Ukraine president: ‘No blackmail’ in conversation with Trump

Clay Curtis
October 12, 2019

USA national security officials complained about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine both before his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky and immediately after it, The Washington Post newspaper has reported.

Responding to questions from The Associated Press, Zelenskiy said he only learned after their phone call that the USA had blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

The former comedian who won a massive victory in the Ukrainian elections in April despite having no political experience has tried to distance himself from the political battle brewing in Washington where the US House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

And he encouraged USA and Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss investigating a gas company linked to the son of Trump's Democratic rival, Joe Biden, although no one has produced evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the former US vice president or his son.

"If I, as President of Ukraine, comment on [the legality of] Mr. Trump's conversation, then this is interference, first in your legislative system, and it will be interference with your future elections", Mr. Zelensky said in a response to a question from an American reporter.

Zelenskiy said there were no conditions attached to him meeting Trump, including whether he should investigate the activities of Hunter at Burisma.

Mr Zelensky told reporters that Mr Trump did not seek to blackmail him during a phone call in July or a meeting in September.

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"There was no blackmail".

When asked how the White House summary compared with that of Ukraine, Zelenskiy said he hadn't checked but that he thought it matched "completely".

While Mr Zelensky was speaking, prosecutors in the United States said two of Mr Giuliani's associates had been arrested in a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other USA political candidates.

When asked how he persuaded the U.S.to release the aid, Zelensky said: "We have many diplomatic contacts".

"I don't want to interfere in any way in the [U.S.] elections", he said.

Mr Trump's personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani also alleges some officials in Ukraine conspired to help Mr Trump's Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. Mr. Zelensky has been accused by Ukrainian analysts of letting Mr. Trump push him around on the call.

"And after our meeting, America unblocked the aid".

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