Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland?

Yves here. Biden’s nominees have skewed towards the awful, particularly on the foreign policy front. But his plan to install Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland at State is a standout. For those of you new to this site and not familiar with Nuland’s sorry history, this post gives an overview of her role in fomenting the coup in Ukraine and in putting relations with Russia on a Cold War footing. The authors encourage readers to call their Senators and urge them to vote against her nomination.

And before you get unduly excited by Biden nominating Gary Gensler to the SEC, I would much rather have seem Gensler at Treasury. Gensler demonstrated at the CFTC that he’s effective and dedicated to combatting abuses by Big Finance. However, his best shot at making the SEC feared and respected again is to appoint a tough head of enforcement, so keep an eye out for that pick.

The problem that Gensler will have at the SEC is that it is the only Federal financial services industry regulator that is subject to Congressional appropriations, rather that living off its fees and fines (the SEC collects far more than Congress allows it). And Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, then the Senator from Hedgistan, have been if anything more aggressive than Republicans in threatening the SEC and in keeping it budget-starved.

I had said to Lambert that if Biden wanted to be Machiavellian, the way to pretend to reward Elizabeth Warren while actually sandbagging her would be to make her SEC chair. Let’s hope that isn’t his logic for appointing Gensler.

By Medea Benjamin. cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. @medeabenjamin;  Nicolas J. S. Davies, an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. @NicolasJSDavies; and Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 Democratic delegate for Bernie Sanders,and is Coordinator of CODEPINK CONGRESS. @MarcyWinograd 

Photo Credit: thetruthseeker.co.uk Nuland and Pyatt planning regime change in Kiev

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia.

Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.

You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych.

The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies.

Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover.

Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change.

Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

With Clinton out and new personnel in top spots in his second term, Obama beganto take charge of his own foreign policy. He started working directly with Russia’s President Putin to resolve crises in Syria and other hotspots. Putin helped avert an escalation of the war in Syria in September 2013 by negotiating the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, and helped Obama negotiate an interim agreement with Iran that led to the JCPOA nuclear deal.

But the neocons were apoplectic that they failed to convince Obama to order a massive bombing campaign and escalate his covert, proxy warin Syria and at the receding prospect of a war with Iran. Fearing their control of U.S. foreign policy was slipping, the neocons launched a campaignto brand Obama as “weak” on foreign policy and remind him of their power.

With editorial helpfrom Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan penned a 2014 New Republicarticle entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get To Retire,” proclaiming that “there is no democratic superpower waiting in the wings to save the world if this democratic superpower falters.” Kagan called for an even more aggressive foreign policy to exorcise American fears of a multipolar world it can no longer dominate.

Obama invited Kagan to a private lunch at the White House, and the neocons’ muscle-flexing pressured him to scale back his diplomacy with Russia, even as he quietly pushed ahead on Iran.

The neocons’ coup de graceagainst Obama’s better angels was Nuland’s 2014 coupin debt-ridden Ukraine, a valuable imperial possession for its wealth of natural gas and a strategic candidate for NATO membership right on Russia’s border.

When Ukraine’s Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych spurned a U.S.-backed trade agreement with the European Union in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia, the State Department threw a tantrum.

Hell hath no fury like a superpower scorned.

The EU trade agreement was to open Ukraine’s economy to imports from the EU, but without a reciprocal opening of EU markets to Ukraine, it was a lopsided deal Yanukovich could not accept. The deal was approved by the post-coup government, and has only added to Ukraine’s economic woes.

The muscle for Nuland’s$5 billion coup was Oleh Tyahnybok’s neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and the shadowy new Right Sector militia. During her leaked phone call, Nuland referred to Tyahnybok as one of the “big three” opposition leaders on the outside who could help the U.S.-backed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on the inside. This is the same Tyanhnybok who once delivered a speech applauding Ukrainians for fighting Jews and “other scum” during World War II.

After protests in Kiev’s Euromaidan square turned into battles with police in February 2014, Yanukovych and the Western-backed opposition signed an agreement brokered by France, Germany and Poland to form a national unity government and hold new elections by the end of the year.

But that was not good enough for the neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing forces the U.S. had helped to unleash. A violent mob led by the Right Sector militia marched on and invaded the parliament building, a scene no longer difficult for Americans to imagine. Yanukovych and his members of parliament fled for their lives.

Facing the loss of its most vital strategic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, Russia accepted the overwhelming result (a 97% majority, with an 83% turnout) of areferendumin which Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which it had been a part of from 1783 to 1954.

