Hunter Biden, the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden, will take a seat on the board of directors of Ukraine’s largest private gas producer.
Burisma Holdings published a statement Monday on the company’s website that said Biden would also take the lead of the company’s legal unit, according to the Moscow Times.
“Burisma’s track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine,” Hunter Biden said in a statement quoted by Business Insider.
“As a new member of the board, I believe that my assistance in consulting the company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine,” he said.
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Biden’s appointment comes as the United States and much of Europe seek to wean Ukraine from dependence on Russia for oil and gas. The Washington Times reports that just one day before Burisma’s announcement, Russia’s energy company, Gazprom, threatened to halt natural gas shipments to Ukraine unless the orders were paid for in advance.
Obama administration officials downplayed any possibilities of a conflict of interest following the announcement of the younger Biden’s new job.
"Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer. The vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company,” said Kendra Barkoff, a spokesperson with the vice president’s office.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that where Hunter Biden works "does not reflect an endorsement by the administration, by the president or vice president."
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula last month, a move that has been denounced by European and U.S. leaders. Many believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has plans to annex other parts of the Eastern European country as well.
Vice President Biden recently pledged support for Ukraine’s quest for energy independence. It is believed by Ukrainian and other European leaders that such independence would serve as a major leverage point in the ongoing standoff with Russia.