Politics White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine
Hunter Biden might force father's hand on sending lethal military equipment to Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine — Hunter Biden doesn’t matter much to Ukrainians, but the controversy that surrounds him will make it difficult for President Joe Biden to reduce the amount of lethal military equipment former President Donald Trump sent to the country, defense experts here tell the Washington Examiner. © Provided by Washington Examiner During Joe Biden’s time as vice president under Barack Obama, he took a keen interest in Ukraine, making several visits, pursuing anti-corruption policies, and pushing for military assistance in the wake of Russia’s 2014 invasion and seizure of the Crimean peninsula.
The White House on Friday denied holding back security assistance from Ukraine hours after a Politico article said that officials had paused a package including lethal assistance worth up to $100 million.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement Friday afternoon calling the idea that the White House has held back security assistance to Ukraine "nonsense."
Psaki cited a $150 million aid package announced by the Defense Department last week and pointed to President Biden's public support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression ahead of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Biden to Send $150 Million in Military Aid to Ukraine as Russia Eyes U.S. Forces Ahead of Summit
The Pentagon's package "includes capabilities to enhance the lethality, command and control, and situational awareness of Ukraine's forces" and comes as the Russian military tracks the movements of a U.S. warship ahead of President Joe Biden's debut summit with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. © ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Images Ukrainian border guards patrol the Sea of Azov, near the Black Sea, off the city of Mariupol on April 30. The U.S. has supported Ukrainian forces in their seven-year war against an eastern insurgency both Kyiv and Western partners accuse Russia of backing.
"We have now provided the entire amount appropriated by Congress through the Ukraine security assistance initiative," Psaki said.
"We have also prepared contingency funds in the event of a further Russian incursion into Ukraine. As President Biden told President Putin directly, we will stand unwavering in support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
, citing four anonymous sources, reported on Friday that the White House temporarily froze a military assistance package to Ukraine that was meant as a response to Russian troop buildup on the border with Ukraine earlier this year.
The package was reportedly put together but halted when Russia said it would draw down troops on the border with Ukraine, the report said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy Hopes Joe Biden Will Give 'Specific' Answer on Supporting Ukraine's NATO Bid
"I understand that this should be the agreed position of the alliance countries. Nevertheless, we must get clear dates and the likelihood of this for Ukraine," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Zelenskyy's comments were made ahead of Biden's scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva amid Russia's ongoing tensions with the Ukraine where Russia-backed separatist rebels now control a region in the country's east. Russia strictly opposes the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO.
The decision by the Biden administration to halt the package wasearlier this week, but Politico's report included further details, including saying that the National Security Council was the source of the decision to halt the funds.
The article was met with criticism from several Republicans, some of whom equated it to the Trump administration's freezing some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in 2019. Trump was impeached that same year on a charge he abused his power by withholding the assistance to try to force Ukraine to investigate then-candidate Biden and his son Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who voted to acquit Trump of the charge in early 2020, tweeted: "Remember when freezing military aid to Ukraine was an impeachable offense?"
"After this week's summit, this is an absolute surrender and concession from President Biden to Vladimir Putin and Russia. Joe Biden is shamefully turning his back on our Ukrainian allies," Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said.
From the trenches of Ukraine, a warning about Putin's intentions
It looks like a war from 100 years ago, but many see the war in eastern Ukraine as the front line in a new cold war brewing between Russia and the U.S.CBS News correspondent Holly Williams hitched a ride with the Ukrainian military, joined by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to a corner of Europe where lush pastures have become killing fields.
After this week's summit, this is an absolute surrender and concession from President Biden to Vladimir Putin and Russia. Joe Biden is shamefully turning his back on our Ukrainian allies.- Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik)
The U.S. government has provided military assistance to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from continuing Russian aggression after Russia invaded Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
At a press conference in Geneva following his meeting with Putin earlier this week, Biden said he raised Ukraine in his conversations with the Russian leader.
"I communicated the United States' unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," Biden told reporters. "We agreed to pursue diplomacy related to the Minsk Agreement."
Biden has forcefully pushed back on Russia's aggressive behavior, including condemning Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks and election interference efforts and pushing for the immediate release of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Biden has tried to draw a contrast with his predecessor, former President Trump, who often spoke warmly of Putin despite rising tensions between the U.S. and Moscow.
Some of Biden's decisions have been criticized as soft on Russia, however. Republicans and some Democrats have disagreed with the Biden administration's decision to waive sanctions on the company behind Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany.
Lexi Lonas contributed.
Ukraine leader warns his war with Putin could soon be America's .
Ahead of President Biden's landmark summit with Vladimir Putin, Ukraine's president invites CBS News to the front line to explain why his country's war with Russia matters to the world.The war in Ukraine has raged since 2014, when protests in the capital, Kyiv, toppled a government friendly to Moscow. Russia retaliated by sending troops across the border to seize control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and by backing a separatist insurgency in the east. The United Nations puts the death toll after seven years of war at more than 13,000.