November 5, 2017

QUID PRO QUO:

With Manafort, It Really Is About Russia, Not Ukraine (EVELYN N. FARKAS, NOV. 5, 2017, NY Times)

In 2010, with Mr. Manafort's help, Mr. Yanukovych was elected president. His campaign, primarily targeting voters in the east, was based on opposition to NATO and advocacy for Russian-language rights. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates received tens of millions of dollars for this work. Vladimir Putin -- who had already invaded and occupied part of the Republic of Georgia -- made it clear that Moscow was determined to keep Ukraine out of NATO and firmly within Russia's sphere of influence.

In November 2013, after on-and-off flirtations with the West, Mr. Yanukovych rejected a pending agreement to join the European Union. The Ukrainian people took to the streets again, starting in a Kiev square known as the Maidan. Mr. Yanukovych ordered his special forces to shoot and kill over 100 unarmed demonstrators and subsequently fled the country, despite a political transition settlement brokered by the United States and European Union, with Russian assent.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2014, annexed Crimea and shortly thereafter instigated a separatist movement in Mr. Yanukovych's home region, Donetsk. The result was a war between Russia and Ukraine that continues to this day.

Mr. Yanukovych was in exile in Russia, but Mr. Manafort continued to work in Ukraine for the Opposition Bloc, the successor party to the discredited Party of Regions, and indirectly, for Russia's interests, since this party continued to be pro-Moscow -- and anti-EU and anti-NATO. And then in March 2016 Mr. Manafort became Mr. Trump's campaign chairman. At the July Republican convention, his staff intervened to weaken the party platform concerning Ukraine, striking a clause advocating for lethal defensive military assistance for Ukraine. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump was praising Mr. Putin, advocating for greater cooperation with Russia and speaking skeptically about NATO and its collective defense mission.

Posted by at November 5, 2017 7:41 PM

  

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