Exposed: How Russia’s bioweapons claims thrust Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian ties back into the spotlight

Special Exposed: How Russia’s bioweapons claims thrust Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian ties back into the spotlight
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Hunter Biden is accused of using his father’s position as a senator, vice president and president for financial gain by various US politicians, media outlets, and Russia. (Democratic National Convention/AFP file photo)
Special Hunter Biden is accused of using his father’s position as a senator, vice president and president for financial gain by various US politicians, media outlets, and Russia. (AFP)
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Hunter Biden is accused of using his father’s position as a senator, vice president and president for financial gain by various US politicians, media outlets, and Russia. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2022

Exposed: How Russia’s bioweapons claims thrust Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian ties back into the spotlight

Exposed: How Russia’s bioweapons claims thrust Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian ties back into the spotlight
  • Russia alleges Joe Biden’s second son was directly involved in US plans to deploy weapons of mass destruction
  • Poll finds 66% of likely voters believe the questions raised by Hunter Biden’s leaked emails are “important”

CHICAGO: When US President Joe Biden accused his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday of preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, he inadvertently lifted the lid on a long-simmering scandal involving his son, Hunter Biden.

At a White House briefing on March 21, President Biden said Putin’s “back is against the wall” in Ukraine and that he may orchestrate a “false flag” operation to justify the use of outlawed weapons against civilian and military targets.

“We’ve seen it before,” said President Biden. “He’s run a lot of false-flag operations. Whenever he starts talking about something he thinks NATO, Ukraine, or the United States is about to do, it means he’s getting ready to do it.”

The Kremlin responded to Joe Biden’s statements by accusing his son of helping to facilitate a biological weapons program in Ukraine, thus putting Hunter Biden’s scandalous business dealings when his father was the US vice president back in the public limelight. But more on that, later.

Conservative critics allege the president’s second son partnered with his uncle James Biden to exploit Joe Biden’s political influence, first as a long-serving Delaware senator and later as a two-term vice president to Barack Obama, to gain lucrative contracts in Ukraine — allegations that both deny.

Few in the mainstream media ran the story when it first emerged. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter even blocked posts referencing the allegations, including stories by the conservative-leaning New York Post, prior to the 2020 election.

The controversy first went public after Hunter Biden took his personal laptop to a Delaware computer repair store in April 2019 — the same month his father officially launched his bid for the presidency — but forgot to pick it up.

Legally, the laptop became the property of the store’s owner, who took its contents, including thousands of Hunter Biden’s personal emails, and turned them over to Republican activists.

Those emails, according to several published accounts, include lurid details of a decadent lifestyle, as well as information pertaining to Hunter Biden’s multi-million-dollar foreign contracts with China and Ukraine.

In 2014, Hunter Biden joined Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Burisma as a $1 million-per-year consultant. Less than a month after his then-vice president father visited Ukraine and met Burisma executives in April that year, the lucrative contracts began rolling in.




Then-US Vice President, Joe Biden gestures as he delivers on July 22, 2009 an address to the people of Ukraine in Kyiv, a speech to reaffirm US support for the country’s ambitions to integrate more with the West. (AFP/File Photo)

Burisma itself has been plagued by allegations of corruption. Furthermore, critics claim Hunter Biden lacked the necessary qualifications to consult for the firm — except for the fact that his father was vice president and involved in developing Ukraine policy.

A top US diplomat, stationed in Kiev in a classified email sent to the State Department in 2016, warned that Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine while his father was still vice president “undercut” anti-corruption efforts in the country.

The email, dated Nov. 22, 2016, was written by George Kent, who was at the time the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Ukraine.

He detailed a discussion about a “saga” surrounding the case against Mykola Zlochevsky, a former Ukrainian natural resources minister and founder of Burisma Holdings, according to the email.

A New York Post report of Oct. 4, 2020, quoting Hunter Biden’s laptop emails, claimed Zlochevsky “introduced Vice President Joe Biden to a top executive at Burisma less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.”

The meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board.

In 2017, Hunter also joined the board of the China-based private equity fund Bohai Harvest RST of Shanghai Equity Investment Fund Management Co. with a 10 percent stake.

BHR was founded in 2013 by Bohai Industrial Investment Fund Management Co., which is controlled by the Bank of China. Its founders included Hunter Biden’s investment firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners.

It is not unusual for the children of powerful US politicians to end up in top jobs or to be accused of profiting from their parents’ political clout.

FASTFACT

* “Beautiful Things,” a memoir by Hunter Biden published in 2021 by Gallery Books, has been described as equal parts family saga, grief narrative and addict’s howl.

President Donald Trump’s sons and daughter were constantly in the news for what opponents called “influence peddling” while he was in office and since.

Several investigations are ongoing into the dealings of Trump’s children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., including one launched this January by the New York attorney general.

