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Pentagon sending $250 million to Ukraine to defend against Russia

Ukrainian soldiers from the special police force traverse a corner during a fire team movement and room clearing demonstration. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Joanna Gaona Gomez)
June 11, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense announced its plan to provide $250 million in aid to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) for the 2020 fiscal year, to provide defensive assistance in the country’s ongoing dispute with Russia.

The DoD announced the defensive aid to Ukraine in a Thursday press release. The funds will be used to provide equipment to support ongoing training programs, train Ukraine’s defensive lethal capabilities and other systems to monitor and maintain the country’s sovereignty against Russia.

Ukraine has been fighting with pro-Russian separatist forces since 2014 and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

The DoD money would reportedly go to “defensive lethal capabilities and situational awareness in the maritime domain, air surveillance systems to monitor sovereign airspace, command and control and survivability of Ukraine’s Land and Special Operations Forces through the provision of counter-artillery radars and tactical equipment, military medical treatment and combat evacuation procedures, and cyber defense and strategic communications to counter Russian cyber offensive operations and misinformation.”

The DoD noted that defensive aid from the U.S. would also be accompanied by additional security assistance from allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“These efforts are complemented by increased security assistance support from key NATO Allies and partners. The United States continues to urge all allies and partners to enhance their support for Ukraine’s security and defense sector,” the release reads. “The United States also welcomes recent Ukrainian investments in U.S. defense articles that further strengthen our strategic partnership. “

The release also noted half of the defensive funds, $125 million, will be conditioned on Ukraine’s making “progress on defense reforms.”

“These security cooperation programs are made possible by Ukraine’s continued progress on key defense institutional and anti-corruption reforms,” the release reads. “Over the past year, Ukraine has taken considerable steps to: strengthen civilian control of the military; reform military command and control structures; transition to a Western-style human resources management system; introduce measures to promote increase transparency and competition in defense procurement and the defense industrial sector; and tighten internal controls to reduce corruption.”

The DoD’s references to corruption reform in Ukraine comes after Ukrainian corruption became a key topic during efforts to impeach President Donald Trump in 2019. Trump was impeached over allegations he withheld defensive aid to Ukraine to pressure an investigation into former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. Trump and members of his administration maintained that a delay in aid to Ukraine was based on concerns about corruption within the government, including claims Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating a gas company for which his son Hunter Biden worked, known as Burisma Holdings.