By Joe Duffus
The world has united in defiance of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. In his speech on the state of the union on Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced further sanctions — not on the Russian government directly — but targeted at the class of billionaire Russian oligarchs who made their fortunes with Putin’s help and who are reported to be holding millions of Putin’s own money for him, to hide it from international sanctions and the Russian people.
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny tied it together, saying, “The war with Ukraine has been unleashed to cover up the robbery of Russian citizens and divert their attention away from their country’s internal problems.”
Some people are questioning Putin’s mental health, dredging up the stories about his obsession with big, scary-looking dogs and how he used them to intimidate other leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel (terrified of all dogs because of a childhood incident).
Here at The Drill Down, though, we look at the ugly and uncomfortable history of Washington power players and their own connections to Putin. We think there’s a “whitewash” going on here. And we do what we always do: follow the money.
While many people remember Hillary Clinton’s infamous “reset button” moment in 2012 with Putin’s ambassador, fewer know her part in the Skolkovo, billed as “Russia’s Emerging Silicon Valley.” Hillary was instrumental in getting 28 American companies to be key partners in the start-up of that venture. Peter’s book, “Clinton Cash,” revealed that 17 of the 28 companies were previous donors to the Clinton Foundation.
That was despite those companies being warned by the Boston office of the FBI that Russia would try to steal their technology.
Of course, there was also Hillary’s role as Secretary of State in approving the sale of the American company Uranium One to the Russians.
Hillary’s top aide, John Podesta’s involvement through a company he joined called Jewel Energy. As Peter told Breitbart News, “Two months after he joins the board (of Jewel Energy), the Russian government in the form of a sovereign wealth fund controlled by Vladimir Putin — this is a fund called Putin’s child by Russia Science minister, they donate, they invest $35 million into this company. It’s a big investment. The company at this point had only raised $110 million. They get board seats, they get memberships on those executive committees, and John Podesta gets 75,000 shares of stock in this company.”
The story continues: “When he goes and joins the Obama administration in the White House as a senior counselor, he transfers those shares to his kids. But he continues to receive emails updating him on what Jewel is doing, and even helping them make decisions. So, here you have a situation which John Podesta has a commercial relationship directly with the Russian government. There are two Russians that are sitting on the board of this company along with him, while he is advising Hillary Clinton on the Russian reset and other issues.”
The truth in this regard is not restricted to Democrats, of course. The former chairman of the RNC, Haley Barbour, now works for a lobbying firm called BGR, which lobbied for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. The lobbying firm owned by Vin Roberti, an unofficial adviser to Joe Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, also lobbied for that project until this week when both companies abruptly ended their contracts following Russia’s invasion.
The attack on Russian oligarchs that Biden announced in his State of the Union speech is meant to be against those extravagantly rich men in Russia who are close to Putin. As Peter notes, Putin is reputed to be worth $20 billion personally, but he can’t just walk into JPMorgan and open an account. It is widely believed that these oligarchs are holding and moving around money for Putin, while serving as the sometimes “smiling face of the Putin regime to the West,” excusing his brutality and telling the world how misunderstood he is. In that way, Russia’s oligarchs are doing much the same thing that Americans who make excuses for Communist China do for a price, as Peter’s newest book, Red Handed, makes clear.
As Eric closes us out, “Greed remains undefeated.”