Zelensky says he didn’t see Trump conversation as a ‘you give me this, I give you that’ scenario
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied again that President Trump used nearly $400 million in military aid as a bargaining chip to pressure him to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.
“I did not speak with U.S. President Trump in those terms: You give me this, I give you that,” Zelensky reportedly told the German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Monday.
The July 25 phone call between Zelensky and Trump sparked the Trump impeachment inquiry that is underway in the House. Trump, for his part, has called the phone call “perfect” and blasted the Democrats’ impeachment effort as a “witch hunt.”
Plus: Pence favored not releasing the rough summary of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s Zelensky
“As for the United States, I do not want us to act like beggars. But you have to realize that we are at war,” Zelensky reportedly told the newsmagazine. “And if you are our strategic partner, then you should not block any help. It’s about fairness for me. It’s not about a quid pro quo — it’s just a story in itself.”
The military aid, which was approved by Congress in January and eventually released on Sept. 11, supports Ukraine’s fight against Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.
In the interview, Zelensky was asked about Trump’s claim that he held up the military assistance to ensure that Ukraine was taking steps to combat rampant corruption.
“I do not have to convince him. I told him at our meeting that I do not want him to have such a picture of our country. And that he should just come here and see how we live and, above all, what we are for people,” Zelensky said. “It seemed to me that he heard me. At least he said at the meeting: Yes, I see, they are young, new people.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he understands that Ukraine’s leaders would want assistance from the U.S. and that the Trump administration has supported the Ukrainian people.
“I certainly understand President Zelensky would want more and want it faster,” he said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “I can certainly understand that. But this administration has done yeoman work in providing assistance to Ukrainian defense forces.”
Zelensky, in an interview in October, said he was unaware that the military aid was suspended when he spoke to Trump in July. “I had no idea the military aid was held up,” he said at a news conference.
Read on: How Trump came to see Ukraine as adversary rather than ally — a view that aligns with those of Putin and Orbán
A version of this report previously appeared at NYPost.com.
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