Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published the details of a State Department document identifying Ukraine, Colombia, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tunisia and Vietnam as countries which could see their cash grants for the purchase of US military equipment replaced with loans.
But in the new State Department budget memo, the grants to all these countries have either dropped significantly, cut out entirely in favor of loans. According to unnamed sources, the measure, if implemented, should net the US budget about $1 billion in savings.
Last month, a separate leaked State Department memo revealed that Washington was considering nearly a 70% cut in USAID assistance to Ukraine in 2018. Kiev tried to squash the speculation, saying that the cuts would amount to 'only 30%'.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Ukrainian politics expert Dmitri Zhuravlev said that Kiev should have seen the cuts in US defense and economic aid coming.
"Trump promised to do this even during the election campaign; he's simply fulfilling his campaign promises," Zhuravlev said. "This is his style – that of a businessman: no freebies for anyone," the observer added.
"Naturally, every rule has an exception; this includes the three countries that Trump simply can't not give money to [including Israel]…But his principled approach is 'if you want something from us – buy it.' And Ukraine for him is not a 'special' exception. Instead, it's 'just another country', and it must play by the rules that he, Trump, considers acceptable."
"If the loans have commercial terms, that is, if they are not guaranteed by the US government, Ukraine simply won't get them. Because given the state of their economy today, no normal bank would give them a loan. If the US government does back the loan, Kiev will get it, of course, but in that case [the US] will very rigidly control its use. Therefore, I think that in Ukraine [the country's elite] is in a state of mourning," the observer concluded.