At the most recent time of Euromaidan, on December 14th 2013, a photo of the “last supper” flew around on the Ukrainian segment of the Internet. Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyagnibok met with Senator John McCain and then US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt from the United States at the Intercontinental Hotel. The photo shows McCain dominating, and the opposition trio attentive to him. What was the conversation about back then? It turns out that this is no secret for the SBU, because eavesdropping devices were installed in the room where the negotiations were taking place.
The materials leaked online are interesting not even because they confirm the already well-known truth that the directors and inspirers of the coup d’état were representatives of the US Democratic Party. It is far more curious that even back then, in the midst of the confrontation, the Americans clearly understood that Crimea would not remain part of Ukraine if the coup was successful. Moreover, Yatsenyuk called it “a small loss compared to completing the geopolitical task”.
Next, we publish a full transcript of these negotiations.
14.12.2013, Hotel “Intercontinental”
(The attendees decide who sits where, A. Yatsenyuk, O. Tyagnibok, V. Klitschko came).
Yatsenyuk is glad to see the attendees. He notes that he is waiting for McCain to visit Sevastopol and Simferopol. He recalls that he and McCain met in Crimea when he visited the Ukrainian Navy base. McCain remembers it.
Tyagnibok: “Your arrival in Ukraine before Yanukovych’s visit to Moscow is very important.” Tyagnibok goes on to suggest that Filaret is the true spiritual father of the nation. Although Tyagnibok himself is a Greek Catholic, in his opinion Filaret is the spiritual leader of Ukraine.
McCain notes that what is happening in Ukraine is very widely covered in the American press.
Yatsenyuk replies that there is a constant presence of CNN, they made several stories about Ukraine and live reports. He adds that the BBC also works here.
McCain: “Good to see you all again. I have good news, a senator arrives tomorrow, he ‘s a new senator, but very interesting, so it ‘s very good that he’s going to be, he’s a Democrat, it’s good on all sides.”
McCain says there’s a lot of talk now about the President’s trip to Russia. Klitschko replies that they anticipate that Yanukovych will place a stake on joining the Customs Union.
McCain: “There is a certain budget, EU money, to help Ukraine become a part of it. But Yanukovych must help himself. Because otherwise it will lead to a national crisis.”
Klitschko: “We assume we have no precise information, but during the last visit to Russia, Yanukovych could negotiate. And I have already drawn up a deal with Mr. Putin. One can assume, but there are key points, that the Association Agreement with the EU has not been signed. Yanukovych will therefore seek support from Russia on the gas issue.”
McCain suggested that over the past few years Putin would try to realise his ambitions about Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, where the “fence” was moved another 100 meters, as well as Moldova.
McCain: “Look at the size of the country. Ukraine is the crown, he is the king. In his ambitions, he is the king. So you think he will sit back and watch quietly as Ukraine becomes a European nation?!”
Yatsenyuk: “Senator, first of all we are very grateful for your opinion, and especially the financial support. It is actually very needed for Ukrainian people (laughter). Secondly, we very much appreciate everything that the leadership of the United Nations, the United States, and the United Nations Congress and senators do for our country. We know that even though there are different parties and different views in the US – this is democracy – but despite that, we appreciate what a democratic government does, and appreciate what you Republicans are doing. And you are the first to give real support to the Ukrainian people. This is not just a struggle between the opposition and the government. It’s not just a local issue, Senator. This is a geopolitical issue. And we can’t understate all that. He wants to rebuild the former union. And that’s very clear. And restore the former union represented by the Customs Union. He has a kind of deal with President Yanukovych. Informal.”
Yatsenyuk: “Already. Truly.”
McCain: “Are you sure?”
