The Pentagon says Ukraine has completed the necessary institutional reforms to justify another $125 million in new US military hardware, CNN reports, citing an anonymous defence official and a congressional staffer.
The Pentagon’s approval, said to be contingent on anti-corruption and transparency reforms, means Congress can now move to approve the delivery of the military hardware to the Eastern European country. The assistance is said to include both lethal aid, such as two 30mm autocannon-armed patrol boats, as well as anti-artillery radar systems, communications equipment, and ambulances.
The aid is part of a $250 million package appropriated by Congress in its 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act, a massive piece of legislation signed late last year which committed a whopping $738 billion to US defence spending, including tens of billions for US operations overseas.
Military Aid Scandal
US military assistance to Ukraine has been under intense scrutiny for years, given Kiev’s five-year-old frozen civil war in the Donbass region, which has claimed over 13,000 lives and left tens of thousands injured, as well as allegations of large-scale corruption by the Ukrainian government, which is estimated to have eaten away as much as 30 percent of any recent defence procurement deal.
The subject of US military aid to Ukraine also became the focal point of US media attention last year, after Democratic lawmakers accused President Trump of threatening to withhold some $391 million in security assistance to the country unless President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to restart a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s work for a Ukrainian energy company.
Trump denied any wrongdoing, and Republicans acquitted him following an impeachment trial earlier this year. A Senate committee issued its first subpoena in a probe into Biden's activities last week.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns about US efforts to supply arms to Ukraine, citing the threat of an escalation of the war in the Donbass, which borders Russia. Moscow has instead called for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements on Ukrainian peace, which propose granting the Donbass provinces widespread political autonomy in exchange for their reintegration into Ukraine. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German ex-foreign minister-turned President, warned in 2015 that delivering weapons to Ukraine would be “not just highly risky but counterproductive” to peace efforts.