Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters on Thursday that President Trump never sought to blackmail him during the July phone call or in a September meeting.
The Ukrainian leader said he was unaware that military aid to his country had been blocked when he spoke to Trump in July. After he was informed, he discussed the matter with during his September meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
“I had no idea the military aid was held up. When I did find out, I raised it with [Vice President] Pence at a meeting in Warsaw,” he said.
“I told him ... please help to resolve it,” Zelenskiy recalls. “And after our meeting America unblocked the aid.”
When asked how he persuaded the U.S. to release the aid, Zelensky said: “We have many diplomatic contacts. And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country’s security, we use all our powerful possibilities.”
Zelenskiy told reporters that his aim in having a phone call with Trump was to arrange a subsequent meeting and that he had asked the White House to change its rhetoric on Ukraine.
“There was no blackmail. This was not the subject of our conversation,” Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy said there were no conditions attached to him meeting Trump, including whether he should investigate the activities of Hunter at Burisma.
The White House published its summary of the call between Zelenskiy and Trump in September. Asked whether the Ukrainian version matched up to the U.S. one, Zelenskiy said: “I didn’t even check, but I think that it matches completely.” (Reuters)
Zelensky, at the start of his marathon Q+A session said Trump call did not influence relations, said only aim was to secure meeting. "We knew before that the relations were tired. They wanted to know where their cash had gone to." Insists no blackmail involved— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) October 10, 2019
Zelensky would not weigh in on the impeachment inquiry, saying it was an internal U.S. matter that he has no position on, according to The Washington Post.
“I don’t want to interfere in any way in the [U.S.] elections,” he said.