In a back corner of the swank H Bar in Houston, near a huge photo of Brigitte Bardot with a dangling cigarette and a deck of cards, two Russian-speaking men offered a Ukrainian gas executive what seemed like an outrageous business proposal.

Andrew Favorov, the No. 2 at Ukraine’s state-run gas company Naftogaz, says he sat on a red leather bench seat and listened wide-eyed as the men boasted of their connections to President Donald Trump and proposed a deal to sell large quantities of liquified natural gas from Texas to Ukraine.

But first, Favorov says, they told him they would have to remove two obstacles: Favorov’s boss and the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.