KYIV, May 14 - A Ukrainian politician who communicated with Trump associates about a controversial plan to resolve Ukraine’s conflict with Kremlin-backed rebels said Monday that he has been called to testify before a grand jury connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Politico reported.
Andrii Artemenko said he could not provide details of his upcoming appearance before the grand jury, which he said is scheduled for Friday. But he said he assumed he would be asked about the peace plan, about which he communicated with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, in early 2017.
“I received the subpoena last week,” Artemenko told POLITICO by telephone, adding that he intended to comply with the request. He said he would appear in person.
A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.
The Artemenko case is one of the more unusual developments in the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. The New York Times reported in February 2017 that Artemenko had contacted Felix Sater, a former business associate of Trump’s, to find out how he could make his plan for peace in Ukraine known to the Trump administration. Sater introduced Artemenko to Cohen, who left the plan in the office of then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, The Times reported.
Cohen has denied that, saying he threw the document away.
When the news broke about the peace plan, it caused a scandal in Ukraine. Among the plan’s proposals was the idea of leasing to Russia the Crimean peninsula — which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014 — for 50 years, in exchange for ending the ongoing war in Ukraine’s Donbass region. The back-channel effort also sought to have the Trump administration drop sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama White House.
Artemenko was ejected from his political party, and Ukraine's top prosecutor launched an investigation into whether he had committed treason. In May 2017, Ukrainian officials stripped him of his citizenship, ostensibly because he also held a Canadian passport. Artemenko said he was being punished politically for opposing President Petro Poroshenko, whom he also accused of corruption.
Artemenko’s testimony could help Mueller’s team fill in the gaps on the peace plan, which he has been investigating in part because of the roles of Cohen and Sater, who also worked together to try and launch a Trump-branded development in Moscow starting in early 2015.
The plan may also be of interest to Mueller because it reportedly was hatched shortly after Flynn discussed dropping sanctions against Russia in a call with the Russian ambassador that was intercepted by intelligence officials. Flynn was fired from the White House after it became clear that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations about Russian sanctions. (po/ez)