Trump associates involved in Russia-Ukraine peace proposal

Trump associates involved in Russia-Ukraine peace proposal

Several associates of President Trump — all working outside the government — have been involved with a peace proposal for Russia and Ukraine.

The proposal would result in U.S. sanctions being lifted on Moscow, and it has been heavily criticized by Ukrainian government officials.

It comes against a backdrop of questions surrounding the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.

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The New York Times reported Sunday that the plan resulted from a meeting in January that included Michael Cohen, a Trump organization lawyer; Andrii V. Artimenko, a Ukrainian politician; and Felix Sater, a Trump business associate with dealings in Russia.

The plan would allow Russia to retain some territory it took from Ukraine during the military conflict of 2014 even as sanctions are lifted.

The Times quoted Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly slamming the plan, and saying that Artemenko “is not entitled to present any alternative peace plans on behalf of Ukraine to any foreign government, including the U.S. administration.”

The Times also reported that the plan was delivered to the desk of Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn before his resignation last week in a sealed envelope.

Cohen, in an interview with the Washington Post, said he had not delivered the proposal to Flynn, but the Times said it stood by its story.

“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen told The Post.

The plan would require Moscow to withdraw troops from Eastern Ukraine, but would decide the fate of Crimea, a region of Ukraine taken over by Russia, in a referendum. The election would decide whether Ukraine would lease Crimea to Russia for a period of 50 or 100 years.

According to the Times, the plan also includes information showing corruption on the part of Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. And the Times reports that Artemenko received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That will suggest to some that the plan represents a pro-Russian plot to end the three-year conflict with Ukraine on satisfactory terms for Moscow.

It also could suggest that those pushing the deal hoped to use contacts with people in Trump’s orbit to push the proposal within a U.S. government seen as ready to improve relations with Russia.

The meeting involving Artemenko, Cohen and Sater took place in New York City.