The Trump administration has blocked $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, including $50 million specifically for weaponry, that Congress approved to help the country keep Russia at bay. A senior administration official tells Politico that President Trump has asked his national security team to review the program, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative — created in 2015, after Russia invaded then annexed Crimea — to make sure the funds align with U.S. interests and that other countries are "paying their fair share."
"The funds for Ukraine can't be spent while they're under review and the money expires at the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year," Politico reports.
Members of the House appropriations, armed services, and foreign affairs committees said they were aware of the freeze on the funding and have asked the White House what it's doing. "United States military aid to Ukraine has long been seen as a litmus test for how strongly the American government is pushing back against Moscow," Politico says, and "members of both parties have pushed to increase military assistance to Ukraine and U.S. military efforts to deter Russia in Eastern Europe."
Trump, who oddly blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion and annexation of Crimea in a freewheeling press conference Monday, also spent last weekend insistently lobbying his fellow Group of Seven leaders to allow Putin back into the G-7 fold. At the same time, the Trump administration approved lethal arms sales to Ukraine in 2017, a step Obama did not take.
"If the administration has a good reason for a sudden cut to security assistance to Ukraine, they should share it," career diplomat Daniel Fried told Politico. "Ukraine's new leaders, in office through free and fair elections, have earned and deserve America's support, not mixed signals."