What Do Joe Biden’s Primary Victories Mean for Ukraine?



The Democratic presidential primary race is over. Theoretically, anything is possible, but Joe Biden’s victory in the struggle for the Democratic presidential nomination is already a foregone conclusion. In the March 17 primaries in Arizona, Florida and Illinois, Biden won by a landslide. The former vice president won 249 declared delegates who will be among those who formally name and vote for the Democratic candidate at the July national convention in Milwaukee.

Bernie Sanders collected 116 delegates, and now the Biden-Sanders ratio (1147 delegates to 861) has become a deathwatch for Bernie. Of course, a miracle could still occur on April 28, when five states will be in play, including the two with the largest number of delegates: New York (274 delegates) and Pennsylvania (184 delegates). But in 2016, Sanders lost decisively to Hillary Clinton in these states, and Biden is her political successor. And we can’t expect a change in the lead, because at the moment, Sanders is even losing in the states he won primaries in four years ago (Minnesota, for example).

So Biden has reason to address Sanders’ voters now and urge them to rally behind his campaign. “I know what’s at stake. I know what we have to do. Our goal as a campaign and my goal as a candidate for president is to unify this party and then to unify the nation,” he says.

What does it mean for Ukraine that Biden is assuming the role of Donald Trump’s only rival? Ukraine is the leading scandal-maker with respect to domestic interests in the United States. During the impeachment trial, even prominent Republicans (Mitt Romney, for example) admitted that they were uncomfortable with how President Trump “created a parallel foreign policy structure outside the State Department to deal with Ukraine.” The most diplomatic way to put this would be to call it the “Giuliani mission,” and it worked successfully.

And given Biden’s impressive primary victories, the activity of this “mission,” albeit discredited to the hilt during the impeachment proceedings, acquired new relevance. One can hardly doubt that this mission will be a characterizing feature of the 2020 presidential campaign, especially when you consider that in February, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced he would leave an “open door” for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, which increases the likelihood that federal prosecutors may initiate an investigation into the presumptive Democratic candidate, and that Giuliani has something to give Barr.

The stakes in the new half of this game have increased significantly. This is no longer just a search for corruption on the part of Biden’s son and his $50,000 salary as a member of the board of directors of the Ukrainian company Burisma. Giuliani is trying to prove a much broader case: that a group of Democrats, including Bill and Hillary Clinton and George Soros, milked Ukraine for years to enrich themselves and finance their political operations. He is trying to prove that the evil influence of the Democrats extends through a network of conspiracy to Naftogaz, the state oil and gas company of Ukraine, and that this is not about merely $50,000 a month, but about billions of dollars.

In his recent activity, Giuliani has embraced two witnesses: Andriy Telizhenko, 28, who worked at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington from December 2015 to June 2016, and Andrei Artemenko, 51, the people’s deputy of Ukraine from 2014-2017.

In January 2017, Telizhenko accused the Ukrainian embassy of interfering in the 2016 American presidential election, which led to the resignation and subsequent arrest of Paul Manafort, chief political strategist for Trump.

Artemenko is known for handing Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn a plan to normalize relations between Ukraine and Russia, including the lifting of sanctions.

Whether two of Giuliani’s new employees will be of benefit to him remains to be seen. Rudy himself believes that if Telizhenko’s information is properly investigated, then “a lot of people will go down in Ukraine, as well as senior representatives of the Democrats in Washington.” Perhaps one should give Giuliani’s instincts some credit, since this is precisely the same person who at one time managed to curb the New York Mafia.

However, Ukrainian experts have responded more critically. “If Mr. Giuliani really communicates with these people, this emphasizes that he is ready to contact someone to support his claims,” said professor Alexey Garan. So Giuliani is not alone in his thinking.

However, the “thinkers” do not seem to understand the current situation.

First, Giuliani (read: Trump) doesn’t need “communication with these people.” He needs momentum, documented facts that will allow the former New York City mayor to take up Attorney General Barr’s open door gesture and facilitate a full investigation.

Second, if this process takes place, then there will be enough people in Kyiv who are ready to investigate or provide information. One well remembers a series of press conferences in which people’s deputies Alexander Dubinsky and Andriy Derkach dumped a great deal of information that was of interest to Trump; information about Burisma, and about Biden and his son. So there are plenty of “scandal makers.”

Third, Ukraine is already giving up Biden, having opened a criminal case against him under Part 2, Article 343 of the Criminal Code pertaining to “Interventions in the activities of a law enforcement officer,” and this could hardly have happened without the president’s knowledge.

Fourth, for the most part, Trump doesn’t even need a criminal case. He needs a preelection “show of justice,” in which Giuliani and his Kyiv sources present a Ukrainian plot. This show will be organized by the long-time host of the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

And if the Kyiv authorities refuse to participate, they’ll only have to stand in the gallery and watch. One cannot repeat the friendly defense of Ukrainian interests organized by the Democrats at the beginning of the year, since America’s interest in Ukraine has now long been supplanted by its preoccupation with the coronavirus.

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