Politics

Former Ukrainian President Joins Biden Campaign In Blaming Russia For Leaked Calls

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Andrew Kerr Investigative Reporter
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Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued a lengthy statement Wednesday blaming Russia for Tuesday’s leak of audio recordings of him speaking with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2016 about firing a prosecutor in return for $1 billion in loan guarantees.

“The fifth column of the Kremlin has launched a full-fledged special operation against Ukraine,” Poroshenko wrote in his statement on Facebook. “By means of pulling Ukraine into the electoral struggle in the US they are trying to undermine the US bipartisan support of Ukraine.”

Poroshenko called for an investigation into the leak, suggesting that someone in the office of Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, could have been the source who delivered the tapes to the Ukrainian lawmaker with ties to the Russian KGB who released excerpts of the recorded phone calls during a press conference Tuesday.

“The press-conference … has given rise to a reasonable suspicion about the Office of the President of Ukraine to also have been involved in this special operation,” Poroshenko wrote.

“The audio fragments that had been presented yesterday by a KGB high school graduate are all bogus,” Poroshenko wrote. “But the raw material for it they could dig, particularly, in the Office of the present President. The Security Service of Ukraine shall investigate into who did it. Who did sanction it? Who is its beneficiary?”

The lawmaker who leaked the excerpts, Andriy Derkach, has ties to Russian intelligence, having attended the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB in Moscow and whose father served for decades as a KGB officer, The Washington Post reported.

Derkach said Tuesday he obtained the recordings from investigative journalists. He claimed that Poroshenko was the one responsible for recording his conversations with Biden.

The Biden campaign also pointed the finger towards Russia, telling The Post that the release of the tapes was yet another instance of Russia’s efforts to hurt Biden.

“They heavily edited this, and it’s still a nothingburger that landed with a thud,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told The Post.

The full context of the conversations between Biden and Poroshenko was edited out of the tapes Derkach released Tuesday, but the portions that were released are mostly consistent with how Biden has characterized his efforts to get former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin fired in return for loan guarantees from the United States. (RELATED: Leaked Tapes Reportedly Show Biden Pressuring Ukrainian President To Fire Prosecutor In Return For $1 Billion)

“Congratulations on installing the new prosecutor general,” Biden told Poroshenko during a May 13, 2016, phone call. “It’s going to be critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage Shokin did.”

“And I’m a man of my word,” Biden added. “And now that the new prosecutor general is in place, we’re ready to move forward to signing that new one billion dollar loan guarantee.”

The audio segments leaked Tuesday by Derkach contain no mention of Burisma Holdings or Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of the natural gas company at the time of Shokin’s ouster.

Shokin was investigating allegations of wrongdoing at Burisma that occurred before Hunter Biden joined the firm’s board when he was fired.

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