A majority of Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the terror group Islamic State (ISIS), while 78 percent back a new authorization for use of military force against ISIS, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
The poll found 57 percent don’t like how Obama is handling the threat posed by ISIS and 58 percent think American military action against the group is going badly. In the fall, both those numbers were at 49 percent.
Fifty-seven percent also disapprove of Obama’s handling of foreign affairs overall, and 54 percent disapprove of how Obama is handling terrorism.
CNN notes that Obama’s declining poll numbers come as violent events unfold. This weekend, two shootings in Denmark targeted a cartoonist who had illustrated the prophet Mohammed and a synagogue. Also, Egypt launches airstrikes against ISIS in Libya over the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians.
Almost half – 46 percent – of people who identify as members of Obama’s own party told pollsters the fight against ISIS isn’t going well.
By Open Salon
During her visit to the White House, Barack Obama held a press conference in the Rose Garden with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during which the U.S. President expressed full support for a harsh crackdown against “pro-federalism”, pro-Russian, anti-coup Kiev government protesters in eastern Ukraine at the same time threatening Russia.
Bill Van Auken in “Appearing with Germany’s Merkel, Obama backs Ukraine crackdown” quotes Obama:
“As Ukrainian forces move “to restore order in eastern Ukraine”, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters.”
“The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” [with indiscriminate bombs and shelling, right?]
[The onus falls on Moscow, of course] “to use its influence with these paramilitary groups [I call them freedom fighters] so that they disarm and stop provoking violence.”
… Obama praised Kiev for its “remarkable restraint” and placed the full blame for the violence wracking the country on Russia [of course!]. He made no call for the Ukrainian regime to disarm the fascist paramilitary groups such as the Right Sector that brought it to power and now comprise its shock troops for the assault on the east. [ Kiev loves Nazis]
As Obama spoke, a fascist mob led by the neo-Nazi Right Sector was carrying out a massacre of pro-Russian demonstrators in Odessa, killing dozens. In the east of the country, fully armed troops and Right Sector thugs, backed by armor, artillery and helicopter gunships, attacked centers of the anti-Kiev protests in Slovyansk and other cities, setting the stage for a bloodbath.
Eric Sommer in “The Day US-Supported Fascists began Murdering Civilians A Day that will Live in Infamy”:
In reality and on the ground, the U.S. government — with no mandate from the American people — is supporting a fascist/oligarch unelected Ukrainian ‘government’ installed in a coup spear-headed by two openly fascist parties, Svoboda and Right sector.
Now, in actions highly reminiscent to Hilter and his brown shirts, right-sector oriented hooligans aided by military forces have just beaten with chains and baseball bats, and burned to death in the Trade Unions building of Odessa 31 civilians who were engaged in a peaceful occupation in their own city — civilians who are opposed to and do not recognize, the new oligarch/fascist ‘government’.
On May 5th Alex Lantier in “US puppet regime in Kiev escalates violence after fascist massacre in Odessa” updated reporting of this nightmare:
Some 1,000 well-armed football hooligans from Kharkiv and fascist thugs from the Right Sector militia attacked pro-Russian protesters, forced them into the city’s trade union hall, then besieged the building, shooting at it with small arms and torching it with Molotov cocktails. In all, 42 people died and 170 were wounded, making it Kiev’s single bloodiest act of repression against the protests. Odessa police allowed the assault to proceed, then jailed pro-Russian protesters who managed to survive both the flames and Right Sector thugs who attacked anyone they saw jumping from the building.
Amos Howard of the Guardian via Jon Queally in “Dozens Reported Dead in Odessa as Ukraine Chaos Spreads” offers more details:
The Guardian’s Amos Howard was in Odessa, and sent this report from city:
Odessa’s large Soviet-era trade union building was set alight as pro-Ukrainian activists mounted an assault as dusk fell. Police said at least 38 people choked to death on smoke or were killed when jumping out of windows after the trade union building was set on fire.
Bodies lay in pools of blood outside the main entrance as explosions from improvised grenades and Molotov cocktails filled the air. Black smoke from the building and a burning pro-Russian protest camp wreathed the nearby square.
Pro-Russian fighters mounted a last-ditch defence of the burning building, tossing masonry and Molotov cocktails from the roof on to the crowd below.