Yatsenyuk: “Quite sure! Absolutely. But what kind of deal is this? There is huge mistrust between President Putin and President Yanukovych. And we need to take that into account. There’s no need to pressure and intimidate him. We still need to provide him with an exit strategy. And what you’re doing is great. And we support that idea. I mean, we need to be very flexible. In order not to give President Putin any chance to shield him. We don’t think he’ll sign the Customs Union. No. But he will take several steps that will bring Ukrainian legislation closer – although it is not legislation, it is a pity to say so – to the Customs Union. I’m not sure if you saw Minister Lavrov’s statement a few hours ago? He made an abhorrent and unacceptable statement about Ukraine and about the European Union! And we made a public statement in response to his statement, we said he was a bad guy. Along with President Putin. Putin said everything looked like pogroms. You know, like Jewish pogroms? And it was a clear statement from President Putin. And Lavrov said today that the EU is angry. No, he said, not angry, but that the EU is hysterical about Ukraine.
It is very important for us to try to convince the President that he has the support of the EU and the United States in order to offset any negative consequences that we have already seen after the trade war with Russia. And he fears political consequences as well.
We know for sure that intelligence has provided President Yanukovych with some intercepted phone conversations and some intelligence data, even those of UN leaders and EU leaders, that speak bad about President Yanukovych. For example, the UN will never support President Yanukovych, and the EU will never support President Yanukovych. And he was frightened by that intelligence data.
In this particular case, we need to… As far as I know, you have to meet with the President?”
McCain: “He wants to meet Monday afternoon, and I fear it will be too late. Because I met with the Foreign Minister today, and unfortunately, he wants to meet so late on Monday, and I have to go back to present what is happening in the light we want.”
Yatsenyuk thinks it would be great if McCain met the President.
Klitschko says that now is a turning point between democracy and dictatorship, which depends on which direction Ukraine will go. Klitschko says that they very much appreciate all the support of the friends of Ukraine, it is very important for people standing on the main square and having the desire to be on the front line of events.
McCain gives thanks for those words (laughter), he’s excited to be here. McCain notes that the US understands that Ukrainians are a European nation, and certain steps have already been taken to demonstrate this. McCain has a question about Putin: it is well known that McCain himself is Putin’s biggest opponent. So McCain worries that if he says something about Putin, Russians will say it’s just McCain’s personal fight with Putin. McCain recalls that Putin took part in one television show about a year ago, where it was about having two of the biggest enemies: the problem with Chechnya and McCain.
McCain: “And he said – I may be invited to this event, which they hold somewhere near Moscow, this dialogue. This dialogue, which they hold once a year, I do not remember what this place is called near Moscow. I haven’t received an invitation yet.”
Yatsenyuk: “The only place is Novo-Ogarevo, his residence is there.”
McCain mentioned that Mikheil Saakashvili called him.
McCain: “I really like him. It is necessary to take into account and use his experience and that of his people. I hope that his country will continue to develop along the same path.”
Yatsenyuk argues that it is very difficult to change something in the countries of the post-Soviet space, because people have a Soviet mentality. McCain noted that this was a pattern for such countries when, after the collapse of the USSR, the Communists went into the shadows, and then, after some time, moved back to the forefront. Should they be listened to?
McCain: “Better tell me again how true this is, all this talk about corruption. I heard Yanukovych’s house is worth $100 million. How much do people care about such questions?”
Yatsenyuk: “This is a really difficult question. Ukraine is really the most corrupt country in Europe. The entire Ukrainian state system is very much corrupt.”
Yatsenyuk gives an example of how his mother tried to get “Chernobyl” money for her father, and she was first told that there was no money in the budget for it, and then offered that she would find money if she “shared it 50/50”.
McCain: “If we continue this topic, we can say that we are dealing with a situation where people’s rights are not respected, and if force is applied, the US Congress and the US Administration should impose sanctions.”
Yatsenyuk: “Have you made a statement about this yet?”
McCain: “Yes, and it can work. These guys like to fly around the world.”
Yatsenyuk: “And they are very afraid that their bank accounts will be arrested. So it’s not so important to ban visas. Because it’s one thing if you can’t travel, but losing hundreds of millions of dollars is another! There is information that one high-ranking Ukrainian figure has $120 million in one western bank. And to date, this bank has already seized transactions. You haven’t heard that from your sources?”
