The Pentagon said Thursday that a temporary delay ordered by the Trump administration in $250 million of military aid to Ukraine did not negatively affect U.S. national security.
“As the secretary stated, the brief pause in obligating funds did not negatively affect our national security,” Pentagon Chief Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at a briefing on Thursday.
He said most of the $250 million in defense aid to Ukraine is on contract, and the rest should be out within a week.
That aid will help Ukraine build its capacity to defend itself against “aggressive Russian actions in the region,” he said, adding:
These funds provide equipment to support ongoing Ukrainian training, programs and operational needs. This includes rigid hold boats, sniper rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers, counter artillery radars, electronic warfare detection equipment, secure communications, night vision equipment and military medical equipment devices.
The Trump administration has also provided Javelin missiles to Ukraine, which the Obama administration refused to provide.
He said overall, the U.S. has provided $1.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine since 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the peninsula of Crimea. Since then, Russia has waged and fueled a low-level insurgency in Eastern Ukraine against Ukrainian government forces.
Hoffman also announced that the Pentagon would take the proactive step of preserving and reviewing documents related to U.S. military aid to Ukraine in the case they are requested as part of an investigation.
Today, the general counsel of the department, in keeping with past practice on matters of importance, and to ensure that all appropriate department information is available on this matter directed that DOD offices to provide any pertinent documents and records to the office of General Counsel for cataloguing and review.
Hoffman said the move is standard practice any time there is a “significant level” of congressional or inspector general (IG) interest in something, and was taken in consultation with Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“My understanding is that this is a fairly standard practice that when there’s a significant level of congressional or IG interest in a matter for the department to take steps proactively to ensure that these materials are made available,” he said.
“It is not an unusual thing for us to be doing,” he added.
He said Congress has not reached out to Esper to testify or provide documents to his knowledge.
However, he noted that Democrat senators have requested that the Pentagon inspector general investigate the Trump administration’s decision to delay funding to Ukraine and whether any defense officials were involved.
Hoffman said he did not know whether an inspector general investigation has opened or not.
Last week, Senate Democrats wrote to Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine to ask that he review the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding, $250 million of which was temporarily delayed from going to Ukraine earlier this year.
“The delay would appear to have hindered the Department’s statutory obligation to provide security assistance to Ukraine at a critical moment, and raises serious questions about whether DoD officials were involved in any scheme to target a political opponent,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote in the letter.
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