Ukraine Wants to Set the Record Straight on Taylor Testimony

When Ambassador Bill Taylor testified to congressional Democrats’ closed-door impeachment inquiry, he created huge headaches for the Trump administration by detailing their efforts to push Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden’s son

But Taylor also made some problems for Ukraine’s president. And now, aides in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office are going on the record to push back. The episode shows just how complicated relations between the U.S. and Ukraine have become as the Trump impeachment inquiry unfolds. 

In his testimony last month, Taylor–America’s top diplomat in Kyiv–implied that two Zelensky aides blamed Ukraine, rather than Russia, for the long-running, bloody war in the eastern part of the country. Taylor’s words weren’t crystal-clear, but the comment set off a political firestorm in Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatist fighters have killed thousands of Ukrainians. Critics of the country’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, seized on Taylor’s testimony as evidence that Zelensky’s team is running interference for Russia

The conversation Taylor described began when then-U.S. special envoy Kurt Volker urged the two Zelensky aides, Igor Novikov and Andriy Yermak, not to prosecute Petro Poroshenko, the country’s last president and Zelensky’s old rival. Poroshenko associates are linked to a huge military procurement scandal in Ukraine. 

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