Ukraine Opens Criminal Investigation into Pressure Allegedly Placed on Former Prosecutor Shokin by Joe Biden; Video Series: Putin Answers Questions on 20 Topics for 20th Anniversary of His Governance of Russia – Part I

On February 27th, Interfax [a private Russian news agency that is generally considered reliable] reported that a criminal investigation has been opened up by Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation regarding alleged pressure put on Ukraine’s former prosecutor Viktor Shokin by former Vice President Joe Biden.

The investigation was opened in response to a motion filed by Shokin. The State Bureau of Investigation was court ordered to register the case.

In his motion, Shokin spoke of pressure put on him by Biden, Teleshetsky said.

“The reason for the pressure was the investigation being conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine into grave crimes of international corruption linked with the activities of former Ecology Minister of Ukraine Mykola Zlochevsky and top managers at the Burisma company,” he said.

Shokin’s motion was filed with the State Bureau of Investigation back on January 28, 2020, but information about the criminal offence was added to the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations only on February 24 after the country ordered the bureau to register the case, Teleshetsky said.

The case was opened on the charge of interfering in the work of an official of a law enforcement agency, he said.

Even though Shokin included Biden’s name in the motion, which prompted the opening of the case, the investigation itself mentions only a “U.S. citizen,” without giving any names, Teleshetsky said.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also handling criminal cases opened in response to Shokin’s motion on charges of disclosing pretrial probe secrets to employees of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, he said.

“Bearing in mind the fact that a possible suspect in all three of these criminal offences could be Joseph Biden, as a person who, in our opinion, is involved in these events, we deem it necessary to merge all the cases into one, in order to ensure an effective investigation and set up a competent investigative group, as well as a group of experienced prosecutors who can ensure the investigation within a reasonable period of time,” Teleshetsky said.


The Russian news agency, TASS, conducted a comprehensive interview with Vladimir Putin on 20 different topics for the 20th anniversary of his initial election as Russian president. It will be a multi-part video series to be posted at intervals through the end of March. Below is a link to the first video with English subtitles. Unfortunately, I could not embed the video.

Peace Deal Signed Between U.S. & Taliban; Russia Sends Warships to Coast of Syria After Turkish Attacks, Turkey Downs 2 Syrian Fighter Jets; Assange Hearing Continued to May, Chris Hedges Interviews Joe Lauria re Assange Case

Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, signs a peace deal with the Taliban, along with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the militant group’s top political leader, in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

On Saturday, February 29th, the U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace deal in which U.S. forces will the leave Afghanistan in stages. Stars and Stripes reported the following details:

DOHA, Qatar — The United States and its foreign allies will withdraw all forces within 14 months and end the war in Afghanistan if the Taliban renounces terror groups and abides by a joint agreement signed in Doha on Saturday.

The agreement mandates a phased drawdown of American, NATO and foreign partner troops from Afghanistan and a disavowal of al-Qaida and other terror groups by the Taliban.

It also calls for intra-Afghan talks to include the Taliban and the government in Kabul beginning March 10, as well as security cooperation by all sides in fighting the Islamic State…

…The U.S. is expected to reduce its troop strength in Afghanistan from about 12,000 to 8,600 within 135 days, the agreement states. All U.S. troops and their allies would also completely withdraw from five unspecified bases. Remaining troops would leave within 14 months of Saturday’s accord.

A reduction in troops to 8,600, about the number in Afghanistan when President Donald Trump took office in 2017, would not harm a counterterrorism mission that combats ISIS and other groups, U.S. military officials have said since last fall.

According to the agreement, the U.S. will continue to fund the Afghan government and can halt the drawdown of forces if it determines that the Taliban are not living up to their end of the deal. How this would be determined is not explained. Additonally, an exchange of prisoners – 5,000 Taliban fighters and 1,000 Afghan government troops – will occur on the first day of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government on March 10th.

Analysis of the deal is provided by journalist Azmat Khan on Democracy Now!

In the aftermath of clashes between Syrian troops and Turkish forces, the Russian government has announced it will be sending two warships armed with cruise missiles to the coast of Syria. The parties to the conflict have given different explanations for the clashes and the Turkish president is threatening to continue attacks on Syria:

Over 30 Turkish troops were killed in Idlib Province, and Russia says that they hold Turkey responsible for their own casualties. They said Turkey was not disclosing the location of their troops, and also were embedded with Islamist rebels, making themselves a target.

Turkey has denied this, saying they weren’t with the rebels, and that they’d told Russia where their troops were when they got killed. The Turkish forces are threatening more attacks on Syria going forward.

On Sunday and into Monday, Turkey continued both air and ground attacks on the Syrian army in Idlib:

Throughout Sunday and into Monday, Turkey has launched a flurry of airstrikes against the Syrian military in Idlib Province, and new ground offensives aiming to reclaim territory in the border province, to expel the Syrian government and ultimately replace it with Turkish-backed rebels.

Turkish officials have vowed to continue to move against Syria, and have promised to move against any Syrian government targets as legitimate military targets. On Saturday, 48 Syrian soldiers were killed. Turkey subsequently downed a pair of aircraft.

According to al- Jazeera, Turkey shot down the two Syrian fighter jets in retaliation for Syria’s downing of a Turkish drone hours before. The pilots, however, survived by parachuting to safety. The Syrian government claims it has now closed airspace over the province:

Amid the escalating tensions, the Syrian government closed the airspace over Idlib, with one official telling [Syria’s state run news agency] SANA any aircraft “that violates our airspace will be treated as a hostile flight that must be shot down and prevented from achieving its objectives”.


With respect to the extradition hearing for Julian Assange in London, the court has continued the hearing until May 18th. Below is an interview of Consortium News editor Joe Lauria, who has been covering the Assange hearing from London, by Chris Hedges.