As the Trump administration was finalizing a deal to sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in 2018, the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor quietly ceased helping special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, according to The New York Times.
The newspaper reported in May 2018 that four investigations into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were frozen by chief prosecutor Serhiy Horbatyuk — or as one Ukrainian lawmaker put it, the cases were put “in the long-term box.”
“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” Volodymyr Ariev, a member of Parliament who was an ally of then-President Petro O. Poroshenko, told The Times in an interview. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”
Indeed, the State Department had issued an export license for the sophisticated missiles — called Javelins — in December 2017, followed by Pentagon approval for the sale of 210 Javelins and 35 launching units the following March.
Investigations into Manafort were brought to a halt in April, The Times reported.
Separately, the Ukrainian government also thwarted the Mueller investigation by allowing “a potential witness [Konstantin Kilimnik] to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia, putting him out of reach for questioning.”