The White House has temporarily suspended a military aid program to Ukraine that included an arsenal of lethal weapons, according to a report released Friday.
The package is valued at $ 100 million and could have included an assortment of weapons, including anti-tank missiles and air defense systems, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The proposed expeditions were a response to concerns about the gathering of Russian military troops near the country’s common border with Ukraine earlier this year.
Members of the National Security Council have frozen the planned expedition after Russian authorities withdrew some troops from the area. A force estimated at more than 100,000 Russian troops was massed near the border before the withdrawal, according to several reports at the time.
While aid is frozen, an official told Politico that the weapons could be quickly sent to Ukraine if needed. The Pentagon previously approved two aid plans worth $ 275 million this year.
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The White House has provided resources and support to Ukraine in recent years amid clashes between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatist forces in the border region. Russia has long denied having an active military presence within Ukraine’s borders.
The decision not to go ahead with the $ 100 million aid drew criticism from Sen. James Risch of Idaho, the prominent Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“It was high time to provide more of Ukraine’s defense when Putin began to muster his troops at his border,” Risch recently told the Washington Post. “His withdrawal should not have triggered a withdrawal of US support.”
Russia’s actions towards Ukraine were a key source of contention ahead of President Biden’s summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this week, Biden said Ukraine did not meet the criteria to join NATO. He called on the Ukrainian government to crack down on corruption in its ranks.
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At the same time, Biden pledged to support Ukraine’s efforts to resist Russian aggression in the region.
“They have more to do, but that does not justify – the fact that they have more to do – for Russia to take aggressive measures, whether in the Donbass, on the sea or in any part of it. “Ukraine. Position to be able to maintain their physical security,” Biden said.
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