Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the US should investigate a possible Ukrainian trace in the case of Paul Manafort, former advisor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, via Ukraine itself.
"They found a Ukrainian trace in Manafort's case. The Ukrainian trace should be investigated via Ukraine. They [Ukrainian officials] can say a lot about their position toward the candidates during the 2016 presidential campaign."
Commenting on the charges brought against Trump's former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Richard Gates, Lavrov noted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was looking for evidence of so-called Russian meddling, but instead discovered proof of Ukraine lobbying.
"Hysteria. Prosecutor Mueller presented the first results of his work in Washington. He has been working for several months. Accused two former Trump campaign managers of what they were doing on behalf of [Ukrainian President Victor] Yanukovych. Even though they were looking for a Russian trace … Where there is a will, there is a way – to spoil something, or make so that everyone struggles to implement something as well. There is a way to restore normal relations. If only there was a will," Lavrov said.
Ukraine's Trace in Manafort's Charges
Interestingly, the text of the indictment reads that Manafort and Gates had been involved in lobbying members of the US Congress on Ukraine-related issues and states that Tymoshenko "served as Ukraine President prior to Yanukovych."
However, Tymoshenko has never been a Ukraininan president; she acted as the country's prime minister in 2005 and in 2007-2010, under President Viktor Yushchenko. She also participated in 2010 presidential election, losing to Yanukovych in the runoff.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, pointed to the error, adding that this inaccuracy helped to better understand how the indictment had been prepared. In his turn, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said that any accusations of President Donald Trump campaign members are a US internal issue and don't concern Russia.
The Kremlin has repeatedly called the so-called Russia probe conducted in the US separately by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congress "absurd" and has strongly denied Moscow's interference in the country's internal affairs.
The US president has called the Russia probe a "witch hunt" aimed to justify his former rival's, Hillary Clinton, loss in the election. Commenting on Manafort's indictment, Trump has yet again reiterated that there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.
Commenting on Russia's relations with the US in the wake of the probe conducted by Mueller, Lavrov has said that the administration of incumbent US President Donald Trump has not yet been capable of stopping the negative inertia in bilateral relations, which had began during the presidency of Barack Obama.
"Each of these groups seeks to achieve its own goals in domestic political struggle in the United States. Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s administration has not managed so far to halt this inertia. Even though the US president regularly reaffirms his interest in restoring relations with Russia, so that these relations would be good and mutually beneficial, would benefit the rest of the world," Lavrov said.