In their turn, Republicans in Congress introduced a resolution on Oct. 15, 2019, that provided specific details culled from the laptop and demanded an investigation into Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

In the final weeks before the November 2020 presidential election, President Biden dismissed the allegations against his son, branding them nothing more than “Russian disinformation” and “a last-ditch effort to smear me and my family.”

However, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California’s 50th District, who has led the charge to expose Hunter Biden’s role in Ukraine and China, told Arab News there was more than enough evidence to warrant a Congressional probe.

Issa said the exposé could be bigger than Watergate, the scandal that brought down former President Richard Nixon in 1974.




At a White House briefing on March 21, President Biden said Putin’s “back is against the wall” in Ukraine and that he may orchestrate a “false flag” operation to justify the use of outlawed weapons against civilian and military targets. (AFP/File Photo)

“This is the scandal that Big Tech and the Democrat industrial complex wish would go away,” said Issa. “They know what they did, and of course they think they’ve gotten away with it. That’s why it’s critical that we not squander the opportunity for accountability.

“What I can’t live with is the fact that Facebook and Twitter and the most major media players shut down the truth with the help of more than 50 of the most informed people in the intelligence world all saying they concluded this was false information.

“That is a conspiracy of monumental size. This is the most consequential political scandal since Watergate, and it deserves an investigation in Congress no less robust and no less bipartisan than that one.”

When Joe Biden accused Moscow this week of preparing to use biological or chemical weapons, the Russians entered the Hunter Biden fray, leveraging the corruption allegations to accuse the US president’s son of funding the production of biological weapons in Ukraine.

Igor Kirillov, head of radiation, chemical and biological defenses at the Russian defense ministry, said on Thursday that Hunter Biden was directly involved in US plans to deploy weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine.

Kirillov accused him of bankrolling “the Pentagon’s biological weapons program in Ukraine” through an investment fund, the Kremlin-backed Sputnik International news agency reported.

“Incoming materials have allowed us to trace the scheme of interaction between US government bodies and Ukraine’s biolabs,” Kirillov told a media briefing.

“The involvement in the financing of these activities by structures close to the current US leadership, in particular the Rosemont Seneca investment fund managed by Hunter Biden, draws attention to itself. The scale of the program is impressive.”




Liberal media quickly came to President Biden’s defense following the Russian allegation USAID and the CDC, with the backing of liberal philanthropist George Soros, were responsible for the establishment of 31 laboratories at 14 locations across Ukraine. (AFP/File Photo)

Citing a common conspiracy theory deployed by Russian state-backed media outlets, Kirillov reportedly said USAID and the CDC, with the backing of liberal philanthropist George Soros, were responsible for the establishment of 31 laboratories at 14 locations across Ukraine.

There is no credible evidence to justify the claim.

Liberal media quickly came to President Biden’s defense following the Russian allegation. Julia Davis, a columnist for the Daily Beast, tweeted: “If you thought Russian propaganda was ever ‘sophisticated,’ I hate to break it to you: it was always quite stupid. Still is. Here is their latest gem: Hunter Biden funded bio-labs in Ukraine. Handcrafted for Fox News.”

However, Russia’s accusations have fueled public interest in Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings. A Rasmussen poll released this week reported 66 percent of likely US voters believe the questions raised by Hunter Biden’s leaked emails are “important.”

The allegations have also renewed Republican resolve to push for an investigation, which is likely to cost the Democrats in November’s midterm elections.




Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California’s 50th District, who has led the charge to expose Hunter Biden’s role in Ukraine and China. (Supplied)

“Big Tech, the mainstream media and the Democrats’ deep state intelligence community want to either rewrite the history of their collusion — or erase it entirely,” Issa told Arab News.

“We’re not going to let them do that. These letters are putting everyone on notice: Real accountability is going to happen. And we won’t rest until the full truth is known.

“We already know for a fact that Big Tech colluded with some of the nation’s most powerful media and most influential Democrat partisan in the intelligence community to suppress the truth, stop the public access to fact-based journalism, and cover up Biden family scandals.”

The White House did not respond to requests from Arab News for comment.


