The Trump administration is releasing almost US$400 million worth of military assistance for Ukraine, unplugging the spigot of aid after weeks of speculation that the US might withhold the cash as part of a broad reassessment of American policy in confronting Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The aid comes in two buckets. First is US$141 million pledged by the State Department, and then US$250 million from the Pentagon, all pegged to a variety of weapons systems and non-lethal capabilities such as communications, training facilities, and surveillance gear to help Ukraine protect its coastline from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
After it was reported last month that the White House ordered a reassessment of US funding for Ukraine’s military, both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill pressed the administration to maintain the support that has flowed since the illegal 2014 Russian invasion.
Sen. Rob Portman, co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, said today that Trump told him the DoD money was good to go. Portman said he “spoke with the president last night to ask him to release the security funds for Ukraine, and I want to thank him for doing so.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham was also confident that the DoD money would be unspooled, saying today that Ukraine is “going to get the money.”
The Pentagon referred queries about the US$250 million to the White House.
In announcing the US$250 million package in June, DoD said the money would go toward items such as sniper rifles for Ukraine’s special operations forces, grenade launchers, counter-artillery radar systems, training centers, counter electronic warfare equipment, and items such as sonobuoys to detect Russian ship and submarine traffic to beef up the Ukrainian Navy’s Black Sea presence.
Earlier this year, the US Navy sent teams to upgrade several Ukrainian naval bases to give American and NATO warships the ability to dock just miles from Russia-controlled Crimea.
Meanwhile, the State Department has cleared Morocco to buy almost 8,500 munitions of various types, with a price tag of just under US$1 billion, Defense News reported.
The two packages — a package of weapons used on the F-16 for US$209 million and a tranche of TOW missiles for US$776 million — were announced Thursday on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The weapons will “improve the security of a major non-Non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa,” the DSCA wrote in its announcement. “A strong national defense and dedicated military force will assist Morocco to sustain itself in its efforts to maintain stability.”
The TOW request includes 2,401 TOW 2A radio frequency missiles, 28 missiles for testing, and 400 M220A2 TOW Launchers; some of those launchers may be M41 Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) systems. Also included is support equipment, technical support and training.
Including Thursday’s packages, Morocco has requested an estimated $7.26 billion on American made weapons this fiscal year, easily the most of any nation.
As with all DSCA notifications to Congress, the deal is not final. Members can object to the sale, and once it has cleared the Hill, quantities and costs can change during negotiations.