The majority Russian-speaking provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine unilaterally declared independence from Ukraine, triggering a bloody civil war between U.S.- and Russian-backed forces that still rages in 2021.

U.S.-Russian relations have never recovered, even as U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals still pose the greatest single threatto our existence. Whatever Americans believe about the civil war in Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, we must not allow the neocons and the military-industrial complex they serve to deter Biden from conducting vital diplomacy with Russia to steer us off our suicidal path toward nuclear war.

Nuland and the neocons, however, remain committed to an ever-more debilitating and dangerous Cold War with Russia and China to justify a militarist foreign policy and record Pentagon budgets. In a July 2020 Foreign Affairsarticle entitled “Pinning Down Putin,” Nuland absurdly claimedthat Russia presents a greater threat to “the liberal world” than the U.S.S.R. posed during the old Cold War.

Nuland’s narrativerests on an utterly mythical, ahistorical narrative of Russian aggression and U.S. good intentions. She pretends that Russia’s military budget, which is one-tenth of America’s, is evidence of “Russian confrontation and militarization” and calls onthe U.S. and its allies to counter Russia by “maintaining robust defense budgets, continuing to modernize U.S. and allied nuclear weapons systems, and deploying new conventional missiles and missile defenses to protect against Russia’s new weapons systems…”

Nuland also wants to confront Russia with an aggressive NATO. Since her days as U.S. Ambassador to NATO during President George W. Bush’s second term, she has been a supporter of NATO’s expansion all the way up to Russia’s border. She calls for“permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border.” We have pored over a map of Europe, but we can’t find a country called NATO with any borders at all. Nuland sees Russia’s commitment to defending itself after successive 20th century Western invasions as an intolerable obstacle to NATO’s expansionist ambitions.

Nuland’s militaristic worldview represents exactly the folly the U.S. has been pursuing since the 1990s under the influence of the neocons and “liberal interventionists,” which has resulted in a systematic underinvestment in the American people while escalating tensions with Russia, China, Iran and other countries.

As Obama learned too late, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time can, with a shove in the wrong direction, unleash years of intractable violence, chaos and international discord. Victoria Nuland would be a ticking time-bomb in Biden’s State Department, waiting to sabotage his better angels much as she undermined Obama’s second-term diplomacy.

So let’s do Biden and the world a favor. Join World Beyond War, CODEPINK and dozens of other organizations opposing neocon Nuland’s confirmation as a threat to peace and diplomacy. Call 202-224-3121 and tell your Senator to oppose Nuland’s installation at the State Department.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. John A

    Nuland has also been declared persona non grata by Russia, so she would not be able to go with Biden, were he to visit Moscow. Russian foreign minister Lavrov, actually refused to shake her hand when she attended a US-Russia meeting with Kerry. She is poison to any attempt to peaceful relationships.

    1. Susan the other

      Yes, I remember that meeting clearly. Can’t cite the network, but it covered her closely – body language only. I wonder where Biden stood on that act of diplomacy given his own corruption, and also what John Kerry’s thinking is about now. John Kerry’s stepson was in cahoots with Hunter Biden. It looked like Kerry brought her along for some rehabilitation and Lavrov was having none of it. Instead he went directly to the delegation from Ukraine and they stood in a circle all with their backs turned to Vicky who had no choice but to wander over to the coffee table and pretend she wasn’t totally uncomfortable. Totally excluded. How can she recover from that?

    2. Patrick

      On January 27th, 2016, Naked Capitalism posted an article by the foreign correspondent John Helmer on the implications of that snub, in case anyone wants to revisit it.

  2. The Rev Kev

    If there is one thing that Russia hates it is fascists and that is because of the enormous damage caused by them in WW2. We call those invaders Nazis but the Russians seem to call them fascists. I sometimes wonder if it is part of their mother’s milk this hatred. For people like Nuland to help topple the government of a large, bordering country like the Ukraine and install people that were literally fascists was too much for the Russians. These were fascist of a very low order that had the old 1930s routines down pat, including the torchlight parades. And there was Nuland, handing out cookies to the rioters, many of whom had been trained in rioting tactics in Poland and were being paid about $100 a day by the US if I recall correctly. Of course Nuland was not alone as there was also a Representative from the EU also handing out cookies. The only equivalent that comes to mind is a violent revolution in Canada using professional rioters and having diplomatic representatives from the Russian Federation and China handing out donuts to the rioter. I wonder what Washington would say about a stunt like that.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    Nuland is a disgusting human being. Since she is a right winger, regardless of what party may be listed on her voter ID, I don’t think Bettridge’s law applies here at all.

