The release of a tape containing conversations between then US Vice-President Joe Biden and ex-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were the sensation of this past week in Ukraine – and rightly so. What many had suspected – that the post-Maidan Ukraine had in fact become a sort of protectorate of the United States, not formally included in an alliance, but de facto ruled from across the ocean – appeared to be confirmed by these tapes showing how Biden instructed the President of Ukraine to get a rid of the Prosecutor General and to form a new government. It will be impossible now to dismiss the claims that Ukraine is not the master of her own affairs as if it was some sort of crazy conspiracy theory.

Ukraine has been at the center of many media stories at least since the Maidan revolution of 2013-14 and the war in Eastern Ukraine that ensued kept Ukraine in the public eye. Last summer Trump’s impeachment trial, following a call with the new Ukrainian President Zelensky, in which the US President appeared to pressure Zelensky to investigate possible crimes by Biden’s son in Ukraine, brought renewed attention to Ukraine.

Western media, however, appears to have failed to pick up on the latest revelation on the tape leak. There have been only a few reports on this latest scandal, and they have focused almost exclusively on the effects the leaks could have on Biden’s campaign in the coming Presidential election. The Washington Post chose to speak of Russian hackers and the KGB connections of the father of Andrii Derkach, the Ukrainian MP who made the tapes public on Tuesday and apparently is an associate of Rudy Giuliani.

“Poroshenko said in a statement Wednesday that Biden “is a friend and an ally of Ukraine” and that the “Kremlin has launched a full-fledged special operation against Ukraine.” His statement also referred to the audio as bogus”, wrote the paper. Petro Poroshenko accused even current Ukrainian President of being part of the same “special operation”. In this view, the leaks are nothing more that attempts to slander Biden and damage his presidential bid.

It appears that for Western media there is absolutely nothing scandalous about a powerful actor of the American power machine blackmailing a country that in theory should be an ally – and de facto making all talk of sovereignty and independence of Ukraine nothing more than smoke and mirrors. From the point of view of Western observers, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the US openly interfering in the internal affairs of a friendly, subordinate country – that’s just the way the world works. This scandal is not about Biden – the US Vice President was just acting as part of a system. Ukraine has been the darling of the West for some years, but nobody really seems to care less about Ukraine’s independence than the so-called “friends of Ukraine”.

Stepan Antonov

Stepan Antonov is the author of “Battle for Ukraine: Ukraine between Russia and the West”, published by East & West Books in 2019. You can find the book here.