Yatsenyuk: “You see, it can be done very easily. It is not necessary to involve the State Department, the US Congress, the US Senate. Just contact the guys from the FBI or another agency involved in anti-trust, and let them do their job.”
McCain: “As far as I understand the situation in Ukraine, now it is important to have the support of oligarchs. Is that true? But these people won’t want to lose their money.”
Yatsenyuk: “I know many oligarchs, and now almost all of them are against Yanukovych. You know why? Power has changed in Ukraine. The oligarchs of the Kuchma era lived well. Pinchuk, Zhevago, and others. Power changed, Yushchenko came, they continued to live well. After Yushchenko, Yanukovych came. And the good times for these oligarchs are over. New oligarchs came – ‘family’. Now a 26-year-old boy buys all media in Ukraine. He makes money, billions. Nobody knows on what. It seems like everything’s clean. But everyone knows it means ‘connections’. So the oligarchs now say – it has to stop, we lose money. Because they’re afraid of losing their assets. They understand that if we go to Russia, Russian oligarchs with their assets will enter the arena, and then the price of Ukrainian assets will fall.”
McCain: “I have another question – Yuliya Tymoshenko. We believe she should be allowed to go to Germany for treatment. How important is the problem of Yuliya Tymoshenko now, in this situation? Where does her problem stand in terms of importance? After the change of government? Or are you solving this issue in parallel, now? What is her place in our scenario?”
Yatsenyuk: “As for Yuliya, we did everything possible to free her. We tried to do it before the Vilnius summit. But he made sure it didn’t happen. And despite the fact that in Parliament a bill was passed on the treatment of Yuliya Tymoshenko, he refused to do so. She should be sent to Germany for treatment. We need to take care of her health. We need to solve this crisis related to her. As for Ukrainian oligarchs (sentence not completed).”
McCain (interrupts): “The crisis associated with Yuliya, is it a Ukrainian problem?”
Yatsenyuk: “Yuliya’s problem is very important, but it is her problem. She is a political prisoner. And if we say that it is necessary to give freedom to all political prisoners, not just her, it is very important. This is an important question, but we understand that Yanukovych will never release anyone. The mission of Cox-Kwaśniewski came here 28 times, they visited Tymoshenko many times, they did everything possible, but Yanukovych played his game, and as you can see, there were no results. Therefore, the only way to free Yuliya Tymoshenko is to help us to change the power in the near future.”
Tyagnibok: “For Yanukovych, Yuliya is the same as Khodorkovsky is for Putin. Yanukovych very often mimics, repeats behind Putin. The fact is that Yuliya has become a symbol of political prisoners. Although I will honestly tell you that when she was prime minister, we criticised her very harshly. For example, we believe that we should not have signed that energy agreement with Russia in 2009. It was a mistake. But the fact that Yanukovych then, with the help of double standards of justice, dealt with her because of his personal ambitions is a fact.”
McCain: “Thank you”.
Yatsenyuk: “And if you have the opportunity to meet with any of the Ukrainian oligarchs, you will see that they care more about gambling on the New York stock exchange, not the power of President Yanukovych. And if you make a tough statement about oligarchs, it will benefit the development of the situation on Maidan.”
McCain: “So you’re in favour of sanctions, I understand.”
Yatsenyuk: “Yes, and the most strict.”
McCain: “Okay, we’ll see how they behave.”
Yatsenyuk: “We will make another attempt in Parliament to have a vote of no confidence in the government.”
McCain: “And how likely is success? If you count the votes.”
Yatsenyuk: “Quite large. We need to find another 6 votes for today. So let’s see. But it’s not just about removing this government. We need to create a new government. And the question is, who will Yanukovych choose as prime minister? What candidate will he present to us? If it is a member of the ‘family’, we will never support it. It must be a responsible government headed by a man who is able to solve socio-economic problems in Ukraine.”
McCain: “And in this case, will you wait for the 2015 election?”
