the oval office, corporate interests drive U.S. foreign policy.

Sottile ends his piece with a quote from Morgan Williams, who he calls “Big Ag’s fixer” in the Ukraine.

“The potential here for agriculture/agribusiness is amazing . . . production here could double.  The world needs the food Ukraine could produce in the future. Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.”

“Of course,” Sottile says, “his priority is to ensure that the bread of well-connected businesses gets lavishly buttered in Russia’s former breadbasket.”

The view that Ukraine is a “gold mine” for building American corporate profits denies that there are real flesh and blood people living in Ukraine who have a variety of pressing human needs.

Big Ag is not the only corporate sector involved in Ukraine. On November 5, 2013, Chevron signed a 50-year lease to develop Ukraine’s shale gas reserves.

In the end, the U.S. meddling in the affairs of Ukraine, its financing of a coup to overthrow a legitimately elected government, and its support of a neo-nazi regime in order to serve the interests of Cargill, Monsanto and Chevron, is yet another sordid, and dangerous, chapter in U.S. foreign policy.