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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In a wide-ranging interview with TIME magazine and other European publications, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly pushed back on President Trump for withholding military aid this summer while the country was in the midst of a war with Russia.

Why it matters: The question of whether Trump froze aid in order to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his domestic rivals is now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Zelensky denied that he ever spoke with Trump about the aid "from the position of a quid pro quo," but criticized the U.S. for its treatment of Ukraine and frequent labeling of the country as corrupt.

Highlights

On whether Trump wanted to exchange aid for investigating the Bidens

"Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing. … I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying."

On how the U.S. can help Ukraine amid peace talks with Russia

"As for the United States, I would really want – and we feel this, it’s true – for them to help us, to understand us, to see that we are a player in our own right, that they cannot make deals about us with anyone behind our backs."
"When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals. ... Everyone hears that signal. Investments, banks, stakeholders, companies, American, European, companies that have international capital in Ukraine, it’s a signal to them that says, ‘Be careful, don’t invest.’ Or, ‘Get out of there.’ This is a hard signal."
"America, first of all, has its direct relations with Russia. To influence Russia, to make everyone see that this [war] is a big tragedy, and that it must end, I think that Mr. Trump can speak directly, and I think they do talk about these things."

On Trump saying Ukraine is a corrupt country

"I don’t need to change his mind. During my meeting with him, I said that I don’t want our country to have this image. For that, all he has to do is come and have a look at what’s happening, how we live, what kinds of people we are. I had the sense that he heard me. I had that sense. At least during the meeting, he said, ‘Yes, I see, you’re young, you’re new, and so on."

Reality check: Trump on Monday falsely tweeted that Zelensky declared during the interview that "President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Dave Lawler: The Trump-Ukraine drama has been viewed in the U.S. mostly through a domestic political lens. But it has major implications for Zelensky, who took office promising to fight corruption and end the war with Russia.

  • The U.S. is easily Ukraine’s most important ally, and Zelensky is clearly concerned that the political firestorm is influencing how his country is perceived not only in Washington, but around the world.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

China's homegrown techlash

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With the Chinese government accelerating moves against its own tech industry, China is — for now — prioritizing Communist Party control of the domestic economy over aggressive international competition.

Why it matters: China and the U.S. are both playing a long game, with tech as the playing field, companies as the pieces and domination of the global economy as the stakes.

Updated 1 min ago - Sports

The Olympic events to watch today

Sky Brown of Britain competes in women's park skateboarding. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

5 events to watch today...
  • 🏀 Women's basketball: Spain takes on France in the quarterfinals. Watch at 8 a.m. ET on NBC Sports.
  • 🧗‍♀️ Women's sport climbing: The new Olympic event gets underway at 10 a.m. ET on USA Network.
  • 🏊 Men's swimming: Marathon swimmers race in the 10km open water event at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.
  • 🏐 Women's beach volleyball: Watch Team USA's April Ross and Alix Klineman take on Switzerland in the semifinals at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
  • 🛹 Men's skateboarding: The men's park competition gets underway at 8p.m. ET on CNBC.
31 mins ago - Health

Simone Biles' exit brings global attention to mental health

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

Simone Biles' withdrawal from Olympics gymnastics events generated significant public interest in mental health, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: The Tokyo Games offered the ultimate platform for the topic to get global attention, with much of the world watching the same story.