By Joe Duffus
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will continue to threaten Western Europe’s energy supply on top of its other terrible effects. Nations like Germany that chose dependence on Russian oil and natural gas while they decommissioned their own coal-fired and nuclear power plants and talked a big game about moving to sustainable energy from wind power face steep price increases or shortages of energy.
Nuclear power, for example, relies on uranium and Russia has sizable reserves of that, especially from mines in Kazakhstan that they acquired thanks to the help of two old business associates: Bill and Hillary Clinton. Washington’s most notorious power couple strengthened Vladimir Putin’s position and were paid handsomely to do it.
Readers of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich may remember the story of Uranium One. This American uranium mining company was started by a Canadian magnate named Frank Giustra, who a year later flipped it to Russian government owned Rosatom.
On the latest episode of the Drill Down podcast, Peter and Eric are joined by former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, who says that deal would never have been approved on his watch. He also notes that shortly before the invasion of Ukraine, the US mines that sold by Giustra as part of that deal with Rosatom were finally bought back by an American company.
Giustra, you see, was a pal of Bill Clinton’s. While Hillary was Secretary of State, Giustra and Bill Clinton concocted a scheme for Giustra to acquire uranium mines in Kazakhstan, according to Clinton Cash. They traveled there together, with former president Bill Clinton adding his prestige, and they met with its strongman leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev. They convinced him to sell the mines to Giustra. The next day, Giustra made a $100 million commitment to the Clinton Foundation, wiring the first $31 million of it within weeks to the Clinton Foundation. Later, Giustra sold Uranium One to Rosatom, Russia’s state uranium company.
A deal for a strategic mineral like uranium needs the approval of the US government, which is handled by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This group is chaired by the United States Secretary of the Treasury and includes representatives from 16 U.S. departments and agencies, including the Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security departments, and, of course, the State Department, which just happened to be led at that time by… Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Just for some perspective, former Energy secretary Abraham explains that Russia provides about 20% of our uranium, but that “Kazakhstan alone provides nearly half of the uranium that we use. We were upset back in the days when we imported 70% or close to 70% of our oil because we thought that was a tremendous national security risk. Just think about how much at risk we are when ninety-eight percent of our uranium is coming from somewhere other than the US.”
As Peter asks, “Who would give Vladimir Putin that kind of leverage over uranium? Bill and Hillary Clinton would.” The deal was approved by CFIUS during the Obama administration while Hillary Clinton presided at the State department, despite the national security concerns.
Eric has a shorter description for the Clintons’ role in the sale and the $100 million windfall they received in turn. It’s “gauche.”
All of this reminiscing is going on because Bill and Hillary Clinton just announced they are ramping up the flagging activities of the Clinton Global Initiative, planning a big meeting in New York to come up with ways to help Ukraine in its battle with Russia. Talk about switching sides.
Peter points out that while the US is now taking steps to ban the import of Russian oil because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, no such ban on Russian uranium will occur because of this dependency.