Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, contradicted U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s revised impeachment testimony that the two discussed the holdup of Ukrainian military aid during a September 1 meeting in Warsaw, according to an exclusive interview Yermak gave to Time.
Sondland initially testified in October that according to President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the president wanted Ukraine to investigate both the 2016 election and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company tied to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
In a revised testimony for his public hearing in November, Sondland said that a potential meeting between Trump and Zelensky, as well as the release of military aid to the country, was contingent on the announcement of an anti-corruption probe into Burisma. Sondland said that he relayed that information to Yermak while Zelensky was meeting with Vice President Mike Pence in Warsaw.
“I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak [at the meeting], where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland said in his revised testimony.
Yermak, however, told Time that he had no recollection of any such conversation.
“Gordon and I were never alone together. We bumped into each other in the hallway next to the escalator, as I was walking out,” he said on the Warsaw meeting. “I remember – everything is fine with my memory – we talked about how well the meeting went. That’s all we talked about.”
In a statement, Sondland’s lawyer said “Ambassador Sondland stands by his prior testimony and will not comment further.”
Yermak also told Time that he never felt military aid was tied to any investigation, a claim also stated last month by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko.
“We never had that feeling,” Yermak said. “We had a clear understanding that the aid has been frozen. We honestly said, ‘Okay, that’s bad, what’s going on here.’ We were told that they would figure it out. And after a certain amount of time the aid was unfrozen. We did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.”
Last week, a former senior Ukrainian official in Zelensky’s administration said the government knew the U.S. froze military aid to the country by the end of July.
Yermak also denied that a scheduled appearance for Zelensky to appear on CNN was cancelled merely for “a scheduling conflict,” not because the announcement of an investigation of Burisma was scrapped after the whistleblower complaint was unearthed.
“Look, we are principled in our position,” Yermak said. “We did not violate anything. We did not do anything that would amount to crossing a line. At all times we kept our word. We did what we said we would do. So I think it wouldn’t be right to give assessments of what line someone may have approached. We never entered into a conspiracy with anyone. We never participated in any conversations under the carpet. It was all public and transparent.”