Nothing ever happens out of the blue. Whether you’re talking about an earthquake, a star going nova, or the sudden ascension of a reality TV host to the top of the GOP ticket, it doesn’t just simply happen one day. It has antecedents. Political historian Heather Cox Richardson is reporting that MAGA Republicans’ blockage of crucial aid to Ukraine and Trump’s off the wall crack encouraging Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies, have their roots in what happened ten years ago this week, in 2014.

Although few Americans paid much attention at the time, the events of February 18, 2014, in Ukraine would turn out to be a linchpin in how the United States ended up where it is a decade later.

On that day ten years ago, after months of what started as peaceful protests, Ukrainians occupied government buildings and marched on parliament to remove Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych from office. After the escalating violence resulted in many civilian casualties, Yanukovych fled to Russia, and the Maidan Revolution, also known as the Revolution of Dignity, returned power to Ukraine’s constitution.

Paul Manafort used to work for Yanukovych, beginning back in 2004, in fact. Yanukovych had a reputation as a gangster and so he hired Manafort to rehabilitate it. Which, considering how things turned out for Manafort and those in his immediate circle, is a bit like asking Al Capone to join up with Eliot Ness on a crime busting spree. Very odd choice, in other words. Be that as it may, Manafort, who was working for billionaire Oleg Deripaska at the time, decided to take the job.

Deripaska worried that Ukraine would break free of Russian influence and was eager to prove useful to Vladimir Putin. At the time, Putin was trying to consolidate power in Russia, where oligarchs were monopolizing formerly publicly held industries and replacing the region’s communist leaders. In 2004, American journalist Paul Klebnikov, the chief editor of Forbes in Russia, was murdered as he tried to call attention to what the oligarchs were doing.

Take careful note of that. This is something that happens routinely in Putin world, the murder of journalists (and yes, the Saudis do it with impunity as well) and Trump hates journalists. These very things will begin to happen in this country if Trump regains power.

With Manafort’s help, Yanukovych finally won the presidency in 2010 and began to turn Ukraine toward Russia. In November 2013, Yanukovych suddenly reversed Ukraine’s course toward cooperation with the European Union, refusing to sign a trade agreement and instead taking a $3 billion loan from Russia. Ukrainian students protested the decision, and the anger spread quickly. In 2014, after months of popular protests, Ukrainians ousted Yanukovych from power and he fled to Russia.

Manafort, who had borrowed money from Deripaska and still owed him about $17 million, had lost his main source of income.

Manafort was out of a job but that was not a problem. He called his old buddy Roger Stone and Stone got Manafort involved with Donald Trump’s campaign, which at that time was floundering. Manafort was an oddball from the start, being referred to as Trump’s “campaign mis-manager.”

He [Manafort] did not take a salary but reached out to Deripaska through one of his Ukrainian business partners, Konstantin Kilimnik, immediately after landing the job, asking him, “How do we use to get whole? Has OVD [Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska] operation seen?”

Manafort began as an advisor to the Trump campaign in March 2016 and became the chairman in late June.

Thanks to journalist Jim Rutenberg, who pulled together testimony given both to the Mueller investigation and the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee, transcripts from the impeachment hearings, and recent memoirs, we now know that in 2016, Russian operatives presented Manafort a plan “for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland, where Kremlin-armed, -funded, and -directed ‘separatists’ were waging a two-year-old shadow war that had left nearly 10,000 dead.”

Here’s the big part. This is what you need to pay close attention to.

In exchange for weakening NATO, undermining the U.S. stance in favor of Ukraine in its attempt to throw off the Russians who had invaded in 2014, and removing U.S. sanctions from Russian entities, Russian operatives were willing to help Trump win the White House. The Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee in 2020 established that Manafort’s Ukrainian business partner Kilimnik, whom it described as a “Russian intelligence officer,” acted as a liaison between Manafort and Deripaska while Manafort ran Trump’s campaign.

It took Putin ten years to actually invade Ukraine and you see the state of affairs we are in now with Mike Johnson and MAGA extremists stonewalling aid to Ukraine and Trump making stand up comedy out of both Ukraine and NATO, while he tries to generate money via $18 sneakers sold for $399 — plus tax and shipping. And if they’re autographed, then the price goes up into the high five figures range.

Meanwhile, Avdiivka fell a few days ago because Ukrainian troops lack ammunition. Biden has warned MAGA Republicans that “[t]he failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten,” and he has said, “history is watching.” This is to a group of people whose only interest is political theater and their next appearance on Fox News.

Make no mistake: Putin is playing the long game. He scoped all this out and scripted it long ago. MAGA is clueless and following Trump’s lead. Trump is petrified because he’s cornered and running out of money. Who do you think he’s counting on the bail him out? If you said Vladimir Putin, you have it right.

This is what everybody needs to know going into Election Day 2024. But I don’t see this scenario, all these connections, getting the news coverage that they deserve. Ergo, a splintered, disheartened electorate could vote democracy away and reelect Putin’s puppet.

