By BRYAN BENDER
The Pentagon has completed a review of military assistance to Ukraine ordered by the White House and concluded the aid should continue, a senior official said today.
Congress approved $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in fiscal 2019. President Donald Trump had previously authorized the sale of lethal weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, to help confront separatist forces backed by Russia.
But in recent days the White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed the funds and asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper and national security adviser John Bolton to determine if the program remains in the best interest of the United States, POLITICO reported yesterday.
The move swiftly raised the ire of lawmakers in both parties who see the program as critical to checking Russian military aggression.
The Pentagon appears to agree. “The department has reviewed the foreign assistance package and supports it,” a senior Defense Department official told POLITICO.
The official, who was not authorized to discuss the internal discussions publicly, added that the results of the review have been shared with the White House.
Trump is scheduled to meet this weekend in Warsaw, Poland, with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.