Ukraine to investigate potential 2016 United States election interference

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to media during his press conference in Kiev Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday (Oct 10) he would be ready to open a probe into any Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US presidential election but denied that US President Donald Trump had tried to blackmail him.

Zelensky said at a "marathon" press conference in Ukraine's capital on Thursday that he didn't know at the time of the call that the USA had blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

Having been made aware of this by his defence minister later, he raised the issue during a separate meeting in September in Poland with Vice President Mike Pence.

President Donald Trump asked Zelenskiy for such an investigation in a July phone call that has helped prompt an impeachment inquiry. It also appears that the concerns that these White House officials have were related to the efforts of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to chase down support for a freakish conspiracy regarding the 2016 Presidential election that claims the Clinton campaign and Ukraine were actually the guilty parties rather than the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. The call "wasn't linked to weapons or the story with (Ukrainian gas company) Burisma", adding that he doesn't "want to interfere in any way in the elections".

"There was no blackmail".

"This is not corruption, it was just a call", Mr Zelensky said on Thursday.

Mr Zelensky said there were no conditions attached to him meeting Mr Trump, including whether he should investigate the activities of Hunter at Burisma.

A whistleblower's report filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community first revealed the phone call, and the White House released a rough transcript of the conversation between the two leaders.

Asked whether the Ukrainian version matched up to the USA one, Mr Zelensky said: "I didn't even check, but I think that it matches completely".

During the July call, Zelenskiy told Trump that Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were not enforcing sanctions against Russian Federation.

Zelenskiy told reporters Thursday that "we can't say yes or no" as to whether there was any interference without an investigation.

Asked what Ukraine did to persuade the release the aid, Zelenskiy said: "We have many diplomatic contacts".

Zelenskiy appears to be playing to both USA political camps to ensure Ukraine has continued support no matter who wins the presidential election next year.

'And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country's security, we use all our powerful possibilities.' He didn't elaborate.

Zelenskiy said the USA has not provided any details of such interference.

A TV and film comedian, Zelenskiy overwhelmingly won the presidency in April on promises to fight corruption and end the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. He's treading carefully to ensure continued support from the US while trying to make peace with powerful neighbor Russian Federation.

Trump has called on both China and Ukraine to probe the Bidens, a request China rejected this week. No evidence of such a plot has emerged.

Trump has defended his call, saying it was "perfect" and "appropriate".



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