    So glad all these ‘woke’ people put good old Uncle Joe back in office. Wonder how many realized they were supporting people being burned alive by actual Nazis in doing so?

    From an actual journalist, Robert Parry – https://consortiumnews.com/2014/05/10/burning-ukraines-protesters-alive/

      1. Brett Harris

        Sleepy Joe, who barely campaigned to crowds of less than 50, couldn’t remember where he was, amazingly had a surge of votes in the middle of the night, after the media had conspired to suppress any bad news about his son Hunter, to get more votes than Obama in 2008, and won despite Donald Trump having a record number of votes for a Republican candidate. But the wise media, and social media uniformly proclaimed the election was fair, anyone on social media who says otherwise was banned, further mass bannings on twitter, while Joe Biden is hardly to be seen. Any wrong speak is now punished with un-personing, and Russian Interference in 2016, but not apparently in 2020, will be written into Historical Truth.

        Yes, we can be sure that the Democratic Fascist Party is now in power.

  4. Carolinian

    Thanks for this. Our “learned nothing/forgot nothing” Bourbon restoration will be led by one of the dimmer Bourbons who couldn’t even set up a good grift in Ukraine without boasting about it and then angrily denying it. Should the press finally, improbably turn on him it should make for some fun news conferences. But perhaps he’ll merely be moving to the White House basement from his Delaware basement.

  5. Encephalitis Lethargica

    CFTC’s budgets are also set through congressional authorization and appropriations. Yes, the CFPB is not subject to Congressional appropriations, but for good reasons. However, all financial regulation can be overturned by the Congressional Review Act.

    As for the article, citation needed. Sort of a laundry heap of questionable material. Make no mistake, the Russo-Ukrainian War is a real war. Uniformed Russian armored infantry of 331st regiment of the 98th Svirsk airborne division dropped into Ukraine territory on 24 August 2014. From 25 to 27 August, Russian troops in civilian clothing, backed up by an armored column [not in disguise] took Novoazovsk. This is about Russia not being able to station 25,000 troops in Crimea as they had under Yanukovych. US troop levels in Europe have been at their lowest for the last 20 years. The US would like to [nay, needs to] keep it that way. However, the erosion of territorial integrity is a touchy subject in Europe given the lasting peace of the post-war period in a place where the wars have a pre-fix like “Hundred Years”.

    President Arseniy Yatsenyuk is of Jewish origin so the claims of coordination with Nazi sympathizers is dubious. Not even going to get the boycotted unconstitutional Crimean referendum.

    As for WW III, Obama’s defense department made it a priority to recover all the MANPADS, such as the Chinese-made FN-6 [via Qatar], Russian-made Strela-2’s and Igla-S’s [via Libya] from the FSA without so much as a thank you from the Russian Air Force. [Turkey, on the other hand, armed the FSA with Stinger’s.] It should be noted that the Syrian conflict’s death toll, in just four years, surpassed the 19-year death toll in all the Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq war theatres combined.

    Think about this way: who needs NATO and the EU more to maintain his power structure, Joe Biden or Vladimir Putin. Isn’t it clear Americans don’t care, and American business does not look to compete in Russian anytime soon. The geography is wrong. But Putin must find a way to engender ethnicities who do not like the Russian Empire, who had been cleansed by Stalin. One way is to sell energy below cost to the republics and buy in back from political allies in the form of electricity. Something upon which the EU frowns. [Personally, I did not care for the way Putin early on systematically and indiscriminately starved Chechen civilians for years. It was cruel on a level unseen outside of the Rwandan genocide. More importantly, it was the Russian Federation abdicating its authority by not providing for its own citizens and not letting NGO’s fill the calorie gap. I’d like to think had Putin’s admin not been so wobbly the first few years, he might’ve let the Red Cross feed the children.]

      1. John A

        Russia actually wanted to join Nato after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, thinking it would now be a ‘keep the peace’ organisation, rather than a front for US aggression, which the US military industrial complex needs to keep feeding at the trough.
        And Yatz as Nuland called him, was only ever Prime Minister, not President. And where do you get the idea that Russia sells gas for below cost?

    1. steelyman

      Talking about “citations”, perhaps you could supply the readership of this site with some credible citations and links for a few of the far fetched claims you’re making here. Most of this comment reads like pro-Ukrainian propaganda.

      1. peak.singularity

        What, unlike the far fetched claims of the article, which reads like pro-Russian propaganda?

