What has the past year of war inside Ukraine been about? The night of the coup or putsch in Kiev, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament called for a law prohibiting the use of the Russian language in Ukraine — a supremely stupid act, quickly repudiated by his fellows. But was this what the Ukrainian-language majority sought, and for which it had obtained the support of the United States government? Certainly not.

On the other hand, was the war the debut of a Russian offensive, as Washington claimed, meant to produce the annexation to modern Russia Crimea and other territories that once belonged to Imperial Russia at the height of its extent and power? A certain number of people in Washington think that this is what Russian President Vladimir Putin intended, even though this would seem a large and extraordinarily dangerous undertaking in the face of NATO opposition.

A Russian acquaintance of mine has argued that the American-promoted coup in Kiev in February 2014, overturning the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was really aimed at Putin. It was meant to provide for Russia the example of a liberal and pro-Western government, inspiring an eventual new democratic "Maidan" uprising by the Russian people, deposing Putin and led — why not? — by the late Boris Nemtsov. This suggestion occurred in a conversation several years ago.