Medics at the scene said that the pro-Russian fighters were also shooting from the roof. At least five bodies with bullet wounds lay on the ground covered by Ukrainian flags as fire engines and ambulances arrived at the scene.
Some people fell from the burning building as they hung on to windowsills in an attempt to avoid the fire that had taken hold inside. Pro-Ukrainian protesters made desperate efforts to reach people with ropes and improvised scaffolding.
“At first we broke through the side, and then we came through the main entrance,” said one pro-Ukrainian fighter, 20, who said he was a member of the extreme nationalist group Right Sector.
“They had guns and they were shooting … Some people jumped from the roof, they died obviously,” he said.
Riot police arrived on the scene as hand-to-hand fighting was already underway inside, but did not enter the building and stood formed up in ranks outside.
Russia Today 5-4-14 in “Odessa Slaughter: How a Odessa slaughter: How vicious mob burnt anti-govt activists alive (GRAPHIC IMAGES)”:
What triggered the tragedy were violent clashes, which erupted on Friday afternoon between two rival rallies in Ukraine’s port-city of Odessa.
Around 1,500 supporters of the Kiev authorities, accompanied by aggressive fans of the local football club, Chernomorets, tried to march through the center of the city chanting “Glory to Ukraine,” “Death to enemies,” “Knife the Moskals [derogatory for Russians].” Some of the people in the group were wearing ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement insignia, were armed with chains and bats and carried shields.
Several hundred anti-government activists eventually confronted the procession. Fighting broke out as a result, with members of the rival groups throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades at each other and at police. The pavements were spattered with blood.
The police failed to draw the rival groups apart. As a result, 4 people were killed and 37 wounded in the violence. Police were among the injured.
Street clashes appeared to be only the beginning of the Odessa Friday nightmare, as radicals started to drive anti-government activists back to their tent camp in front of the local House of Trade Unions. Many anti-Kiev protesters eventually hid inside the building.
“Women and children were hiding in the Trade Union’s building,” an eye-witness told RT. “First the armed men set fire to tents, then they started throwing Molotov cocktails and grenades at the building. We heard shots fired and saw smoke,” she added.
The first floor of the Trade Unions building was soon engulfed in flames. The people inside appeared to be trapped.
Dozens eventually burnt alive or suffocated to death. To escape the fire and smoke, people were hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills. In sheer desperation, some of them eventually jumped to the ground.
Many of those who managed to escape the fire were then brutally beaten by armed men, believed to be from the ultra-nationalist Right Sector group, who had the building under siege.
As people were dying in the burning building, some of the pro-Kiev activists jeered on Twitter that “Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George’s ribbons.
About 50 people got to the roof of the burning building and waited for help there. RT managed to speak to one of them, after they were later rescued by police.
“We were hiding there [on the roof] from this angry mob, which forced us inside this building and threw Molotov cocktails and stones at us,” he said. “People were burned alive inside the building, they couldn’t get out. We couldn’t go down, we were seeing people from other floors being brought down and then those rioters down there attacked them like a pack of wolves. We were escorted from the roof and from the building. We had to step over dead bodies when we were descending the stairs.”
A total of 46 people died in Odessa’s violence on Friday and almost 200 others sustained injuries, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists on Saturday.
39 of the dead lost their lives in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House, according to the Ukrainian emergencies agency, which released a statement saying that “31 of the dead were found inside the building, eight more were found outside by law enforcement officers.”
Odessa announced on Saturday a three-day mourning for the victims of the tragedy.
Later, Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov signed a decree signaling two days of national mourning for those who died in the special military operation in eastern Ukraine and in mass clashes in Odessa.
Residents of Odessa have since Saturday morning been laying flowers outside the burnt out Trade Union building.
Russians have been bringing candles to the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow to commemorate the dead in Odessa.
Barry Grey in “New York Times covers up fascist atrocity in Odessa”:
The anti-Kiev regime protesters had retreated into the building after the Ukrainian nationalist mob set fire to their nearby tent encampment. Authorities say 30 people died from smoke inhalation and another eight were killed when they jumped from windows and balconies in an attempt to escape the blaze.