        Like omitting that the revolution (not a coup, a coup is done by military/police) immediately followed a massacre of protesters by special forces with lots of ties with Russia, with a hundred dead and a thousand injured by sniper fire?

        Like omitting how the Russians have shot down a passenger plane. From *inside* Ukraine!

  6. Matthew G. Saroff

    I heard about Gary Gensler, Samantha Power, and Victoria Nuland, and I immediately thought, “The good, the bad, and the ugly.”

    Gensler surprised everyone when he was at the CFTC by doing his job, and doing it well, and his running the SEC is a good thing.

    Samantha Power is an aggressive war monger, and in her position at USAID, she will likely have her fingers in regime change pie, since USAID is part of the deep state regime change apparatus..

    Nuland is just a pro-Nazi nut though.

  7. Jack Parsons

    About NATO and the Ukraine war:

    I’ve long suspected that NATO has existed since 1991 to allow the US/EU axis to control Middle-Eastern and African resources. For example, the Rammstein military hospital is where every Gulf War soldier was airlifted for major treatment and convalescence.

    Also, there is a huge international trade in opium. It’s grown in Afpak and shipped out in every direction. I suspect that a fair amount of that flows through Ukraine and Crimea. If you look at a topo map of Crimea, there’s a lot of seashore that could be good “smuggler’s coves”. Following this line of argument, Russia grabbing it from Ukraine was a gimme to Russia’s gangsters. This, as well as the “Pipeline Wars”, gives Russia a strong reason to encircle Ukraine.

    1. Brett Harris

      The smuggling of drugs and other contraband through Crimea was greatly curtailed since Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. It took some time, and it nearly cost the new Prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya her life.
      I couldn’t say the same about Odessa, which is as bad as ever.

      Most Afghan heroin enters Europe via Camp Bondsteel, the largest US base not on US soil in Kosovo. Kosovo is run by the KLA known for their organ, human, and drug trafficking, and plenty of product arrives with every flight from Afghanistan, ever since the US stopped the Taliban destroying the poppy farms.

      This is also he very same Kosovo that the US excised from Serbia, after bombing and killing over 2000 civilians, and no-one got to vote. No-one put massive sanctions on the criminals they put in charge of Kosovo, unlike what the US and EU did to punish the small businesses of Crimea.

  8. John Anthony La Pietra

    Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no one fired Nuland, . . .

    Perhaps someone thought (if that is the correct word): “Well, Merkel is due to be stepping down this year — so maybe it’s safe for Nuland to go to Germany again. . . .” /s/

  9. DSB

    Thanks for this. I just didn’t think it possible Victoria Nuland could find a position in any administration after Ukraine. Obviously I was wrong.

    The author seems to think Obama as President of the United States was incapable of implementing his policy agenda due to Nuland. Maybe Occam’s razor applies. The problem wasn’t Obama couldn’t be Obama, it was Obama. I wish people would stop apologizing for him.

    1. Brett Harris

      Nuland was just following long standing Democratic Party policy.

      Zbigniew Brzezinski planned to use Ukraine against Russia since 1993. In his 1998 book, “The Grand Chessboard” he said, without Ukraine, Russia ceased to be a Eurasian power. Brzezinski was advising Obama even during the election campaign in 2008, and wrote another book “Second Chance”, referring to his fear that the Bush Administration destroyed all his plans for using jihadists in Central Asia and to take Ukraine, to destroy Russia.

      The Libyan and Syrian wars were no coincidence either, Brzezinski is the father of modern Islamic extremist terrorism, having persuaded Jimmy Carter to fund jihadists to attack the Afghan state in July 1979, culminating in an October coup, and the assassination of the Afghan President. The Soviets refused to get involved until the coup, and soon after intervened under the provisions of the Afghan-Soviet mutual defense pact to restore order in later December. Upon hearing the news, Brzezinski ran to tell Carter, “Now we can give the Soviets their Vietnam”. Later Brzezinski said, “It’s not so much that we caused the Soviets to invade, we just make it more likely to happen”.

      When asked if he regretted (1998, pre-9/11) arming jihadists and terrorists, he said
      “What’s a few agitated Moslems compared to the fall of communism”

  10. gwb

    The U.S. govt. turned a blind eye to the right-wing militias in Ukraine in 2014-15, because they were seen as part of the good-guy team fighting those evil Russians in eastern Ukraine. This is now the reason the Azov Battalion has grown into a social-media powerhouse, attracting and training white supremacists from around the world, including Americans:


Comments are closed.