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Report: Trump Chairman Manafort Helped ‘Lay the Groundwork’ for Russian Invasion of Crimea

Paul ManafortAccording to a report from The Times, Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort played a key role in fomenting pro-annexation sentiments and promoting pro-Putin politicians in Crimea before the 2014 Russian invasion and occupation.

Reporters have long noted the Manafort was once on the payroll of pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych, but the controversial relationship received renewed scrutiny this week when the Associated Press revealed that Manafort may have illegally directed pro-Russian money to U.S. lobbyists and The New York Times reported that a secret Ukrainian ledger indicated that he received over $12 million in undisclosed payments.

Now The Times has its own fuel to add to the fire, reporting on exactly what Manafort did for Yanukovych based on leaked Ukrainian legal documents:

The senior Ukrainian prosecutor alleges that in 2006 Mr Manafort orchestrated a series of anti-NATO, anti-Kiev protests in Crimea led by Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party of Regions — now designated a criminal organisation. The protests forced planned NATO exercises there to be cancelled. No charges were pursued because of a lack of evidence after Crimea was annexed.

The leaked memo says “it was [Manafort’s] political effort to raise the prestige of Yanukovych and his party.” Once in power, “Yanukovych laid the groundwork for Russia’s annexation of the peninsula, which Donald Trump has now suggested he would recognize.”

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