Biden Leaked Ukraine Calls Were Released As Part of a Russian 'Special Operation,' Ex-President Claims

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has claimed Russia is behind leaked recordings of him allegedly speaking with former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the subject of a Senate probe regarding his son Hunter's business activities in Ukraine during Biden's time in office.

The edited recordings appear to be of Biden and Poroshenko speaking to each other, and were leaked by Andrii Derkach—a Ukrainian associate of President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Last year, it was revealed that Giuliani was heading the president's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Biden, ultimately leading to Trump's impeachment.

In the conversations, Biden reportedly demands that Poroshenko fire former general prosecutor Viktor Shokin or miss out on $1 billion in aid. The two men then apparently discuss Shokin's successor, Yuriy Lutsenko.

Poroshenko said Wednesday on Facebook that the audio was "fabricated" and claimed the leak was the work of the "fifth column of the Kremlin," which he said "has launched a full-fledged special operation against Ukraine. By means of pulling Ukraine into the electoral struggle in the U.S. they are trying to undermine the U.S. bipartisan support of Ukraine."

Derkach, who leaked the Biden recordings, said he received the tapes from investigative journalists and that they were created by Poroshenko. Derkach met with Giuliani in Kyiv in 2019 while the latter was gathering evidence to support Trump during the president's impeachment probe.

Derkach is a former lawmaker for the Ukrainian Party of Regions, a pro-Moscow party once headed by President Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced from power in the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution in 2014. Derkach also attended a KGB-run school in Moscow and his father was a former KGB officer who rose to become the head of Ukraine's intelligence service.

Current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy—who was caught up in Trump's impeachment scandal—said Wednesday that the leaked recordings would be investigated, and that the apparent conversations could be "perceived, qualified as treason."

Ilya Novikov, one of Poroshenko's lawyers, denied any suggestion of treason on Wednesday, explaining: "The same negotiations with the same content have taken place over these last years, and the last year under President Zelenskiy is no exception."

A Biden spokesperson told The Washington Post that the tapes were "heavily edited...and it's still a nothingburger that landed with a thud."

Shokin was widely reported to be corrupt and western governments, including President Barack Obama's administration, publicly pushed for his dismissal. In 2018, Biden told a conference that he had pushed for Shokin to be removed, even noting he had given the Ukrainians a six-hour ultimatum to do so.

But Trump and his allies have accused Biden of pushing to get rid of Shokin so as to end an investigation into the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which at the time employed his son Hunter as a board member.

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate Homeland Security Committee approved a subpoena compelling documents and testimony from Blue Star Strategies, a consulting firm that worked with Burisma when Hunter sat on its board.

Joe BIden,, Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Russia, Hunter
This file photo shows former Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden during a press event in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 2020. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/Getty