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Fearing loss of military aid, Ukraine cuts off cooperation with Mueller

Now that Trump scandale du jour Doctorgate (remember Doctorgate, from earlier this week?) has been overtaken by Stormygate, there’s at least one serious and substantive report that has received relatively little attention.

The New York Times reports that the government of Ukraine has stopped cooperating with the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia.

In the United States, Paul J. Manafort is facing prosecution on charges of money laundering and financial fraud stemming from his decade of work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

But in Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say.

The decision to halt the investigations by an anticorruption prosecutor was handed down at a delicate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country sophisticated anti-tank missiles, called Javelins.
…..
Volodymyr Ariev, a member of Parliament who is an ally of President Petro O. Poroshenko, readily acknowledged that the intention in Kiev was to put investigations into Mr. Manafort’s activities “in the long-term box.”

“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” Mr. Ariev said in an interview. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”

I support the Trump administration’s military assistance to Ukraine as it fends off Russian expansionism. But I’d hate to think the aid was contingent on a halt to cooperation with Mueller. It’s disturbing that Ukrainian officials believe this may be the case.

There’s no evidence that the US administration has established a quid pro quo with Ukraine. It would be good if we could get a clear statement that there isn’t one, and never will be.