Video resurfaces of a horrified Zelensky as Trump tells him to work things out with Putin

·3 min read

Footage from 2019 has resurfaced of Volodymyr Zelensky looking less than optimistic as former President Donald Trump said he hoped the Ukrainian president would be able to work things out with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On 25 September 2019, the then-US President Trump told Mr Zelensky at UN headquarters in New York City that “I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem”.

The 18-minute media availability took place on the same day as the phone call between the two men from earlier that year was released, in which Mr Trump asked Mr Zelensky for a “favour” – to investigate then-Democratic presidential primary candidate Joe Biden and his family, specifically his son Hunter Biden.

Mr Trump was later impeached by the Democratic-dominated House and acquitted by the Republican-held Senate for withholding military aid to the country to get his way.

Journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted a series of clips from the media availability at the time, noting that “Trump shamelessly urges the Ukrainian president to ‘stop corruption in Ukraine’ – a phrase he’s used as code to investigate Biden”.

“I know a lot of people from Ukraine,” Mr Trump said. “They’re great people. I owned something called the Miss Universe pageants years ago ... we had a winner from Ukraine ... it’s a country with tremendous potential.”

The resurfaced clip has been viewed around 1.6 million times.

Mr Trump went on to blame his predecessor President Barack Obama for the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and the fight in eastern parts of the country between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists.

Mr Rupar said the Ukrainian president explained “on camera why he’s unwilling to do oppo research for Trump,” saying that it was “total madness” and that it was “hard not to feel somewhat sorry for the guy”.

“This is so freaking brutal from today’s vantage point,” Heather Cox Richardson tweeted about the awkward 2019 interaction.

“Everyone seems to be focusing on Zelenskyy’s face when all I can think of is where we’d be if that incompetent a**hole was POTUS right now. And where Ukraine would be,” another Twitter user wrote.

“People saying this looks bad now, I gotta tell ya, it did then too!” a third added.

Russia launched its full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine on Monday across a frontline stretching 300 miles (480 km).

“The Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas,” Mr Zelensky said in a video address, adding that a “significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive”.

The Donbas is an industrial area of Ukraine where most residents have Russian as their first language. Separatists backed by Russia have been fighting in the region for eight years. Mr Putin has recognized two areas in the east as independent republics.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)
This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Following its failure to take Kyiv, Russia has now said its main goal is to gain control of the Donbas.

“No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight,” Mr Zelensky added. “We will defend ourselves. We will do it every day.”

“This morning, almost along the whole front line of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defences,” the secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, Oleksiy Danilov, said, according to Ukrainian media. “Fortunately, our military is holding out. They passed through only two cities. This is Kreminna and another small town.”

“We are not giving up any of our territories,” he added.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting