Democrat Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US House of Representatives, and his Republican colleague Michael McCall called on US President Donald Trump to freeze the allocation of funds for military assistance to Ukraine. According to congressmen, the resources to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine "are important to advance the interests of US national security."
“This funding, which, with the support of both parties, has become a response to the encroachments to which Russia has subjected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine since 2014, serves the Ukrainian people as an important resource to deter the ongoing Russian aggression and territorial expansion. Congress continues to believe that providing continued support to Ukraine to counter Russia's malicious influence is one of the central priorities of US national security, ”Engel and McCall said in a letter.
The parliamentarians recalled that there was little time left for the allocation of funds. The deadline for resolving the issue expires on September 30, when the 2019 fiscal year ends.
A few days earlier, a group of senators from three Democrats (Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Gene Shahin) and two Republicans (Rob Portman, Ron Johnson) made a similar appeal to Trump. Congressmen said sponsoring the Ukrainian army helped boost the country's “military capabilities” and “repel ongoing Kremlin attacks.”
“Money goes into a black hole”
Funds to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine are allocated within the framework of the Initiative to Promote the Security of Ukraine Program. This year, Kiev should receive $ 250 million. Currently, this amount is on the accounts of the US Department of Defense, but the Pentagon has not received an order from the White House on their use for the needs of the Ukrainian army.
In late August, Politico reported that Trump had instructed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and National Security Advisor John Bolton to audit military assistance to Ukraine. Thus, as the newspaper writes, the US president expects to reduce the amount of appropriations to the armed forces of foreign states. Also, the head of the White House allegedly intends to improve relations with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The Pentagon leadership and part of Trump’s inner circle are in favor of preserving the Initiative to Promote the Security of Ukraine. On September 1, in Warsaw, US Vice President Mike Pence met with Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky. The talks also included American military-technical assistance to Kiev. Pence promised that the United States "will not change the position to support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."
- Hummer off-road party before unloading from the port of Odessa
- © ukr.embassy.usa
On September 5, the meeting of Senators Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy with the head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Alexander Danilyuk was dedicated to the issue of allocating funds to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The negotiations discussed the prospect of "expanding comprehensive support for Ukraine in the areas of security and defense."
Also, senators talked with Zelensky. Following a conversation with the President of Ukraine, Murphy recalled that "the issue of providing military assistance has been repeatedly unanimously approved by Congress." However, the American parliamentarian admitted that in the fiscal year 2019, the Ukrainian army may not receive funds from the United States.
As a rule, the US Congress initiates a reduction in allocations for the Ukrainian army, as opposed to the Pentagon's desire to increase them. For example, last year, Congress allowed Kiev to provide assistance in the amount of $ 200 million, while the Ministry of Defense requested $ 350 million.
In an interview with RT, President of the American University in Moscow Eduard Lozansky said that with a high probability Trump will not concede to Congress and the Pentagon on the issue of military assistance to Ukraine. In his opinion, the US president doubts the effectiveness of the APU support program due to the high level of corruption in Ukraine.
“Trump will not yield to the pressure of Congress and his inner circle. He has his own view of Ukraine. In particular, he sees that with the advent of Zelensky, the real fight against corruption has not begun. He reasonably suspects that the money of American taxpayers goes into a black hole, ”Lozansky said.
In addition, according to the expert, in the run-up to the election, Trump is seeking funds for the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico. According to US media, the president intends to find them through the redistribution of money in the Pentagon’s budget. In particular, the head of the White House can significantly reduce the amount of planned military assistance to foreign countries.
“Trump wants to find resources on the wall and not harm the US Armed Forces. It is likely that in the end he will decide to save in Ukraine, ”Lozansky explained.
US military assistance to Kiev includes the supply of various types of US-made military products and covering transportation costs for its delivery. For example, in the spring of 2019, the APU received two counter-battery AN / TPQ-36 class radars and 30 American Hummer SUVs.
According to the information of the Ukrainian Embassy in the USA, artillery reconnaissance equipment, communications and electronic warfare equipment, night vision devices, medical equipment and “lethal defense weapons” will be handed over to Kiev by the end of the year.
Since 2014, the United States has refrained from transferring lethal weapons to Ukraine. However, at the beginning of March 2018, the State Department approved the delivery to Ukraine of 37 launchers of the anti-tank missile complex (ATGM) Javelin and more than 200 munitions for them in the amount of $ 47 million.After a month and a half, a batch of weapons entered service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Also, the funds allocated by the Pentagon go to finance the training of military personnel of the Armed Forces. They are trained by American officers. The base for training and joint exercises is located at the Yavorovsky training ground in the Lviv region.
- Joint exercises of the army of Ukraine and the USA
- © Oleksandr Klymenko
The Ukrainian authorities attach great importance to US military assistance, although Washington does not always provide the Armed Forces with serviceable and reliable weapons. In July 2018, the letter was published in the media by the general director of KB Luch (Kiev) Oleg Korostelev, addressed to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexander Turchinov.
In it, the top manager reported the incident on May 22, 2018 at the demonstration firing of Javelin ATGM, which was carried out by specialists of the enterprise. According to Korostelev, during the tests, a malfunction of the marching engines of the complex was revealed. The letter spoke about the expiration of the deadline for the factory operation of power plants.
Korostelev also drew attention to a number of shortcomings of Javelin, such as a small firing range (up to 2500 m), the difficulty of operating in adverse weather conditions, the need to attract foreign specialists for after-sales service and repair of anti-tank systems. In addition, the use of American systems in the troops requires significant costs for their maintenance.
The editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko, in a conversation with RT, said that US military assistance does not significantly affect the development of the combat and operational qualities of the Armed Forces. In his opinion, the training of military personnel and the degree of technical equipment of the Ukrainian army remain at an extremely low level.
“It may seem that $ 250 million is a significant amount, but in reality, this amount of support is only an act of symbolic nature. The products of the American defense industry are purchased with the allocated funds, and this is not the latest and highest quality, ”Korotchenko said.
As the expert explained, on the eve of the US presidential election, military assistance to Ukraine has become an instrument of intra-American political struggle. In his opinion, by freezing the Initiative to Promote the Security of Ukraine, Trump is trying to put pressure on Kiev and get dirt on his main rival from the Democratic Party - Joe Biden.
“In my opinion, Trump will receive from Zelensky the necessary information about Biden and then will allocate money for the needs of Ukrainian forces. Now a very difficult political game is going on, and Ukraine again acts as a bargaining chip in it, ”Korotchenko explained.