Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky has denied an explicit quid pro quo attaching investigations into President Trump’s political rivals to the release of U.S. military aid. But, in a new interview with Time and several European publications, Zelensky did say that delaying nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was an unfair thing for a “strategic partner” to do.
“Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo,” Zelensky said. “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.”
The denial of a quid pro quo echoes similar statements that Zelensky has made on the subject. During a joint press conference with Trump in New York in September, Zelensky was asked if he “felt any pressure from President Trump to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections — elections of USA,” he said. Then he insisted that “nobody pushed me.”
Trump quickly seized on those comments in the press conference, jumping in to say, “In other words, no pressure.” He did the same Monday, tweeting this response to the Time interview:
The problem with Trump’s argument is that others have said that there was in fact a quid pro quo, including his own ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. Trump’s also ignoring a key point about Zelensky’s repeated denials. The president of Ukraine has made it clear that he’s not interested in how this scandal plays out in the U.S. He just wants to make sure that his country continues receiving aid. And the surest way to keep the money flowing is to make sure the man in the White House is happy.