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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

How Mueller’s probe may influence Trump’s Russia tilt

With missiles going to Ukraine, regime softens on Manafort

Foreign policy can change quickly when the interests of those at the top demand it.

Nearly two summers ago, candidate Donald Trump’s team removed a hawkish plank from the Republican national convention platform.

As a result, the platform would no longer call for weapons support for Ukraine in its hostilities against neighboring Russia.

Trump’s then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was well known for his paid role on behalf of a pro-Russian faction in Ukraine.

What’s more, both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin happened to view former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a mutual political adversary.

Putin and Trump could be reasonably considered, if not true friends, then at least enemies of each other’s enemy.

The interests seemed to fit together nicely.

But then Manafort was fired over fallout from his Ukraine business.

And Trump was elected.

And the Russian dalliances soon became a legal brier patch for the White House.

And special counsel Robert Mueller, who replaced Clinton as the person most threatening to Trump’s ambitions, is pushing money-laundering charges against Manafort.

And now, in the spring of 2018, the Trump administration is sending financial aid and sophisticated anti-tank missiles to a Putin-phobic Ukrainian regime.

The administration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko just got Pentagon approval to receive 210 Javelin missiles and 35 launching units.

Strange: This looks like just what the hawkish Republicans who wrote that 2016 platform plank killed by the Trump team would have wanted.

And now, Poroshenko appears averse to helping Mueller build a part of the Manafort case that involves official information-gathering from Ukraine.

In fact, Ukraine’s own probes of Manafort’s actions in league with the prior Viktor Yanukovych dictatorship have been “frozen,” officials said.

In March, The Daily Beast quoted a member of Ukraine’s parliament, Serhiy Leshchenko, saying flatly: “President Poroshenko is trying to sell Trump a deal. We bury the Manafort case and you become our best friend.”

This week, The New York Times quoted Poroshenko ally Volodymyr Ariev, another legislator, saying: “In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials.

“We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”

Motives are hard to judge, especially from a distance. But in this instance, and in a sketchy way, political fallout from the Russia probe appears linked to official U.S. policy.

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