Democratic presidential candidate accuses US of provoking Ukrainian crisis
Kucinich made the comments Tuesday evening while speaking to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, arguing American meddling in Ukraine’s affairs is what sparked the current situation in the first place and that Ukrainians were being exploited by Western powers.
Asked how he’d handle the tense standoff if he were president, Kucinich said the following:
"What I'd do is not have USAID and the National Endowment for
Democracy working with U.S. taxpayers' money to knock off an
elected government in Ukraine, which is what they did. I wouldn't
try to force the people of Ukraine into a deal with NATO against
their interest or into a deal with the European Union, which is
against their economic interest."
"So, it's the USA's fault that Putin rolled in? We made them do it?" O'Reilly asked.
"Bill O'Reilly, if you don't believe in cause and effect, I don't know what I can do for you," Kucinich said.
In February, Kucinich penned a column for the Huffington Post in which he argued the Association Agreement floated between by the European Union would be used to draw Ukraine “into the broad military arrangement with EU nations,” ultimately giving NATO positioning in a country bordering Russia.
When now-ousted President Viktor Yanukovich turned down the EU agreement to move closer to Moscow, pro-Western protests erupted in Kiev. Eventually, Yanukovich fled the country, resulting in a split between pro-Russian populations in Ukraine and those in favor of closer ties to Europe.
"From what I'm hearing, you're blaming the USA for subverting
Ukraine in the first place, thereby giving Putin a pass to go in
and invade," O’Reilly said.
"That's close," Kucinich responded. "We should be concerned about the Ukrainian people, because they're being used right now. They would be used by the IMF in a new austerity program, by NATO to go on the doorstep of Russia."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is no consensus between the United States and Russia regarding whether or not the troops in Crimea constitute an invading force. Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the idea on Tuesday, saying the soldiers are part of Crimea’s self-defense forces and that Moscow is not looking to go to war with Ukraine.
According to the Associated Press, a White House official said the US is not demanding a full withdrawal by Russia. Instead, he said the US is calling for Moscow to pull its troops back to their normal operating positions and reduce their number to the 11,000 sanctioned by its agreement with Ukraine. According to a report by RT on Tuesday, however, the Russian navy is permitted up to 25,000 troops on the Crimean peninsula.