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Early Ukrainian Meeting Was All Trump and Rudy

Volodymyr Zelensky was worried about US pressure back in May, insiders say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 23, 2019 7:00 PM CDT
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during talks with journalists in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

(Newser) – More than two months before the phone call that launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Ukraine's newly elected leader was already worried about pressure from the US president to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Volodymyr Zelensky gathered a small group of advisers on May 7 in Kyiv for a meeting that was supposed to be about his nation's energy needs. Instead, the group spent most of the three-hour discussion talking about how to navigate the insistence from Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for a probe and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections, according to three inside sources. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue.

The meeting came before Zelensky was inaugurated but about two weeks after Trump called to offer his congratulations on the night of the Ukrainian leader's April 21 election. The three people's recollections differ on whether Zelensky specifically cited that first call with Trump as the source of his unease. But their accounts all show the Ukrainian president-elect was wary of Trump's push for an investigation into the former vice president and his son Hunter's business dealings. Either way, the newly elected leader of a country wedged between Russia and the US-aligned NATO democracies knew early on that vital military support might depend on whether he was willing to choose a side in an American political tussle.

(Read more Ukraine stories.)

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