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Hunter Biden sought to cash in with oligarchs during first Russian war on Ukraine, records show

"This is a good if not life changing deal if the Uk[raine] doesn't collapse in the meantime," Hunter Biden was told in spring 2014 email after Russia had invaded Ukraine the first time.

Published: April 4, 2022 9:11pm

Updated: April 6, 2022 9:31am

In the shadows of Russia's first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Hunter Biden and his business partners embarked on an aggressive campaign to score millions of dollars in "life changing" business with oligarchs in both countries who had an interest in his father's policymaking business, according to emails and court records obtained by Just the News.

President Joe Biden's son and his associates targeted Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina — who eventually was sanctioned by the U.S. a few years later in 2018 — for as much as $200 million after helping her get a bank account set up in America, the emails show.

Hunter Biden and his associates even arranged for Baturina and her husband, an ex-Moscow mayor, to meet with then-Vice President Joe Biden at an intimate dinner in Washington in 2015.

At the same time he and his team courted Baturina, Hunter Biden was securing lucrative board positions and consulting deals with Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, a man whose company, Burisma Holdings, the United States and Great Britain wanted investigated for corruption.

The delicate balancing act of cashing in on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides of the conflict left the younger Biden and his partners acutely aware that Moscow's military annexation of Ukraine's Crimean region in 2014 was a wild card that could scuttle the success of their business pursuits, the memos show.

"Just spent two hours on the phone with Kiev. I am confident at this point that this is a good if not life changing deal if the Uk [Ukraine] doesn't collapse in the meantime," now-convicted Biden business partner Devon Archer wrote Hunter Biden in one particularly candid assessment of their strategy in mid-April 2014.

Eventually, another of Hunter Biden's convicted business associates, John Galanis, would declare in a sworn affidavit to a federal court that he and his son Jason became aware of a strategy by Hunter Biden-related companies of promising oligarchs "quid pro quo" access to Washington in return for their dollars.

"Jason Galanis gave his interest in Burnham/Wealth Assurance to Archer on the prospect that Archer and Hunter Biden would continue to attract foreign oligarchs on the promise of high level political contacts," John Galanis swore in a January 2020 affidavit that unequivocally referred to the scheme as "political influence peddling."

You can read the Galanis affidavit here:

The Galanis father-son team and Archer have all been convicted in a fraud scheme that fleeced a Native American Indian tribe. Hunter Biden was not charged in that case.

Hunter Biden's lawyers have repeatedly declined to answer questions or requests for comment from Just the News. Hunter Biden has acknowledged he is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Delaware but denied committing any wrongdoing.

President Biden has repeatedly defended his son, most recently through his White House chief of staff Ron Klain over the weekend in an interview in which Klain said "the president's confident that his son didn't break the law."

Whether crimes were committed or not, the records gleaned from the Archer-Galanis trial and a Hunter Biden laptop the FBI seized from a Delaware computer shop in 2019 make clear Hunter Biden and his associates directly sought business with both Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

And they did so during one of the most turbulent times in recent Eastern European history, starting with Ukraine's Euromaidan revolution followed by Russia's invasion of Crimea.

Ever since Just the News and a Senate committee first revealed in 2020 that Baturina sent $3.5 million to a firm inside Hunter Biden's business circle, Democrats and their defenders have tried to distance the family from the Russian oligarch. The Senate report, citing a media story, said Hunter Biden cofounded the firm that received that Baturina payment; Hunter Biden's lawyer has said he didn’t have an ownership stake in the firm and wasn't a cofounder.

But the memos make clear Hunter Biden had direct dealings and was on a first-name basis with Baturina as they pitched her deals, which included a $40 million real estate venture in New York through the Burnham investment firm where Hunter Biden was listed as a vice chairman in the firm's promotional materials. Hunter Biden's team also tried to get her an American bank account, the records show.

Baturina entered Biden world no later than November 2013, when Jason Galanis and another convicted Biden business partner, Bevan Cooney, accessed the Russian oligarch's Wikipedia page, according to an exclusive search of Bevan Cooney's emails by Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute.

Less than three weeks later (and just days before thousands of protestors gathered in Kyiv for what became known as the Euromaidan protests that ultimately ousted Russia-friendly Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych), Archer emailed Jason Galanis and Cooney: "Yelena meeting here in NYC on Burnham."

"She's so rich she has Burnham money stuck in her sofa," Galanis replied, emails previously reported by Just the News show. "Good luck Archie. Remember....if you have to sleep with her, do it for the team."

As the Euromaidan protests raged through January 2014, Hunter Biden's partners struggled to secure U.S. bank approval for the Russian oligarch — a challenging task given that Baturina was on a bank's financial transaction "watch list," according to the emails.

By Jan. 15, 2014, Archer was growing impatient with how long it was taking to approve Baturina's bank account application. "We are getting nowhere with Burnham on the Yelena account opening so we're going to go with our boy Harold at [Morgan Stanley]," Archer wrote Galanis.  "I've submitted her info to compliance and have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with [Morgan Stanley] head of the Private Bank and HF. I will negotiate a revshare with BOE."

The next day, Burnham CEO Jon Burnham emailed an update to Archer. "JPM [J.P. Morgan] is working on checking Yelena [Baturina] out," he wrote. "She is not on the OFAC list which means that there probably is no AML problem. They are checking also with their AML people. 

