When a mass movement broke out in 2013 against the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine, the United States and its West European allies mobilized to support it. The policy was justified by the Wilsonian logic of promoting democracy and celebrated as such by liberals. Realists for the most part agreed with the liberal argument regarding the motive of that support, but criticized it as delusional and argued that the subsequent civil war in Ukraine was the consequence of that policy. This is a puzzle, because five years prior to the Ukrainian events, a mass movement had rocked Armenia— another post-Soviet state. The West's attitude toward that movement, however, ranged from indifference to hostility, even though the Wilsonian motives for supporting that movement should have been stronger. The difference in the West's response resulted from the different positions of the two movements toward Russia: the Ukrainian movement was intensely hostile toward Russia, whereas the Armenian movement was not. In other words, where Wilsonianism dovetailed with a geopolitical motive, it was triggered; where it diverged, Wilsonianism remained dormant. This is not a deviation from the general pattern either. Contrary to the popular narrative, the West has supported democracy only when that support has been reinforced by material interests, and rarely, if ever, when it has posed a threat to such interests.

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