Ukraine's president insisted Thursday that he faced "no blackmail" from President Donald Trump in their phone call that led to an impeachment inquiry, distancing himself from the USA political drama and trying to claw back his own credibility.
U.S. Democrats have seized on a rough transcript of the call - which saw Mr. Trump reply to a request for more U.S. military assistance for Ukraine with a request for Mr. Zelensky to do him "a favour" and investigate a company that employed Hunter Biden, the son of former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden - as evidence that Mr. Trump had put pressure on a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a domestic political rival.
Zelensky said he was aware that the US was withholding $400 million in military aid because of concerns about the money.
When asked how he persuaded the U.S.to release the aid, Zelensky said: "We have many diplomatic contacts".
Asked whether the Ukrainian version matched up to the United States one, Mr Zelensky said: "I didn't even check, but I think that it matches completely".
He said he thought the July call would lead to an in-person meeting with Trump, and wanted the American leader to come to Ukraine. "This was not the subject of our conversation", Mr Zelensky said about his call with Mr Trump, speaking to reporters in a day-long series of televised briefings with the press, held at a Kiev food court.
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.
He added that the call was about arranging a meeting with Trump. "I said that we are not corrupt [regarding the Burisma investigation], that we are open to investigating all cases, and we we'll do it according to the law".
The July call 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.
Ukraine's president just can't stop talking.
"Within minutes", administration officials told the Post, "senior officials including national security adviser John Bolton were being pinged by subordinates about problems with what the president had said to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky". He said it's in Ukraine's interest to determine what happened.
Zelenskiy also joked about Trump's Twitter missives, saying he doesn't expect a change in U.S.