"I told JPM that I want to know from them whether we will be able to open an account for her at JPM Clearing if she decides she wants to have an account with us." ("OFAC" refers to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Controls, which typically deals with sanctioned individuals and entities.)

When Archer forwarded Burnham's email to Galanis and Cooney, the replies were celebratory.

"This is potentially fantastic news, arch! what happens if we get her full JP Morgan account??? party time USA????" Galanis wrote back. Less than one week later, Burnham informed Archer that J.P. Morgan had approved an account for the Russian oligarch.

Archer informed his associates that, while she had been approved, Baturina would be on J.P. Morgan's watchlist "because there are so many threats of lawsuits — but the fact that there have been no convictions etc., they have approved her." 

By mid-February 2014, the Russian oligarch planned to visit with Biden's associates when she came to the U.S. for the official opening of her American account. On Feb. 14, 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to Rosemont Seneca Thornton, LLC (an entity linked to Hunter Biden',s Rosemont Seneca empire), according to a U.S. Senate report. One week later, Yanukovych fled Ukraine and the country plunged further into chaos.

The same month that Baturina got U.S. bank account approval and wired the $3.5 million to Rosemont Seneca Thornton, then-Vice President Joe Biden was named Obama's "point man" to deal with the chaos in Ukraine.

By late-summer 2014, Baturina had invested more than $200 million in Archer's various funds, according to board meeting minutes filed during Archer's fraud trial.

With Joe Biden handling U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine, Hunter Biden and his business partners exploited the opportunity. "With Yelena in my now [sic]," Archer wrote to Hunter Biden on March 13, 2014. At that very moment, Russia — having already fully invaded Crimea — was amassing troops and armored vehicles in at least three more regions in eastern Ukraine: Belgorod, Kursk, and Rostov. And while the Ukrainian government was requesting lethal assistance from the U.S., the Obama-Biden administration "deferred" the request.

As Russia was invading Ukraine, Hunter Biden was in direct contact with the Russian oligarch while visiting in Italy, according to an email exchange between his associates. Hunter Biden had booked Archer a room and was "At [Villa] d'Este," emails show. Secret Service travel records corroborate that Hunter was listed as a "protectee" in Lake Como, Italy from April 3-6, 2014.

"Does 5pm work for Yelena?" Archer emailed Hunter Biden, seeking a meeting with the oligarch.

Ten days later, Hunter Biden and Archer were discussing the dire situation in Ukraine, hoping it wouldn't scuttle their business opportunities with the oligarchs.

"Just spent two hours on the phone with Kiev," Archer wrote Hunter Biden on April 13, 2014. "I am confident at this point that this is a good if not life changing deal if the Uk[raine] doesn't collapse in the meantime."

Two days later, Burisma funneled the first of many twin monthly payments of $83,333.33 to Rosemont Seneca Bohai, LLC, some of which were then distributed to Hunter Biden's and Devon Archer's personal accounts. That very same day, Devon Archer met with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, according to the Secret Service's official WAVES entry logs. "Between May 15, 2014 and Feb. 12, 2016, Burisma sent another 48 wires to Rosemont Seneca Bohai, totaling $3,489,490.78," according to Senate investigators.

The FBI confirmed those transfers in bank records seized from Archer during his criminal investigation. You can see them here:


When Joe Biden visited Ukraine in April 2014, his son sought to take credit with his new employer, Burisma, for a line in the vice president’s speech calling for expanded natural gas exploration.  “Makes it look like we are adding value,” Hunter Biden wrote Archer.

Hunter Biden and Archer sought to leverage their relationships with both Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs for financial gain on more than one occasion.

A spring 2014 series of emails indicated Baturina had agreed to help fund a real estate venture in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.

"Seller is flaking. Asked for 90 days. We made a $41mm offer. Yelena confirmed green light to fund deposit," Archer wrote Hunter Biden.

In November 2014, Archer forwarded to Hunter Biden a "macro play" business prospect involving cocoa farms in Latin America.

"Who's the investor/acquirer?" Hunter Biden asked in an email.

"Yelena," replied Archer.

"Got it- maybe we could get some for Porschenko [sic] while we are at it," Hunter suggested, referring to then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (who was also known as "the Chocolate king" due to his confectionary empire).

As the Burisma payments flowed to Hunter Biden and Devon Archer, the two men discussed arranging to get their Russian and Ukrainian business partners some face time with then-Vice President Joe Biden.

In March 2015, Hunter Biden wrote Archer that he had secured seats for Baturina and her husband, former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, at a private dinner with then-Vice President Joe Biden at the posh Garden Room at the Cafe Milano in Washington D.C.

Hunter Biden also secured seats for a Burisma representative and several Kazakh oligarchs at the gathering. Baturina declined, as she did not want to "steal Yuri's thunder," but Burisma representative Vadym Pozharskyi apparently did meet with the vice president at this now-famous undisclosed dinner at the Cafe Milano in D.C., emails show.

In January 2018, the Trump administration sanctioned more than 100 Russian state-run company CEOS and Russian oligarchs for having close ties to Putin. Elena Baturina was number 12 on the list of oligarchs, just behind Alfa Bank founder Petr Aven. And when President Trump tried to get to the bottom of the Biden Burisma scheme, the Democrats impeached him.

Seamus Bruner is Director of Research at the Government Accountability Institute which produces investigations at the Drill Down with Peter Schweizer.

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