Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a recent interview that he did not view his conversations with President Donald Trump about a potential White House visit and investigations into Trump’s political rivals from the lens of a quid pro quo — but he blasted the U.S. for treating his country like a political chess piece.
In an interview with TIME Magazine and several European news outlets, Zelenksy once again tried to distance himself from the impeachment inquiry centered on whether Trump used the leverage of military aid and a potential White House visit to pressure Zelensky to commit to probes into the Biden family and events surrounding the 2016 election.
“Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” he said, in some of his most extensive comments to date on the current political storm.
Still, Zelensky conveyed his annoyance that aid would be withheld. “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,” Zelensky continued.
Trump, in a tweet Monday mischaracterized Zelensky’s comments, hailing the interview as an exoneration, and declaring inaccurately that Zelensky had “just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls.”