The Pentagon has announced that they are looking at a 28% cut in spending for a program that provides military funding to former Soviet countries, including Ukraine. Proponents of the plan claim it is merely a shuffling of funds to meet new and different objectives of American foreign policy. Opponents of the plan believe that the funding is crucial to keeping former Soviet countries protected from the influence of Russia and other non-US friendly political forces in the region.
The Obama administration has proposed a 28 percent spending cut for a Pentagon program that supports modernizing the military of Ukraine and other former Soviet Union republics, Pentagon budget records show, a move that could endanger efforts to boost Ukraine’s armed forces as they face threats from Russia.
The proposed cuts, which are contained in a detailed budget plan posted online this week, come over the objections of officials with the U.S. European Command, who argue they will hurt U.S. attempts to build armed forces in nations formerly beholden to Russia.
Spending on the Warsaw Initiative Fund is set to drop from $34 million in the current fiscal year to $24.4 million in the 2015 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
Neither Pentagon nor White House officials would comment on the proposed spending cut. The White House National Security Council referred all questions to the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget, which also did not respond.
The proposed spending cut comes as “the demand for funding to meet important U.S./NATO objectives continues to grow,” said the budget plan from the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees the Warsaw Initiative. Maintaining the current spending level is important, officials from the U.S. European Command argued, because the initiative is an important tool “to encourage defense reform and promote NATO interoperability and integration, especially among NATO aspirants.”
“The implications of this are not good,” said Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. “The only thing that the world respects is action, not talk, so if you are not going to fund these projects then no one will take you seriously.”
European Command officials, the budget document shows, said money from the initiative pays for half of their military-to-military work in the Balkans, South Caucasus and Eurasia, which includes Ukraine, and failing to maintain the current spending levels “will weaken their ability to complete their country cooperation plans’ goals and objectives, and will also reduce their overall engagement with the countries” involved in the Partnership for Peace.