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The aggressive build up of military forces on the Russian frontier with Donbass has prompted the United States to discuss the possibility of appointing a special envoy to deal with the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, writes Louis Auge.
We have learnt that this position may be offered to the former coordinator for international energy in the State Department during the time of Barack Obama, Amos Hochstein. This could mean that in the lobby against Nord Stream, President Biden might enlist his trusted adviser on Ukraine, Amos Hochstein (Amos Hochstein, who was the US Special Envoy for International Energy Issues, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy under President Barack Obama).
Hochstein rose to fame in Ukraine during the years when Joe Biden was the Vice President of the United States. His role was described in the notorious “tapes” of the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Derkach.
Derkach alleged that a scheme was invented by Hochstein, which was subsequently implemented jointly by Biden and by President Poroshenko. According to the tapes he released, during conversations with Poroshenko, Biden insisted that the head of Naftogaz, Andrei Kobolev, should retain his post. Poroshenko did indeed leave Kobolev in his position. Kobolev then confirmed Amos Hochstein as an independent director of the supervisory board of NJSC Naftogaz. Why? Is it possible that there might have been some hidden economic interests at stake, as alleged by Mr Derkach?
Under the Hochstein scheme, Russian gas was purchased through a gas pipeline company in Slovakia. A special pipe, one and a half kilometres long, was built with a branch from a large pipe through which Russian gas went to Europe. The so-called “reverse supply” of the gas took place. It turned out that Russian gas crossed the border of Ukraine with Slovakia through a custom built pipe and returned to Ukraine, but already with a surcharge of $50 per thousand cubic metres thereby allegedly generating revenues for its architects of $1.5 billion from this scheme during its operation.
Moreover, the operating companies for the scheme were managed by Andrei Favorov, an old acquaintance of Kobolev. This scheme also allowed the Biden family to receive the money that his son Hunter Biden received from the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma for his membership on the Board of Directors. Allegedly the commissions received by Hunter Biden amounted to $US 3-4 million, which today in America is not spoken of and is not mentioned by the country’s leading media.
Where did Hochstein come from and why is President Biden promoting him to the role of the main lobbyist against Nord Stream 2? The story began in 2013, when, during the time of President Yanukovych, preliminary contracts were signed with the leading Western oil and gas corporations Exxon Mobile, Shell, Chevron and BP for the development of shale gas fields in the Donetsk region. A giant shale gas field was discovered with reserves of more than one trillion cubic meters of gas – the fourth largest in Europe.
The gas field had a ready-made infrastructure – namely the gas transportation system of Ukraine – and cheap labour ensured that extraction costs could be limited. In 2013, the first $10bn contract was signed with Royal Dutch Shell. But then the war began in Donbass, and all these giants left. But in 2018, the well-known Burisma company was taken over to develop shale deposits in the Yuzovskaya area in the region of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. What game were the Americans playing? Donbass shale gas is much cheaper than that produced in the United States, but still more expensive than Russian gas. In order to sell Ukrainian shale gas to Europe, it is necessary to block the “Nord Stream-2” project, in order to destroy the raw materials link between Europe and Russia and push Russia out of the European market. The United States has been working for a long time to prevent the link-up of technological Europe with raw material rich Russia. Under this scenario, Europe immediately becomes a leader in the race for world economic dominance.
In the geopolitical game against Russia and its integration with Europe, the role of the “Trojan horse” is played by Ukraine. Biden has assigned the role of the destroyer of this bundle to Amos Hochstein. It is clear that Hochstein will try to block Nord Stream with redoubled energy. The first shale gas production line in Donbass has already been launched by the Biden family company Burisma. After becoming president, Biden is already using all the levers of power in the White House to lobby for this project. It is clear that the USA needs the territory of Donbass. We know that there are large reserves of shale gas in Europe – in Norway, Poland, France. But they are not going to be developed, because of concerns about harm to the environment.
However Kyiv does not care about these problems. The military conflict in Donbass can cause the population to leave partially, this would assist the Americans to block Nord Stream and help them to convince Angela Merkel to abandon Nord Stream. In the event of a conflict, the plan was to demonstrate Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, to exploit the arsenal of Western media and declare Russia an enemy. Merkel would then have no choice but to agree with the Americans and support the freezing of the Nord Stream project.
So, behind all these American sanctions and formidable statements could there be a pecuniary motive? Such a theory might explain the fury with which the United States unleashed its sanctions machine against the main whistleblower of Biden’s schemes, namely Andriy Derkach. He was responsible for making public the recordings of conversations between Poroshenko and Biden.
Poroshenko and Biden denied the authenticity of these tapes, claiming that they were fabricated. But nobody filed a lawsuit, and nobody conducted an expert examination of the tapes. In August 2020, the director of the US National Centre for Counter-intelligence and Security, William Evanina, said that the Russian authorities “are using a number of measures” to denigrate former US Vice President Joe Biden. As an example, he cited “pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian” Andriy Derkach, who, he said, spreads allegations of corruption – including through leaked phone calls to “undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and the Democratic Party”.
But actually Evanina has never questioned the authenticity of the tapes; he refers to them only as “leaked phone calls”. In the middle of the American election campaign, at the request of Democratic senators, the US Treasury announced personal sanctions against Andriy Derkach for interfering in the American elections. In January 2021 – sanctions were announced against another six people. They all participated in Rudy Giuliani’s film about corruption in Ukraine. Is it possible that they may have been targeted to prevent them from raising their profile, thereby clearing the way for the status quo to be left intact without further investigation?