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Zelensky presses Trump on war resolution plan in DC visit

By Laura Kelly - 7/10/24, 9:59 AM EDT

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the world is watching with uncertainty as the U.S. gets closer to the November presidential election, adding he is unclear how a second Trump administration would handle policy related to Kyiv.

“I don’t know [him] very well,” Zelensky said of former President Trump in Tuesday night remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Washington following the opening ceremony of the NATO summit.

“I had meetings with him, we had good meetings when he was president. We didn’t [go] through the war with him. And only during the war can you understand, can you count on somebody or not,” he added.

Zelensky renewed his call for Trump to release his ideas for ending Russia’s war in Ukraine, after the former president boasted during his June 27 debate with President Biden that he could find a solution before taking office in January.

“I can’t tell you what he will do, if he will be the president of the United States … we need answers,” Zelensky said.

With support from Congress, Trump delivered lethal military aid to Ukraine in 2019 — a step not taken by the Obama administration — for Kyiv's defense against Russia’s five-year occupation of territory in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula.

The step was welcomed and celebrated by pro-Ukraine lawmakers and Trump’s supporters.

“I hope his policy with Ukraine will not change,” Zelensky said, in an apparent reference to the early commitments. 

But Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House in December 2019 over allegations he was holding back U.S. military assistance until Zelensky agreed to launch investigations into Biden’s son Hunter as part of a political attack on his then-rival.

Zelensky said at the time he didn’t view Trump’s request as a “quid pro quo” but did criticize the former president for delaying sending the aid. 

In his remarks in Washington on Tuesday night, Zelensky called for the U.S. and allies to deliver on key assistance for Ukraine ahead of the November election. 

While NATO allies have largely agreed on new pledges of military and financial assistance for Kyiv, Zelensky said Ukraine needs an embargo lifted on using U.S. and Western-provided weapons to strike military targets inside Russia. 

“If we have this very special weapon, some of them we have, and if we can use it on the territory of Russia, especially on these military targets, if we can do it, of course we can defend civilians, hospitals, schools, children, we can do it,” he said. 

"It is time to step out of the shadows, to make strong decisions ... to act and not to wait for November or any other month."

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