Not saying it will happen, just saying it did happen before and Putin is desperately trying to make sure that it happens again. That’s why he planted his disinformation tape, saying that he wanted Joe Biden to win. Pure reverse psychology and treachery.

And the GOP is going right along with it. Probably a lot more of them would speak up, but they don’t want to end up excommunicated like Liz Cheney or having to pay security guards like Mitt Romney. And soon the GOP as we know it could be no more, with a Trump and an election denier running the RNC. Yes, Premier Khrushchev, you were right. It is possible to take over America without firing a shot. And Russia has done an admirable job of taking over the Republican party.

 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Imagine being in US politics and thinking ten years ahead. Is it any wonder Putin has done so well with the republicans when many of them can’t even conceive of what happens tomorrow?

    But they can be stopped. Manafort would still be serving a sentence, but Dimwit Donny pardoned him.

    That certainly needs revisiting. That whirring sound must be Reagan turning in his grave.

    The only way to stop this treasonous corruption is to elect Democratic.

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    • You give Reagan too much credit. He was also a criminal and traitor undermining Carter with a secret parts for arms deal with the extremists in Iran for them to keep the hostages, while Carter was negotiating with the elected president of Iran. Then he ran an illegal war in Central America killing peasants and overthrowing democracy. Bush was involved as was Barr. The problem of corrupt criminals stealing power in America is a long one. Trump is just the latest example.
      “Any people who believe they can be both ignorant and free, believe in what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson

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      • True Scott, Reagan was bad, and part of the path to today’s republicans, but there’s no way he would have taken part in this Russian collusion.

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        • I agree with that. I’m no defender of Ronnie Raygun but I don’t think he was a Russian stooge. In those days we knew who and what Russia was.

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          • Though that looks true on the surface, when one resorts to lies, murder, kidnapping, arms dealing, drug running, and stealing power…sounds like Russian behavior to me. Wrapping himself in the faux American patriotism sounds like a tactic Putin and Hitler would be applauding. Oh, and getting credit for the fall of the Berlin wall when all he did was mouth a slogan. The leader of Russia was more responsible for that and it cost him politically. Anyone believe if Putin had been in power that Bedtime for Bonzo Reagen shooting his mouth off would have brought down that wall? Not me! Everything appears to have connections just as the mushroom in the forest has an acre of underground mycelium.

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  2. If I still lived in the DC area you’d frequently find me on the public sidewalk outside the house of the judge that gave Manafort that appalling light prison sentence. Who remarked that other than the charges for which he’d been convicted he wasn’t all that bad a guy and had lived a useful life? Like HELL he did! He was Roger Stone cohort with the “ratfucking” stuff from an early age.

    However, it was his work propping up Putin’s ambitions that was literally treasonous. Manafort’s contract work had him heavily involved with the Party of Regions which was trying to get control of things solidly back under Putin’s control. Ukraine was far from becoming a member of NATO as there were years of cleaning up all the corruption would have to pass before they could be a credible candidate. But Ukrainians wanted that someday and Putin didn’t. Still, there was enough mutual trust to have Ukraine part of joint military exercises and with it’s ports it was in a good spot for joint Naval stuff.

    We had a presence at one of their ports in fact. So it was decided to have a large exercise and planning began. This stuff is complicated to put together. It starts at NATO headquarters of course but filters down and it got to the point where some of our Sailors and Marines were going to head from the base at the port to a planning meeting. Enter Manafort and his Party of Regions. He PLANNED and SET IN MOTION (complete with using contacts to delay police response) a large demonstration to attack the two busses filled with active duty Sailors and Marines. The busses were surrounded by a mob with them literally attacking them, beating on the windows with clubs, throwing large rocks etc . and they even got to a point of starting to rock them in an attempt to turn them over before local authorities finally arrived. Just in time. We had people injured and some seriously. A few more minutes and we’d have see some of our people killed and others taken hostage.

    THAT is Paul Manafort. A fucking traitor who engineered the attempted murder of American servicemen overseas to further the interests of Putin. That piece of shit should have been locked up back then, never to breathe a breath of free air again. That incident SHOULD have been highlighted in sentencing when he finally did get convicted of a crime. His ass should be rotting in prison right fucking now.

    His is a grave that should I ever win the lottery I hope to live long enough to piss on. (and do more than that if you catch my drift.)

    Oh hell yes Putin was thrilled to have Manafort so closely placed next to Trump during that 2016 campaign.

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  3. Not to add to the conspiracy theories, but do we know how many of trump’s grassroots MAGA supporters are actually real people? Putin’s troll farms could be churning out thousands of false identities to fund his campaign with small on-line donations. Or does he leave his rallies with shopping bags full of Russian loot that he claims were small cash donations? As Mary says, the only things he cares about are himself and money. And he’ll snatch grannies’ purses to get it.

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  4. With the GOP from.Nixon on, it is ALWAYS about the Benjamins. Nothing about their worship of money is new. Trump.just made it more obvious,yet his working class doesn’t get it. Of course they likely see Putin as an ally in white supremacy.

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