What are the facts about Hunter Biden's ties with Ukraine and Russia?

“Bill Gates confessed to vaccine chips,” “Gender lobbyists rely on Soros and Brussels,” “How father and son Biden robbed Ukraine.” These are real headlines in online media.

They illustrate one of the main techniques in constructing disinformation narratives – to make famous people with a key role in international politics and business guilty of existing or non-global problems. Whether there is a real connection between the person in question and a specific problem, whether there are any facts to support the allegations of conspiracy theories, this approach always aims at the same thing – the personification of the “West” by a specific person described as the villain.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, has been in this role. His name is associated with allegations of dangerous American “Biolabs” in Ukraine. At the same time, Biden-son was “convicted” of dependence on Russia, as well as a conflict of interest and trade with his father’s influence.

Who exactly is Hunter Biden?

Hunter Biden is the second son of US President Joe Biden and his first wife, Neil Hunter Biden. He was born in 1970 and graduated in law from Yale University. He is a lawyer by profession, and over the years he has been involved in investment activities, lobbying, banking, and public administration. Its name is associated mainly with the investment company Rosemont Seneca. In addition, Biden-son is a former member of the boards of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma and the Chinese private company BHR Partners. A federal investigation into his tax affairs and activities abroad is currently under way.

Biden-son and allegations about Ukrainian “biolabs”

The most common plot in which Hunter Biden is present is that of Ukrainian “Biolabs” funded by the United States. According to the Kremlin and Russian media, dangerous biological weapons are being developed in laboratories. These allegations are among the main arguments for justifying the Russian invasion.

There is no evidence of such programs. In Ukraine, as in many other countries, some laboratories conduct research and routine diagnosis of existing diseases and viruses in the country.

How did the son of the President of the United States get involved in this story? On March 24, 2022, the Russian state news agency TASS quoted a speech by the chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin. He claims that Hunter Biden funded the US program to build dangerous “biolabs” in Ukraine. Since then, the same statement has spread in Bulgaria – in media such as “Pogled.info” (detailed analysis here), “Voices” and “Labor”.

What are the grounds for this statement? In general, the thesis of the American program “bio laboratories” is based on an agreement concluded between the United States and Ukraine in 2005. It aims to cooperate in the prevention of the spread of technologies and pathogens that could be used to develop biological weapons. The agreement states that to this end, the US Department of Defense is committed to providing grant support to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Since 2005, the United States has invested about $ 200 million in 46 laboratories and research facilities in Ukraine. The same program covers the other former Soviet republics, intending to convert old laboratories designed to develop biological weapons during the Cold War into ordinary laboratories for research into existing diseases.

Other grounds for the accusations against Hunter Biden are sought in his investment activities. In 2009, he co-founded Rosemont Seneca, which later acquired a stake in Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners (RSTP). According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, through this company, Biden-son was directly involved in financing the Ukrainian biological program.

In 2014, RSTP invested more than $ 10 million in Metabiota, a San Francisco-based recruitment company for bio laboratory research. During this period, Metabiota is already among the subcontractors under contract with the US Department of Defense to build laboratories in Ukraine to develop diagnostics of infectious diseases.

The agreement does not differ in any way from the others concluded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the United States Department of Defense. It is part of the aforementioned 2005 agreement.

Metabiota is one of many subcontractors operating under this program. Moreover, its work is generally concentrated mainly in African countries. In Ukraine, Metabiota has a relatively limited presence. The company has a single office that researches the threats of tularemia and anthrax.

Hunter Biden-linked RSTP is just one of Metabiota’s investors. Biden-son himself has very limited influence over its investment decisions and even left the company in early 2015. He was previously fired as a junior lieutenant in the Navy Reserve for cocaine use. This damaged his reputation and the RSTP continued to operate without him, subsequently rebranding. Despite the withdrawal of Hunter Biden, its affiliates are central to the “biolabs” narrative.

Hunter Biden’s Russian connection?

However, before the Kremlin called Hunter Biden an “enemy”, he was accused of ties to Russia – and not by anyone, but by US President Donald Trump (2017-2021). Trump claims that Hunter Biden received $ 3.5 million from the wife of former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. According to a report by the US Senate Finance and Homeland Security Committees from 2020 (then dominated by the Republican Party), in 2014 Elena Baturina, Luzhkov’s widow made such a transfer to the bank account of Rosemont Seneca Thornton.

