Member of Parliament Andriy Derkach has released recordings of telephone conversations between persons with voices similar to those of Ukraine’s former President Petro Poroshenko and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Derkach earlier released similar audio snippets, saying he received them from “investigative journalists.”
Derkach said the latest recorded conversation took place on August 19, 2016 and was about the detention of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea, whom Russia’s Federal Security Service labelled “members of Ukrainian sabotage terrorist groups.” Ukraine at the time denied the accusation.
“My team has briefed me in considerable detail regarding the events that took transpired over the weekend, on [August] 6th and 7th,” a voice similar to Biden’s is heard saying to Poroshenko without mentioning what, specifically, the events were.
“…These actions have left the president and me a little concerned. […] As you know, we intervened once before this when we learned that your HUR [the General Staff] was going to take some action. And we made it clear that we did not support that. And you stood down, and the next thing this happens. I will say very frankly – he is not real happy. So the head of your military intelligence chief received a clear signal from us a several weeks ago regarding our strong disapproval of the planned sabotage operation against military targets inside Russian territory. And I know that Crimea is Ukraine, and it is illegally occupied. However, we strongly, strongly believe that raising the cost on Russia can only be done via political and diplomatic means, and not military and sabotage operations,” says the voice resembling Biden’s.
“…We know what it was. Four frogmen were intercepted, all four escaped and the next night friendly fire that had nothing to do with you guys, but [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is trying to make some big deal out of this,” says voice resembling Biden’s.
“…This happened when I was on a visit to the Far East. We are undertaking important steps to make it impossible to repeat this situation in the future. The only reason that we are not dismissing the chief of military intelligence… I would hate to do it immediately, that is, now, because anyone will be able to interpret it as a recognizing responsibility,” replies a voice similar to Poroshenko’s.
“…We are still making efforts to organize a telephone conversation with Putin, but he rejected it. I think he wants to hold a meeting of the [Russian] Security Council in Crimea today. …In any case, he does not make new attempts to blame Ukraine, with new names, new killed [persons] or wounded people, because they have nobody. They have nobody to [blame] for this, this crazy idea, this diversion attack against the airport, I don’t know, against ports or infrastructure. This is simply not true. …We don’t open fire, we don’t use military force,” a voice resembling Poroshenko’s replies.
Derkach said “one of the participants in the events (allegedly discussed by Biden and Poroshenko) is Valeriy Kondratiuk [who in 2016 headed the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukraine’s Defense Ministry], adding that Kondratiuk was recently appointed to head Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service.
“The person who had a direct attitude to the planned terrorist attacks and sabotage against citizens of Ukraine, today is a member of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council and heads the Foreign Intelligence Service, reporting directly to Ukraine’s president. The question is to which president?” Derkach said.
The official telephone conversation of Biden and Poroshenko was purportedly made on August 14, 2016. The White House at the time said that “U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has discussed with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the latest tensions in Russia-occupied Crimea. The Vice President urged President Poroshenko to do his part in order to avoid the escalation of tension and Washington also called on the Russian side to avoid escalating the conflict,” Derkach said.
According to Derkach, at the time of the alleged telephone call, Biden noted Poroshenko’s efforts to find ways to resolve the situation, emphasizing that the America “is closely monitoring all the events surrounding the Crimean provocation, the responsibility for which lies with Russia in full.”
Russia, meanwhile, said it had liquidated the “agent network” in Crimea and detained a group of Ukrainian and Russian citizens “who had assisted in the preparation of the attacks.” They named a resident of Enerhodar, Zaporizhia region, Yevhen Panov, whom they identified as an employee of Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, Foreign Intelligence Service and National Security and Defense Council at the time denied reports of Ukrainian saboteurs. The Defense Ministry said Russia’s allegations that Ukrainian forces had shelled the peninsula from the mainland were groundless.
Former President Petro Poroshenko at the time said that the Russian accusations of Ukrainian terrorism in the occupied Crimea were unfounded and were intended to lay the groundwork for future military threats against the Ukrainian state.
On August 11, 2016, Poroshenko at a meeting with the leadership of law enforcement agencies and the Foreign Ministry ordered that units near the administrative border of the Kherson region and Crimea be brought to enhanced combat readiness.