Ukraine is of vital strategic interest to the West. It sits between Europe and the Russians and has undergone political turmoil for some time in a tug of war between those two influences. As an anti-corruption campaign heats up there, more allegations of Biden corruption could be coming into play. Jim Dornan, a former chief of staff to Republican members of Congress and a Sky News contributor, gives us some intricate details on where this might lead.
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Dornan: The highly anticipated meeting between Joe Biden and Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, came and went as expected, Biden no doubt nervous that the conversation didn’t stray to matters that concern him or his family.
One of the main topics the two heads of state discussed was Ukraine’s ailing economy, crippled by corruption Ukraine inherited from its Soviet past. Then, in a series of moves, President Zelensky decided to finally fight corruption, not through the rhetorical platitudes of his predecessors, but with an iron fist.
A press conference held on Friday June 18, 2021, featuring the chair of the National Security and Defense Council, announced the designations of Ukraine’s greatest kleptocrats and their schemes. Two individuals on the list are allegedly tied to strategic Russian business, transnational corruption schemes, criminal syndicates, and Russian counter-intelligence. Not a word on Biden. Zelensky knows which side his bread is buttered on.
One, Dimitry Firtash, a billionaire, is a well-known Ukrainian oligarch currently in Austria fighting extradition to the U.S. after posting bail in excess of $150 million. Firtash is charged in the U.S. with orchestrating a corruption scheme to acquire ore deposits in India. The other, Pavel Fuks, is a disgraced former Moscow socialite who fled from Russia as his real estate development projects collapsed, giving way to lawsuits, investigations and criminal charges.
Mr. Fuks, known in Russian ganglands by the moniker “The Mercenary”, is alleged to have seized former President Yanukovych’s oil and gas assets, Golden Derrick and Ukrneftbureniye. Ukrneftbureniye, where Fuks currently holds a 23% interest according to open sources, owns oil and gas fields near the city of Kharkiv. The other owners of the lucrative oil and gas fields known also as Sakhalinskaya are allegedly Ukrainian oligarchs Igor Kolomoyski and Vitaliy Khomutynnik. Hunter Biden was known to travel in those circles.
A former Moscow thug-self-styled as a Moscow developer, Mr. Fuks has been hit with a recently filed civil suit by an American lawyer from California with deep GOP connections. This attorney, Yuri Vanetik, allegedly agreed to help Fuks attend Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to public filings, Vanetik disputes Fuks’ allegations, but leveled some of his own against Fuks, who Vanetik claims wasn’t even his client. Instead, Vanetik says his real client was one of the richest and most secretive politicians in Ukraine, Vitaliy Khomutynnik.
Vanetik alleges Fuks engaged in racketeering, demanding a whopping $255 million in damages from Fuks. The lawsuit is a 40-page missive about how Fuks allegedly graduated from being a human trafficker and an errand boy for Russian gangsters to murder and money laundering. It deploys the RICO statute. The complaint further alleges that Fuks put a contract on Vanetik for causing Fuks’ U.S. visa to be revoked – an allegation Vanetik denies.
By reviewing recent Ukrainian sanctions levied on the likes of Pavel Fuks and Dimitro Firtash, we can see that Ukraine is finally deploying effective measures to curtail Yanukovych-era corruption and Russian influence. President Zelensky has finally determined that appeasing the oligarchs is a strategy destined to fail.
How does that work out for Joe Biden? If Zelensky wants continued American support and aid then he has to play ball with the Biden administration. That means looking the other way if or when his anti-corruption squad uncovers something not pleasing to the American chief executive regarding his family’s alleged dealing with the oligarchs. At that point, Zelensky will have to make a choice, the integrity of the Ukrainian political process or Joe Biden. His choice will be interesting for both Ukraine and the United States.