According to eyewitness accounts, those who dropped from the building and survived were surrounded and beaten by Right Sector fascists. Video footage shows bloodied survivors being attacked.
This massacre occurred on the same day that government military forces, including armored personnel vehicles and helicopter gunships, attacked towns in the southeast of the country under the control of pro-Russian opponents of the regime, which was illegally installed last February in a coup led by Right Sector paramilitaries and backed by Washington and the EU.
Even as Ukrainian military forces were attacking protesters in the east and fascist mobs allied to the government were burning and killing in Odessa, President Barack Obama was giving his unconditional support to the actions of the regime at a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory,” he declared, and went on to praise Kiev for its “remarkable restraint.”
At a meeting Friday of the United Nations Security Council, US Ambassador Samantha Power put the entire blame for the violence on Moscow and called the military crackdown in the east “proportionate and reasonable.”
The United States has worked closely with the neo-fascist Svoboda party as well as the Right Sector, and signed off on their incorporation into the government it installed in Kiev after the February 22 putsch that overthrew the elected, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Initially, the head of Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, was offered the post of deputy head of internal security, but he turned it down in order to operate more freely while providing the regime with a pretense of separation from the fascist militia.
Nevertheless, the Kiev government set up a new National Guard, recruited largely from the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalists and fascists, and has thrown it, as well as the Right Sector directly, against pro-Russian oppositionists in the east to supplement the operations of the Ukrainian military.
In an interview last month with the German publication Spiegel Online, Yarosh boasted of state support for his forces, saying, “Our battalions are part of the new territorial defense. We have close contact with the intelligence services and the general staff.”
The handprints of Washington are all over the fascist massacre in Odessa, and the New York Times, along with the rest of the “mainstream” media, is exposed as an accomplice.
Robert Parry in “Will Ukraine Be NYT’s Waterloo?” quotes a passage from a New York Times article by C.J. Chivers and Noah Sneider on the Odessa atrocity and notes the “spin”.
“Violence also erupted Friday in the previously calmer port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, where dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists. The fighting itself left four dead and 12 wounded, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Ukrainian and Russian news media showed images of buildings and debris burning, fire bombs being thrown and men armed with pistols.”
Note how the Times evades placing any responsibility on the pro-coup mob for trying to burn the “pro-Russian activists” out of a building, an act that resulted in the highest single-day death toll since the actual coup which left more than 80 people dead from Feb. 20-22. From reading the Times, you wouldn’t know who had died in the building and who had set the fire.
Normally, I would simply attribute this deficient story to some reporters and editors having a bad day and not bothering to assemble relevant facts. However, when put in the context of the Times’ unrelenting bias in its coverage of the Ukraine crisis – how the Times hypes every fact (and even non-facts) that reflect negatively on the anti-coup side – you have to think that the Times is spinning its readers, again.
Parry’s take on the horror:
The criminal character of the US-European Union intervention in Ukraine was tragically exposed for all to see Friday ….
The Obama administration, along with the governments of Germany, France, Britain and the other European imperialist powers, bears political responsibility for Friday’s atrocity. They have sponsored the Right Sector, as well as the neo-fascist Svoboda party, and seen to it that they were integrated into the new anti-Russian regime in Kiev.
Along with almost the entire U.S. mainstream media, the Times cheered on the violent overthrow of Yanukovych on Feb. 22 and downplayed the crucial role played by well-organized neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of the Maidan protests in the final violent days. Then, with Yanukovych out and a new coup regime in, led by U.S. hand-picked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the IMF austerity plan was promptly approved.
Alex Lantier in “Ukraine reinstates military draft as NATO threatens Russia” reveals that conscription now is being mandated for all able-bodied males between 18 and 25 in Ukraine “to boost the crackdown in predominantly Russian-speaking areas.” Lantier speculates this agenda was arrived at by the coup-government after discussions with US officials such as CIA Director John Brennan, who visited there recently under an assumed name, and Vice President Joe Biden.
Some Ukrainian army and police units reports Lantier are refusing to shoot protesters. He adds that the Kiev junta government is relying on the private militias of business oligarchs or fascist paramilitaries from the Right Sector to attack anti-government protesters.
This is the “freedom-loving” new government of legitimacy and integrity Obama is championing?
