‘I Don’t Trust Anyone at All.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Speaks Out on Trump, Putin and a Divided Europe
Hardly six months into his tenure as the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has already learned to temper his expectations. He does not expect his first round of peace talks with Russia, which are scheduled to take place in Paris on Dec. 9, to end the war that has been raging along their border for the past five years. Nor does he expect too much from his Western allies going into these negotiations, Zelensky said in a wide-ranging interview on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters from TIME and three of Europe’s leading publications, the President explained that, despite getting caught up in the impeachment inquiry now unfolding in Washington, D.C., Ukraine still needs the support of the United States.
Otherwise his country does not stand much of a chance, Zelensky said, in its effort to get back the territory Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, starting with the Crimean Peninsula. Nor can Ukraine rely on steady financial support from abroad if President Donald Trump and his allies continue to signal to the world that Ukraine is corrupt, Zelensky said. “When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals.”
During the interview in his office in Kyiv, the comedian-turned-president denied, as he has done in the past, that he and Trump ever discussed a decision to withhold American aid to Ukraine for nearly two months in the context of a quid pro quo involving political favors, which are now at the center of the impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Zelensky’s focus during the interview, as it has been throughout his time in office, was on the effort to end Ukraine’s war against Russia and its proxies, who still control two separatist strongholds in the region of Ukraine known as the Donbass. More than 13,000 Ukrainians have died as a result of that conflict, and more are killed or wounded every week. Yet the European attempts to mediate an end to the fighting have been stalled for over three years……..read more