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Did Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince play a role in alleged Russian intervention in Trump’s 2016 campaign?

New Delhi: Towards the end of the 448-page Mueller report to investigate possible Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election is a reference to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The reference appears to suggest that the UAE might have acted to bring together the Trump campaign and Russians representing Vladimir Putin.

The report refers to Kirill Dmitriev, “a Russian national who heads Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and is closely connected to Putin”. He was appointed CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) when it was founded in 2011. The Muller report says that he “reported directly to Putin and frequently referred to Putin as his ‘boss.'”

Dmitriev regularly interacted with George Nader, a senior adviser to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince. The report also refers to Nader as a business associate of Dmitriev. It says he leaned on Nader to introduce him to Trump transition officials. “Dmitriev told Nader that Putin would be very grateful to Nader and that a meeting would make history,” the report said.

A meeting was arranged in Seychelles between Dmitriev and Eric Prince, a Trump campaign supporter and an associate of Steve Bannon, head of Brietbart news who joined the White House but was later eased out.

The report says the UAE national security adviser also introduced Dmitriev to Rick Gerson, a hedge fund manager and friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. That meeting took place in late November 2016.

Suggestions on the myterious role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed come across when the Muller report says, “Nader considered Dmitriev to be Putin’s interlocutor in the Gulf region, and would relay Dmitriev’s views directly to Crown Prince Mohammed”. It continued: “Nader developed contacts with both U.S. presidential campaigns during the 2016 election, and kept Dmitriev abreast of his efforts to do so. According to Nader, Dmitriev said that his and the government of Russia’s preference was for candidate Trump to win, and asked Nader to assist him in meeting members of the Trump campaign.”

More evidence emerged of how the UAE might have played go-between in the Russia-Trump campaign meetings. The Crown Prince was at a luxury hotel in Seychelles in January 2017, just before Trump’s inauguration, with Nader, who eventually cooperated with the Muller investigation.

What happened at the January 11, 2017, meeting that Dmitriev, Nader and Prince attended remains unclear, in part due to a series of redactions in the Muller report. However, speculation over what is being read between the lines suggests a more than glacing role in the matter.