Contemporary Ukraine and Russia are filled with multiple layers of corruption and political intrigue. The totality of their porous and entangled relationship with each other and with the United States over the last 5 years is difficult to summarize or convey simply. But there are broad outlines that are critical to understand and take account of. To put it simply, soon after the 2016 campaign ended, Trump and Co went back into business with the same cast of characters from the former Soviet Union they’d been working with on election assistance and business deals through 2015 and 2016. Only now the goal wasn’t election interference. It was trying to prove the election interference campaign they’d both been part of had actually never happened. Perhaps ‘going back into business’ misstates the matter. It never ended.
The whole 2016 Russian election interference campaign was tightly connected to the events of 2014 in Ukraine – the overthrow of the Russia-aligned Yanukovych government, the Russian seizure of Crimea and the Western sanctions that came in their wake. The campaign was run by Russia but in large part carried out by Russian and Russia-aligned Ukrainian oligarchs who had lost out in the events of 2014 because they were allied with the Russian government and the business interests around it. Fast forward to today and we have a new scandal over the Trump White House using extortion to get the current Ukraine government to intervene on President Trump’s behalf in the 2020 election.