Trump released a memorandum of his controversial July 25 call to President Zelensky (see e.g. CNN, Fox News). There's some debate as to its accuracy (e.g. Missing words and a screaming match: Inside a wild day of impeachment testimony, CNN, 30 October, 2019).

My thought is why don't we just cross-check it against the Ukrainian version? However, I don't know if it exists, nor do I know if has been made available.

Question: Is there a Ukrainian transcript of Trump's controversial July 25 call to President Zelensky?

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    It surely exists (and both sides most likely have recordings), but has not yet been released. Oct 30, 2019 at 6:45
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    Do you mean publically released? Otherwise "we" can't cross check anything. (And if the Ukrainians release just a transcript, I'm not seeing how it would be more convincing. After all, their president still insists, officially, that there was no pressure on them. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/47009/…) Oct 30, 2019 at 12:13
  • 2
    Fair question, however comparing the TELCON memo with the raw (computer generated) transcription (because the computer record would be devoid of any political motivations) is logically the first step to verification as to the accuracy.
    – BobE
    Oct 30, 2019 at 12:53
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    For purposes of evaluating President Trump's conduct, one would need to know what he heard and what he said. Unless he is fluent in Ukranian, which seems unlikely, only the English version of the call matters. The situation is different for President Zelensky, because he is fluent in English. Oct 30, 2019 at 16:00
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    @PatriciaShanahan Ukrainian => "from, or of Ukraine", not "conducted in the Ukrainian language." (I assume)
    – bobsburner
    Oct 31, 2019 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


This is news from a month ago with respect to what the Ukrainians might have in terms of records on that conversation:

Ukraine’s political opposition is calling on President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office to release its version of a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that has led to impeachment hearings in the United States.

Opposition MP Oleksiy Goncharenko told The Globe and Mail that he believed that an audio recording of the conversation existed, and he called for it to be made public so that Ukrainians and Americans alike could hear whether and how Mr. Trump applied pressure on Mr. Zelensky.

The Globe was unable to confirm on Friday whether an audio recording existed. Several current and former government officials, including two former foreign ministers, said that if such recordings were routinely made, they weren’t aware of them. One government adviser said that didn’t mean the recordings didn’t exist, since fears of Russian espionage meant that the number of people given access to Ukraine’s equivalent of the White House “situation room” is kept deliberately small.

And Zelensky apparently was opposed to Ukraine publishing anything similar (as reported by Newsweek on Sep 25):

"I personally think that sometimes such calls between presidents of independent countries should not be published," Zelensky told Ukrainian media in a briefing in New York, according to Reuters. "I just thought that they would publish their part."

Or five days later, as paraphrased by Reuters apparently from a later press conference:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that Kiev was unlikely to publish its version of a transcript of a July 25 phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, at the heart of an impeachment inquiry in Washington. [...]

Speaking to journalists at an event at a military site near Kiev on Monday, Zelenskiy said he felt it would be wrong to share the Ukrainian summary or transcript of the call.

“Prior to the presidency I was never a diplomat, but I think I have had many such conversations in my life and will have many more,” Zelenskiy said.

“There are certain nuances and things which I think it would be incorrect, even, to publish,” he said.


I'll have to do a quick search for links, but President Zelensky has publicly stated that the U.S. Transcript is accurate as to the discussion with the call. It should be noted that even if a Ukrainian transcript does exists, it will not be a 1-1 accuracy check as not only do the Ukrainians not use the same language, but they don't even use the same alphabet. Diplomatic translators may also not make direct translations in some circumstances because of how languages work.

For example, let's say that in a hypothetical call between the U.S. and Ukrainian Presidents (generic Presidents, not the specific ones), the Ukrainian President says "I feel like I received a Cossack Manifesto". The U.S. translator might tell the U.S. President that the Ukrainian "feels like he was insulted" instead of the direct English translation. The U.S. President would likely not get that the Ukrainian President is referencing a particular famous event in Russo-Ukrainian history and the famous painting depicting it (Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire aka "Cossacks of Saporog Are Drafting a Manifesto"). While it's perfectly possible to explain this to the President, it's not needed to understand the translation. The same will happen in the reverse, though since we're all decent English speakers here, it's easier to come up with a non-U.S. or Western reference.

In diplomacy, it is rare for foreign leaders to speak to each other without translators, even if the specific leader is an accomplished speaker of the language. The reason is because these discussions can lead to major disasters if idioms are not fully understood -- sometimes, even if the same language is spoken. For example, in the Korean war, there was one incident where the British lost a battle because the U.S. didn't send any reinforcements to the Brits. This was because when the Americans asked for a Sitrep, the British radio operator told them things were "a bit sticky" which the U.S. thought was the British brushing off the trouble. However, the British understood it as, what in the U.S. Military at least, would be a call that the situation was FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Reason -- though, this term originated in the Navy, where they used a different F-word for "Fouled" that I can't repeat on this website).

A translator specializing in the language has much more time to understand idioms in vogue in a language and can find an appropriate expression to relay the idiomatic meaning in a way that makes sense, and even then, there can be some translation failure. For example, the Daily Show once interviewed a Japanese translator with the U.S. State department where she revealed it was rather difficult to explain why Trump's comments on the infamous Billy Bush tape ("Grab her by the...") were shocking when translated into Japanese. While there are certainly Japanese words for the body part discussed, the Japanese do not use those words in an insulting or overly crass manner, and they had difficulty understanding what was so off putting by the comments when translated (or that the term used had a negative connotation at all, since again, there equivalent terms aren't used in that way). Though bizarrely, Japan and English do have an unusual distinction in that both languages word for "dream" (Japanese: Yuma) have exactly the same meaning when used in context (both the phenomena that occurs while sleeping and the idea of a high or lofty goal or ambition that one wishes to obtain.) Given the fact that the languages have no common roots shared between them (pre-1945, a lot of English Loan words entered the Japanese Language after the U.S. Occupation).

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    I believe the Japanese should be yume (夢, ゆめ)
    – Jan
    Oct 30, 2019 at 15:12
  • "Zelensky has publicly stated that the U.S. Transcript is accurate." It should be noted that Zelensky has, of course, not vetted the US translation. Instead, Zelensky rubber-stamps whatever Trump says, because Ukraine depends on US aid. Oct 31, 2019 at 14:32
  • @knallfrosch: Zelensky does speak English and was in the United States for a U.N. meeting when the story first broke and spoke without translator to U.S. press. The statement was also made well after aid was released. While it is possible he is supporting Trump for less than noble reasons, I am not noting it as definitive fact, as you have done, and must take him at his word unless and until evidence is submitted to prove your assertion.
    – hszmv
    Oct 31, 2019 at 14:44
  • @hszmv Yes, these are the limitations of an answer. Oct 31, 2019 at 14:57

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