As it has already become known, in 2009 Hunter Biden co-founded a company called Rosemont Seneca, but according to his lawyer, Biden-Son is not affiliated with Rosemont Seneca Thornton. Despite the similarity in the names of the two companies, it is not clear what it is and the connection between them cannot be proven. However, documents on the ownership of Rosemont Seneca Thornton are not public, so there is no clear evidence to refute or confirm the claim of a connection between Hunter Biden and the money transfer from Baturina.

Trump reiterated this dependence dozens of times in the weeks leading up to the November 2020 presidential election. In late March this year, he breathed new life into it by calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to reveal information about the case.

Biden-son and allegations of conflict of interest

However, Trump and the Kremlin find common ground on Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine. During his 2020 election campaign, Trump repeatedly attacked his opponent Joe Biden with allegations of a conflict of interest related to Biden-son and his work in Ukraine. The main thesis is that during his tenure as vice president in the Barack Obama administration, Joe Biden insisted on the removal of Ukrainian Attorney General Viktor Shokin. According to Trump, the reason for this insistence is the investigation of the private gas company Burisma, associated with Hunter Biden.

Hunter Biden was indeed part of the board of directors of the Ukrainian company Burisma from 2014 to 2019. At the beginning of the same period (until January 2017, when his term as vice president expires), his father was responsible for diplomatic relations between the United States and Ukraine. In 2016, Joe Biden openly demanded the removal of then-Attorney General Viktor Shokin and even set this as a condition for a $ 1 billion loan to Ukraine from the United States.

Joe Biden’s position coincides with the European Parliament’s findings on the state of Ukraine, as well as the views of international observers. He insists on the replacement of Chief Prosecutor Shokin, who is perceived as corrupt. However, according to Trump, the policy pursued by the then vice president of the United States is explained as an attempt to protect the interests of his son Biden and the gas company Burisma, which at the time was being investigated by the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.

Suspicions of a conflict of interest have prompted the Republican Party to demand an investigation into the case. In its course, no evidence was found of a link between Hunter Biden’s position in Burisma and the conduct of US foreign policy in Ukraine. In a statement issued in October 2019, Biden-Sin’s lawyers stated that he had been operating in Ukraine independently of his father and that they had not discussed issues related to the gas company.

Hunter Biden’s laptop and the thesis of trading in influence

Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine is also linked to allegations of trading in influence. They were first distributed by The New York Post, a media company owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, also known as the founder of the conservative news channel Fox News. The Media Bias platform assesses The New York Post as a right-wing publication whose credibility is in question.

The plot of influence trading, allegedly conducted by Hunter Biden, appeared in The New York Post a few weeks before the US presidential election in 2020. In his article on the subject, the media talks about a laptop found in a repair shop, which he claims belongs to Biden-son. Personal correspondence and photos found on the device have been published.

In a 2015 email, an adviser to the Burisma gas company reportedly thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet with his father in Washington. “Hunter Biden introduced his father, Joe Biden, then vice president, to a senior official in a Ukrainian energy company less than a year before Biden’s father pressured Ukrainian authorities to fire the chief prosecutor investigating the company.” article in The New York Post.

There is no evidence of such a meeting, although Joe Biden’s campaign team acknowledged the possibility of “informal interaction.” According to Biden’s spokesman Andrew Bates, subsequent media investigations and the Republican Party on the case lead to the same conclusion – Joe Biden pursued US official policy toward Ukraine and did not break the law.

In an interview with CBS News in April 2021, Hunter Biden said he had “no idea” whether the laptop was his or not. It allows the device to be stolen or hacked.

The authenticity of some of the emails found on the laptop was confirmed by media such as The Washington Post and The New York Times in March 2022.

In 2018, the US Department of Justice began investigating Hunter Biden’s financial and business activities abroad at a time when his father was vice president. The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether Biden-son and his associates violated the law in the field of tax matters, money laundering, lobbying, and firearms regulations. The investigation in question is still ongoing and there is no final decision or verdict on the case. It is also unclear whether the laptop found is part of the investigation.

The lack of reliable evidence to confirm or disprove Hunter Biden’s allegations makes him a convenient protagonist in the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign about the existence of “dangerous biolabs” in Ukraine, which is also not evidence-based. But even the existence of doubts is enough to create convincing stories for propaganda purposes – in this case, to justify the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

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