The Trump administration on Thursday released $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, which the White House had delayed despite bipartisan criticism that the funds were needed to combat Russian aggression.
“The Departments of State and Defense are proceeding with the obligation of all military and security assistance funding to Ukraine,” the administration said. “The Administration supports Ukraine’s efforts of reform and self-defense, and these funds will advance Ukrainian efforts toward those ends.”
Ukraine severely needs the U.S. aid as it fights Moscow-backed separatists to prevent further Russian encroachments after the Kremlin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee also said during debate on a $695 billion defense-funding bill that the White House had released the aid Wednesday evening. The move came just before the committee was preparing to chastise the administration over holding up the funds. Members of Congress from both parties, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a frequent Trump ally, were set to support an amendment to the spending bill freezing $5 billion of the Defense Department’s administrative money if the White House failed to release the Ukraine aid.
“We support Ukraine. Period. End of discussion,” said Republican senator John Kennedy of Louisiana.
The administration has been reviewing military aid to Ukraine as part of President Trump’s desire to cut foreign aid, exacerbating criticism that Trump is too sympathetic to Russian president Vladimir Putin.