The conscription order is a desperate attempt to bolster the tottering Kiev regime amid deepening political crisis and rising popular opposition. If obeyed in parts of the country still under Kiev’s control, it would provide back-up to the fascist forces spearheading the repression of the protests.
And then, of course, you have all the military person-power and sophisticated weaponry of the US and NATO behind the curtain to support this illegitimate new fascist government in its attempts to repress all righteous protests in Ukraine. Pretty much a David vs. Goliath situation. Though Obama lies easily about who’s the David and who’s the Goliath.
One final note. If you think the bloodbaths in Odessa and elsewhere in Ukraine and the inevitable ones to come (that were and are predictable to those not lost to the fog of US-NATO propaganda) will be considered tragic and “unintended” consequences by this anti-humanitarian Obama administration, think again.
Obama in his rose garden is not distressed, say, by pro-Russians being burned alive or some clubbed to death after miraculously escaping the burning, or of any who miraculously managed to survive both burning and clubbing then being arrested. Amoral Obama and his strategists want to subordinate not just contain Russia in their “new world order” gamesmanship. They hope the savagery against the pro-Russian citizens of Ukraine by the new regime of fascist thugs will draw Russian involvement — the Russian people demanding Putin help fellow ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Then this violent and repressive new junta government and the war-mongering Obama administration and its NATO cohorts can accuse Russia of MORE AGGRESSION and an attempt at occupation. Intimidation and manipulation of Russia is their goal. Even war with Russia is on the table. Obama and neocon and neolib war-mongerers want nothing less than “full spectrum dominance”. Global world insecurity with them in control.
Remember, ends-justify-the-means! Craven ends justify craven means!!
One more sea of lies and blood. Are we Americans going to seriously go with the flow of it one more time?
“During the Orange Revolution we were all romantics—we were all romantics being shot at—and now we are determined to be free of Russian oppression,” he tells me in his office decorated with maps and Ukrainian flags and crests, two removed from Crimea before it was annexed by Russia last spring.
Bereza took the same message to U.S. lawmakers in closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, telling them they need to do more for Ukraine. “I tried to explain that World War III has started and is being fought in east Ukraine and there is no way the U.S. cannot be involved in the fight,” says Bereza. “It can delay but it will have to intervene some time or another—later in the Baltics when Moscow is threatening them and maybe Poland.”
Bereza’s views about World War III and American reluctance to engage offended some of his audience on the Hill. “Democrats didn’t like what I had to say and at one meeting they tried to get out of the room because I was being very harsh on President Obama,” he laughs. He said that on the whole he got a better reception from Republicans, especially the pugnacious Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “He’s a huge man,” said Bereza.
On Tuesday, amid alarms about a renewed invasion threat by Russian forces, the Arizona senator once again urged President Barack Obama to take more action. “The United States and the European Union must provide Ukraine with the arms and related military and intelligence support that its leaders have consistently sought and desperately need,” McCain said in a statement.
Last week, the Pentagon announced delivery of three lightweight, counter-mortar radar systems to the Ukrainian army—part of a $118 million package of “non-lethal equipment and training” the U.S. has committed. Moscow has warned the U.S. not to supply weapons to Ukraine, saying it would amount to an escalation and breach the ceasefire accord reached two months ago in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
Ukraine’s militiamen ask “What ceasefire?” According to the United Nations, almost 1,000 people have died since the Minsk truce agreement was inked—an average of 13 dead a day. Fighting remains intense in flashpoints in the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine’s two easternmost provinces. Artillery and mortar duels all around the outskirts of Donetsk rumble angrily every day.
At the weekend, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded, according to security officials in Kiev, who claim Russia now has 7,500 troops deployed on Ukrainian soil to back pro-Moscow separatists.
Bereza says what the U.S. is giving is not enough. His shopping list includes surveillance drones. (At the moment, his troops are flying small amateur ones that have a short range and can’t cope with harsh weather conditions). And he would especially like American FGM-148 Javelins, man-portable anti-tank missiles to hit at Russian armor.
But the 500 men in Bereza’s militia are not the Ukrainian army. Most have little military experience. They are shop managers, salesmen, students, and accountants. “I have no idea how many of them have had military training before,” he tells me later with a chuckle.
