When Ukrainians voted to elect comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as their next president in the spring of 2019, the fledgling administration was eager to coordinate a phone call with Kyiv’s most important benefactor — the United States, according to an adviser to Zelenskiy.
But after weeks of discussions with American officials, Ukrainian officials came to recognize a precondition to any executive correspondence, the adviser said.
“It was clear that [President Donald] Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an anti-corruption advocate and former member of Ukraine’s Parliament, who now acts as an adviser to Zelenskiy. “This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”
The Trump administration’s alleged insistence that the two leaders discuss a prospective investigation into Biden, one of the president’s political opponents, casts his July 25 conversation with Zelenskiy in a new light.