The Pentagon will send weapons and other military aid worth $250 million to Ukraine as part of the four-year-old Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, defense officials announced Thursday.
The aid includes counter-artillery radars, air surveillance systems, other tactical equipment, military medical treatment, cyber defenses, and “strategic communications,” according to a Thursday release by the Pentagon. Intended to help Ukraine fight the Russia-backed forces that have occupied part of the country’s eastern region since 2014, the aid aims to “enhance Ukraine’s defensive lethal capabilities and situational awareness in the maritime domain” and “counter Russian cyber offensive operations and misinformation.”
Past U.S. aid to Ukraine, which totals about $1.5 billion, has included: Javelin anti-tank missiles, retired Coast Guard cutters, unarmed drones, Harris radios, armored Humvees, and communications equipment. The U.S. has also helped to train Ukrainian special forces.
The release said the new aid re-affirms the “long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine – a critical partner on the front line of strategic competition with Russia. The United States remains steadfast in its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”
Last year, misuse of the USAI funds led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump. After the Office of Management and Budget withheld $214 million that Congress had appropriated through the initiative, Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart that the aid would be released only after certain key “favors,” including announcing an investigation into the family of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Laura Cooper, U.S. defense undersecretary for Russia, Eurasia and Ukraine, testified that Ukraine had met various metrics for political reform and that the Defense Department supported the release of the aid. The Government Accountability Office determined that the hold was a violation of the federal Impoundment Control Act.