When it comes to theories about what kind of quid pro quo must have been involved in Vladimir Putin helping Donald Trump become president, the most commonly expressed view has been that Trump would reward Putin by lifting sanctions.
A report in the New York Times describes a plan for a much intricate unfolding of interests that would see Andrii V. Artemenko, “the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine,” ousting Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko.
The report says Artemenko:
has fashioned himself in the image of Mr. Trump, presenting himself as Ukraine’s answer to a rising class of nationalist leaders in the West. He even traveled to Cleveland last summer for the Republican National Convention, seizing on the chance to meet with members of Mr. Trump’s campaign.
“It’s time for new leaders, new approaches to the governance of the country, new principles and new negotiators in international politics,” he wrote on Facebook on Jan. 27. “Our time has come!”
Mr. Artemenko said he saw in Mr. Trump an opportunity to advocate a plan for peace in Ukraine — and help advance his own political career. Essentially, his plan would require the withdrawal of all Russian forces from eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian voters would decide in a referendum whether Crimea, the Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, would be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.
The Ukrainian ambassador, Mr. Chaly, rejected a lease of that kind. “It is a gross violation of the Constitution,” he said in written answers to questions from The Times. “Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests.”
The reaction suggested why Mr. Artemenko’s project also includes the dissemination of “kompromat,” or compromising material, purportedly showing that Mr. Poroshenko and his closest associates are corrupt. Only a new government, presumably one less hostile to Russia, might take up his plan.
The report says Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, delivered Artemenko’s plan to the White House — Cohen now denies this, but the New York Times stands by its story — where it was left on Michael Flynn’s desk.