THREE high powered men have met in a luxury New York hotel to hatch a plan for the future of Russia and Ukraine.
One was a real-estate broker who served time for stabbing a man with a broken margarita glass.
Another was Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, entrusted to sort out his most difficult issues.
The third was a Ukrankian politician, who claimed to have compromising information on the country’s current president, Petro Poroshenko.
Together, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and Andrii Artemenko developed a left-of-field plan for the future of the war-torn region, according to the New York Times.
Over martinis, the unlikely trio drafted a peace plan to end the conflict that has ripped Ukraine apart and claimed 10,000 lives.
Later, Mr Cohen hand-delivered the plan to the office of Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — a week before he was forced to step down for misleading Vice President Mike Pence over the content of his calls with the Russian ambassador to the US.
It’s not known whether General Flynn was able to read or act on the plan. However questions are being raised over the motives and credibility of the individuals involved, amid speculation the plan would provide an excuse for US sanctions against Russia to be lifted.
According to the New York Times, the proposal would have seen Russian forces withdraw from eastern Ukraine, with a new referendum giving voters the chance to decide whether Crimea would be leased to Russia for 50 or 100 years.
On Monday it was flatly rejected by both sides, with Ukranian ambassador to the US Valeriy Chaly saying it was a “gross violation of the Constitution”.
“Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said it was ridiculous, though for different reasons. “How can Russia lease its own region? The question itself is rather absurd,” he said.
The bizarre plan has raised eyebrows not only for its contents, but for adding to speculation about links between the Russian government and President Trump’s team. It also adds to questions around the vetting of individuals close to the administration and experience level of those in key roles at the White House.
While there is no evidence President Trump comissioned the proposal, Mr Sater has been linked to the mafia and accused of money laundering and stock manipulation in the past.
Mr. Artemenko appears to be a right-wing politician attempting to align himself with Mr Trump in order to inspire a politival revolution of his won.
“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 recently. “Our time has come!”
News of the report comes as Vice President Mike Pence met European and NATO leaders in Europe amid widespread protests.
“Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all, the same purpose to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And to those objectives we will remain committed,” he said.
European Council leader Donald Tusk said Mr Pence expressed strong support for NATO, a united Europe and international law.
“After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practise what they preach,” he said.
President Trump has previously rattled leaders in Europe by calling the NATO alliance “obsolete” and saying the US would no longer be the “stupid country” in terms of funding defence for others.
He has also routinely blasted the media as “FAKE NEWS” for citing intelligence sources who are reportedly conducting a classified investigation into the links between members of his campaign team and Russian officals.
- With wires