A mid-July phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has caused a political firestorm in Washington.
In a summary of the call released by The White House, Trump asks Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, the U.S. president's likely opponent in the 2020 election. A whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community brought a complaint relating to the conversation which was declassified on Thursday, and the U.S. House of Representatives has announced an official impeachment inquiry into Trump over the call.
The scandal has put the spotlight on Ukraine's dependence on U.S. support in its geopolitical standoff with Russia, and some Ukrainians fear it could play into Russia's hands by imperiling future U.S. military aid, among other things.
Following the release of The White House's call summary and the whistleblower complaint, Moscow has finally started to speak out.
Here is how Russian officials and media personalities have reacted:
— Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman:
“You have to admit, the publication of a full transcript of a conversation — be it by phone or face-to-face — is uncommon in interstate diplomatic practice. At least, uncommon until now.”
— Maria Zakharova, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman:
“Is it the U.S. Democrats’ job to turn their country into the laughingstock of the world? That’s exactly what Mrs. Pelosi has done with Congress, the White House and other government agencies.”
“The show must go on: Release the transcripts of conversations with NATO partners, with each other. The publication of speeches at closed CIA, FBI and Pentagon meetings seems highly valuable. Bring it all out!”
— Senator Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council's foreign affairs committee:
“A remarkably empty Trump-Zelenskiy conversation… though anti-Russian [and] dirty. But only Americans obsessed with the upcoming elections could probably extract something from it for their own purposes.”
“It’s humiliating for Ukraine. It’s typical for the U.S.”
“For the Democrats, the hysteria about Trump’s ‘pressure’ on Zelenskiy, which Zelenskiy himself refutes, is not only an escalation of passions needed to start impeachment but also a way to divert focus from Biden — who really pressured the Ukrainian authorities in defense of his son’s business.”
— Margarita Simonyan, RT editor-in-chief:
“Trump’s dead in the water.”