As President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week in Switzerland, reports came that the White House temporarily halted a military aid package to Ukraine that included lethal weapons. The $100 million assistance originally was in response to Russia’s aggressive staging of more than 100,000 troops, along with heavy armor units, near Ukraine’s border in May.
Key items in the offering included short-range air defense systems, small arms, and anti-tank weapons.
But National Security Council officials placed the proposal on hold after Russia agreed to decrease those troops before the June 16 summit.
“The National Security Council directed officials to put the package together, as Washington grew increasingly concerned over a massive Russian military buildup near the border with Ukraine and in the Crimean Peninsula,” Politico reported Friday. “But officials on the National Security Council ended up putting the proposal on hold after Russia announced it would draw down troops stationed near Ukraine and in the lead-up to President Joe Biden’s high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the U.S. has provided over $2 billion in military aid to Kiev, including unarmed drones and anti-tank missiles.
In a Friday statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the aforementioned reports were “nonsense.”
“It was past time to provide more for Ukraine’s defense when Putin began amassing his troops on its border,” Republican Sen. James Risch, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. “His drawdown should not have triggered a drawdown of U.S. support.”
House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik claimed, “Joe Biden is shamefully turning his back on our Ukrainian allies.”
It’s noteworthy that two summers ago, withholding military aid to Ukraine for political purposes demanded a presidential impeachment.
The New York Times also reported last week that “Ukraine said it would not accept any arrangements made in Geneva between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin on the war.”
In addition, the Biden administration waived sanctions last month against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which likely will harm Ukraine. The Trump administration took action late in 2019 to stop Russia from completing the pipeline.
“If the pipeline is completed and becomes operational, the outlook for Ukraine and wider European gas markets will raise concerns,” The Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank, wrote in April. “This is not just for the reasons that have been repeatedly quoted, such as Ukraine’s loss of transit revenue and greater exposure to potential Russian military aggression, but also because of fears over supplies to Ukraine’s internal market and the ability of European companies to access Ukrainian storage facilities.”