And Russian President Putin acted as a perfect ally for him in that. At least, this is what George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, told House impeachment investigators.
The investigators released the transcript of Mr Kent’s hearing on Thursday. Mr Kent said that he could recall a change in Trump’s attitude towards Ukraine
after the US president met with PM Orbán
and had a call with President Putin this May. Even though Trump had a very positive first call with Zelensky in April, by the end of May, his attitude towards Ukraine turned negative, 24.hu reported.
According to what Mr Kent said, the reason is probably that the Russian and the Hungarian leader told Trump that Zelensky was in the thrall of oligarchs, specifically mentioning Ihor Kolomoisky, the biggest of them, and this negatively shaped the picture of not only Ukraine but also its then newly-elected President. Mr Kent added that from May on, he was cut out of decisions regarding Ukraine.
In the US House of Representatives, hearings in connection with the impeachment process are currently happening. The whole issue started because, allegedly, during a July phone call, Trump asked Zelensky to start an investigation regarding
the business interests of the son of Joe Biden,
a potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 election. The US president added that otherwise, he would cut all US support from Ukraine.
Mr Kent could not confirm that Donald Trump did what PM Orbán or President Putin suggested him to do before. But, according to an interview published on Thursday with US ambassador to Budapest, David Cornstein,
the American president pays attention to the Hungarian PM.
Regarding the question what the Russian president’s motive behind such manoeuvres is, Mr Kent said that Putin does not regard Ukraine as an independent country and he said that already in 2008 to former US president George Bush.
He added that
Putin’s goal is to create Greater-Russia
again and to undermine the independence of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Viktor Orban’s aim is to recreate Greater-Hungary, because Subcarpathia (now belongs to Ukraine) has 130,000 Hungarians living there. He made it clear in his testimony that next year, there would be the centenarian of the Trianon Peace Treaty because of which Hungary lost 2/3 of its territory and 1/3 of its Hungarian population after WWI.
Kent said that this was why Hungary blocked ministerial meetings in the question of Ukraine’s accession into the NATO. Orban’s anti-Ukrainian feelings are well-known and well-documented, and it has been going on for two years, he added.
The deputy assistant secretary said that Putin’s goal is to convince Washington not to help independent Ukraine anymore.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Mr Kent’s testimony that the whole issue is fake news and
PM Orban did not talk about Ukraine with President Trump.