The Dnipro Battalion is one of 37 pro-unity militias—they are formally known as territorial defense battalions—which were formed this year as exasperation mounted at the inaction and ineffectiveness of the Ukrainian armed forces up against the pro-Russian separatist forces spreading across Donbass. Moscow paints them all as far-right groups such as Right Sector, calling them terrorists, a term the Kremlin doesn’t apply to the separatists. But the 15,000 militiamen come from a variety of political backgrounds and formally, at least, the battalions are legal forces subordinate to the interior ministry.
Dnipro has become a vanguard militia, along with the Aidar, Azov, and Donbass battalions, and last month the unit claimed the slaying of the highest ranking Russian soldier to die in the war in the Donbass, Gen. Sergey Andreychenko, who was killed in a firefight in Telmanove.
Despite its creditable fighting performance, Dnipro relations with army commanders can be tense and in August they nearly flared into a firefight. Bereza says he thought about shooting Gen. Petro Lytvyn, the Ukrainian army officer commanding on the ground during the battle for Ilovaisk, an engagement that left at least a hundred Ukrainian militiamen and soldiers dead and possibly as many as 500 taken prisoner.
Bereza accuses Lytvyn of abandoning his post along with many of his men as Russian reinforcements poured across the border at Amvrosiivka and made for Ilovaisk, a rail hub that Ukrainian forces were attempting to wrest from the separatists. The covert invasion by thousands of Russian troops backed by tanks hardly was registered by an international media focused on the sweeping offensive of jihadist forces in Iraq and Syria. And Western capitals sought to play down the Russian invasion.
According to Bereza and other militia commanders, Lytvyn’s flight left militiamen encircled. In the end he told the general he should shoot himself for his cowardice. Bereza suffered a concussion in the subsequent fighting, the commander of the Donbass battalion was wounded and his counterpart in the Kharkiv militia was killed. A withdrawal agreement for the encircled Ukrainians, made with the Russians and separatists, was not honored and a column of retreating Ukrainians was wiped out as it came under mortar and heavy machine-gun fire.
The defeat at Ilovaisk, the worst reversal so far for Ukrainian fortunes in the war in the Donbass, prompted Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to agree to the Minsk ceasefire and led to the resignation of Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey. But a criminal probe into the actions of top Ukrainian army commanders appears to have been shelved and the incident remains a nagging sore, adding to militias suspicious of the politicians in Kiev and whether they can be counted on.
The Minsk agreement rankles. “It would be possible to capture Donetsk. But it is only Ukraine that restrains itself to abide by the accord,” says Bereza. “We are fighting in the east and we still have traitors in our parliament,” he frets. “But we can’t have another revolution, that would fall into a Russian trap.”
MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russian president Vladimir Putin believes that the meaning of life is love.
“The meaning of our whole life and existence is love. It is love to the family, to the children, to the motherland. This phenomenon is complicated, it lies at heart of any of our behaviors,” Putin said during a congressional speech at the Russian Geographical Society.
Putin, who chairs the board of trustees at the Russian Geographical Society, expressed hope that its activity would help strengthen love to the motherland.
“It is exactly the top priority which all of us should go after, and I am absolutely sure that we will succeed,” he added.
MOSCOW, November 5 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin was named the world’s most powerful person by Forbes for the second year running, while US President Barack Obama took second place.
“For the second year running, our votes went with the Russian president as the world’s most powerful person, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping,” the article accompanying the list published Wednesday said.
The annual ranking is based on a voting by a panel of journal’s editors, who consider parameters like the person’s scope and use of power, the number of people impacted by the person in question and financial resources.
Forbes argues that the ranking singles out people, who “wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the works, and moves people, markets, armies and minds.”
In 2012, Putin was in third place on the list, while Obama took first place that year. The Russian leader was also been named Person of the Year by Time magazine in 2007, and was named The Times International Person of the Year in 2013.
21 November 2014
An obscure private Ukrainian natural gas company has been hiring friends and family of Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, while seeking to influence Congress ~ The Time Magazine
US Vice President Joe Biden has warned that Russia faces “rising costs and greater isolation” if it fails to respect peace deals in Ukraine.
