Silence Over Trump Call Betrays Ukraine’s U.S. Balancing Act(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump has reacted to claims he made inappropriate demands on a call with Ukraine’s leader by lashing out on all platforms. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was on the other end of the phone during that now infamous July exchange, has gone completely silent.In an awkward twist of scheduling, both men are in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Trump will rise to the podium and address world leaders. Zelenskiy, who in different circumstances might have wanted to be seen, is instead hiding in plain sight.Addressing a group of Ukrainian diaspora on Monday night, he did his utmost to dodge all talk of Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden.Shaking hands with the guests and smiling for photos, the 41-year-old political novice stuck to a well rehearsed script, turning on the showmanship he acquired as the country’s most popular TV comic. His main message was that Ukraine is relying on continued backing from the U.S.That stance is understandable. American financing, weapons and diplomacy have been key to Ukraine rebuilding its economy and military to keep the Kremlin-backed fighters in its eastern regions at bay. The U.S. also imposed the harshest sanctions on Russia in the wake of its annexation of Crimea.Zelenskiy clearly doesn’t want to fall out with the Trump administration but taking his side in a partisan scrap before the 2020 election could backfire if a Democrat prevails. His predecessor did just that, backing Hilary Clinton before having to scramble to build a relationship with Trump.The current controversy centers on allegations Trump sought to pressure Zelenskiy into investigating Biden’s son, who did business in Ukraine. Trump said Monday that he didn’t ask Zelenskiy for a probe in exchange for military assistance.Zelenskiy will speak with his American counterpart during his visit this week and expressed hope for a “meaningful, substantive” meeting. In a statement Tuesday, he highlighted why his silence on the storm engulfing Trump is likely to persist.“The president stressed that Ukraine needed support of the United States,” the statement cited him as saying.To contact the reporters on this story: Polly Mosendz in New York at pmosendz@bloomberg.net;Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Andrew LangleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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