Perhaps Hunter Biden doesn't get his marching orders from the White House, nor does he carry enough swag to influence U.S.-Ukrainian relations. None of this will matter as the White House suffered another foreign-policy setback when Joe Biden's youngest son joined the board of directors of Ukraine's largest oil company.
Joe Biden visited Ukraine in April, reiterating Washington's support for the interim government in Kyiv. It looks like Hunter Biden will travel there often to carry out his duties for Burisma Holdings, a leading Ukrainian energy company incorporated in Cyprus.
Companies operating headquatered in Cyprus have long been the but of jokes in Russia and Ukraine, as money-laundering schemes prevail in those murky Meditarrenian waters, allowing big-ticket oligarchs and minor crooks and thieves alike to operate their corrupt schemes with no oversight and very little transparency. There's a lot of Russian money in Cyprus, folks.
Hunter Biden is mainly known as a lawyer and investor, but he is also an advocate for humanitarian causes and even a HuffPost blogger. He also sits on the Advisory Board for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a D.C.-based outlet that runs democracy promotion and civil society development programs all over the world, including Ukraine. NDI is chiefly funded by the U.S. government, and the Kremlin's contempt for organizations like this is well-documented: after USAID's forced departure from Moscow, NDI moved its staff out of Russia. According to senior State Department official Victoria Nuland, U.S. government's democracy programming in Ukraine, run through organizations like NDI, cost U.S. tax payers 5 billion dollars since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Kremlin must be well aware of Hunter Biden's family ties (duh!) and NDI credentials. No matter what the White House says about the inability of Joe Biden to influence his son's work in Ukraine, the U.S. government has already lost this PR battle. Just as Washington is unable to persuade the American people that the United States has national security interests in Ukraine; nobody in Europe, Russia, or Ukraine will believe that there is no conflict of interest in Hunter Biden's appointment.
There are more intriguing connections between Ukrainian oligarchs and U.S. elites. In February, the New York Times profiled the relationship between Bill and Hillary Clinton and steel magnate Victor Pinchuk, who was in frequent contact with Hillary Clinton's State Department, for more than a decade paid a hefty $40,000 monthly retainer to a Bill Clinton-affiliated DC lobbyist, and donated roughly 13.1 million to the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio are vocally unhappy about this relationship, and American steel makers are currently pursuing a case alleging:
Ukraine -- and by extension Mr. Pinchuk's company, Interpipe Ltd. -- and eight other countries had illegally dumped a type of steel tube used in natural gas extraction, an industry whose growth has provided one of the few bright spots in the United States manufacturing sector.
The Clintons' involvement with Mr. Pinchuk and the appointment of Hunter Biden adds to the Kremlin's arsenal of weapons for the "information war" between Russia and the West, which the Kremlin is winning by a landslide right now. It's winning the real war, too.