New reporting by the New York Times on Wednesday strongly suggests that the government of Ukraine has ended its cooperation with the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged interference in the 2016 elections due to concerns that further involvement with the investigation could potentially imperil a weapons deal it wants the Trump administration to approve.
The Times reporting centers around multiple investigations by the Ukrainians focused on dealings inside the country by former top Trump aide Paul Manafort, now under indictment in the U.S. for money laundering and other schemes. Manafort, of course, has featured prominently in the Mueller probe.
According to the newspaper:
The cases [involving Manafort's dealings] are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump's distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say.
The decision to halt the investigations by an anticorruption prosecutor was handed down at a delicate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country sophisticated anti-tank missiles, called Javelins.
Ukraine MP Volodymyr Ariev—described as an ally of President Petro O. Poroshenko, opendly admitted the government's intention was to put investigations what he described as "the long-term box."
"In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials," Ariev told the Times. "We shouldn't spoil relations with the administration."
The reporting also notes that Ukrainian law enforcement may also have dinged the Mueller probe in other ways, including by allowing "a potential witness to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia, putting him out of reach for questioning."