Ukraine happy impeachment is over, wants to advance US ties

Ukraine's foreign minister says the government is happy that impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump are over and it now wants to advance relations with the United States

UNITED NATIONS -- Ukraine is happy that impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, which the country got dragged into, are over and it now wants to “advance" relations with the United States, Ukraine's foreign minister said Thursday.

Vadym Prystaiko told reporters he will be pursuing this when he goes to Washington on Friday to meet with administration and State Department officials.

“We will discuss how now we can, when it’s not clouded by any impeachment inquiries... advance our relationships which are in a great shape, but we want to have more than that,” Prystaiko said.

Ukraine took center stage in the recent U.S. impeachment proceedings against Trump.

They were triggered by a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “do us a favor” and investigate his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Trump held up $391 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine which Democrats alleged was a “quid pro quo” for the Biden investigation. The money was later released by Congress, and Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 5.

Prystaiko said: “We’re happy that impeachment is over because we’ve been constantly dragged into internal politics of the United States, which we don’t want to be a part of, and we were never a part of this.”

Zelenskiy, who was elected in April, sought to distance himself from the U.S. impeachment drama in an effort to retain bipartisan U.S. support, which is crucial for Ukraine. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been stuck in a tug-of-war with Russia, especially since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and backed a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has left 14,000 people dead.

The Ukrainian foreign minister talked to reporters after a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on Russia’s occupation of Crimea and other parts of Ukrainian territory.

Prystaiko said some 7% of Ukraine’s territory is now under foreign occupation and those areas “have become a territory of fear and terror” with large-scale human rights violations.