Zelensky on Ukraine Quid Pro Quo: ‘If You’re Our Strategic Partner, Then You Can’t Go Blocking Anything For Us’


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a wide-ranging interview over the weekend where he denied that he and President Donald Trump ever discussed aid for his country through the lens of a quid pro quo. However, he also spoke about how Ukraine’s future is contingent on U.S. aid, and Trump’s remarks about the country have made their situation more difficult.

In a conversation with TIME Magazine and three European newspapers, Zelensky was asked about his expectations from an upcoming meeting he will have in France with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. As he spoke about whether he foresees an end of the war between Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists occupying the Donbass, Zelensky said Ukraine still needs U.S. support, slammed Trump’s claims about his country’s corruption, and objected to the U.S. president’s withholding of aid.

“The United States of America is a signal, for the world, for everyone. When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals,” Zelensky said. “Look, I never talked to [Trump] from the position of a quid pro quo. 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.”

Zelensky went on by expressing doubt that Ukraine’s allies in Europe will uphold their promises to defend the country without the U.S.’s support. As he spoke about how former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker “had a lot of success” in laying the foundation for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Zelensky pushed back on Trump’s various comments on how corrupt his country is.

From TIME Magazine:

“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. 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.”

Watch above, via CNN.

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