U.S. President Donald Trump is considering blocking $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, Western media report, raising objections from lawmakers of both U.S. political parties.
Citing senior administration officials, Politico and Reuters reported that Trump had ordered a reassessment of the aid program that Kyiv uses to battle Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The review is “ensure the money is being used in the best interest of the United States,” Politico said on August 28, and means Trump is considering blocking the funding.
“The president has made no secret when it comes to foreign assistance that U.S. interests abroad should be prioritized and other foreign countries should also be paying their fair share," Reuters quoted one official as saying on August 29.
The White House did not immediately comment on the reports.
Responding to the reports, influential Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said that this will put "Ukraine’s long-term stability at risk.”
“President Trump must direct [the Defense Department] to obligate these funds immediately -- there’s no reason to delay. Unless, of course, he’s yet again acting at the behest of his favorite Russian dictator & good friend, Putin,” Durbin wrote on Twitter.
Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a tweet that "This is unacceptable. It was wrong when Obama failed to stand up to Putin in Ukraine, and it's wrong now."
The administration officials said chances are that the money will be allocated as usual but that the determination will not be made until the review is completed and Trump makes a final decision.
The federal fiscal year ends on September 30.
The United States has supported Ukraine since Russia forcibly annexed its Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and started backing separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in April 2014 in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people.
Washington has given Ukraine more than $3 billion in aid, including $1.5 billion in lethal and nonlethal military goods over the past five years, and is advising the country on the reform of its armed forces.