The U.S. political landscape is looking more like an episode of House of Cards than ever before. Ukraine's largest private gas provider, Burisma Holdings, announced Tuesday that R. Hunter Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, will be joining the board in charge of their legal unit. And with the current conflict in Ukraine, which has only been worsening, this announcement seems like a very curious ploy.
On a global scale, the decision suggests that U.S. governmental arbitration stems from what the U.S. can selfishly procure, politically and/or financially, through involvement in conflict areas abroad. By bringing the VP's offspring onto the board of a Ukrainian gas company, there is now strong indication of an affiliation between the U.S. and Ukraine, probably incentivized by both money and politics.
Russia may be Europe's largest supplier of natural gas, but Ukraine is the middle man. More than half of Russia's natural gas enters Europe through pipelines in Ukraine and then branches off into Germany, Italy and Austria. Through a few degrees of separation, there is huge potential, monetarily as well as politically, for the U.S. and Ukraine to sync up in the energy industry.
Seizing a window of opportunity. The U.S. now has a very tactically capable ally working closely with one of Ukraine's natural gas providers. The VP has an essential role in foreign policy at the White House. In April, he traveled to Kiev to discuss how the U.S. could aid Ukraine in expanding their natural gas resources and avoid relying so heavily on Russia.
Russia currently supplies 60% of Ukraine's consumed natural gas. In March, however, the Russian natural gas company Gazprom announced that it was canceling discounted gas prices to Ukraine, partially to dissuade Ukraine from accepting a trade deal with the EU. And because of the ongoing strife between Ukraine and Russia, natural gas is a fundamental commodity not just for livelihood but in the grand scheme of international politics.
A question of ethical politicking. Incidentally, the involvement of the younger Biden in a Ukrainian gas company implies a link between money and U.S. involvement in conflicts. The U.S. government does appear to have more to gain from foreign engagement in Ukraine, which speaks volumes as to why the U.S. has continued to restrain engagement in Syria's 3-year-old civil war.
One conclusion to draw from this is simply that U.S. foreign policy is based on personal motivations, i.e. they are more enterprising when it is monetarily advantageous to do so. Money does make the world go round after all. And energy concerns are a growing trend internationally, which is obviously adding dollar signs to locations with many resources to trade, produce, import or export.
Still, the White House is denying any sort of involvement or conflict of interest. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a briefing Tuesday that "Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens, and where they work does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president."
As part of the legal unit, Hunter Biden will "provide support for the Company among international organizations," according to Burisma Holdings' announcement. By joining the board, Biden hopes to strengthen the Ukrainian economy and benefit the people through his consultancy on issues such as corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and transparency.
If that is truly what his appointment will entail, then with U.S. motivations aside, popular opinion about Biden's new job would probably be different. Unfortunately, for now, Burisma's announcement, the timing of Biden's new job and the implications of the union between these two countries are all smelling pretty fishy.