Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know by Serhy Yekelchyk:
In this context, Biden’s micro-management of Ukrainian politics was nothing out of the ordinary. When an independent Ukrainian parliamentarian with KGB and Russian connections released to the public in May 2020 audio clips from 2015 and 2016, purported to be from Biden’s (and then Secretary of State John Kerry’s) phone calls with President Poroshenko, there was nothing there even close to the “favor” Trump asked of Zelensky in July. What stood out in these tapes was how closely the United States was involved in forcing the various Ukrainian reformist parties to work together, as well as in pushing through major anti-corruption measures. Although the tapes confirm the well-known story of Biden making US $1 billion in American loan guarantees conditional on the removal of the then Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in 2016, Biden never denied this and, in fact, spoke repeatedly of this episode.
Although Poroshenko saw Shokin as a reliable ally, the Ukrainian public disagreed, giving him a stunning negative rating of 73.2 percent in a February 2016 poll. By then, the US ambassador, EU representatives, the IMF, and leading Ukrainian anti-corruption groups denounced Shokin for blocking decisive anti-corruption measures and the much-needed reform of the prosecution system. His own deputy resigned because of the alleged corruption and politicking in the Prosecutor General’s Office. Biden’s 2016 ultimatum to Poroshenko was thus completely in line with the opinion of Western diplomats and the Ukrainian public. Shokin was forced to resign, not because he was investigating the wrong people, but because he was not investigating them with sufficient vigor. Nobody in Ukraine protested his removal.