Earlier, an internal memo obtained by the newspaper identified Vietnam, Tunisia, Colombia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Pakistan and Ukraine as countries that would be offered loans to purchase US military equipment, instead of receiving cash grants. The changes could affect the program with a total worth of nearly $1 billion.
In 2017, the Ukrainian military will receive $350 million from the US. The decision was approved by the US House of Representatives in late 2016.
Military spending is a crucial problem for the Ukrainian government, since Kiev does not adhere to the peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict. Despite a ceasefire, Ukrainian forces continue shelling the self-proclaimed Donbass republics. On May 20, President Petro Poroshenko announced the deployment of T-80 tanks to the conflict zone in Donbass.
In recent years, the Ukrainian government has been driving up military expenditures. While in 2016 Ukraine’s defense budget was $4.3 billion, it will reach nearly $5 billion this year, which accounts for 5 percent of GDP.
Meanwhile, the economic situation in Ukraine is worsening. In April, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecast for Ukrainian GDP growth from 2.9 to 2 percent. The military and political turmoil is also affecting the economy. For example, a blockade of Donbass by Ukrainian radical activists has seriously damaged the country’s energy sector.