KYIV, UKRAINE - Ukraine's president appears to be playing to both sides of the American political divide, hedging his bets to ensure U.S. financial and military aid keeps flowing no matter who wins next year's election.
First, a point for U.S. President Donald Trump's team: Ukraine's top prosecutor agreed to revisit past investigations into a gas company executive who recruited Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son to his board.
And now, a nod to the anti-Trump camp: Ukraine has appointed a man who exposed under-the-table payments to Trump's onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a senior prosecutor.
So which team is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on? He's not taking that bait — not at a time when he needs American support to fend off pro-Russia separatists but also prove himself an independent leader to his own people. Instead, he insists that he's maintaining separation of powers and not interfering in prosecutors' decisions.
Analysts say the Ukrainian leadership is trying to keep its options open, by showing that Zelenskiy is not Trump's yes-man, and not his enemy either. Zelenskiy is central to the impeachment inquiry against Trump, who pressed the Ukrainian president in a July phone call to investigate Democratic political rivals.
The appointment of Viktor Trepak as deputy national prosecutor Tuesday was Ukraine's latest chess move. Anti-corruption campaigners — whose cause Zelenskiy championed when seeking the presidency — welcomed the news.
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