Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday expressed annoyance that he’s been dragged into the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Following an event in Kyiv, the president responded to questions from a CNN reporter about whether he was prepared to publicly announce investigations into the Biden family and events surrounding the 2016 elections.
“I think everybody in Ukraine is so tired about Burisma,” Zelensky responded in an exasperated tone. “We have our own country. We have our independence, we have our problems and questions. That's it."
Zelensky did not respond to further prodding by the reporter, rolling his eyes as aides whisked him away.
The president, a political newcomer when he was elected earlier this year, has bristled on other occasions about being entangled in the impeachment inquiry, which centers on whether Trump abused his office by attempting to pressure Zelensky into publicly confirming the probes by withholding military aid and a White House visit.
At a joint appearance hours after the White House released a memorandum on the leaders’ second phone call — a conversation that's at the heart of the impeachment investigation — Zelensky dodged questions from reporters about whether he felt pressured by Trump. Since then, testimony from U.S. officials has revealed a much more vast shadow campaign aimed at setting the investigations into Trump's political rivals in motion.
One of the investigations sought by Trump focused on Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, which in 2015 hired Hunter Biden, son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, to sit on its board.
Trump and his allies have called Hunter Biden’s hiring problematic, and accused Joe Biden, now a presidential candidate, of urging the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor also opposed by the international community in order to shut down a potential probe into Burisma. In fact, a probe into one of the company's oligarch owners had been dormant for some time.
Zelensky has publicly tried to appear above the political fray, though he was reportedly prepared to announce the investigations Trump asked for until the White House released the aid following bipartisan pressure and news of a whistleblower complaint. When Zelensky has responded to queries about Trump, he typically works in a reference to Ukraine's independence and his own strength as a leader, noting that the country has its own issues like its war with Russia in the east.