Mr Biden, on another visit to Ukraine, said Russia continued to violate ceasefires.
He was speaking after holding talks with President Petro Poroshenko, whose corrupted government pushed to have Biden’s son hired by an obscure private Ukrainian natural gas company.
According to The Time magazine, the company has been hiring friends and family of Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, while seeking to influence Congress.
But the company, Burisma Holdings, did not disclose at the time the scope of their plans for influencing the U.S. government. Recently released documents show that Biden’s hiring coincided with the launch of a new effort to lobby members of Congress about the role of the company in Ukraine and the country’s quest for energy independence.
David Leiter, a former Senate chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed on to work as a lobbyist for Burisma on May 20, 2014, about a week after Biden announced he was joining the company, according to lobbying disclosures filed this month.
Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.
Biden’s office referred questions to a Burisma spokesman, who says Biden has not been involved in contacting members of Congress or the Obama Administration about the company. “His role, like all board members, is to provide strategic guidance to Burisma,” said Lawrence Pacheco, who works in Washington D.C. for FTI Consulting, a communications firm that is also employed by Burisma.
But Burisma is contacting officials in Washington through Leiter’s lobbying firm, ML Strategies. “ML Strategies is working with Burisma to educate U.S. officials about the company and its role in creating a stable and secure energy future for Ukraine, not any specific policy or legislation,” Pacheco said. “Burisma supports energy independence, economic growth, national sovereignty and regional stability and will engage as needed to encourage efforts to further these goals.”
Some Democratic senators, meanwhile, have been working to secure more U.S. funding, either directly or through entities like the Export-Import Bank, to improve Ukraine’s domestic energy production potential. On June 27, Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, wrote President Obama a letter with three other Democratic senators calling for increased aid. “We should leverage the full resources and expertise of the U.S. government to assist Ukraine in improving its energy efficiency, increasing its domestic production, and reforming its energy markets,” wrote Markey, who has also proposed legislation with about $40 million in additional aide for Ukranian energy development.
Markey’s letter was trumpeted by Burisma Holdings as a commendable move towards securing the future security of Ukraine. “Burisma Holdings today applauded the range of U.S. legislative support for development of Ukraine’s broad and untapped resources and an increase in transparency and good governance,” the company said in a statement on the day the letter was released.
Burisma Holdings is owned by a Cypriot holding firm, Brociti Investments Limited, which is controlled Nikolai Zlochevskyi, a former Ukranian government minister, according to Cypriot records. It controls government development licenses in three regions of Ukraine, and sells to industrial customers in the country, according to the company.
By taking a job with Burisma, the younger Biden has put himself in the middle of a struggle between the United States and Russia, which currently provides the bulk of the natural gas supplies to Ukraine. Both the White House and European nations have recently emphasized the strategic interest in making Ukraine less dependent on Russia.
Since Hunter Biden took the new job, his father, Vice President Joe Biden, has continued to serve as the Obama Administration’s point person on Ukraine, traveling to the country as recently as June for the inauguration of President Petro Poroshenko and talking to Poroshenko by phone at least five times in the last month.
“I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last two months in Ukraine,” the elder Biden said on June 19. “You see what the Russians are doing relative to using gas as a foreign policy tool to try to alter behavior. And so it’s — around the world in varying degrees it’s of significant consequence in terms of security, both economic and political security of a nation.”
There is no legal barrier to prohibit Hunter Biden from working with a company that can be impacted by the policy decisions of his father, and the White House has maintained that the Vice President has not been influenced by his son’s employment. “The Vice President does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company,” said his spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff.
But Hunter Biden’s new job, along with the association with Burisma of other politically-connected businessmen, has raised concerns among some Ukraine watchers. “It’s unhelpful when we are trying to get across to the Ukrainians to clean up corruption and special deals for special folks,” said Ed Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank. “It maybe sends the wrong message that Westerners are just hypocritical.”
Additional reporting by Alex Rogers and Zeke Miller/Washington
Some 4,300 people are thought to have died in eastern Ukraine’s conflict since April. Russia is regularly accused of arming separatist rebels, but its officials deny the allegations.
Mr Biden is in Kiev on the first anniversary of the start of mass protests that culminated in President Viktor Yanukovych relinquishing power.