Ukraine to probe alleged 2016 US interference


The US House of Representatives is conducting an impeachment inquiry into Trump over alleged abuse of power during the July 25 call in which he asked Zelensky to conduct a probe of potential 2020 White House rival Joe Biden and his son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

The accounts are sharply at odds with Trump's depiction of the call as a "perfect" exchange in which he "did nothing wrong", despite appearing to link US support for Ukraine to that country's willingness to investigate the family of the former vice president. And he encouraged USA and Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss investigating a gas company linked to the son of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden, although no one has produced evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the former US vice-president or his son.

Trump later said the military aid was frozen because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine, but the move prompted congressional outcry and the money was released in September.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during talks with journalists in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. "President, we think it is in the United States and in Ukraine's best interest that you and the President of Ukraine have conversations and discuss the options that are there, '" Perry said Monday.

"There was no blackmail", he said. "We are an independent country".

"I don't want to be pulled into this because I understand that my words could impact the elections of the American people", he said.

But Mr. Zelensky also said that it would be up to the US judicial and legislative systems to determine whether Mr. Trump had violated any USA laws during the call.

Trump also has pushed a long-discredited theory about Ukrainian interference in support of the Democrats in 2016, an attempt to cast doubt on Russia's role in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

Zelenskiy on Thursday said he was open to a joint investigation into Burisma and the 2016 U.S. election but stressed Ukraine was an independent country with independent law enforcement agencies whose work he had no right to influence.

Trump has called on both China and Ukraine to probe the Bidens, a request China rejected this week.

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.

But new details about the sequence inside the White House suggest that concerns about the call and events leading up to it were profound even among Trump's top advisers, including Bolton and then-acting deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman. Zelensky is trying to save his reputation and distance himself from the USA political drama.

Mr Zelenskiy said he had no desire to interfere in the U.S. election next year but added that he was prepared to do a joint investigation into Burisma. Trump has denied that charge, but acknowledged he blocked the funds, later released.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented Friday the inability of his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to ensure a pullback of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine as the first step toward peace settlement. Ukrainian President is holding an all-day "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court amid growing questions about his actions as president.

Zelensky would not weigh in on the impeachment inquiry, saying it was an internal USA matter that he has no position on, according to The Washington Post.

"(In that case) ... we would stop going, for the near future, under this government, we would stop pursuing that path and will look for other options", he told reporters.