Still, Zelensky conveyedhis annoyancethat 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.”
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump doubled down on his assertion that Zelensky’s remarks had exonerated him, declaring that the interview should mean that it’s “case over” for impeachment as he claimed Zelensky said Trump “did absolutely nothing wrong. ”
But while Zelensky has emphasized Kyiv’s independence throughout the inquiry, the Ukrainian president opened up during the weekend interview about the importance of U.S. support more generally.
“I would never want Ukraine to be a piece on the map, on the chess board of big global players, so that someone could toss us around, use us as cover, as part of some bargain,” he said , though he expressed gratitude for the support Kyiv had received thus far. “I would really want – and we feel this, it’s true – for them to help us, to understand us, to see that we are a player in our own right, that they cannot make deals about us with anyone behind our backs.”
Moreover, he argued, support fromthe U.S. on the world stage was hugely important, and he complained that criticisms that Ukraine is corrupt, as Trump routinely has, can have detrimental effects.
“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, ”he said.
Ukraine is not alone in having corrupt actors in its government, he argued, though he still added he would not stop his efforts to get the US, “with all they can do for us, for them really to understand that we are a different country, that we are different people. ”