FILE PHOTO. © Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
On Tuesday, Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Derkach published audio recordings of what sounds like Poroshenko’s conversations with various Obama administration officials in 2015 and 2016. Derkach said he got the audio from investigative journalists, who told him that Poroshenko personally recorded the calls. They have not been independently verified.
If true, however, they show the president in Kiev literally taking orders from Washington, even as the US insisted Ukraine was a sovereign and independent nation free to decide its own destiny.
“[I’m] very well indeed, as usual when I hear your voice,” Poroshenko tells Biden in a May 13, 2016 conversation, where he is given one minute to tell the US vice president how much “progress” he has made in reforming Ukraine to Washington’s liking.
As one of the examples, Poroshenko cites that he has imposed tariffs of 100 percent, even though the IMF asked for only 75 percent, adding “Give us a yard, please!”
“Poroshenko was willing to strip the Ukrainians naked, and even make money on the tariffs,” Derkach said on Monday, noting that they were indeed raised twice.
Raising tariffs on Russian gas imports – and cutting subsidies to poor Ukrainians – was one of the major demands by the IMF in 2013, which the government of President Viktor Yanukovych balked at, before it was ousted in a US-backed coup in February 2014.
Derkach argues that the tariffs and other concessions Poroshenko made to Washington were intended to unblock the $1 billion IMF loan to Ukraine of which the US was a guarantor. Biden had already leveraged the loan to demand the firing of prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was looking into corruption at the gas company Burisma – which had hired Biden’s son Hunter as a board member earlier that year, presumably as a shield against prosecution.
ALSO ON RT.COM‘Man of my word’: Leaked audio seemingly sheds light on Biden’s efforts to pressure Poroshenko into firing Burisma investigatorIt became clear after Poroshenko fired Shokin that this would not be enough, and that he would have to give even more, Derkach told reporters in Kiev, pointing to the recordings.
Biden himself boasted about getting Shokin fired at an event in Washington, and his remarks were caught on camera. When current US President Donald Trump brought up the issue of Shokin’s firing with Poroshenko’s successor Volodymyr Zelensky, the Democrats claimed he was improperly seeking foreign assistance in the 2020 election – as Biden was seeking their nomination – and had him impeached in the House of Representatives in December 2019. Trump stayed in office after the Senate acquitted him in February this year. Biden only became the presumptive Democrat nominee in mid-April.