The inauguration of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine's new president was Europe's biggest story today. The billionaire confectioner promised to bring Ukraine closer to Europe and the West. He also had some tough words about Crimea, which he delivered in the presence of Mikhail Zurabov, the recently restored Russian ambassador to Ukraine.
Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is and will be Ukrainian soil. Yesterday in the course of the meeting in Normandy, I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukraine soil. Period. There can be no compromise on the issues of Crimea, European choice and state structure.”
Among the dignitaries in attendance was Vice President Joe Biden, which is where the story gets interesting. It hardly seems noteworthy that, given the scope of the crisis, Biden took his second trip to Ukraine in the past six weeks.
However, Biden's trip also coincided with a story about his youngest son. Hunter Biden was tapped last month to join the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer. At the time, The Guardian wryly explained the oddity of Biden-spawn's new gig.
Isn't that a bit fishy? Why do you say that?
Because he's the vice-president's son! That's a coincidence. "This is totally based on merit," said Burisma's chairman, Alan Apter.
He doesn't sound very Ukrainian. He's American, as is the other new board member, Devon Archer.
Who? Devon Archer, who works with Hunter Biden at Rosemont Seneca partners, which is half owned by Rosemont Capital, a private equity firm founded by Archer and Christopher Heinz.
Who? Christopher Heinz … John Kerry's stepson.
As the Associated Press reports today, there is more fishiness yet. While Hunter Biden's new company is said to be working to get Ukraine off its dependence on Russia for energy, Burisma also reportedly "leases natural gas fields in the breakaway Russian-backed state of Crimea."
The company is also owned by Nikolai Zlochevskyi, whose "ties to Ukraine's ousted pro-Russian president" include serving as a senior minister in several government posts under Viktor Yanukovych.
At the time of the appointment, Hunter Biden said this:
As a new member of the Board, I believe that my assistance in consulting the Company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.”
Said transparency seems to be elusive on the American side of this deal.
White House officials declined to comment on Hunter Biden's association w/ Burisma & the company's holdings in Crimea & east Ukraine. @AP— Sonja Jo (@Sonja_Jo) June 7, 2014
Beltway ethicists seem to be mixed about whether this arrangement is kosher or not. What is clear is that relatives of high-level American political figures have benefited from their ties for generations now. It's practically a tradition at this point.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.