Germans spot ‘Russian forces’ in Mali after French exit

Germans spot ‘Russian forces’ in Mali after French exit
Updated 6 sec ago

Germans spot ‘Russian forces’ in Mali after French exit

Germans spot ‘Russian forces’ in Mali after French exit
  • German ambassador in Bamako has contacted Mali’s foreign minister about ‘the suspected presence of Russian uniformed forces in Gao’
  • France announced in February that it was withdrawing its troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the country’s ruling junta

BERLIN: German soldiers in Mali spotted several dozen suspected Russian security forces in the city of Gao just as the last French soldiers left the country, the German government said Wednesday.
The German ambassador in Bamako has contacted Mali’s foreign minister about “the suspected presence of Russian uniformed forces in Gao,” said a foreign ministry spokesman.
Gao is home to a contingent of German soldiers, not far from the former base occupied by the French.
A Russian presence in the city would be a development “that changes the mission environment,” the spokesman said, adding that the government was also discussing the matter with the United Nations.
France announced in February that it was withdrawing its troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the country’s ruling junta. That ended a near 10-year deployment against extremist groups that pose a growing threat in West Africa.
The arrival of Russian paramilitaries in the country on the invitation of the government was a key factor in France’s decision to pull its military forces out.
The last French soldiers left Mali on Monday.
Germany’s government was also aware of an aircraft being used by Malian armed forces that “could possibly be an aircraft that was handed over by Russia,” said a defense ministry spokeswoman.
“We have received information that about 20 to 30 persons who were not associated with the Malian armed forces were seen loading and unloading this aircraft in a hangar” on Monday, the spokeswoman said.
The government is “intensively investigating” these reports, which concern a “training and ground combat aircraft of the L-39 type,” she said.
Germany on Friday said it had stopped reconnaissance operations and helicopter transport flights in Mali until further notice after Bamako denied flyover rights to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.
But MINUSMA resumed contingent rotations from Monday under new approval procedures.
MINUSMA — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali — was launched in 2013 to help one of the world’s poorest countries cope with a bloody extremist campaign.
It is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, with 17,609 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of April, according to the mission’s website.


First drought, now downpours as storms slam France, England

First drought, now downpours as storms slam France, England
Updated 17 min 56 sec ago

First drought, now downpours as storms slam France, England

First drought, now downpours as storms slam France, England
  • Winds over 100 kph (60 mph) were recorded at the top of the Eiffel Tower during a flash flood Tuesday
  • In southern France, thunderstorms overnight and Wednesday flooded the Old Port of Marseille

PARIS: After a summer of drought, heat waves and forest fires, violent storms are whipping France and have flooded Paris subway stations, snarled traffic and disrupted the president’s agenda.
Winds over 100 kph (60 mph) were recorded at the top of the Eiffel Tower during a flash flood Tuesday, and similar winds were forecast Wednesday in the southeast.
Hail hammered Paris and other regions in Tuesday’s sudden storm. Rainwater gushed down metro station stairwells and onto platforms, and cars sloshed along embankments where the Seine River broke its banks.
In southern France, thunderstorms overnight and Wednesday flooded the Old Port of Marseille and the city’s main courthouse and forced the closure of nearby beaches.
Thunderstorms also appeared in southern England on Wednesday, drenching London tourists and residents after a summer of unusually warm and sunny weather.
The national weather service issued storm warnings for Wednesday and Thursday, advising people to stay alert for possible flooding and power outages.
As scattered storms swept across Belgium on Wednesday, one flooded parts of the historic town of Ghent following weeks of unrelenting drought.
Much of Western Europe has experienced a season of extreme weather that scientists link to human-made climate change.
Amid the storm warnings, French President Emmanuel Macron postponed an event Wednesday on the French Riviera to mark the 78th anniversary of a key Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France. It was rescheduled for Friday.
The dramatic downpours put an end to weeks of historic heat that left much of France parched, rivers dry and dozens of villages without running water.
Across much of Europe this summer, a series of heat waves has compounded a critical drought, creating prime wildfire conditions.
Rainfall in recent days has eased the burden on firefighters facing France’s worst fire season in the past decade, though emergency authorities said scattered wildfires continued to burn Wednesday in southwest France.


Taliban kill one of their ex-leaders from minority Hazara community

Taliban kill one of their ex-leaders from minority Hazara community
Updated 17 August 2022

Taliban kill one of their ex-leaders from minority Hazara community

Taliban kill one of their ex-leaders from minority Hazara community
  • Mawlawi Mahdi was shot dead by Taliban forces near the border with Iran as he attempted to flee the country
  • The Hazara, native to Afghanistan’s central mountains, are the country’s largest mainly Shiite ethnic group

