How Ukraine got caught up in Trump's impeachment battle
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Ukraine has unwittingly become
embroiled in a political battle in Washington between U.S.
President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats who could
announce formal impeachment charges against him within weeks.
Democrats launched an inquiry in September into allegations
Trump abused his power to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr
Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a
Democratic possible rival in the 2020 presidential race.
Trump calls the inquiry a partisan "witch hunt" and neither
he nor his lawyers have agreed to appear in an inquiry hearing
WHAT DOES TRUMP WANT FROM UKRAINE?
In a July 25 phone call, Trump pressed Zelenskiy to
investigate an allegation that Biden, while in office, muscled
the Ukrainian authorities to fire a top prosecutor to shut down
a probe that could implicate his son Hunter.
Zelenskiy agreed to do so, according to a partial transcript
that was released by the White House.
On the same call, Trump brought up a conspiracy theory that
a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server was in
Democrats are also investigating whether Trump abused his
powers by temporarily freezing $391 million in security aid to
pressure Zelenskiy. Trump denies doing so.
HOW HAS UKRAINE REACTED?
Zelenskiy denies being pressured by Trump and says he was
unaware Trump had frozen aid at the time of their call.
Zelenskiy's administration insists it does not want to take
sides or interfere in next year's U.S. election.
Ukraine is acutely aware it relies on bipartisan support as
well as military aid from Washington as Kiev battles
Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbass region in a
conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people.
Persistently questioned about the impeachment inquiry by
journalists, Zelenskiy said last month that Ukrainians were
tired of the issue.
In an interview, Zelenskiy denied speaking to Trump about a
"quid pro quo".
"I don't want us to look like beggars. But you have to
understand. We're at war. If you're our strategic partner, then
you can't go blocking anything for us," he was quoted by Time
magazine as saying.
WHAT ARE THE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BIDEN?
By his own account, Joe Biden pressed the Ukrainian
authorities to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in 2016,
threatening to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Kiev
failed to comply.
Giuliani alleged Biden did so because Shokin was
investigating the activities of Biden's son Hunter, who sat on
the board of a Ukrainian gas company called Burisma.
Trump and his aides have presented no evidence of corruption
by the Bidens in Ukraine. Hunter Biden denies any wrongdoing
during his work for Burisma. Joe Biden denies trying to protect
his son, and says pressure to fire Shokin was being applied
widely by European governments at the time because of concern
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE UKRAINIAN INVESTIGATIONS?
After Zelenskiy took office this year, a new prosecutor
general launched a wide-ranging audit of criminal cases.
Thirteen of them relate to Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, a
multimillionaire former minister.
The allegations concern tax violations, money laundering and
licences given to Burisma during the period where Zlochevsky was
in government. Zlochevsky has not commented and his whereabouts
are unknown to the Ukrainian authorities.
The prosecutor said in October he was not aware of any
evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden, who was on the board of
Burisma between 2014-2019.
WHAT ELSE DOES TRUMP'S CAMP SAY ABOUT UKRAINE?
Giuliani alleges some Ukrainian officials conspired to help
Trump's Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton in 2016 by leaking
information damaging to Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul
Manafort, a long-time Republican political consultant who is
now serving a prison sentence after being convicted of fraud and
witness tampering, had worked in Ukraine for a previous
Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovich.
Giuliani and other Trump allies say Ukrainians forged a
record of millions of dollars in payments -- known as the "black
ledger" -- to Manafort from Yanukovich's associates.
Separately, some right-wing websites have said that the
cyber security firm CrowdStrike falsely accused Russia of
hacking Democratic Party organisations and then stashed hacked
email servers in Ukraine as part of a cover-up. CrowdStrike
Trump referenced that theory during his call with Zelenskiy.
WHAT ELSE DID GIULIANI DO IN UKRAINE?
Current and former U.S. officials have testified Giuliani
carried out a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine, and led efforts
to get Zelenskiy to announce investigations into Burisma and
alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Text messages between Giuliani and U.S. diplomats show
pressure was exerted on Zelenskiy. The U.S. ambassador to the
European Union, Gordon Sondland, testified that Trump largely
delegated Ukraine policy to Giuliani.
Giuliani says he met current and former Ukrainian
prosecutors as part of his investigations into the Bidens and
the 2016 election but played down his role in liaising with U.S.
diplomats and Ukrainian officials.