Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was ready to announce investigations into the former US vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden during a September interview with CNN, it has been reported. However, his appearance was cancelled after the US State Department reinstated a military aid package for Ukraine.
According to The New York Times, advisers to Mr Zelensky in early September “were already conceding to what seemed to be the inevitable”, that is, agreeing to the demands of US President Donald Trump to announce investigations into debunked allegations against the Bidens’ Ukrainian activities.
Bowing to Mr Trump’s demands, the Ukrainian president’s planned to announce the anti-corruption probe in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria scheduled for September 13.
However, after news leaked about the White House’s decision to release a 400 million US dollars foreign and military assistance package for Ukraine the Trump administration had been withholding since July, the interview was scrapped, with Mr Zelensky’s advisers deciding that security aid outweighed the risks of taking sides in US domestic politics.
The security aid for Ukraine is at the centre of a congressional impeachment inquiry launched by US Democrats who claim that Mr Trump linked the 400 million US dollars to investigating his domestic political rivals during a July 25 phone call with Mr Zelensky.
Earlier testimonies from US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine and former US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker also seem to confirm what the Democrats claim to be a quid pro quo.
On November 9, Bloomberg reported that 141 million US dollars from the package had been released by the US State Department “several days” before Mr Trump lifted the suspension following bipartisan pressure from US congressman and senators.
The congressional investigation will continue with the public depositions of Mr Taylor and Mrs Yovanovitch scheduled for November 13 and 15.
On November 10, the US president promised to release the transcripts of the first phone call he had with Mr Zelensky back in April.