KABUL: The Taliban killed one of their former leaders who was known as the first commander of the group hailing from the minority Shiite Hazara community, officials confirmed on Wednesday, adding that he had rebelled against the de facto government.
Mawlawi Mahdi was shot dead by Taliban forces near the border with Iran as he attempted to flee the country, the defense ministry said in a statement.
Mahdi’s appointment as a commander some years ago was touted as an example of the Taliban’s changed on stance on minorities. He was in the spotlight after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in the wake of the pullout of western forces last year.
The Taliban are hard-line followers of the Sunni branch of Islam, and were previously almost exclusively associated with the Pashtun ethnicity. More recently, the group had sought to include members of other ethnicities and some Shiites.
The Hazara, native to Afghanistan’s central mountains, are the country’s largest mainly Shiite ethnic group. After the Taliban formed a government last year, Mahdi was given the post of intelligence chief in a central province.
The origins of the breach between Mahdi and the Taliban have not been made public, but as far back as June, the defense ministry had spoken of a clearance operation against rebels in northern Afghanistan.
The defense ministry on Wednesday described Mahdi as a the “leader of the rebels” in a district in the northern province of Sar-e-Pol.
A Taliban source told Reuters that Mahdi had fallen out with the Taliban and had revolted against the group’s leadership.
The statement said he was killed in Herat close to the border with Shiite majority Iran, where he was trying to flee.
Reuters was not able to contact representatives of Mahdi for comment.


US to withhold billions of dollars from Taliban over Al-Zawahiri

US to withhold billions of dollars from Taliban over Al-Zawahiri
Updated 17 August 2022

US to withhold billions of dollars from Taliban over Al-Zawahiri

US to withhold billions of dollars from Taliban over Al-Zawahiri
  • Officials: Al-Qaeda leader’s presence in Afghanistan eroded confidence that $3.5bn would not fund terror
  • UN warns 6.6m Afghans face famine this winter without urgent humanitarian intervention

LONDON: Billions of dollars being held by the US will not be transferred to Afghanistan after Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was killed in Kabul on July 31.

Al-Zawahiri’s presence in Afghanistan meant Washington does not have “confidence” that the country’s central bank “has the safeguards and monitoring in place to manage assets responsibly,” said Tom West, the US special representative for Afghanistan.

“Needless to say, the Taliban’s sheltering of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri reinforces deep concerns we have regarding diversion of funds to terrorist groups.”

The US has held around $3.5 billion intended for Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country last year.

Afghanistan’s economy has struggled since the withdrawal of coalition forces in August 2021, with officials negotiating with US representatives for ways to alleviate the situation.

But West said the US does not see returning funds to the country as a “near-term option” as the Taliban cannot provide guarantees that the money will not be used to fund terrorism.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price, though, said Washington would find alternative, humanitarian uses for the funds to help ease the suffering of ordinary Afghans. 

“The idea that we have decided not to use these funds for the benefit of the Afghan people is simply wrong. It is not true,” he added.

“Right now we’re looking at mechanisms that could be put in place to see to it that these $3.5 billion in preserved assets make their way efficiently and effectively to the people of Afghanistan in a way that doesn’t make them ripe for diversion to terrorist groups or elsewhere.”

US President Joe Biden in February ordered that $7 billion being held by the US for Afghanistan be split between humanitarian aid for the country, and 9/11 victims and their families.

Al-Zawahiri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, was killed last month in a drone strike while standing on the balcony of a house in which he was living in the center of Kabul.

His presence in Afghanistan was a “gross violation” of an agreement struck with Washington for the Taliban not to permit terrorist organizations to operate in the country, the US said.

A UN Security Council report earlier this year said the Taliban takeover had allowed “greater freedom” for foreign fighters to live and operate in the country.

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator and deputy special representative for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, said the country faces “pure catastrophe” due to its precarious economic state, with 6.6 million people threatened with famine this winter and 24 million in need of humanitarian aid.

He added that poverty is forcing Afghans to make desperate decisions such as “the selling of organs, and the selling of children,” and that despite many spending as much as 90 percent of their income on food, he was still seeing evidence of severely malnourished children nationwide.

Erin Sikorsky, director at the US-based Center for Climate and Security, told the Daily Telegraph: “Poor governance by the Taliban will make things worse. It is likely Afghanistan will see more internally displaced people going forward, as disruptions to ... agriculture intersect with other security risks.”

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Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media
Updated 17 August 2022

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media
  • Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the first Sri Lankan president to quit mid-term, is temporarily sheltering in Thailand
  • Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comment since leaving Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa will return to the island nation next week after fleeing in July amid mass protests, local broadcaster Newsfirst reported on Wednesday, citing a former ambassador.
Udayanga Weeratunga, a former Sri Lankan envoy to Russia who is related to Rajapaksa, said he will arrive in Sri Lanka on Aug. 24, Newsfirst reported.
Rajapaksa, the first Sri Lankan president to quit mid-term, is temporarily sheltering in Thailand, after fleeing Sri Lanka on a military plane to the Maldives and then spending weeks in Singapore.
He resigned from office soon after arriving in Singapore, facing public anger over his government’s handling of Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.
Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comment since leaving Sri Lanka. Reuters was not able to immediately contact him or Weeratunga.
The office of Rajapaksa’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who suggested last month that the former president refrain from returning to Sri Lanka in the near future, did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
“I don’t believe it’s the time for him to return,” Wickremesinghe told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on July 31. “I have no indication of him returning soon.”