The Independent:Follow View Profile Ukraine hits back at Biden’s ‘absurd’ remark that Zelensky ‘didn’t want to hear’ US intel on Russia


Volodymyr Zelensky’s aides have hit back at Joe Biden’s remarks that the Ukrainian president “didn’t want to hear it” when US intelligence alerted him that Russia was preparing an invasion and had called it “absurd”.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak criticised Mr Biden for putting the blame on Ukraine while Mr Zelensky’s spokesperson Sergei Nikiforov said the remark “probably needs to be clarified” as it was their partners who had paid no heed to Ukraine’s concerns.

Mr Nikiforov told Russian-language Ukrainian news outlet Liga that Mr Zelensky had “three or four telephone conversations” with Mr Biden before the war started, during which they exchanged “detailed” assessments of the situation.

He also said it was Ukraine that demanded preventative measures to put Russia on that backfoot but “our partners…did not want to hear us”.

“Therefore, the phrase ‘didn’t want to hear’ probably needs to be clarified,” he told the outlet.

“In addition, if you remember, the president of Ukraine called on partners to introduce a package of preventive sanctions in order to encourage Russia to withdraw troops and de-escalate the situation.”

“Here we can already say that our partners ‘did not want to hear us,’” Mr Nikiforov said.

Mr Podoliak told the same news outlet that Mr Zelensky was consistently in talks over Russia’s intentions and said Mr Biden’s comments were not “not entirely true”.

Mr Podoliak said Kyiv had been “well aware that Russia was developing various expansion scenarios”.

“Volodymyr Zelensky constantly had an analyst on the table based on high-quality intelligence. The president also responded carefully to all the words and warnings of our partners. The question was always: what will be the scope of the invasion?”

“And finally, the key, I think it is pointless to blame the country, which is more than 100 days [into] a full-fledged war against a much more resourceful opponent, if key countries have failed to prevent the militaristic appetites of the Russian Federation, knowing them well,” Mr Podoliak said, according to independent Russian outlet Interfax.

“Undoubtedly, the volume of the invasion, which we saw on February 24, shocked many countries, including our partners,” added Mr Podoliak.

Speaking to donors at a Democratic fundraiser on Friday, the US President had said Mr Zelensky “didn’t want to hear it” when US intelligence had gathered information that Russia was preparing to invade.

“Nothing like this has happened since World War Two,” Mr Biden said. “I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain [Russian President Vladimir Putin] was going to go in, off the border. There was no doubt. And Zelensky didn’t want to hear it.”

Mr Biden was talking about his work to rally and solidify support for Ukraine as the war continues into its fourth month.

Although Mr Zelensky has inspired people with his leadership during the war, his preparation for the invasion – or lack thereof – has remained a controversial issue.

In the weeks before the war began on 24 February, Mr Zelensky publicly bristled as Biden administration officials repeatedly warned that a Russian invasion was highly likely.

At the time, Mr Zelensky was also concerned that the drumbeat of war was unsettling Ukraine’s fragile economy.

Additional reporting by agencies

Ukraine hits back at Biden’s ‘absurd’ remark that Zelensky ‘didn’t want to hear’ US intel on Russia (

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