How Ukraine Got Tangled Up In A Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The last thing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did before flying to New York this week was sign his country’s first law on presidential impeachment.

It was an irony of fate that by the time he returned from his first official visit to the United States, it was President Trump who was facing an impeachment inquiry — based on a phone call he had made to Zelenskiy two months earlier.

The political upheaval that July 25 conversation set off in Washington has thrust Ukraine into the limelight. Ever since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country’s biggest problem has been asserting itself as a nation with its own will and destiny.

“Nobody can pressure me because I’m the president of an independent country,” Zelenskiy declared to reporters from Russian state TV before meeting with Trump on Wednesday. “Only one person can pressure me, and that’s my 6-year-old son.”

Zelenskiy, a professional comedian, won a landslide election last spring on a wave of popular frustration with poverty, corruption and a Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has killed 13,000 people. Now Zelenskiy faces the additional task of navigating a political minefield in the United States, the one country that many Ukrainians consider capable of safeguarding their independence.

Yet the upstart Ukrainian president is not the only unlikely protagonist in a tangled tale that now threatens the Trump presidency. The cast of characters includes Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer; two former Ukrainian prosecutors; and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian oil company for five years.

“Without Hunter Biden there would be no story here, because Hunter Biden looks like he was trying to cash in and got himself a nice, lucrative contract on the board of directors of Burisma, an energy company run by a former ecology minister,” says Brian Bonner, editor of the Kyiv Post newspaper in Ukraine’s capital. “Hunter Biden’s role there was flagged as a big conflict of interest for the vice president at the time. It should have never happened.”

Leave a Reply