Just six days after a meeting with Donald Trump, in which he claimed that he did not feel “pushed” by the U.S. president in a July 25 phone call to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he would order the pullout of troops from two towns in the war-torn eastern region of the country where Russia has been waging a bloody incursion since 2014, according to a report by The Kyiv Post.
The announcement by Zelensky, who was elected Ukraine’s president in April and inaugurated in May of this year, set off protests outside the presidential office in Kyiv, with demonstrators chanting “Zelensky out!” More than 13,000 people have died in the fighting that has devastated Ukraine’s Donbass region for the past five years, with 11 of the country’s soldiers killed there in September of this year alone, and 40 more wounded.
Zelensky also announced that Ukraine was now ready to sign on to the “Steinmeier Formula,” a plan to hold elections in the war-torn, Russian-occupied region proposed by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2015. Under the plan, the region would become self-governing after the elections. But according to Moscow-based journalist Neha Poonia reporting via Twitter, Ukraine had previously demanded a full ceasefire and pullout of all Russian troops before agreeing to the elections plan.
The new Ukraine president now appears willing to go ahead with the “Steinmeier Formula” without those preconditions, even though Ukrainian officials fear that free and fair elections there are impossible as long as Russian troops continue to occupy the region, according to Poonia’s report.
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) October 1, 2019
Even before the July 25 call with Trump, Zelensky and Ukrainian officials were aware that they had to “play ball” with the Trump administration in order to secure essential military aid from the United States in its war against the Russian forces in Donbass, according to an explosive whistleblower report that was made public last week, as The Inquisitr reported.
The whistleblower report and a partial transcript of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call also made public last week have now led to impeachment proceedings against Trump in the House of Representatives, over the various laws Trump appears to have broken by pressuring Zelensky in the call, as The Inquisitr reported.
During his meeting with Zelensky at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Trump urged the new Ukraine president to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to reach a settlement in the long war, telling Zelensky that Putin wants to “do something.” But according to a New York Times report, Putin wants United States sanctions against Russia lifted, and Trump’s push for a settlement in Ukraine will serve as a step toward that goal.
“Trump has quietly been urging a deal to reduce tensions between Ukraine and Russia that would pave the way for a removal of Western sanctions on Moscow, long a goal of Mr. Putin’s,” The New York Times wrote.