Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at the Valdai Club, a Moscow-based think tank where serious matters are discussed, and where Russian policy is frequently shaped. I was invited to speak there in December 2014, after the Maidan uprising in Ukraine. The Russians believed it was engineered by American intelligence. I argued that that’s a hard thing to pull off without widespread dissatisfaction, and that while the CIA can do many things, fueling a revolution, including feeding, watering and supplying tens of thousands of people in a small space without end, isn’t one of them. The U.S. could hand out cookies, as the assistant secretary of state for European affairs did for her own strange reason, but the Maidan uprising was mostly an organically grown rebuke of a staunchly pro-Russia president and the massive corruption that surrounded him. I said that if the uprising was the result of a coup, then it had to be the most blatant coup in history. What I meant, in a wryly sarcastic way, was that the United States did absolutely nothing to hide its enthusiastic support. Russian media took it to mean that it was, in fact, the most blatant coup in history. There’s a reason I’m not a diplomat.
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