US President Donald Trump promised “unwavering” support for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in May this year, following Volodymyr Zelensky’s victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, as a letter published by The Daily Beast showed.
In the letter, shared with the media outlet by a senior congressional aide, but which remains unverified by Washington or Kiev, Trump congratulated Zelensky and invited him to the White House, in a bid to show America’s “commitment” to helping Ukraine.
“The United States and Ukraine are steadfast partners, working together to realize the shared vision of a stable, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine that is integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community”, Trump said in the latter.
“Our partnership is rooted in the idea that free citizens should be able to exercise their democratic rights, choose their own destiny, and live in peace. As you said in your victory speech, your election demonstrates that democracy is possible anywhere in the former Soviet region. Ukraine’s success exemplifies the triumph of democracy over resurgent despotism. United States support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering”, Trump added.
The letter’s publication comes amid an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump that was launched on 24 September following a whistleblower complaint alleging that the US president had abused his power by trying to pressure Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating political rival Joe Biden’s involvement in Ukraine’s internal affairs in exchange for military aid. The allegations were vehemently denied by Donald Trump, as well as his Ukrainian counterpart who rejected claims that he had been “pushed” into anything.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also entered the fray in October after he publicly admitted and then denied the Trump administration had decided to withhold aid to Ukraine in a quid pro quo move demanding an investigation into Ukraine’s potential involvement in the hacking of the Democratic Party server during the 2016 elections. Mulvaney also said that the published letter to Zelensky was merely a “courtesy” and no “serious” conversation about an “actual meeting” between the two leaders had ever been discussed.
On 5 November, sworn testimony by the US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland revealed that the Trump administration would likely withhold aid in the absence of its requested investigation of former US Vice President Joe Biden. Sondland, however, pointed out that he did not know when or why the military aid to Ukraine was suspended and only presumed that there could have been a link to the military assistance being withheld.
READ: Sondland submitted this amendment to his testimony, saying other witnesses refreshed his recollection tha tmilitary aid was withheld as part of Trump's push to get a Biden investigation going. pic.twitter.com/AnQsm0P2Ag— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 5, 2019
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham later said following the release of the document and several other transcripts, including testimony by former US Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker that now “there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought”. The impeachment inquiry is still ongoing.