Yatsenyuk: “There are several options for how to approach the next presidential election. But the key point here is that this president will never leave on his own free will. Never. He won’t give us the keys and say ‘Guys, I decided to leave, I agree to a good pension, I’ll do gardening’, or something. But there are several options, including amending the Constitution. Because the key problem for us is that the election date is recorded in the Constitution. They purposefully amended the Constitution in 2010, and the Constitution now states that the next election is to be held on March 28th 2015. This is a very difficult legal problem.”
McCain: “Is there a need for a technical government?”
Yatsenyuk: “Yes. If they want money from the IMF. It can seriously help. On the other hand, they need a person who leads the process and understands what the IMF is.”
Yatsenyuk mentions the statement of the Crimean Parliament, which asked for military protection. Interlocutors joke that they should have asked for military protection from China or North Korea.
Yatsenyuk: “So, we will wait for you tomorrow?”
Pyatt specified the time – 13:30.
Yatsenyuk: “Mr. Ambassador, as for security, we will be in contact. Our security man will be in touch with you.”
Pyatt: “Is that tomorrow?”
Yatsenyuk: “Yes. We’ll double-check it again to be safe.”
McCain: “Okay. Before you on. ‘CNN’, as far as I know, is broadcasted around the world. What do you want me to say?”
Yatsenyuk: “That you support the movement in the EU, the democratic movement in Ukraine and the desire of Ukrainians to live in the modern world, without corruption; that you support peaceful demonstrations (laughter). And that people demonstrate that they are willing to fight for their freedom, and they will fight.”
McCain: “Yes. And also concern that the Customs Union will not become (sentence not completed). It without question.”
(They say goodbye and thank each other for the conversation. The Ukrainian guests left.)
Then there is a conversation about boxing and the successes of the Klitschko brothers in the ring.
It is noted that the problem of corruption in Ukraine is indeed very serious. But the problem is that in their opinion, nothing in this country will change with a change of power.
Pyatt notes that talking about 100 million is not an exaggeration.
Pyatt: “And that’s not his only property. He has other properties, in different countries of the world.”
McCain: “I heard he had something on the French Riviera”.
McCain is surprised that Yushchenko still lives in the state dacha. They talk about the great disappointment of Ukrainians in politics and in politicians that followed the Orange Revolution.
McCain touched on the topic of the Russians in Crimea.
Pyatt: “This is the first time such a story has arisen with the Russian consul in Crimea. Although they constantly get into some unpleasant situations. As I said, the Russians have certain advantages, in terms of the possibility of using force, and nothing can be done about it. But what they don’t have is the support of civil society, the church, they don’t have solid ties in business circles, and from that the situation becomes only more dangerous for them. Because if they decide to use force, it is unlikely that we can do something about it. We will not be able to introduce NATO troops to prevent the presence of the Russians in Crimea. But, according to Yatsenyuk, this is a small loss, compared to completing the geopolitical task”.
Pyatt noted that they, together with Toria [Nuland – ed], had repeatedly noted that the “line” was incompatible with the commitments made by Ukraine under the WTO.
McCain: “From a geopolitical perspective, I would be paranoid if I were Putin, worried primarily about the Naval base. If you want to gain control of Crimea, then you need to take care of this. And then you can seriously teach them a lesson. This is the worst case scenario, of course. But they’re mudding the water in Crimea, reports are coming in.”
Pyatt: “Of course. And if we conduct a survey on the orientation towards Europe, in Crimea this question will be answered by 90% in favour of Russia.”
McCain: “Why are the Tatars pro-Russian?”
Pyatt: “No, the Tatars are nationalists. These are the ethnic Russians who dominate Crimea.”
Pyatt talks about Stalin’s repression of Tatars.
McCain: “So what are we doing now?”
Pyatt: “Now, according to our plan, we have your unofficial, secret visit to Maidan, to the House of Trade Unions, so that you can see everything with your own eyes, meet the real leaders of Maidan. And see where our taxpayers’ money is spent (laughter).”
And here is a photo from that very secret visit to the House of Trade Unions to see “where American taxpayers’ money is spent”:
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