Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky told Time that there was no "quid pro quo" demand from President Donald Trump involving military aid, but he was still not pleased that the aid was temporarily held up.
"I did not speak with US President Trump in those terms: you give me this, I give you that", Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with European publications including Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
Zelensky argued in the Time interview that Trump's constant references to Ukrainian corruption make it more hard for the country to secure the global support required to deter Russian aggression in Crimea.
ZELENSKY: Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That's not my thing.
Trump is now the subject of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats over allegations the president withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to launch a pair of politically advantageous investigations.
Zelensky has expressed a desire to avoid involvement in USA political affairs, a position that was affirmed by numerous witnesses who testified last month in the impeachment inquiry hearings.
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The aid is vital to Ukraine, which is in the midst of an ongoing battle to regain the Crimean peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russian Federation in 2014.
Trump, however, has expressed concern with corruption in Ukraine over the past few weeks.
Zelenskiy also said when leaders like Trump call his country corrupt, it sends a concerning message. "But that signal from them is very important", Zelensky explained. He is accused of withholding the aid in order to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump's rivals in the 2020 election. "As for the United States, I would really want - and we feel this, it's true - for them to help us, to understand, to see that we are a player in our own right, that they can not make deals about us with anyone behind our backs". "These are important things, very important things, especially right now, when we are in such a hard position".
Q: When did you first sense that there was a connection between Trump's decision to block military aid to Ukraine this summer and the two investigations that Trump and his allies were asking for?
But when asked whether he trusts Putin when it comes to peace talks, Zelenskiy says he doesn't trust anyone "at all". It might seem like an easy thing to say, that combination of words: Ukraine is a corrupt country.
"The Ukrainian president came out and said very strongly that President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong, that should be case over", he said.