Hunter Biden among Americans sanctioned by Russia

Russia has hit back at sanctions imposed by the US in retaliation to the war in Ukraine by imposing their own sanctions on a number of current and former senior US officials … and the president’s son Hunter Biden.

It is not entirely clear what the Russian government hopes to achieve by sanctioning Mr Biden.

While he was once a board member of Ukrainian natural gas producer Burisma Holdings until his four-year term expired in 2019, he is now an artist.

His time on the board of Burisma is the focus of an unsupported conspiracy theory popularised by former President Donald Trump and his followers.

Others on the list released by the Russian Foreign Ministry include President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“In response to a series of unprecedented sanctions prohibiting, among other things, entry into the United States for top Russian officials, effective March 15 this year, the Russian ‘stop list’ includes @JoeBiden, @SecBlinken and a number of other American figures on the basis of reciprocity,” the ministry said on Twitter.

The sanctions prohibit those named from entering Russia and more measures are expected to follow.

Some on Twitter referred to the inclusion of Hunter Biden on the list as “sanctions trolling” and an attempt by the Kremlin to cause a stir on right-wing media in the US.

Mr Biden has long been a target of conservative accusations. In 2019, then-president Donald Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly investigate the younger Mr Biden’s work at Burisma. But the browbeating backfired when an anonymous whistleblower revealed it to Congress, leading to Mr Trump’s first impeachment.

A year later, during the US presidential election, Mr Trump’s allies released a trove of embarrassing photos and documents regarding Mr Biden’s past drug addictions, allegedly taken from his laptop.

That backfired as well. Many journalists believed the story was not backed up by enough sources or evidence, and it failed to gain momentum outside of conservative circles.

In January, Donald Trump Jr was ridiculed on Twitter for suggesting that Hunter Biden is somehow responsible for the mounting crisis in Ukraine.

“Will it ultimately be Hunter’s lucrative and shady AF business dealings in Ukraine that gets us into a war with Russia?” Mr Trump tweeted.

He did not explain how Mr Biden’s time on the board of Burisma and Russia’s growing military presence on the Ukrainian border at the time were connected.

In a separate development, the US State Department said it will hand over email records mentioning Mr Biden to The New York Times after the publication sued for alleging the agency had failed to respond in a timely manner to FOIA requests.

The Times wants to see email correspondence between officials in the US embassy in Romania that mention Mr Biden dated between August 2015 and December 2019.

Journalist Kenneth Vogel has also requested records mentioning Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden; Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who reportedly gave Biden a $100,000 gift; Rudy Giuliani, who then-President Donald Trump sent to Europe to dig up dirt on Mr Biden; Devin Archer, a former friend of Mr Biden recently sentenced to a year in prison on a fraud scheme; and more than a dozen other people.