The Ukrainian gas executive who was wooed by now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman has talked to the Associated Press, giving details about the deals Parnas and Fruman were trying to do in spring 2019 and the inside information they seemed to have. In March 2019, according to Andrew Favorov, the number two at Ukraine’s Naftogaz, Parnas and Fruman were dangling the promise of big shipments of natural gas, something Ukraine desperately needs to be independent of Russia. “But first,” the AP reports Favorov said, “they told him they would have to remove two obstacles: Favorov’s boss and the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.”
Favorov was initially skeptical that the two men could make that happen. But then “Favorov says he had reason to play along, as their boasts of connections in high places began to match events around him.” His boss at Naftogaz came under pressure. U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was recalled.
Giuliani told the AP via text message that “I had no involvement in a deal. Not a partner, not an advisor.” But Parnas and Fruman were clearly getting information from somewhere, and they were name-dropping Giuliani a lot as they told Favorov that they had the backing of the Trump administration to get an implausibly large natural gas deal done. You have to wonder what Giuliani was getting from the connection.
Then again, Giuliani wasn’t Parnas and Fruman’s only Trump connection. They had breakfast with Don Jr. in May 2018. They introduced Favorov to Rick Perry’s 2012 campaign manager, currently vice finance chair for the 2020 Republican National Convention, and to Republican National Committee co-chair and Don Jr. pal Tommy Hicks Jr. And just as their talk of having Yovanovitch removed came true, soon after they promised Favorov that they could get capacity expanded on a gas pipeline from Poland to Ukraine, the Trump administration started focusing on gas pipeline capacity in Eastern Europe.
Maybe Parnas and Fruman just had the good Trump inner circle gossip and were using it to make themselves seem more consequential than they really were when it came to getting a deal done. But it sure is interesting how much these two Giuliani associates who have now been indicted for funneling money from Russia to the Trump 2020 campaign did know.