Maria Butina Backed Putin’s Takeover of Crimea While Cozying Up to NRA: Report

In 2014, Russian agent Maria Butina was cozying up to the highest ranks of the NRA—but meanwhile, she was also backing Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and traveling to the invaded nation to support the arming of pro-Russian militia, according to a Thursday report from Mother Jones. Immediately following the annexation of Crimea that March, Mother Jones reports, Butina visited the embattled nation and aligned herself with a separatist group that had forcibly taken over a Crimean news outlet. She also reportedly protested against then-President Obama’s decision to sanction Russia for the annexation, arguing online that the sanctions would “bankrupt the Russian arms industry” and pose “a direct threat to national security.” And just four weeks after her Crimea trip, Butina flew to Indianapolis for the NRA’s annual convention, where she was reportedly “welcomed” as a VIP and “personally hosted” by two former NRA presidents. A lawyer for the NRA told Mother Jones that “NRA executives were unaware of the alleged activities in question and the organization is not in a position to comment on them.”