At the time, the officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the US ambassador to Ukraine, by subsequent efforts by Trump's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to promote Ukraine-related conspiracies, as well as by signals in meetings at the White House that Trump wanted the new government in Kiev to deliver material that might be politically damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. "Because if I, as president of Ukraine, comment the conversation with Mr. Trump, it will be primarily interference in your [American] legislative system, interference in your future elections, which means there will be interference in the electoral process, which will become opaque and dependent because of me", Zelensky said.
Zelenskiy is trying to save his reputation and distance himself from the USA political drama that has seen an impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats. There was no blackmail'.
Zelensky said he wasn't even aware that almost $400 million was being held up when he spoke to Trump on July 25.
Mr Trump denies withholding USA aid while pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.
The July call is central to the impeachment inquiry, and embarrassed Zelenskiy because it showed him as eager to please Trump and critical of European partners whose support he needs to strengthen Ukraine's economy and to end the conflict with Russian Federation. Zelenskiy assured Trump that his new prosecutor general "will look into the situation", according to what the White House called a transcript of the call, which they released weeks after a whistleblower complaint was filed. Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry in Congress believe Trump held up the aid to use it as leverage to pressure Ukraine and advance his domestic political interests.
The elder Biden pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2016 to oust a top prosecutor who was probing Burisma, an energy company that paid Hunter Biden as a board member from 2014 to 2019.
Asked what Ukraine did to persuade the USA to release the aid, Zelenskiy said: 'We have many diplomatic contacts.
Zelenskiy invited US and Ukrainian prosecutors to cooperate on an eventual investigation into the Bidens, but insisted he would not interfere.
Zelenskiy is notably trying to end a five-year conflict with Russia-backed separatist in eastern Ukraine, and is treading carefully to ensure continued support from the US while trying to make peace with powerful neighbor Russian Federation.
He and Trump later spoke to the press before a meeting and Zelensky said that the call "was normal" and that "nobody pushed me".
Zelenskiy said the "key question" for him was to try to persuade the White House to "change its rhetoric" about Ukraine as a corrupt and untrustworthy country.
"But if it happens, we will learn about that from Twitter", Zelenskiy added, jokingly. However, their contemporaneous alarm over Trump's conduct on the call would undermine the relevance of questioning the 18-day gap between the call and the whistleblower complaint by the president's defenders.
"We just wanted to establish relations", he said.
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.
At one point, the 41-year-old former comedian appeared to accuse reporters of trying to trick him into an answer that would make headlines in the U.S. Ukrainian President is holding an all-day "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court amid growing questions about his actions as president.