Zelenskiy on Trump withholding aid: 'If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us'
In a rare interview since the onset of the House impeachment inquiry in late September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke to reporters about the nearly $400 million in military aid President Donald Trump withheld from the country at the same time he was pushing for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and Democrats.
"Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo," Zelenskiy told Time and a handful of European publications in an interview published Monday. "That’s not my thing. … I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying."
Zelenskiy also spoke about the repeated assertion from Trump and others that Ukraine is a "corrupt" country, which is part of the administration's explanation for why they had withheld the money.
"When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals," Zelenskiy said. "It might seem like an easy thing to say, that combination of words: Ukraine is a corrupt country. Just to say it and that’s it. But it doesn’t end there. Everyone hears that signal. Investments, banks, stakeholders, companies, American, European, companies that have international capital in Ukraine, it’s a signal to them that says, 'Be careful, don’t invest.' Or, 'Get out of there.' This is a hard signal."
"For me it’s very important for the United States, with all they can do for us, for them really to understand that we are a different country, that we are different people," he continued. "It’s not that those things don’t exist. They do. All branches of government were corrupted over many years, and we are working to clean that up. But that signal from them is very important."
Trump responded to Zelenskiy's interview Monday, tweeting, "Breaking News: The President of Ukraine has just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls."